Coming off of another 1-1 week last week as the Andy Reid magic off a bye wore off and the Chiefs lost a heart breaker at home. The plus side of that loss for us is that the Steelers futures are still alive including AFC Champs which we will hopefully cash Sunday. Here’s hoping for a Superbowl between the Steelers and the ATLiens.
2016 Reg Season: 53-37-3
Game 1: Pit +6 @ NE
Bet% Pit 44% NE 56%
How good are the Patriots? Statistically there is no question they grade out as the best team in the league, they finished 1st in overall DVOA and Weighted DVOA, they were 1st in point differential and won 14 games despite not having Tom Brady for the 1st 4 games and Rob Gronkowski for just 8 games. So the answer to how good they are should be awesome, easily the best team I the league and it’s a no doubter. Here’s the problem, who have they played?
The best QB The Pats have played this year is Russell Wilson, they lost that game at home 31-24. Here are the next best 4 QBs they faced by passer rating, Ryan Tannehill (12th), Andy Daulton (15th), Tyrod Taylor(18th), Carson Palmer (20th). Those were the best 5 QBs on the schedule, the rest of the schedule is full of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Osweiller, Trevor Simien, Charlie Whitehurst and the Browns, Jared Goff, Colin Kaepernick and in the Steelers game Landry Jones.
The Patriots schedule makes it so difficult to truly know how good this team is especially the defense. Football Outsiders has the Patriots playing the easiest schedule in the league this year and its hard to argue. As a result we don’t really know how they will hold up against a test as good as the Steelers.
Pittsburgh finished the year 8th on offense and 11th on defense but we know that they didn’t have their Big 3 Ben, Brown and Bell for 16 games, Bell missed the first 3 to suspension and Ben missed 3 to injury. We also know the defense has been improving late in the season especially the pass rush. Through the first 7 weeks the Steelers were 31st in sack percentage at 3.71%, they finished the season 11th at 6.05%. The Steelers pass rush in late in the season and playoffs has been led by Bud Dupree who didn’t play until week 12 because of an injury but has been dominant over the last 4 games.
In the end I think these 2 teams are much closer than the season stats indicate, the Patriots have played 1 really complete team (at the time) the Seahawks and lost by a TD at home. NE finished 4th vs the run but have not played a team that had the run pass combo the Steelers have, if they focus on Bell and the running game I do not think their 23rd ranked pass defense can handle Antonio Brown and the pass game.
I think this is a close game late, probably a FG and getting 6 is real value. I will not bet on ML because I already have a Steelers future that pays better than the ML price here but I do think Pittsburgh is a very live dog and has every chance to win this game.
Game 2: GB @ ATL -5
Bet% GB 62% ATL 38%
This is a really interesting game because the talk in most of the sports media I have heard is both these teams have great offenses but Rodgers is the better QB and the Falcons defense is terrible. I think this is why we see 60% of bets on the dog but if we look at what happened to the line, it moved from ATL -4 to 5 or even 6 depending on the book you look at.
Yes these are both good offenses and Aaron Rodgers is playing great but I still think people aren’t quite clear on just how good this Falcons offense is. Atlanta finished 1st in almost every offensive metric, DVOA, Points, Passer Rating, Yards per play and Yards per Pass Att. But it’s some of the gams that are really impressive, they finished 1st in points scoring 32PPG more than 2nd place Saints and 4 PPG more than 5th place GB. 4 points per game is a lot, by contrast there are 12 teams within 4 points of the Packers. In yards per pass att, Atlanta averaged 8.8 a full yard more than 2nd place Washington, again by contrast, there were 17 teams within 1 yard of 2nd place Washington, that’s how singular the Falcons pass game was in 2016.
So yes Green bay is a very good offense and has played great the last 6 or 7 games (4th in weighted DVOA) but they are not in the same class as the Falcons.
On the 2nd part of the statement about the Falcons defense, it’s interesting because weighted DVOA which weights most recent performances higher Atlanta ranks higher than GB, 22 to 23, Atlanta ranked higher in opp passer rating 22nd to 26th and in yards per pass att Atlanta was 11th giving up 6.5 yards per pass att while GB finished 31st giving up 7.5 yards per att. Now GB is a much better run defense than Atl, GB finished 14th in rush defense DVOA while Atlanta was 29th but it seems hard to think Green Bay’s way to victory is riding Ty Montgomery on the ground.
Finally when you look at health and schedule this is a big advantage for Atlanta, Green bay has cluster injuries at receiver and corner, neither Jordy nelson or Devante Adams will be close to 100% (if they play) and they have been absolutely decimated at corner. This will also be the 3rd road game in 4 weeks for Green Bay who has basically been playing playoff games for the last 5 weeks. The Packers have also been riding a historic turnover run during this 8 game winning streak where they won the turnover battle 18-2. It’s unlikely that can continue. Atlanta on the other hand comes into this game healthy, playing their best defense of the year and are at home for in the dome for this game. I think they win by double digits.
DIVISIONAL Round Review : 1 Win 1 Loss
What Went Right:
- GB-Dal: Oh man dd this game go right. Not only did the Packers score enough to get the over they went in and beat the evil Dallas empire straight up in the house that Jerry built. The game flow was not what I expected as GB jumped way ahead the Dallas came all the way back but I was not surprised that both pass games had great success in this game. I thought Dez would have a big game and and at 9-132 with 2TDs he certainly did but this over was also helped by great FG kicking. Both kickers combined for 5/5 including 3 50+ yard FGs.
What Went Wrong: Holding Eric Fisher. Poor Andy. Poor Poor Andy.