A rematch between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons is opening the divisional round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday. Who will advance to the NFC title game? Read on to find out.
Wildcard weekend resulted in a clean sweep for the home sides and higher seeded teams by comfortable winning margins.
Therefore, the two Conference Divisional rounds pit the respective number one seeded teams against number four, while the number two seeds entertain the number three seeded teams.
The higher seed in the four games each have a superior regular season win/loss record to their opponents, enjoy home field advantage and also effectively had a bye week last week.
They have averaged nearly 9 net ypp (yards per pass) against defenses which allow just 7 ypp and are a 10.5 win team if judged by their Pythagorean expectation.
The Seahawks won that game 26-24, but were aided by a 2-0 turnover differential.
Seattle’s 10.5 regular season wins are broadly compatible with their Pythagorean expectation which accounts for points scored and allowed and predicts just under 10 wins.
They have won two more close contests than they have lost and overall their success hasn’t been fuelled by an excessive turnover differential.
They have taken the ball from opponents 19 times and given it away on 18 occasions.
Seattle’s offense is no more than average. They are slightly above average efficiency when passing the ball and below par on the ground, but they have only scored 22.1 regular season points per game against defences that have yielded 24.4 ppg.
Defensively they have restricted 23.2 ppg offenses to just 18.3 ppg and they excel against the run.
After eight seasons of consistent, but below elite level passing, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has produced a potential league MVP campaign.
He has delivered career best completion percentages, yards per attempt and interception percentage and helped the Falcons (1.465*) score nearly 34 ppg against 23.4 ppg defences.
They have averaged nearly 9 net ypp against defenses which allow just 7 ypp and are a 10.5 win team if judged by their Pythagorean expectation.
Their four narrow wins are equalled by the same number of narrow defeats, but they have benefitted from the league’s fourth best turnover differential.
Atlanta’s passing game should dominate the matchups and the home side had a superior record to Seattle against common opponents in a season where the NFC West met the NFC South.
Atlanta appear to be a field goal better than Seattle and this stretches to nearly a touchdown with the built in scheduling and home field advantage of a top two seeded side.
In the remaining NFC Divisional game, hosts Dallas would also appear to be just under a touchdown superior to Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay.
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