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Offense Wins Playoff Spots

Mill Woods

Posted on December 30, 2019 16:02

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NFL pundits and fans will forever debate about "what wins championships", but clearly, it is a strong balance of offense and defense. However, there should not be much debate about what wins "playoff spots," especially if the 2019 season is any indication: it is the offense.

Looking at the six playoff teams with 12 wins or more — Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers, Packers, Patriots, and Saints — anyone would have to agree that those top teams have a balance of strong offense and defense. But looking closer at the stats, a strong offense seems to matter slightly more than a strong defense.

But before I get into details, an end-of-season report:

I went 11-5 in Week 17, bringing my regular-season record to 163.5 — 92.5. Also: I picked six of the 12 playoff teams before the first snap of the first game (see my Sept. 4 TLT): Ravens, Chiefs, Patriots, Saints, Eagles, Titans. If predicting 64% of games and half the playoff teams doesn't impress you, 1) consider that it ranks with the best NFL pundits (the few having the nerve to pick every game), and 2) try it yourself one season!

Of the top six teams, the Ravens, 49ers, Saints, Chiefs, and Packers are slightly stronger (higher-ranked) on offense, while only the Patriots are ranked higher on defense.
 
When we look at the other six playoff teams, we notice a similar pattern: the Texans, Titans, Seahawks, and Eagles were all higher-ranked on offense than defense, while the Bills and Vikings scored higher on D.
 
Here are NFL stats on how the playoff teams ranked on defense (averaging points and yardage allowed):
 
D Rank            Team


#1                   Patriots
#2                   Bills 
#3                   Ravens 
#4                   49ers 
#8                   Vikings 
#11                 Saints
#14                 Eagles
#15                 Chiefs
#16                 Packers
#17                 Titans
#18                 Texans
#24                 Seahawks
 
What about the teams that missed the playoffs? Five teams that ranked in the top 10 defensively did not make the playoffs. They are, in order: Steelers (#5), Bears (#6), Cowboys (#7), Chargers (#9) and Broncos (#10). 
 
Now, here are NFL stats on how the playoff teams ranked on offense (averaging points scored and yardage gained):
 
 O Rank            Team
 
#1                   Ravens
#2                   49ers
#5                   Chiefs                           
#6                   Saints                            
#7                   Seahawks                     
#10                 Patriots
#11                 Titans
#12                 Vikings
#13                 Eagles
#14                 Texans
#15                 Packers
#23                 Bills
 

And again, we must ask: what about the teams staying home? Only four teams that ranked in the top 10 offensively did not make the playoffs. They are, in order: Buccaneers (tied for #2), Cowboys (#4), Falcons (#8) and Rams (#9).
 
The conclusion is obvious (at least if you're using 2019 results): whether or not offense wins championships, in recent years, more offense-oriented teams are making the playoffs in the first place. 

What about the playoff games and the three championship games? Those might be slightly different stories. Perhaps. Inclement weather does tend to favor defensive teams a little bit. In 2019, it remains to be seen if a defensive powerhouse can use January weather to even the score with all of those scoring machines.

Let's save that discussion for later. Meanwhile, if you're a fan of the Patriots or Bills, consider this: the Super Bowl will be played in Miami.

Mill Woods

Posted on December 30, 2019 16:02

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In the final game of the regular season, the San Francisco 49ers stopped the Seattle Seahawks at the goal line to secure...

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