Are there holes in this ranking system? Absolutely. All rankings were given the same weight and team rankings don’t take into account recent injuries, recent returns from injury, where the game is played or the weather it is played in. Here are the holes/weakness/misleading aspects of each teams rankings:
- Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals one weakness in the rankings was turnovers. The Bengals were ranked 25th in the regular season and had more turnovers than any other playoff team (30). Regardless of their other rankings, if the Bengals turn the ball over twice a game, they will likely lose. Also, the Bengals punting rankings are skewed with the late loss of Huber. Their punt rankings would likely be lower with their new punter.
- New England Patriots – The Patriots are 4th in terms of offense, but without Gronkowski, that is likely misleading and thereby skews their overall team ranking as well.
- Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs defensive scores does not accurately reflect how poor they have been playing at the end of the season with the injuries they have had on the defensive side of the ball.
- Denver Broncos – The Broncos defensive scores, though still poor, do not take into account the recent loss of Von Miller, meaning the Broncos overall balance is even less than what is currently being reflected.
- San Diego Chargers – The Chargers score doesn’t capture the sudden increase in production from their running game going into the season, nor does it account for a few healthy returns on the defensive side of the ball.
- Indianapolis Colts – The Colts score is likely pretty accurate as half of the season was played without Wayne, therefore their rankings have kind of adjusted to their current state.
- Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks score is misleading as to their balance. Though they have the top score, they aren’t very balanced because the shear dominance of their defense hides their pedestrian offense. In the 7 defensive categories, the Seahawks were ranked 1st in 4 and had a total defensive score of just 29 points! Their offense, on the other hand, was mostly ranked in the teens to low twenties, meaning if a team can put up some points on the Seahawks, the Seahawks could find themselves in some trouble.
- San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers score was similar to the Seahawks in that their impressive defensive rankings hid their terrible passing attack (30th). However, in the 49ers defense, their 30th ranked passing attack is slightly skewed because it does not take into account the recent return of Crabtree.
- Carolina Panthers – The Panthers score should be fairly accurate because even though they lost Steve Smith late, he may be back for their first game, and even if not, their passing numbers were still pretty poor with him.
- New Orleans Saints – The Saints score should be pretty accurate as well seeing that they don’t have any big recent injuries or returns. The one aspect that their rankings do not account for is the drop in production away from home. Being away from home is the biggest imbalance with the Saints.
- Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles score may be the most accurate (9th) as they are likely the most imbalanced team in the playoffs. A 2nd ranked offense paired with a 29th ranked defense is a recipe for playoff disaster and is the exact imbalance this scoring system was designed to expose. A lull in the Eagles offense will spell disaster.
- Green Bay Packers – Though the Packers are significantly better (as a team) with Rodgers, the return of Rodgers doesn’t do much to help their team balance, therefore seeing them as the lowest score is not surprising. Green Bay still had an offense ranked in the top 10 in nearly every category even with Rodgers missing significant time. The defense is the problem and with the injury to Matthews, likely will continue to be a problem.
So, what does it all mean? Well, it is a fancy way of coming to the conclusion that I think the Bengals and the Seahawks are the best overall teams in their respective conferences and I am picking the grand “Matchup in Manhattan” to be the Seattle Seahawks vs the Cincinnati Bengals.
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