On Saturday, the recipe for victory was momentum. Both the Jets and the Cowboys ended the regular season with a win and rode that momentum into a Wild Card victory. Subsequently, the Bengals and the Eagles discovered that resting starters and executing vanilla schemes for Week 17 had the resounding un-welcomed impact of inducing lethargic play, as witnessed in their first round exits.
Today the games are facing similar contingencies.
During the final week, New England callously veered starters into the 3Q (leading to a Wes Welker injury), before teasing their fans and capitulating to the bench en route to a disappointing effort and a bad loss to the Texans, while the Ravens were successful in securing a playoff position with a solid win @ Oakland, and winning three of their last four. Likewise, the Cardinals were merely looking for ways to get through a game of zero playoff implications without injury, and were disengaged by the more concerted Packers, their coming opponent.
Was yesterday’s theme of riding momentum a becoming trend this post-season, and a sign of things to come? Or was it merely coincidental. What does history tell us about momentum in the NFL? The WSJ fortunately provided calculated substance on this issue a few weeks ago. Since 1978, only one of 61 teams has won the Super Bowl entering the playoffs winning less than three of their last five games. On the other side of the equation, of significance 72% of teams on a five game winning streak won their first playoff game, and 52% winning at least three of five won a playoff game. All teams playing today meet the latter description.
Here’s more from that article:
If these numbers are of any indication, look out for the Chargers next week.
The Patriots beat the Ravens 27-21 earlier in Foxboro back on October 4th. The glaring observation from that game? The Raven’s coaching staff resolved in contriving a confounded scheme centered around heaving the ball a whopping 47 times, vs 17 rushes, despite Ray Rice and Baltimore running the ball very effectively, averaging over 6 YPC. The Ravens also converted on 9 of 14 3rd downs.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
- Rushing Offense is ranked 4th in the league with 4.42 ALY (Adjusted Line Yards) per carry
- Turnover differential of +10, ranked 4th in the NFL
- 1-6 vs teams ranked in the top half of the league in 3rd down conversion offense
- 0-3-1 ATS last four in New England
- 8-0 at home during the regular season
- Rushing Defense is ranked 26th in the league at 4.39 ALY per carry.
- Toughest regular season schedule among active playoff teams (Jets 2nd toughest)
- Without Welker in the lineup, Brady’s QB rating drops from 102.9 to 68.9
- Edelman averaged 7 receptions for 74 yds in three games stepping in for Welker
- Turnover differential +6, ranked 8th in the NFL.
- 0-4 ATS streak in playoffs
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals
- 31st in the league in total sacks surrendered
- Only sacked seven teams over the last six games
- Lead the NFL with +24 turnover differential
- 3rd in the league in 3rd down conversion rate
- 5-3 on the road
- 5-0-1 ATS last six vs the NFC, 6-0-1 ATS last seven on grass
- Last 28 games on the road they are 20-7-1 ATS
- 8-2 last ten games vs the Cardinals
- -7 Turnover differential
- No team since the Bills from ’91-94 has made it back to the Super Bowl after losing the year before.
- 4-0 ATS last four playoff games
- 4-4 at home
- 21st in the NFL in 3rd down conversion rate
Other Wild Card facts -
- Home teams that score less than 20 pts are 1-13 since 1999, and 28-2 at 20 points or more during that same time frame
- Road teams since 1993 at 1-31 SU and 1-30-1 ATS when failing to reach 20 points
Boldin a game time decision (PFT)
Green Bay is good to go (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
What do bettors think? (CMForums)
Edelman’s chance to shine (ESPNDallas)
How the Ravens can win (BaltimoreSun)
Ravens vs Patriots Rap Sheet (BostonHerald)
Homer fade alert in Patriots (Bill Simmons)
Comprehensive research on the road teams in the NFL Playoffs (Professional Football Researcher’s Association
Personally, I haven’t reached any sort of absolution on what I am leaning towards betting. I’m sure you are giddy in anticipation. Don’t blame ya. I pick winners. It’s becoming a besetting sin to my humble nature. Perhaps a slight lean towards the Cardinals based on fading public numbers (look here, here , and here).