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What – So What – Now What – NFC Championship

WHAT

So the Vikings are favored by 3 the last I checked this morning.  I don’t agree, but if we compare some basic stats of the Eagles opponents at home and of those teams the Vikings played on the road –

SO WHAT

Yes, it’s Excel, but let’s focus on what’s important.  The image below depicts the average offensive and defensive rank of the Eagles opponents at home in 2017.  I’ve also added turn-over ration as it’s a critical component that can quickly change the momentum or outcome of a game (See Case Keenum’s pic in the Divisional Round).  There are 32 teams in the league – the average offensive and defensive rank in over 20.  That’s essentially the bottom third of the league.  What does that mean? I defer to the Bill Parcell’s quote.  “You are what your record says you are.”  The Eagles competition at home was less than stellar. 

EaglesHome
VikingsAway

NOW WHAT

If the pundits are comparing the same stats of the Vikings road opponents, you can make the argument that the Vikings on the road are better than then the Eagles are at home.  The average

Offensive Rank of the Vikings road foes was 17.50, average Defensive Rank?  the same, 17.50.  There opponents, on both sides of the ball, were better than half of the league.  That's a significant

diffence, especially when you consider that there record was 6-2 on the road, losing to Pittsburgh the week after Bradford went down and Carolina, who simply out played them. 

Yes, the Vikings are favored as of today.  Should they be, probably not. If you give the home team 3 pts for being the home team and you take 3 pts from an in-door team playing outside, that's Philly

favored by 6 right there.  If the competition of both of these teams matters at all, then you have to give some points back to the Vikings, but 9?  I don't think so.  The Eagles should be favored by 2.

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What – So What – Now What

What

Looking inside the Pro-Football Reference numbers from the Saints – Vikings game….The Vikings better fix some things before their NFC Championship game against the Eagles.

Stats Lie and Liars use Stats.  There is NO WAY, the Vikings should have ever been loosing this game.  The Saints finished 2 of 9 on 3rd downs? The Saints had 2 turnovers resulting in 7 points?  The Saints had 7 penalties for 97 yards!  As late as 5:33 left in the 4th quarter, the Vikings had a 92% Win probability…and still almost lost.

Finally, the other shoe dropped.  Case Keenum throws an awful interception with 1:18 left in the 3rd – the one everyone has been waiting for, right?  A huge momentum changer.   This guy is a  backup…not a championship quarterback, right?

Now What

The vaunted Mike Zimmer defense had a number of opportunities to win the game.  They did not get any pressure on Brees and gave up a 4th and 10 that would have won the game for them.  Defense does win championships – they need to fix it.

Double edged sward for the Viking offense.  You have been winning with Keenum, but not the Keenum who showed up against the Saints.  Sit him now?  Go with Bradford?  No likely, but Shurmur needs to take this week and remind Keenum of what got them here.

So What

The Miracle in Minnesota was a gift.  A well deserved gift, but a gift none the less.  The Vikings needs to get back to work and correct how they were outplayed an out coached in the second half yesterday.

 

Interesting info from  Pro-Football Reference


1/14/2018 New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings box score at Pro-Football-Reference.com

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Goff over Brady – 2017 Playoff QB Rankings

From 1st round bust in 2016 to the top of many QB categories in 2017.  Jared Goff finishes slightly ahead of the immortal Tom Brady as this year’s leading quarterback among the playoff teams.  I ranked them all based on their percentages for TD’s, Completions, Int’s, Yards per attempt, and a number of other categories. Goff’s combined score puts him in the company of Brady and Brees while separating him significantly from the other young guns who have made the tournament.  How he handles the spotlight will be Goff’s next test.



QB Name Score Rank
Jared Goff 59 1
Tom Brady 53 2
Drew Brees 50 3
Ben Roethlisberger 45 4
Alex Smith 45 5
Matt Ryan 44 6
Case Keenum 40 7
Blake Bortles 31 8
Nick Foles 25 9
Tyrod Taylor 24 10
Marcus Mariota 21 11
Cam Newton 19 12
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Power Ranking – Final Regular Season

Ignore what you have seen the last 2 weeks out of the Jaguars. They finished the season in the top 5 in Point Differential (4th), Points Against (2nd), Points For (5th), and Margin of Victory (4th). They are first in rushing yards gained and ranked second Total Defense. I get it - we don't want to over commit to a team, especially one who has Blake Bortles as their quarterback, but top defenses and running games travel well. I still have them in the AFC Championship vs. the Patriots.

The NFC is a much tighter conference where 7 points, based on my algorithm, separates the Saints, Eagles, and Vikings. Nick Foles remains a concern. He has proven that he can play in this league - the challenge is going to be, can he and his WR's get enough reps to establish the timing and comfort required before their Divisional playoff.

I expect the Vikings to have to travel to Philadelphia for the NFC Conference championship.

Congratulations to the Bills and their fans. 17 years is long enough.

The Ravens and their fans will have a long off-season.

Team Score Rank
Cleveland Browns 27 31
Indianapolis Colts 28 30
Denver Broncos 57 29
New York Giants 57 29
Houston Texans 62 28
Miami Dolphins 68 27
New York Jets 82 26
Oakland Raiders 89 25
Arizona Cardinals 92 24
Cincinnati Bengals 92 23
Buffalo Bills 112 21
San Francisco 49ers 112 21
Tennessee Titans 120 20
Green Bay Packers 122 19
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 131 18
Washington Redskins 136 17
Chicago Bears 138 16
Dallas Cowboys 162 15
Detroit Lions 167 14
Seattle Seahawks 169 13
Baltimore Ravens 182 12
Kansas City Chiefs* 186 11
Los Angeles Chargers 186 10
Atlanta Falcons 211 9
Carolina Panthers 214 8
Pittsburgh Steelers* 215 7
Jacksonville Jaguars* 222 6
Los Angeles Rams* 232 5
New England Patriots* 240 4
New Orleans Saints* 241 3
Philadelphia Eagles* 247 2
Minnesota Vikings* 248 1
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Baker Mayfield’s Backstory

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was this season’s runaway Heisman Trophy winner. PHOTO: BRETT DEERING/GETTY IMAGES

The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen and Andrew Beaton wrote an excellent article on Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield’s road to the 2017 Heisman Trophy.  A walk-on at 2 schools, Mayfield’s journey highlights the challenge of identifying the traits of a quarterback that translate into championships.

How Baker Mayfield Exposed College Football’s Quarterback Problem

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Power Ranking – Week 17

The Eagles are back on top after an important, albeit, unimpressive win.  They own home field advantage which may be the assist they need after the disappointing Wentz injury.  The Jaguars slide after what we are thinking is a good loss at the right time.  A young team like Jacksonville, may have been reading and believing their headlines.  Perhaps a humbling loss to the 49ers will help them refocus.  The Ravens are moving up as the Saints, Vikings, and Chargers slide down.

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In last weeks post, I referenced Jeff Fisher and his Ram's legacy.  CBS Sports has an interesting article from the players perspective  by Kevin Skiver.

 

Team Score Rank
Philadelphia Eagles 205 1
Jacksonville Jaguars 203 2
New England Patriots 193 3
Los Angeles Rams 191 4
Baltimore Ravens 180 5
Pittsburgh Steelers 176 6
Minnesota Vikings 174 7
New Orleans Saints 169 8
Kansas City Chiefs 165 9
Los Angeles Chargers 156 10
Carolina Panthers 141 11
Seattle Seahawks 135 12
Dallas Cowboys 129 13
Atlanta Falcons 123 14
Tennessee Titans 121 15
Detroit Lions 115 16
Oakland Raiders 95 17
Green Bay Packers 88 18
Washington Redskins 88 18
Buffalo Bills 86 20
Cincinnati Bengals 86 20
Chicago Bears 82 22
New York Jets 73 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 73 24
Arizona Cardinals 65 25
Denver Broncos 63 26
San Francisco 49ers 61 27
Houston Texans 52 28
Miami Dolphins 45 29
Indianapolis Colts 38 30
Cleveland Browns 27 31
New York Giants 21 32
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Power Ranking – Week 16

Change at the top.  The Jaguars take over the No. 1 spot, pushing the Eagles into the second spot.  Pay attention!  The Jaguars are built to travel and will end up in the AFC Championship game.
Blake Bortles is playing much better football since Chris Simms @CSimmsQB referred to him as the 70th best QB in the NFL on the Dan Patrick Show  @DPShow  - A top ranked defense and running game will carry them through the playoffs.

The NFC is tight.  The Rams and Eagles are at the top followed by the Saints and Vikings.  The NFC title game will be played in Philly.  Can the Rams hold on to be the latest rags to riches story in pro sports?    If so, what does that say about Jeff Fisher and his staff?

Rank Team Score
30 Cleveland Browns 35
29 New York Giants 41
28 Indianapolis Colts 45
27 Arizona Cardinals 72
26 Miami Dolphins 76
25 San Francisco 49ers 80
24 Houston Texans 94
23 Denver Broncos 95
22 New York Jets 98
21 Cincinnati Bengals 101
20 Washington Redskins 103
19 Chicago Bears 104
18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 105
17 Oakland Raiders 126
16 Green Bay Packers 133
15 Buffalo Bills 145
14 Tennessee Titans 155
13 Detroit Lions 156
12 Seattle Seahawks 176
11 Dallas Cowboys 178
10 Atlanta Falcons 183
9 Carolina Panthers 195
8 Los Angeles Chargers 198
7 Kansas City Chiefs 206
6 Pittsburgh Steelers 218
5 Baltimore Ravens 229
4 Minnesota Vikings 230
4 New Orleans Saints 230
3 New England Patriots 240
2 Los Angeles Rams 252
2 Philadelphia Eagles 252
1 Jacksonville Jaguars 267
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Power Ranking – Week 15

The Eagles to be far and away the best in the league….with Wentz.  Foles has a lot of pressure on him to deliver.  Rooting for him, but not sure this is going to work out.  If you throw out his best and worst seasons (2013 where he went 8-2 and 2012 when his record as a starter was 1-5), you are left with an unimpressive 11-9 record.  But we are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and recognize that he hasn’t had the best of supporting casts in either St. Louis or Kansas City.  Until we see otherwise, the Eagles are the team to beat.

The Jaguars are our highest rated AFC team.  Ahead of the Patriots, not by much, but they are in front of them at number 3.

(Our scoring system is based on Wins, Losses, Points For, Points Against, Offense, Defense, Turnovers, and Point Differential)

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Rank

Team

Score

32

Cardinals

-4

31

Browns

-2.9

30

Colts

-1.9

29

Giants

-0.8

28

Dolphins

2.4

27

Broncos

3.2

26

49ers

3.6

25

Bills

5.1

24

Redskins

7.6

23

Jets

7.9

22

Bears

8.0

21

Bengals

8.1

20

Bucs

8.5

19

Raiders

8.8

18

Titans

8.9

17

Packers

10.0

16

Texans

13.6

15

Lions

14.1

14

Cowboys

15.8

13

Panthers

15.9

12

Falcons

16.0

11

Chiefs

17.1

10

Steelers

18.7

9

Seahawks

20.1

8

Vikings

20.2

7

Ravens

21.5

6

Saints

26.8

5

Chargers

27

4

Patriots

27.1

3

Jaguars

29.4

2

Rams

38

1

Eagles

40.5