Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012 season AFC and NFC Championships

Click on the above image to access NFL .pdf file. What I noticed immediately was the records of common opponents. NE has beaten both common opponents (DEN, HOU) and BAL has loss to each opponent.
There a lot of stats that favor NE, TAKE/GIVE (aka Turnovers) +16 edge, OFFENSE +75yds edge, QBR +11. What else stands out? the number of close games that they have played, so you would expect another close game, but I don't think this one will be close. Last weekend BAL came out as the winner @DEN, but I thought it was due more to TO's and lack of coaching by DEN than to dominance by BAL, it was almost as if BAL was waiting for DEN errors. Last weekend watching NE I get the sense they are on a roll and will dictate on O, D and ST to BAL. I think this will be a blow out with NE O just running plays and speeding up the game getting the lead and forcing BAL to play catchup ball, which isn't there best scheme on O or D

Click on the above image to access NFL .pdf file. Of the common opponents SF only loss is to NYG (last years SB winner) who ATL beat and ATL only loss is to division rival NO who SF beat. This is a bit of a wash. On O there are small edges at best for both teams, what you do notice is that the leading receiver for ATL is TE Gonzalez and for SF WR Crabtree. SF does hold a signficant edge with Defense of about 70yds and ATL K Bryant is far more accurate than SF K Akers. Unlike the AFC game, these opponents have met only once in post season. What I noticed last week is that ATL is a lot like DEN in their conservative nature with playcalling and their willingness to wait and see if the other teams makes an error then they can get a shorter field and score. SF plays like a dominating team especially along OL and DL and they execute very well. It hard to see ATL winning even though they are at home. SF appears to be built to win on the road, they have a dominating D, strong ST and a run game for O. SF QB Kaepernick and Co would need to make several mistakes (TOs) to lose this game, but it's not likely.

1/16 additional thoughts:

Last week I had hoped SEA DE Irvin would have been more disruptive, but ATL LT (and LG) handled him quite well, as ATL had several long runs from their RBs. So their is a big drop off when SEA DE Clemons is not in the game as he was this past weekend due to injury.

This past weekend we got to watch SF DT Justin Smith return (from a three week injury layoff) and he did quite well, even while limited with his torn triceps, his strength along DL is so evident, that I don't think ATL LT and LG will have the same success this weekend, granted their QB is right handed so you think the pocket will tend to move to the right, but Smith and Smith are fully capable of beating their blocks and getting to QB with impressive closing speed.

ATL best move may be to run at Smith and Smith. I would run on the side of the injured arm, testing Smith's getting off of blocks and tackling ability again and again, until I notice a level of consistency. BTW I'd also do this to BAL MLB Lewis, though I admit this may be tougher to do versus BAL DL, but I'd probably test with a TE instead of with a RB, or a RB out in the middle flat area.

If ATL can't run at Smith and Smith, they'll need to find running space elsewhere, probably with scheme and play calling, create mismatches with other personnel then hit SF with running plays. Get SF to think pass and run instead, but this may be for naught as SF OL looked dominant vs GB DL/LBs and the same will probably hold true vs ATL DL/LBs.

update 1/17/2013 WIN-LOSS comparing records for the remaining teams:

NOTE: replacement referees used wks 1-3

losses ARI wk2 @BAL wk3 @SEA wk6 SF wk15
DIV 6-0
in conference vs AFC S 4-0
peer games BAL(L), DEN(W) 1-1
out of conference vs NFC W 1-3

losses @PHI wk2 @HOU wk7 PIT wk13 @WAS wk14 DEN wk15 @CIN wk17
DIV 4-2
in conference vs AFC W 3-1
peer games NE(W), HOU(L) 1-1
out of conference vs NFC E 2-2

losses @NO wk10 @CAR wk14 TB wk17
DIV 3-3
in conference vs NFC E 4-0
peer games DET(W), ARI(W) 2-0
out of conference vs AFC W 4-0

losses @MIN wk3 NYG wk6 @STL wk13 @SEA wk16
DIV 3-2-1 STL(tie) wk10
in conference vs NFC N 3-1
peer games NYG(L), NO(W) 1-1
out of conference vs AFC E 4-0   What stands out ... NE was able to dominate their division, SF also gave the goose egg to the AFC E ATL had the weakest peer games and had the weakest division record, but their only losses were to their division rivals, going 4-0 for their in conference games vs NFC E. BAL split their games vs NFC E NE, BAL and SF were 1-1 vs peers. The NFC appears to be better going 8-0 vs their AFC opponents this year. The AFC could only manage a 3-5 record vs NFC opponents. NE played the weakest in conference opponents, BAL the second weakest, ATL the third weakest   FYI: I ranked the conferences at the end of this year as (using QBrt - DQBrt over regular season): NFC W #1 NFC S #2 NFC N #3
AFC N #4
AFC E #5
NFC E #6
AFC W #7
AFC S #8
If I just added up the opponents conference ranking for each team (don't add peer games):
SF #9
NE #14
ATL #15
BAL #17

SF clearly had the toughest schedule, playing the #1, #3 and #5 conferences
NE played #5, #8, #1
ATL played #2, #6, #7
BAL played #4, #7, #6

But I'm still not feeling warm and fuzzy with this as the replacement refs were a factor, just how much I wasn't able to measure in a satisfactory method.   The BAL @NE game may come out to be a closer game than expected and the SF @ATL game may be more of a blowout

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