Super or Else: Championship Statistical Onslaught
By Russell S Baxter
Cold Hard Football Facts Football Guru (@BaxFootballGuru)
Four teams remain and there are just three games to play in the 2013 NFL season.
The top-seeded Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will play host to this Sunday’s conference title games.
But trying to figure out home field advantage in this season’s playoffs has been a task.
In the Wild Card round, road teams were a collective 3-1. Last Saturday and Sunday combined, the home teams won three of the four matchups.
That means the host, with a combined 4-4 record, hasn’t necessarily been the most.
So what can we expect in this Sunday’s conference title tilts, where last season both home teams (Falcons and Patriots) came up short?
That’s why they play…uh, you know the rest.
AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots (13-4)
Good Luck in Two Weeks: Bill Belichick’s team is on a roll and has found a way to manufacture a lot of points in their last three outings, totaling 34 or more points in each of those contests. In their first 14 outings of 2013, the Patriots scored at least 34 points just three times. And how’s this from the region that gave us one if by land and two if by sea? Including last week’s 43-22 playoff win over the Colts, New England has scored 25 touchdowns both rushing and receiving in 2013. Okay, it’s a stretch…
See You Next Season: New England’s defense does remain a liability and no one knows that better than the Broncos, who ran for a whopping 280 yards when these teams met in Week 12 (and somehow managed to lose the game). Only two teams in the NFL gave up more rushing yards than the Pats this past season and you can bet Denver will test the middle of that defense early and often. New England allowed fewer than 100 yards on the ground in only four of their 17 overall outings this season, including just 69 yards rushing last week vs. the Colts…
Denver Broncos (14-3)
Good Luck in Two Weeks: Denver’s defense has taken its share of hits this season and now it will be without cornerback Chris Harris for the remainder of 2013. The Broncos allowed 399 points during the regular season, the most amongst the 12 playoffs teams. However, John Fox’s team has held its last three opponents to 17 points or less, including the Chargers in last Sunday’s playoff win. And that’s a pretty big deal when you consider that 12 of Denver’s first 14 opponents scored at least 20 points…
See You Next Season: The Men from Mile High set single-season NFL records in 2013 by scoring 606 points and 76 touchdowns. But they don’t exactly wow you when it comes to ball security. During the regular season, Fox’s club committed 26 turnovers, leading the league with 16 lost fumbles. Consider that last week’s four winners in the Divisional Playoffs combined for only two turnovers (both by the Broncos) and quarterback Peyton Manning and company better have their act together…
NFC Championship Game
San Francisco 49ers (14-4)
Good Luck in Two Weeks: Since the arrival of head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011, the Niners have won at least 11 games three straight seasons and are in their third consecutive NFC title game. And regardless of the quarterback, it is a team that does not hand the opposition a lot of opportunities. In 55 contests (including playoffs), San Francisco has committed only 52 turnovers the last three seasons combined. In two playoff wins in 2013, Harbaugh’s club has turned over the ball only once. And given the way the Seahawks’ offense has struggled as of late to score points, the Niners don’t intend to give Pete Carroll’s club a short field…
See You Next Season: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn’t fared very well in his three career meetings with the Seahawks, not only dropping two of those contests but failing to put at least 20 points on the board in any of those games. The third-year pro has completed only 47-of-93 passes (50.5 percent) for 546 yards in his three starts vs. Pete Carroll’s club, throwing only two touchdown passes compared to five interceptions, three of those picks in the Week 2 loss at Seattle in September. And no team totaled more interceptions (28) than the Seahawks in 2013…
Seattle Seahawks (14-3)
Good Luck in Two Weeks: Even when they haven’t looked their best, the Seahawks have found ways to win. In last week’s 23-15 playoff victory over the Saints, the league’s top-ranked defense gave up 409 total yards. But Carroll’s club held New Orleans out of the red zone on 11 of their 13 possessions. Seattle led the NFL with 39 takeaways during the regular season and added one more last Saturday vs. the Saints. In 17 games this season, the ‘Hawks limited 12 opponents to fewer than 20 points and only the Colts (34) reached the 30-point mark all season. Carroll’s team gave up a league-low 20 offensive touchdowns during the regular season…
See You Next Season: As good as the Seahawks’ defense is and can be it has proven vulnerable to the run on occasion. Despite being ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL this season when it came to opposing ground games, Seattle defenders allowed at least 130 yards rushing in seven outings in 2013. And that includes 163 yards rushing in the Week 14 loss at San Francisco. Since routing the Saints on a Monday night in Week 13 by a 34-7 score, the Seahawks have yet to reach the 30-point mark since, a streak of five consecutive games. If they don’t get the San Francisco offense off the field in a timely fashion, home field advantage won’t mean very much when it’s all said and done…
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