Friday, January 4, 2008

Wild Card Saturday

Redskins @ Seahawks
The Seahawks are the better tea, but Washington has put together a great streak of games to sneak into the playoffs. The difference in DVOA stats between the 5-7 Redskins team that played the first 12 games of the year and the 4-0 Redskins that won
all of it's last 4 is almost entirely an improvement in third down defense. FO
readers know that a team performing differently on 3rd down than on 1st and 2nd is
likely to regress to the mean (1st and 2nd down performance). So a team playing very well on 3rd down, compared 1st and 2nd is probably going to stop playing over it's ability level soon*. That's the Redskins. The regression might not be this week, but it's (likely) coming. Seahawks.

*=The Peyton Manning led Colts have defied this general trend for most of Peyton's career. This is why FO's preseason predictions underestimate the Colts. It's factoring in a likely regression that isn't actually likely.

Jags @ Steelers
The Jags went into Heinz Field and dominated the Steelers for 3 quarters (22-7 through Q3). Then the Steelers got on track and put together two defensive stops each followed with successful drives , tying the game at 22 (one short drive following a Garrard pick and the other in true 07 Steelers fashion, overcoming a stuffed Parker run on first down and a sack on second, to convert 3rd and 18 to keep the TD drive alive).
The Jags outplayed the Steelers on their own field a month ago. They are likely the better team. They aren't the overwhelming favorite they are being made out to be, but they did win the previous game with, 3 quarters of dominance and held off the desperate comeback. The Steelers have relied on Roethlisberger to perform miracles being a awful O-line, usually in long yardage situation because Willie Parker is incapable of running for any gains between 2 and 15 yards (42% success rate, -11.3% DVOA). Parker is out, so the more consistent (52% success rate) Najeh "The Dump Truck" Davenport is the starting runningback. He could give them an offense that actually sustains drives. It's not the "obvious game" some make it out to be, but the Jags showed that they are the better team a month ago and did nothing to suggest they aren't the same team that beat the Steelers, while the Steelers have gotten worse if anything due to injuries. Jaguars.

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