Friday, January 07, 2011

NFL Playoff previews: AFC Wild Card game 2

Sunday, January 9 - AFC Wild Card Game 2
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

By the numbers:
Baltimore @ Kansas City
TeamWLPFPADifPyth
Baltimore 12435727087.660
Kansas City 10636632640.568

The superficial numbers would indicate that the Ravens are a better team than the Chiefs. But when you drill down in, just a little bit, you discover that they're actually a much better team. Everyone recognizes that the Seahawks are a fraud playoff team - that 7-9 record is a dead giveaway - but they also happen to be one of the only two playoff teams that the Chiefs faced during the regular season, and the only one that they beat. Their victory over the 9-7 Chargers way back in week 1 is the Chiefs only win against a team that finished over .500. They had one of the ultimate creampuff schedules, and the 10-6 record is a schedule-based illusion.

Baltimore is an overrated but clearly better defensive team. They're a better offensive team, too. They're tougher and more battle-tested. This is not a mismatch on the scale of New Orleans-Seattle, but it's not a pick 'em, either.

Reason to pick the Ravens:
They've demonstrated that they're a better team by putting together a better record against a much tougher schedule.

Reason to pick the Chiefs:
They're at home, with an efficient QB and a good running game.

Baltimore wins if:
They can force the Chiefs offense into passing situations on most drives.

Kansas City wins if:
Cassel is mistake-free and they're able to run the ball and score touchdowns.

My Pick:
Baltimore

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