Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NFL Playoff previews: NFC Wild Card game 1

Saturday, January 8 - NFC Wild Card Game 1
New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

By the numbers:

New Orleans @ Seattle
New Orleans 11538430777.630
Seattle 79310407-97.344

So we start with the easiest one. Yes, it's in Seattle. Yes, the home crowd is loud. Yes, it's a long trip for the New Orleans Saints. Yes, it was (relatively) competitive when these two teams met a month and a half ago, with the Saints winning at home by only 15. (OK, that's a stretch. It wasn't really close...)

But the Saints have a much better record, built on a better offense and a better defense. They've scored more, allowed fewer, and done it against a tougher scheduler. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are in the playoffs solely because they're in a four team division with three other bad teams. Seattle did win last weekend to earn its way in, while the Saints lost in a game that obviously didn't mean anything after halftime. Any other week you want to choose, the Saints were better from that week to the end of the season than the Seahawks. There's a reason why the road team is an 11 point favorite.

Reason to pick the Saints:
Better team, better QB, better coach, better defense.

Reason to pick the Seahawks:
Beyond the standard "on any given Sunday" cliche, there isn't one.

New Orleans wins if:
The sun rises in the east.

Seattle wins if:
Drew Brees slips on a patch of ice upon exiting the Saints' team bus, and breaks his arm while also knocking Sean Payton down and causing him to be rushed to the hospital with a concussion so that he misses the game.

1 - For football, the exponent that seems to provide the best pythagorean winning percentage is 2.37. So the formula is (PF2.37)/((PF2.37) + (PA2.37))

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