Posted: 5 January, 2017
by The Greenfield Post
In The Pocket - Wildcard Weekend
It gets trotted out every year: defence wins championships. Last year, it happened to be true. The Denver Broncos’ defence terrorised Cam Newton and the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. But sticking with the cliché that is credited with Bear Bryant, Alabama’s legendary coach (you can read about the man nicknamed after an animal with a penchant for plaid hats here), whose defence is primed to win this year’s Super Bowl?
There are two prime candidates: New England and New York.
The Patriots have allowed the fewest points per game this year, 15.6. That’s the best defensive effort in the NFL since 2013 (Seattle allowed just 14.4 points per game that year). The Giants have allowed 17.8 points per game (better than Denver last year who allowed 18.5).
Side note: in 2015 eleven teams held their opponents to fewer than 20 points per game. This year, only eight have managed that. Five of those eight are in the playoffs.
Rounding out the best defensive teams in the playoffs are Seattle (18.3), Dallas (19.1), and Kansas City (19.4).
Atlanta, the number two seed in the NFC, gave up the most points per game this year: 25.4. Green Bay gave up 24.3 points per game in 2016.
Should Atlanta and Green Bay be worried? No. Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers are clear x-factors for their teams. Those guys are playmakers. Ryan is on January Notice (like the Lions, Raiders, Chiefs and Dolphins), but Aaron is a January Regular.
The 2016 playoffs are a great mix of experience, talent, hope and moxie. The winning teams pull all of these elements together for a successful championship run.
That’s why the best placed teams are those teams with the solid defences. Defences may or may not win championships, but it’s a foundation. It’s one less thing to worry about. A solid defence provides space and confidence for the offence. The defence is the rising tide that lifts all players.
Our tips for Wildcard Weekend:
- Steve: Giants, Seahawks, Steelers, Raiders
- Juice: Giants, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans
- Rozie: Packers, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans
- Jay: Packers, Seahawks, Steelers, Raiders
Who do you think will take the next step? Let us know at @InthepocketAUS.