Monday, January 16, 2012

Less Can Be More, But It's Hard to Do

Statistical anomaly #1 of the NFL divisional playoff round: The Denver Broncos had more total yards losing 45-10 to the Patriots than the Baltimore Ravens gained in beating the Houston Texans 20-13, 252 for Saturday night's routees as compared to 227 for the team that'll be the Pats next opponent.

Statistical anomaly #2: The Patriots were the only one of the four winning teams that LOST the turnover margin, having two to the Broncos' one. Indeed, without turnovers, the Pats would be playing the Texans this Sunday, and the Saints would be packing for a trip to Green Bay, having beaten the 49ers 44-24.

Statistical anomaly # 3: The Ravens not only had no turnovers yesterday, they had no penalties. This is the anomaly I'm sure Bill Belichick will be stressing in meetings today. When a team does nothing to hurt itself, it can get away with long stretches of not doing much to help itself.

These anomalies are presented as a gentle counterpoint to the conventional wisdom through pro football and its followers, not just here in New England, either, that the Patriots are the prohibitive favorite to emerge as Super Bowl champions because of their Hall of Fame quarterback and unstoppable offense. I'm not at all sure conventional wisdom is incorrect. The Pats DO have a Hall of Fame quarterback, and their offense has been well-nigh unstoppable since Halloween. Those are helpful qualities in a football team.

But I can't help remembering that as of noon last Saturday, conventional wisdom was that the Pats were one of THREE strong favorites to become NFL champions, as all three teams having Hall of Fame quarterbacks and unstoppable offenses.

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are still on track for Canton, and the Packers and Saints' offenses weren't exactly stopped. They did get beat, though.


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