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2011 NFL Playoffs: Similar Playoff Teams to This Year’s NFC Wildcard Round Participants

Yesterday, I ran some similarity comparisons on this year’s wildcard participants in the AFC. Now, we turn to the NFC, where we have our first team with a losing record in the playoffs, hosting the defending champs, and a rematch from week 1, B.V. (before Vick, well, as a starter at least).

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, I would suggest it, if you want to see how I’m getting these similar playoff teams from seasons past. For all others, let’s jump right in this time.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5)

The Saints’ comparables are similar to the Colts comparables, except better. One more victory, a little better pass defense, but also like the Colts with huge passing numbers but not great at running the ball or hanging on to it.  The Saints’ comps went only 10-10 in the playoffs, with only the 1995 Pittsburgh Steelers making the Super Bowl. That one raised my eyebrows a bit, as we think of those Steelers teams with Cowher being rushing and defense, but the reason they show up is because of virtually identical points for, against and differential, and similar ability to outgain opponents.  That Steeler team had the lowest passing yards on this list, but were still right around 4,000 for the year.

Other than that Neil O’Donnell team, most of the others make sense, as you have seasons with Favre, Fouts, Moon, Marino and Manning on here.  You have to go way down the list, more than 70 playoff teams, to find the first Super Bowl winner (1995 Dallas) which kind of surprised me.

Green Bay Packers 1998
Miami Dolphins 1992
Green Bay Packers 1995
San Diego Chargers 1980
Houston Oilers 1991
Indianapolis Colts 2002
New Orleans Saints 2006
Pittsburgh Steelers 1995
New England Patriots 1994
Washington Redskins 1986
Indianapolis Colts 2000

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-9)

I hesitate to even do this for the Seahawks; the simple fact is no team is like these Seahawks. Not only are they 7-9, but as Joe Posnanski put it, they are a spectacularly crappy 7-9 team.  Let’s put it this way. The closest comparable team to these Seahawks were the 9-7 Colts from 1996 that lost 42-14 on the road in the wildcard game at Pittsburgh. New Orleans had 70 teams with a higher similarity score than the “most similar” team to these Seahawks.

Seattle can’t pass, can’t stop the pass, has a bad point differential, can’t run, can’t stop the run, gets outgained by a ton of yards, and turns the ball over. Other than that, they are a fine football team. The teams on their comparable list were bad at some of those things, but not all. Still, the ten flawed teams on this list went 5-5 in their first game, pulling some upsets, though none of them won a second one. Anything’s possible, at least while they get one game at home.

Indianapolis Colts 1996
Arizona Cardinals 1998
Denver Broncos 1983
New York Giants 2006
Seattle Seahawks 1999
Detroit Lions 1999
Chicago Bears 1994
New York Jets 1986
Minnesota Vikings 1997
Seattle Seahawks 2006

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6)

The Eagles had a dynamic offense both rushing and passing, but a below average defense. They outgained opponents by a large margin and have a positive turnover margin, so they should have probably been better than they were. The comparables, though, do not show a Super Bowl contender. Half of them won their first round game, but none of them won two games.  In fact, you have to go 28 teams deep to find the first team to win multiple playoff games (1988 San Francisco).

Washington Redskins 1999
Houston Oilers 1988
San Francisco 49ers 2002
Buffalo Bills 1998
San Francisco 49ers 1983
Seattle Seahawks 2003
Dallas Cowboys 2006
Pittsburgh Steelers 2002
Detroit Lions 1995
Los Angeles Rams 1988

GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-6)

The Packers outscored opponents by 148 points this year, but lost close games. If I told you that there top comparables include three 49ers teams led by Joe Montana in the 1980′s and a Tom Brady Patriots team, you would probably like their chances. Unfortunately, all of those teams lost in the playoffs early, with the exception of the 1983 San Francisco team. The Packers have a pretty darn good defense, can pass the ball, and win the turnover battle, but aren’t very good at running it.

I would have thought teams like the Packers would be prime candidates for a postseason run, though I will say that playing against the Lawrence Taylor Giants didn’t help matters.  These teams were probably better than the 5-10 playoff mark suggests and lost against good competition.  The next tier of ten teams also had 5 that reached a conference championship game.  Still, I am surprised the Packers don’t fare better. They strike me as the type of team (strong defense + good passing game, used to playing outdoors) that could make a run.

Seattle Seahawks 2007
New England Patriots 2009
Green Bay Packers 2001
San Francisco 49ers 1983
Los Angeles Rams 1988
San Francisco 49ers 1986
Cleveland Browns 1989
San Francisco 49ers 1985
San Diego Chargers 1979
San Francisco 49ers 1996

[photos via Getty]

 

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