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Divisional Round Rundown

Each week we rundown every game using our advanced play-by-play statistics to examine exactly how each game was won and what it means going forward. Our expected points added (EPA) analysis assigns a net point value gained or lost to every single play so we can see exactly on which types of plays teams excelled or failed, and ultimately where games were won. The EPA while each team was on offense gives a more representative measure of offensive efficiency than real life score by separating offensive success from advantages gained or lost by defensive stops, takeaways, and scores. View our complete stats for every play type each week on the Games page.

Following a slightly low-scoring and perhaps defense dominated wild card round, the divisional round of the playoffs saw offenses having their way. In fact, all 8 teams scored more points than any team did in the wild card round. Our advanced metrics also indicated that offenses were nearly unstoppable, with every team generating at least a net advantage of 5 points above league averages. The Broncos losing leaves the Patriots as heavy Super Bowl favorites, with a 54% chance of winning the Super Bowl. Though Vegas lines like the 49ers more, home-field advantage gives the Falcons a slight edge in the NFC championship in our model. But since the 49ers are slightly higher rated and would face better odds in the Super Bowl should they make it, both teams have about a 17% chance of winning the Super Bowl. The Ravens path to a Super Bowl trophy would require 2 more upset victories, which puts them at just a 13% chance.

(10-6) #4 Ravens 38 - 35 Broncos #1 (13-3)
Offensive EPA: BAL (7.0) - (5.4) DEN
Both offenses in this game were more than league average efficient, but not quite to the level the score implies because much of the success came on a few explosive plays. For the 2nd straight playoff game, the Ravens net passing (17.0) was among their best of the season. In most other areas, Baltimore was a bit poor, with the biggest issues being a lost fumbled snap (-3.7) and unsuccessful punts (-1.9) due to a return touchdown. The Broncos were great on normal pass plays (19.3), but 2 interceptions (-9.4) resulted in only a bit better than average net passing (6.5). Denver also had success on kick returns (4.7) thanks to Trindon Holliday's other return touchdown of the game, but they lost significant ground with bad rushing (-4.8) and missing their only field goal attempt (-2.1).

(11-5) #3 Packers 31 - 45 49ers #2 (11-4-1)
Offensive EPA: GB (13.9) - (26.6) SF
The Packers net passing (8.6) was similar to last week as they were somewhat efficient by avoiding many negative plays. They were actually also helped by their 2nd best rushing mark (5.6) of the season, but it wasn't quite enough to keep up with an amazingly effective 49ers offense. San Francisco overcame an early pick-6 (-7.7) to still finish with a good mark in overall net passing (7.2). But their real success was called run plays (18.0), where they posted the best mark by any team in the league since 2009. That number includes QB runs but not scrambles. The 49ers also scored well on punts (4.5) by recovering a muffed return.

(11-5) #5 Seahawks 28 - 30 Falcons #1 (13-3)
Offensive EPA: SEA (11.3) - (14.3) ATL
The Falcons were very effective in net passing (11.7) and rushing (4.9). The rushing mark was actually their best all year. The Seahawks followed suit with their best net passing (25.0) performance of the year on called pass plays. Their downfall on offense was turnovers (-5.5) on a Marshawn Lynch fumble lost and a failed 4th down conversion attempt. Running out of time at the end of the 1st half in the red zone also cost them another few points. Despite the loss and most of the responsibility for the end of the 1st half failure, it was a remarkable playoff performance by rookie QB Russell Wilson.

(12-4) #3 Texans 28 - 41 Patriots #2 (12-4)
Offensive EPA: HOU (11.3) - (23.0) NE
The Texans had success in net passing (7.0), rushing (3.4), and kick returns (4.6), but like other teams, their defense did not hold up their end of the bargain. The Patriots were very effective in net passing (14.8) and rushing (5.7), with contributions from the special teams as well on field goals (1.2) and punts (2.7). For the 2nd time of the year, the Patriots had one of their best overall offensive performances against Houston.

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