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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.

Through the divisional round of the playoffs, the Broncos remain our Super Bowl favorites, with a relatively high 52% chance of winning the championship. The Seahawks are not too far behind at 28%, with the 49ers (12%) and Patriots (8%) still having long odds despite being only 2 wins away.

(11-5) #6 Saints 15 - 23 Seahawks #1 (13-3)
Offensive EPA: NO (-6.0) - (3.5) SEA

The sports media has largely missed the mark in analyzing this game. While they credit the Seahawks defense and running game, the biggest factors were actually the Saints missing both field goal attempts (-4.4), failing on two 4th down conversion attempts (-3.5), and losing a Mark Ingram fumble (-3.6). Apart from those 5 plays, the Saints offense actually had success in net passing (6.8) by avoiding interceptions, and rushing (2.6). The Seahawks were below average in net passing (0.2) despite avoiding interceptions as well, because of very poor normal pass plays (1.9). But Seattle maintained above average overall offense with solid rushing (1.7), hitting all 3 of their field goals (2.1), and avoiding usual negatives in several lesser categories.

Impact Plays:
2nd Qtr 15:00 NO 2nd & 6 on own 24, M.Ingram lost fumble (-3.6 EPA)
4th Qtr 2:48 SEA 1st & 10 on NO 31, M.Lynch 31 yard TD run (3.5 EPA)
4th Qtr 0:32 NO 4th & 6 on SEA 9, M.Colston 9 yard TD catch (4.1 EPA)

(11-5) #4 Colts 22 - 43 Patriots #2 (12-4)
Offensive EPA: IND (-4.5) - (16.5) NE

The common analysis of this game is rather accurate. Quite simply, the Colts 4 interceptions (-15.5) and the Patriots great rushing (13.3) played huge roles. Indianapolis did have good normal pass plays (16.5) but they weren't quite enough to offset the interceptions. New England's strong offense was also aided by good net passing (7.9) mostly due to avoiding interceptions.

Impact Plays:
1st Qtr 13:53 IND 3rd & 2 on own 28, INT returned to IND 2 (-5.7 EPA)
1st Qtr 4:43 IND 1st & 10 on NE 38, L.Brazill 38 yard TD catch (3.8 EPA)
2nd Qtr 1:24 IND 1st & 10 on NE 39, INT returned to NE 36 (-3.5 EPA)
3rd Qtr 12:43 IND 3rd & 7 on own 40, T.Hilton 40 yard catch (3.1 EPA)
3rd Qtr 5:08 IND 1st & 10 on NE 35, L.Brazill 35 yard TD catch (3.7 EPA)
4th Qtr 13:08 NE 1st & 10 on own 27, L.Blount 73 yard TD run (5.6 EPA)
4th Qtr 12:55 IND 1st & 15 on own 15, INT returned to IND 18 (-3.5 EPA)

(12-4) #5 49ers 23 - 10 Panthers #2 (12-4)
Offensive EPA: SF (11.4) - (-1.6) CAR

The 49ers had good net passing (9.7) mostly by minimizing negative plays. They also had somewhat strong rushing (2.1) and field goals (2.1). The Panthers had the best normal pass plays (17.3) of the divisional round, but it was offset by 2 interceptions (-7.0) and 5 sacks (-3.9) for only slightly above average overall net passing (6.4). Carolina also lost many situational points in lesser categories, including failing on 4th down at the goal line (-2.3) and not converting field position to points on the final plays of each half (-4.5).

Impact Plays:
1st Qtr 6:27 CAR 2nd & 3 on own 41, INT returned to CAR 46 (-3.3 EPA)
2nd Qtr 13:47 CAR 1st & 10 on SF 31, S.Smith 31 yard TD catch (3.5 EPA)
3rd Qtr 10:18 SF 1st & 10 on CAR 47, A.Boldin 45 yard catch (3.4 EPA)
4th Qtr 4:34 CAR 1st & 10 on SF 28, INT returned to SF 27 (-3.7 EPA)
4th Qtr 0:12 CAR 2nd & 10 on own 34, T.Ginn 59 yard catch (3.9 EPA)
4th Qtr 0:01 CAR 1st & 7 on SF 7, Inc pass ending game (-4.5 EPA)

(9-7) #6 Chargers 17 - 24 Broncos #1 (13-3)
Offensive EPA: SD (1.0) - (10.0) DEN

The Chargers offense was close to average in most areas, with solid net passing (6.0) by avoiding interceptions despite 4 sacks (-5.0). The media again missed the mark on the Broncos, whose success was actually more due to good net passing (10.6) than their solid rushing (4.4). The 3 biggest plays in this game netted the Chargers a 12-point edge, but the rest of the game was a series of small gains for Denver.

Impact Plays:
2nd Qtr 0:35 DEN 3rd & Goal on SD 4, INT for touchback (-4.1 EPA)
4th Qtr 13:03 SD 3rd & 4 on DEN 16, K.Allen 16 yard TD catch (3.3 EPA)
4th Qtr 7:38 SD 4th & 5 on own 25, K.Allen 49 yard catch (4.2 EPA)

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