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Wild Card 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.

The Wild Card round of the playoffs lacked a bit of the expected excitement with all favorites winning easily enough and the closest expected game feeling spoiled by the injury to Robert Griffin. In fact, just managing league average offensive performances was all that was necessary for all 4 winners. Looking ahead, the Broncos and Patriots remain most likely to dominate the AFC playoffs as Super Bowl favorites, while the NFC is wide open with all 4 remaining teams having similar odds.

(10-6) #6 Bengals 13 - 19 Texans #3 (12-4)
Offensive EPA: CIN (-8.5) - (-0.3) HOU
The Bengals were bad in net passing (-8.9) due to terrible normal pass plays (-3.9), while otherwise they were near average. The Texans overcame a costly pick-6 (-6.1) by avoiding sacks for a rather average final result in net passing (2.8). Houston ran the ball somewhat well (2.0), but also lost a few points in various other categories. They finished with about a league average performance on offense, which was enough considering the Bengals struggles.

(10-6) #6 Vikings 10 - 24 Packers #3 (11-5)
Offensive EPA: MIN (-4.7) - (8.7) GB
With backup Joe Webb at QB, the Vikings were very poor in net passing (-6.5). They actually managed to run the ball about as well (4.4) as the prior week, but with the much worse passing they were not nearly as effective overall. The Packers were not as effective through the air as last week either, but still managed a good mark in net passing (8.1) by avoiding interceptions. Green Bay was poor at rushing (-3.3) but made up for it on punts (3.1) by recovering a fumbled return.

(11-5) #5 Colts 9 - 24 Ravens #4 (10-6)
Offensive EPA: IND (-6.2) - (8.8) BAL
The Colts were a bit poor all around in net passing (-1.4) and were generally below average in other areas as well. The Ravens had a very good net passing day (13.4). They moved the ball well on rushes (4.5), but it was offset by 2 Ray Rice fumbles lost (-5.9).

(11-5) #5 Seahawks 24 - 14 Redskins #4 (10-6)
Offensive EPA: SEA (3.7) - (-6.3) WAS
The Seahawks made up for 5 sacks (-6.7) by avoiding interceptions and having good normal pass plays for a solid net passing mark (5.3). Seattle ran the ball very well (7.6) on called runs by both RBs and Russell Wilson. They did enough to overcome turnovers (-6.7) on a costly Marshawn Lynch goal line fumble and a failed 4th down conversion late in the game. The Redskins were poor in net passing (-0.4) with a hobbled Robert Griffin. They still ran the ball decently (2.5), but a lost fumbled snap (-4.7) on the play that sent Griffin to the bench, as well as 2 late failed 4th down attempts (-3.9) late in the game created some separation between the teams.

Byes: #1 Broncos (13-3), #2 Patriots (12-4), #1 Falcons (13-3), #2 49ers (11-4-1)

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