So now we have the NFL’s version of the Final Four; Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers. These four clubs have logged through a sixteen game regular season and passed the Divisional Playoff test for the right to compete for a trip to MetLife Stadium and Super Bowl XLVIII.
The League used its own seeding formula prior to the start of postseason play and by in large the formula brought their version of “the best of the best”. Both Denver and Seattle entered as #1 in their respective conferences, New England was seeded #2 in the AFC, and San Francisco finished second to the Seahawks in the NFC West, earning a #5 seed in the NFC.
But what if we hypothetically reseeded the Final Four without regard to regular season rankings in their respective divisions or conferences? How would that list look and what might those rankings reveal?
I’m going to randomly select a number of categories that are often used to evaluate a team and its relative production outside of a pure Win-Loss perspective. There’s no scientific equation or Las Vegas formula in my selection of these statistical groups, so let’s just have fun with what turns up and see what it might reveal.
- Points For (per game) – Denver, New England, Seattle, San Francisco
- Points Against (per game) – Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Denver
- Points Differential (per game) – Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New England
- Total Offense (per game) – Denver, New England, Seattle, San Francisco
- Passing Offense (per game) – Denver, New England, Seattle, San Francisco
- Rushing Offense (per game) – Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Denver
- Total Defense (per game) – Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, New England
- Passing Defense (per game) – Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Denver
- Rushing Defense (per game) – San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, New England
- Turnover Margin (per game) – Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Denver
- Giveaways (least per game) – San Francisco, Seattle, New England, Denver
- Takeaways (most per game) – Seattle, New England, San Francisco, Denver
- Penalty yardage (least per game) – New England, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle
- Strength of Schedule – San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, New England
These categories are by no means the definitive when it comes to predictors regarding the strength of a team. In fact you can look at a myriad of statistical rankings at TeamRankings.com. Depending on what you put your credence in when evaluating overall and specific team performance, this is a great site for ranking all 32 NFL clubs.
There’s no secret that Peyton Manning’s record setting year has vaulted the Denver Broncos to the top of just about every statistical passing category in the National Football League. The numerous weapons at both wide receiver and tight end have made them an extremely tough opponent once in the Red Zone and the Broncos execute their “formula” better than anyone in the NFL. That formula is getting out on top early, giving an “at times suspect defense” an edge, and forcing teams into playing catch up most of the game.
Denver lost at New England 34-31 OT. DNP Seattle or San Francisco.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
New England has been forced to change its identity through attrition and injuries that have plagued the Patriots throughout 2013-2014. The X Factor has been Brady/Belichick and their historical ability of finding a way to win regardless of their circumstances. The Patriots rarely beat themselves and have played the role of “chameleon” well throughout the season; they adjust to & game plan their opponent as well as anyone.
New England beat Denver 34-31 OT. DNP Seattle or San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
San Francisco is the defending NFC Champion but surrendered the 2013 NFC West title to Seattle. Colin Kaepernick’s season was slowed a bit at the start with lossess in Week 2 & 3 to the Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts. Jim Harbaugh takes the 49ers to the NFC Conference Championship for the 3rd straight season on the shoulders of one of the most balanced teams left in the playoffs, a dangerously mobile QB, and an opportunistic/smothering defense.
San Francisco lost at Seattle 29-3, won at San Francisco 19-17. DNP Denver or New England.
Seattle appears to be everyone’s favorite to win it all this season. The Seahawks brand of energetic football is a direct reflection of how this organization is both put together and run, on and off the field. Their attack style defense shuts down opponents and creates opportunities for an offense that can beat you on the ground and in the air. Their one bane might very well be an over-aggressiveness that leads to needless penalties and on occasion busted assignments.
Seattle beat San Francisco 29-3, lost at San Francisco 19-17. DNP Denver or New England.
So if The Football Educator was reseeding the NFL’s Final Four based upon the categories above, here’s how it would look;
- San Francisco
- New England
Like the new-look Pro Bowl, AFC-NFC affiliation wouldn’t matter and we’d be seeing Denver at Seattle, New England at San Francisco. Care to predict your Super Bowl XLVIII match up off those two games?