Vince Lombardi

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INSIDE SPORTS ANALYTICS
with
EDWARD EGROS
(FOX4 - DALLAS)

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THE CHALKBOARD

Championship Round Playoff Preview

AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

Kansas City (-3) vs. New England

PLAY DESIGN DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Kansas City 1st; New England 4th
PLAYER PRODUCTIVITY DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: Kansas City 1st; New England 6th
TURNOVER MARGIN: Kansas City 6th (+9); New England 5th (+10)

Better designed teams like Kansas City playing at home in the conference championship are 9-0 SU and 7-0-2 ATS since 2008. But there are three wild cards here. First, Bill Belichick in a big game does not need to win the design battle. Indeed, in 4 of the Patriots 5 Super Bowl wins, Belichick lost the design battle. But Chiefs' QB Pat Mahomes turns the ball over a lot less in Arrowhead then on the road so Belichick probably is going to have to come up with something on defense to slow down Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travic Kelce. Perhaps the second wild card will help: the weather. Originally, meterologists were calling for an arctic blast. But now it looks like temperatures will be in the high 20s with winds below 15 mph. Finally, perhaps most importantly, HC Andy Reid will be without RB Kareem Hunt who averaged 114 yards rushing, 101.5 yards receiving, and 2 TDs per game in his two enounters with New England. Hunt will be missed, but Mahomes still has Hill, Kelce and Sammie Watkins. Belichick will want to get the lead so expect the Patriots to opt to receive if they win the coin toss. If OC Josh McDaniels can get the lead, he will give KC DC Bob Sutton a heavy helping of RB Sony Michel. But no NFL teams starts quicker than the Chiefs at home. If KC gets out of the gate with its usual brilliant burst of speed, Patriots QB Tom Brady will have his work cut out for him. Brady's weapons like Julian Edelman are quarter-milers, not sprinters like Mahomes weapons. Moreover, playing typically from in front, the Kansas City pass rush led by DT Chris Jones and LBs Justin Houston and "Tenacious" Dee Ford have sacked opposing QBs for at least -13 yards in losses in all 9 home games for -20 yards or more in 8 of 9 home games. Brady and his teammates are 1-4 SU and ATS when sacked for at least -13 yards.

QC's Pick: Kansas City Chiefs SU and ATS

New England (-4) vs. LA Chargers

NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

New Orleans (-3) vs. LA Rams

PLAY DESIGN DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: New Orleans 12th; LA Rams 6th
PLAYER PRODUCITIVITY DIFFERENTIAL RANKINGS: New Orleans 5th; LA Rams 3rd
TURNOVER MARGIN: New Orleans 7th (+8); LA Rams 4th (+11)

New Orleans running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram took a little time to get traction in the Saints 20-14 Divisional Round win over Philadelphia, but in the end proved too much for the Eagles. HC Sean Payton (and OC Pete Carmichael) relie on the ground game and defense more than he ever has in his tenure in the Big Easy. He will again on Sunday. LA stoned Dallas' Zeke Elliott last week, but gave up more than 100 yards rusing in 9 of its last 10 regular season games. The Saints are 10-3 ATS when their runners top the century mark. Payton will challenge Wade Phillips with Kamara, Ingram and versatile backup QB Taysom Hill and see if Aaron Donald and company can hold up. If they cannot, QB Drew Brees should again be able to work over the LA secondary with Michael Thomas and the rest of Payton's fungible receiving parts. There will be a lot of pressure on Rams' QB Jared Goff to keep up. Goff should have a few moments, but DC Dennis Allen's pass coverage has gotten much better since the last time HC Sean McVay and Goff were in town. Goff had fearless Cooper Kupp in that game, but he is out for the year with a knee injury and it doesn't look like McVay has anyone else who can give him the fearlessness and 5 catches for 89 yards and a TD that Kupp provided in the last meeting. Finally, New Orleans' D started forcing turnovers at a healthy pace late in the season as well. The Saints are +5 TO at home and LA has committed 8 TO. The Rams are the better designed team, but put it all together and it looks like LA will be hard-pressed to break the 0-6 conference championship game skid that better designed road teams. And those losses have been by 6, 38, 34, 2, 31, and 4 points.

QC's Pick: New Orleans Saints ATS and SU.

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