January 16, 2022

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The Purpose Each N.F.L. Playoff Group Will Lose

The Reason Every N.F.L. Playoff Team Will Lose

There aren’t any nigh-unbeatable 1972 Miami Dolphins or 2007 New England Patriots on this yr’s N.F.L. playoff subject. Every crew has no less than one crucial flaw. Opposing coaches have spent numerous hours scouring sport movie and statistical breakdowns trying to find these flaws. All you need to do is learn the next capsules.

The Cardinals fumbled (“aborted,” in N.F.L. parlance) 17 center-quarterback snaps this season. Per Soccer Outsiders analysis, that’s the best determine in no less than the final 12 years.

Soccer gamers grasp the snap early of their Pop Warner careers, so studying {that a} playoff crew botches a mean of 1 per sport is nearly as gorgeous as discovering that in addition they sometimes get misplaced on the way in which to the stadium.

The Payments completed third within the league in factors scored and first in fewest factors allowed, partially as a result of they performed what a number of analysts determined was the N.FL.’s best schedule. The Payments went 9-2 this season towards opponents that failed to achieve the postseason, outscoring them 318-144. The Payments went 2-4 towards playoff-bound opponents, with a way more modest plus-10 rating differential. The Payments are anticipated to face solely playoff groups within the playoffs.

Joe Burrow endured a league-high 51 regular-season sacks. Poor blocking was partially guilty, however Coach Zac Taylor’s sport plans additionally seem to consist largely of: a) spreading the formation so the Bengals’ offensive line will get no assist from tight ends or working backs; b) sending the rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase as far downfield as potential; c) hoping Burrow survives lengthy sufficient to throw the ball to him.

The Cowboys were penalized a league-high 127 instances within the common season. They have been additionally the beneficiaries of a league-high 121 penalties. Cowboys video games are almost unwatchable as a result of they’re usually determined not by nice offensive or defensive performs, however by 20-yard positive aspects negated by holding fouls or 35-yard cross interference penalties when a defender nudges a receiver whereas chasing an off-target throw. That’s extra a flaw of the N.F.L.’s officiating tradition than it’s the Cowboys, however it definitely is crucial.

The Packers have the N.F.L.’s worst special teams units. Opponents averaged a league-high 12.8 yards per punt return towards the Packers and 25.7 yards per kickoff return (seventh within the N.F.L.), whereas the veteran kicker Mason Crosby missed eight subject targets from contained in the 50-yard line.

The kicking sport is totally exterior quarterback Aaron Rodgers’s sphere of affect, in fact, a reality he’ll you should definitely remind us of if the Packers lose a playoff sport on a punt return landing or missed additional level.

Kansas Metropolis dedicated 25 turnovers, tied with the Tennessee Titans for the best whole amongst playoff groups. Additionally, almost each turnover the crew coughs up is a Rube Goldbergian sequence of unbelievable coincidences: The supposed receiver slips earlier than Patrick Mahomes delivers a side-armed cross, the ball ricochets off the receiver’s helmet and the antlers of a gazelle grazing alongside the sideline earlier than touchdown within the palms of a defender, who bobbles the ball straight into the palms of a teammate, who almost runs for a landing earlier than being chased down by the gazelle, or by the marginally quicker Tyreek Hill.

It’s troublesome to find out how the Raiders reached the playoffs, not to mention which of their many flaws is essentially the most crucial.

Matthew Stafford threw 17 interceptions this season, tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Trevor Lawrence for the league lead. He threw 5 of these interceptions from contained in the Rams’ 20-yard line. It’s as if each time Stafford sees that he must drive greater than 80 yards for a landing, he flashes again to his 12 seasons of Detroit Lions purgatory and turns into overwhelmed with despair.

The Patriots’ offense is extra of a household SUV than a sports activities automobile, and whereas the rookie quarterback Mac Jones retains his palms at 10 and a couple of o’clock and indicators earlier than each flip, he’s not fairly prepared for rush hour on the turnpike. Jones’s effectivity score on passes of 15-plus yards downfield of 58.4 ranks twenty seventh amongst beginning quarterbacks, per Sports activities Information Options. Pressure the Patriots out of their running-and-defense sport plan, and Jones seems to be extra like one other Zach Wilson than the subsequent Tom Brady.

The Eagles are the league’s finest speeding crew, averaging an N.F.L.-high 159.7 yards per sport. Sadly, Coach Nick Sirianni likes to precise himself artistically on the objective line with a lot of intricate passing ideas as an alternative of simply hammering the ball between the tackles. Because of this, the Eagles scored touchdowns on solely 69 p.c of their regular-season goal-to-go alternatives. Solely the Cardinals had a decrease success fee amongst playoff groups, maybe as a result of their signature goal-to-go play is a botched snap.

Ben Roethlisberger, who is predicted to retire at season’s finish, now throws and runs like a great-uncle taking part in a pickup sport at a yard cookout after three I.P.A.s and two helpings of potato salad, and the Steelers’ offense seems to be like archival footage of a 1928 Pottsville Maroons-Dayton Triangles sport performed in a vacant lot throughout a downpour.

Even when Jimmy Garoppolo is wholesome, his passes that journey greater than 10 yards within the air have the trajectory, accuracy and velocity of a paper clip flung from a rubber band. He’s at the moment coping with a finger damage on his throwing hand, so Coach Kyle Shanahan should both stretch the bounds of nano-screen passing expertise or give extra alternatives to the speedy, strong-armed rookie backup Trey Lance. The sensible cash, sadly and inexplicably, is on the nano-screens.

Tom Brady will probably be with out the highest playmakers Chris Godwin (anterior cruciate ligament tear) and Antonio Brown (examine Instagram) within the playoffs. Accidents and absences didn’t seem to hamper the Buccaneers of their last video games, however Brady may have crushed the Jets and Carolina Panthers just by swaggering onto the sphere and posing heroically.

Working again Derrick Henry’s imminent return from surgical procedure on his damaged foot is a combined blessing, as a result of the Titans could anticipate him to once more rush 30 instances per sport, scan tickets on the stadium entrance, and sing a halftime duet with Walker Hayes. Thankfully for Henry, the Titans earned a first-round playoff bye, giving him one other week to soak his toes in Epsom salts, fancy-like.

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