Tuesday, January 1, 2013
This will be boring; I'm picking chalk all the way through.
I'm going to deal with three of the advanced metric systems; Bryan Burke's, Football Outsiders, and PF-Reference.
Bengals at Texans: The Texans are better, but not by a lot, by each of the systems.
Offense: Burke: Texans 12th/Bengals 19th
FO: Texans 16th/Bengals 17th
PFR: Texans 1.8/Bengals 1.2
Defense: Burke: Bengals 7th/Texans 10th
FO: Texans 3rd/Bengals 10th
PFR: Texans 1.7/Bengals .9
The line's 4.5 which is a stay away, I'd pick Texans by 5.
Colts at Ravens: The Ravens are better by each of the systems
Offense: Burke: Colts 16th/Ravens 17th
FO: Ravens 13th/Colts 18th
PFR: Ravens 1.9/Colts -1.9
Defense: Burke: Ravens 16/Colts 30
FO: Ravens 19th/Colts 31
PFR: Ravens 1/Colts -2.8
The line's 6.5 which is a stay away. I'd pick Ravens by 6.
No results in those games would be as surprising as any of those four teams making it to the conference title; there's a healthy difference between the Denver/Patriots group and the other four teams.
In this scenario it's:
Ravens at Broncos
Texans at Patriots
I'm likely to favor Denver by 10 and NE by 7. If one of those games were to go the wrong way it would be Houston upsetting NE. Far and away, the most likely AFC result is:
Patriots at Broncos
Offense: Burke: Patriots 1/Broncos 2
FO: Patriots 1/Broncos 2
PFR: Patriots 12.2/6.3
Defense: Burke: Broncos 2/Patriots 29
FO: Broncos 5/Patriots 15
PFR: Broncos 3.8/Patriots .5
The AFC isn't that complicated; the two best offenses in the league are Pats/Denver, but Denver also can play defense and the Pats can't. NE offense is the top unit in all of football, it makes them elite all by itself, but the defense isn't as good as potential second round opponent Houston's. There's an open door for the Texans, but it's not a big opening.
Denver shouldn't have much trouble getting to the AFC Championship game; I'm likely to favor them by 6 - offense is the more important of the two sides, so the Patriots monstrous offense, now with the TE back, gives them a chance under any scenario - but the defensive gulf is too wide for me, and I'll take the Denver Broncos to go to the Super Bowl.