We are just a couple of days away from Super Bowl 51 and the end of the 2016 NFL season. Many people are choosing sides hoping for either the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons to come out victorious, while others really don’t care who wins… they just hope for a good game.
Will it be a close game? If history has anything to say about it, then we can expect a tight contest. In six of the last nine Super Bowls, the game was decided by eight points or less… a one-score game.
Looking at the last 10 years of NFL playoff contests, there is a very distinct pattern when it comes to how close games are from the Wild Card games through the Super Bowl. Here’s a breakdown of margin of victory for all playoff rounds from 2007-2016 (obviously the 2016 Super Bowl is not included in these numbers).
|8 points or less||9-19 points||20 pts or more||Ave. margin of win|
|Wild Card games||37.5%||42.5%||20.0%||12.0|
As you can see, playoff games in the last 10 years have an average margin of victory that goes down with each round of the playoffs; the numbers of close games increase as we go from the Wild Card games to the Super Bowl; and blowouts (margin of victory of 20 points or more) happened more frequently in the early round versus the last two rounds.
One note: In this year’s championship games, the Patriots and Falcons both won their games by more than 15 points (New England defeated Pittsburgh 36-17, a 19-point win and the Falcons won by 23 over the Green Bay Packers, 44-21). It was the first time that both championship games in a season were decided by 15 or more points since 2005 when Pittsburgh beat Denver 34-17 and Seattle beat Carolina 34-14.
Yes, we all hope for a good, close game. Now that we have the numbers in front of us, watch, it will be a blowout.
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Here are several stats you may not know from the Packers 44-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on January 22, 2017 (the stats all reflect playoff games unless otherwise noted).
- Green Bay is now 5-4 in NFC Championship Games in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). They are 2-1 at home and 3-3 in road NFC title games. They have now lost three of the last four NFC title games in which they played. Their nine Championship Game appearances is tied for seventh most in the league and their four losses is tied for eighth.
- The Packers are now 13-11 in playoff games when they do not score first in the contest.
- Green Bay is 1-2 in playoff games when Mason Crosby misses a field goal.
- The Pack did not score in the first quarter (the Falcons had a 10-0 lead). They are now 10-8 in playoff games when they do not score in the first quarter… they have lost five of their last eight.
- Green Bay had a pair of turnovers in the game and are now 3-9 in playoff games when they commit two or more turnovers.
- Atlanta had a 24-0 lead at halftime. The Packers have now been scoreless in the first half of two playoff games since 1966, both at the hands of the Falcons (the other game was a 27-7 loss to Atlanta in 2002). NFL teams are 17-88 (.162 winning percentage) in playoff games when they do not score in the first half.
- Atlanta QB Matt Ryan had a Passer Rating of 139.4 in the game. It was the third best Passer Rating in a playoff contest against the Packers (Kurt Warner has the best at 154.1 with Arizona on January 10, 2010). Green Bay is 2-7 in playoff games when the opposing QB has a Passer Rating over 100.
- Atlanta receiver Julio Jones had nine receptions for 180 yards. It was the most receiving yards versus the Packers in a playoff game by an opposing player. The Pack is 1-4 in playoff games when an opposing player has 150 or more yards receiving.
- The Falcons had 493 total yards of offense in the game. The Packers have lost six of the last seven playoff games when they allow 400 or more total yards.
- Aaron Rodgers’ Passer Rating for the game was 91.6. When Rodgers’ PR is 100 or better the team is 6-1 in playoff games; when his PR is under 100, the Packers are 3-6 in playoff contests.
- Rodgers had an interception in the game… Green Bay is now 2-6 in playoff games when Rodgers throws an interception.
- Atlanta scored in every quarter in the game. When the opposition scores in every quarter of a playoff game, the Pack is 3-7.
- Rodgers led the team with 46 yards rushing. That was the second most rushing yards for him in a playoff game; the most was 66 yards rushing against the New York Giants on January 15, 2012.
- The Falcons converted on 76.9 percent of their third downs. That was the highest percentage against the Packers in a playoff game. Green Bay is 5-6 in playoff games when the opponents convert 50% or more of their third downs.
- Atlanta tallied 10.3 yards per pass play in the game, the second most in a playoff game versus the Packers. Green Bay is now 0-5 when the opponents average 8.0 of more per pass play in a playoff contest.
- Green Bay had only 26:21 time of possession in the game and are now 2-5 in playoff games when their T.O.P. is under 27 minutes.
- The Pack has now lost five straight and 10 of their last 12 playoff games when they score less than 24 points.
- The Packers are now 1-12 in playoff games when they allow 30 or more points, and are 0-9 all-time when they allow 32 or more points in a playoff contest.
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Here are some of the numbers that helped define the Packers 34-31 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys on January 15. (All stats are playoff stats unless otherwise noted.)
- The Packers are now 7-7 in divisional round playoff games since 1990 (4-1 at home, 3-6 on the road). The win over Dallas was their first division round playoff win on the road since 2010 when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 15, 2011 (same date five years later) 48-21.
- In all road playoff games in the Super Bowl era (since 1966), the Pack is 9-12, but they are 5-3 since 2010.
- The Cowboys scored first in the game. Green Bay has won four of their last six playoff contests when the opposition scores first. They are 7-8 since 2000.
- Green Bay had the lead after the first quarter, 7-3. Since 1966 the Packers are now 16-4 in playoff games when they are ahead after the first quarter.
- Ty Montgomery had a pair of rushing TDs in the game becoming the first Packers running back to have two rushing TDs in a playoff game since Ryan Grant had three on January 12, 2008 against Seattle. Montgomery is the sixth Packers running back to have two or more rushing TDs in a playoff game; in addition to Montgomery and Grant, the others are Ahman Green, Edgar Bennett, Travis Williams and Elijah Pitts.
- Green Bay had the halftime lead, 21-13. In playoff games where the Packers have scored 20 or more points in the first half, the team is 11-1. Their only loss was on January 12, 2013 to the 49ers.
- Micah Hyde had an interception and sack in the contest. It was his first career playoff sack and first career playoff pick. He became the 47th player in NFL history to have a sack and interception in a playoff game. Other Packers on this list are Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett and LeRoy Butler.
- Aaron Rodgers threw an interception in the game; the team is now 2-5 in playoff games where he throws one or more pick. The team is 7-1 in playoff games when he does not throw an interception.
- The Packers led 28-13 going into the fourth quarter. NFL teams are 147-2 in playoff games when they have a 15-point or more lead going into the final period.
- Green Bay did allow 15 points to Dallas in the fourth quarter. Teams are 20-35 when they allow the opposition to score 15 or more in the fourth quarter. It was the third time the Packers have done so, but it was their first playoff win when they allowed 15+ points in the final quarter.
- Mason Crosby had 10 points in a playoff game for the third time in his career. He is now tied with Antonio Freeman for most playoff games with 10 or more points for the Packers.
- Rodgers passed for 356 yards and two TDs. It was his fourth career playoff game with 350 passing yards and two or more TD passes. That ties him with Drew Brees for third on the all-time list. Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner top the list with five such games.
- Green Bay scored in each quarter of the game versus the Cowboys. The team is now 12-3 in playoff games when they tally points in each of the four quarters.
- Jared Cook had six catches for 104 yards for his first 100-yard receiving game of his career in the playoffs.
- Two special team stats of note: Crosby had six touchbacks on six kickoffs; punter Jake Schum had three punts for an average of 54.7 yards.
- In the Super Bowl era, the Packers are now 15-2 in playoff games when they score 30 or more points. Those 17 games are second most in NFL playoff history (Dallas has 21 playoff games with 30 or more points scored). In playoff games where the Pack allowed the opponents to score 30 or more points, they are 1-11… this was their first playoff win when they allowed 30 or more points.
- The Packers were 0-4 coming into this game in playoff contests decided by three points or less. This was their first win in a playoff game decided by three points or less in the Super Bowl era.
- Dallas and Green Bay combined for 65 points. The Pack is 5-5 in games where the teams combined for 60 or more points. The 65 points is tied for fourth most in Packers history for a playoff game.
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Here are some of the numbers that helped define the Packers 38-13 playoff win over the New York Giants on January 8. (All stats are playoff stats unless otherwise noted.)
- The Packers are now 17-5 in home playoff games. They are 6-5 at home in the playoffs since 2000 and have now won three of their last four.
- Since 2001, the Packers have won the coin toss in a playoff game 11 times and are 7-4 in those games. They have won the last three playoff games in which they have won the coin toss.
- The Giants scored first in the game. Green Bay is 12-10 in playoff games since 1965 when the opponents score first; they are 9-5 at home and 3-5 on the road in these games.
- Green Bay was held scoreless in the first quarter. They are 10-7 in playoff contests when they do not score in the first quarter, 6-3 at home, 4-4 on the road.
- Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times in the game. You would think that would not be a good omen; however, the Pack is 4-1 in playoff games when their QB is sacked five or more times.
- The Pack had a 14-6 lead at halftime. In playoff games where they have a lead of seven points or more at halftime, the team is 22-3. They have now won seven of their last eight of these games.
- Randall Cobb had three TD receptions. It was only the second time in Packers history that a player had three TD receptions in a playoff game. Sterling Sharpe had three on Jan. 8, 1994 (did you notice it’s the same date!) in Green Bay’s 28-24 win over Detroit.
- Aaron Rodgers had four TD passes for the second time in a playoff game in his career (the other game was Green Bay’s 51-45 loss to Arizona on January 10, 2010). The other Green Bay QBs to have four TD passes in a single playoff game were Bart Starr and Lynn Dickey.
- Rodgers’ Quarterback Rating (QBR) for the contest was 125.2. It was his seventh playoff game with a QBR over 100; Brett Favre leads the team with nine. It was Rodgers’ fifth playoff game with a QBR over 120, most on the Packers team. In fact, Rodgers’ five playoff games with a QBR over 120 are tied with Joe Montana for the most in NFL history.
- With four TD passes, 350+ yards passing and no interceptions, Rodgers became only the fourth QB in league history to have a 4-350-0 game in the playoffs. The others: Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Kurt Warner.
- The Packers were ahead 24-13 going into the fourth quarter. Green Bay is now 15-3 in playoff games where they score 24 or more points before the start of the fourth quarter.
- Green Bay had an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter; they are 19-0 in playoff games when they have a lead of 10 or more points going into the fourth quarter.
- Davante Adams and Randall Cobb both had over 100 yards receiving in the game. It was the fourth playoff game in Packers history where two receivers gained over 100 yards in a playoff game. Adams and Cobb did in on Jan. 11, 2015, Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings did it on Jan. 10, 2010 and Robert Brooks and Keith Jackson did it on Jan. 6, 1996.
- Green Bay had over 400 total yards in the game and is now 5-4 in playoff games when they gain 400 or more total yards in the contest.
- The Pack had two takeaways and is now 22-9 in playoff games when they get two or more takeaways in a post-season game. They also had zero turnovers in the game and are 12-1 in playoff contests when they do not turn over the ball.
- Green Bay had 34:31 minutes time of possession in the game and is now 6-0 in playoff games when they have the ball for 34 minutes or more (in a non-overtime game).
- They are now 15-2 in playoff games when they score 30 or more points. They are 22-2 when they hold the opposition to under 20 points in a playoff game.
While we celebrated the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series in 2016, Cleveland Indians fans for the second time in almost two decades lost a Game 7 in the World Series. Back in 1997, the Tribe lost in Game 7 to the Florida Marlins. The franchise finally got back to the World Series again last season, but another Game 7 loss prevented a World Series crown and celebration for the city.
Over the past 40-plus seasons (since 1969 when baseball went from two leagues, American and National, to two divisions in each league), there has been 16 teams that have lost a Game 7 in the World Series… the Indians’ loss last year was the 16th time. Of the previous 15 times, 13 of those franchises that lost a Game 7 in the World Series eventually made it back to the World Series. Of those previous 15 times, 12 eventually won a World series.
Let’s take a look at the franchises since 1969 that have lost a World Series Game 7 and if/when they made it back to the World Series and if/when they won a World Series title.
|Team, year they lost game 7 of World Series||Back to World Series||Won World Series|
|Kansas City, 2014||2015||2015|
|Texas, 2011||(not yet)||(not yet)|
|San Francisco, 2002||2010||2010|
|New York Yankees, 2001||2003||2009|
|Cleveland, 1997||2016||(not yet)|
|St. Louis, 1987||2004||2006|
|St. Louis, 1985||1987||2006|
|Milwaukee, 1982||(not yet)||(not yet)|
|New York Mets, 1973||1986||1986|
As you can see, the Milwaukee Brewers have been waiting a long time to atone for that Game 7 loss in the 1982 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, more than 30 years since they have been back to the World Series as a franchise.
One final stat: Of the previous 15 teams that lost a Game 7 in the World Series since 1969, seven of the 15 made the playoffs the following year; in addition, four of the 15 had a winning percentage under .500 the year after they lost that Game 7 in the Fall Classic.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp