Rankings are from the final regular season stats. Numbers represent overall and specific NFL rankings by points except pass/run ranked by yardage. Depending on who has the ball, compare offense/defense strengths in pass/run yardage to anticipate best game plan. Top five in each category are bolded. Red font for best in each category.
Sunday, Jan 22, 1:05 PM MT FOX
#8 Green Bay at #2 Atlanta
Atlanta Offense #1: 1 Pass 5 Run GB Offense #4: 15 Pass 7 Run
GB Defense #21: 32 Pass 14 Run Atlanta Defense #27: 11 Pass 26 Run
We’ve got the #1 and # 4 best offenses in the NFL against the #21 and #27 defenses. Although I prefer a better offense/defense match-up than that, Rogers’ cool presence and incredible performance is compelling and you’ve gotta like the guy. This will be a shoot-out. Some say the winner will be whoever has the ball last. Could be.
When Atlanta has the ball: Atlanta’s top passing offense will go against the worst pass defense in the NFL. Atlanta has a strong running game but Atlanta should mostly pass which I think they usually do anyway. I’ll be surprised if Atlanta doesn’t score every time they have the ball.
When GB has the ball: Roger’s incredible second-half streak makes the season-long #15 pass ranking too low. Atlanta has a respectable #11 pass defense, but Rogers has been shredding good defenses pretty much every week. GB also has a strong running game which should do well against Atlanta’s #26 run defense.
Will Ryan, Kyle Shanahan – Atlanta’s offensive coordinator extraordinaire, and Atlanta’s top offense in the NFL be able to outscore the seemingly unstoppable One-Man Wrecking Crew, Rogers? Will the last one with the ball win? It may come down to turnovers or maybe even special teams – who has the ball more often and in better field position. Atlanta looks like it has a better chance of intercepting Rogers than GB intercepting Ryan. Wonder how much scoring will happen in the last two minutes. Projected Winner: Atlanta
Sunday, Jan 22, 4:49 PM MT CBS
#5 Pittsburgh vs. #1 New England
NE Offense #3: 3 Pass 25 Run Pittsburgh Offense #10: 13 Pass 8 Run
Pittsburgh Defense #10: 15 Pass 19 Run NE Defense #1: 8 Pass 8 Run
NE is ranked #1 in the NFL (net points). They do it or close to it every year. Not sure how. Brady is a great QB and cool under pressure with great receivers. Coach Belichick is enigmatic. Anyway, the Patriots obviously have a great organization and look unstoppable this year – again.
When NE has the ball: Don’t really see how Pittsburgh’s so-so defense can stop NE’s top-tier passing game though they should slow down NE’s running game. NE should strike quickly and often.
When Pittsburgh has the ball: Pittsburgh has a respectable running game and Roethlisberger is still dangerous. But they are going against the best defense (points) in the NFL. They’ll score but will also probably turn the ball over.
This could also turn into a shoot-out of sorts between Brady and Roethlisberger but with a probable positive turnover differential and all their weapons, NE should win going away. Projected Winner: New England