Any given Sunday: a Denver Broncos playoff picture

I am the first to admit that I love statistics. I love seeing the proof in black and white who the better team or player is. It’s the only way to make a logical decision on what the outcome of a game will be. It’s how all the experts project their opinions and all anybody in the NFL will be talking about for the next month.

Preparing for the Denver Broncos playoff outlook I was going to do just that, analyze the statistics like usual to predict the best and most likely scenario for a Broncos win.

The statistics seem to explain the regular season fairly well. The yardage numbers, percentages and points seem to accurately reflect the players and team that they represent.

Unconventionally, writing a full playoff prediction based on the regular season statistics would be an injustice. Something seems to happen once the new year passes and those statistics don’t seem as relevant. Going back 10 years it is easy to see: the best team in the league – based on the statistics – is not the team that wins a Super Bowl or necessarily even gets a chance to play in it.

1075730519_7008

Tom Brady celebrates after winning Super Bowl XXXVIII (Photo Credit: Globe Staff/Jim Davis)

In the past 10 seasons only one team with the most winningest record has won a Super Bowl, exactly 10 years ago in Super Bowl XXXVIII when the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29. Only once in the past 10 seasons has both AFC and NFC leaders faced each other in the Super Bowl, in 2009 in Super Bowl XLIV when the Saints beat the Colts 31-17.

In the 2010 season, breaking it down by each playoff game only three out of the 11 games had teams win who had a record better than their opponent. In 2011 five won and in 2012 four won. This can tell us that more often than not, it is the underdog who ends up winning the game.

Again I will stress that the only time where a team has won the Super Bowl when going into the playoffs being the best team in the NFL (had the most wins) was exactly 10 years ago. This is including the Patriots having an undefeated season in 2007.

Focusing on the Denver Broncos and the AFC:

History:

  • Out of the nine times in the past ten years that the Patriots have been in the playoffs they have made it to the Super Bowl four of those times and won the Super Bowl twice.
  • The Colts have also made it to the playoffs nine times and of those made it to the Super Bowl twice, losing one and winning one.
  • The Broncos, Bengals and Chiefs have all lost in the playoffs in the past 10 years with the Bengals and Chiefs both losing in their wild card round every time.

With those playoff statistics and my own intuition my playoff prediction:

  • AFC Divisional Playoff:
    • Bengals at Patriots
    • Colts at Broncos
  • AFC Conference Championship:
    • Patriots at Broncos
  • Super Bowl:
    • Denver Broncos vs Carolina Panthers

Demaryius Thomas Catches 80-yard touchdown pass in the 2011 season playoffs (Photo Credit: ESPN)

It is an undeniable fact that the comfort of the regular season is over. The statistics that we rely on might as well be erased. That simple comfort that we once had however could be replaced with the overwhelming joy as when Tim Tebow threw, on his first completion of overtime, a touchdown pass to Demaryuis Thomas to win the game against the Steelers. However there is also the risk of losing that comfort of the regular season when the unimaginable happens such as the Broncos disaster last season (in which I still refuse to watch the replays).

It is anybody’s game during the playoffs so sit back enjoy the heart wrenching moments and hope that your team – in my case the Broncos – have the most heart and talent that day to come out on top. On any given Sunday anything is possible.