Division Round Preview – Sporting Intelligence

Concise & Impartial Matchup Analysis Visualized

The Division Round is inarguably the best weekend of pro football every season.

Re-tread from last week’s newsletter with updated key metrics of the 8 remaining teams:

  • Of the 8 remaining teams in the Divisional Round, the Giants have the worst regular season point differential at 0.

  • Only the Jags rank outside the T10 in our offensive efficiency ratings.

  • Five of the Top 6 defenses in the league by our efficiency ratings have made it to the Divisional Round. Five of the Top 7 teams by Net YPP have made it to the Divisional Round.

  • Over L2 seasons, 7 of 8 teams to reach Conference Championships had a T10 OE rating Only 2 of 8 teams to reach Conf Championships had a T5 DE rating: ’21 Rams, ’20 Bucs. Both won SB

    • NFC teams with T10 OE ratings: Philly, Dallas, SF, NYG

    • NFC teams with T10 OE, DE ratings: Philly, SF, Dallas

    • AFC teams with T10 OE ratings: KC, Cincy, Buffalo

    • AFC teams with T10 OE, DE ratings: Cincy, Buffalo

  • Eight of the top 10 teams by Net YPP rating at season end made the playoffs. Net YPP is an excellent indicator of a team’s overall efficacy.

  • Over L2 seasons, 6 of 8 teams to reach Conference Championships had a point differential greater than +100.

    • Teams with point differentials greater than +100: Buffalo, SF, Dallas, Philly, KC

Onto the matchups!

Jack Nicholson Nod GIFs | Tenor

KC (-9.5) vs. JAX (O/U 52.5)

  • The Chiefs will make their 2022-23 postseason debut with elite rankings across the board on the offensive side of the ball. Despite ranking 26th in our defensive efficiency ratings, the Chiefs rank 1st in the league in Net YPP (YPP gained – YPP allowed).

  • The Chiefs have the 7th most efficient offense in our database by our offensive efficiency ratings since 2010. The only offenses to top the 2022 Chiefs are the Packers in two Rodgers MVP seasons, the Saints in Drew Brees’ prime on a Super Bowl run, the Patriots in two Super Bowl runs with Brady and the Broncos in their 2013 Super Bowl run with Peyton Manning.

  • The Chiefs enter this game with two full weeks of rest, while the Jaguars have played for their season in the L2 weeks with dramatic wins at home over the Titans and Chargers. KC’s offense enters with significant advantages in the passing game, on 3rd down, in the red zone and on the offensive line:

    • KC ranks 1st in passing YPG; JAX ranks 27th in passing YPG allowed

    • KC ranks 2nd in explosive passing plays created; JAX ranks 28th in explosive passing plays allowed

    • KC offense ranks 2nd in 3rd down conversion rate; JAX defense ranks 29th in 3rd down conversion rate

    • KC offense ranks 2nd in red zone conversion rate; JAX defense ranks 24th in red zone conversion rate

    • KC’s OL ranks 3rd in sacks allowed; JAX ranks 25th in sacks

  • Since Week 10, the Jags’ defense has turned in some solid performances against bad offenses: TEN 2x (22nd in OE), HOU (26th in OE), NYJ (31st in OE). They have been shredded by good offenses: DAL (5th in OE), DET (3rd in OE), KC (1st in OE). The splits in points and 1H points are noticeable:

    • Vs. bad offenses: 11.0 PPG allowed, 9.3 1H PPG allowed

    • Vs. good offenses: 33.7 PPG allowed, 21.3 1H PPG allowed

  • We recommended a two-team, 6-point teaser of Chiefs -2.5 / Eagles -1.5 teaser earlier in the week on our podcast (link below) earlier this week when the Chiefs opened at -8.5. At -9.5, the 6-point teaser is no longer +EV.

  • In KC’s Week 10 matchup with JAX, they posted 314 total yds of offense on 33 plays (9.5 yards per play). They fumbled at Jacksonville’s 12-yd line on their first drive and still managed to post 20 points of offense. We like Chiefs on 1H -5.5 and 1H TT O16. The Chiefs have the weapons to carve up this Jaguars defense that ranks 29th in TE receiving yds allowed, 26th in passing TD’s allowed and fares poorly on both 3rd down and in the red zone.

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PHI (-7.5) vs. NYG (O/U 48.5)

  • The Giants enter this game with a measurable amount of momentum off Daniel Jones’ and Brian Daboll’s first playoff wins with the Giants. That said, the Giants beat the Vikings, who we identified as the most fradulent 13-4 team in recent history months ago (along with alot of other folks).

  • The Giants also enter this matchup with an impressive offensive efficiency rating of 9th in the league, largely thanks to Brian Daboll’s presence in the building and a stronger focus on limiting turnovers (2nd in the league in 2022). That said, their roster still has Dave Gettleman’s fingerprints all over it meaning it is very flawed.

  • The Eagles’ strengths on either side of the ball correspond strongly with the Giants’ weaknesses. The Giants finished the season with a 0 point differential and ranked 24th in Net YPP, 26th in passing YPG and 26th in rushing YPG allowed. They rank 25th in YPP allowed, 30th in explosive passing plays allowed, 26th in rushing YPG allowed, 30th in YPC and 31st in explosive rushing plays allowed. They’ve also allowed opponents to convert possessions into RZ trips at the 2nd highest clip in the league.

  • On the Philly side, the Eagles rank 2nd in offensive efficiency, 5th in YPP, 11th in explosive passing plays created, 4th in rushing YPG, 5th in explosive rushes, 3rd in RZ conversion rate and 10th in % of drives to reach the RZ.

  • The most notable mismatches are in the running game and in the pass rush. As discussed above, the Eagles’ dominate the ground game most weeks, while the Giants struggle to stop the run. The Eagles also led the league in sacks in 2022 with a total of 70, while the Giants OL struggled to protect Daniel Jones consistently all season, ranking 28th in sacks allowed and 27th in QB hits allowed.

  • The Eagles may have limped into the postseason, battling injuries to key players that include Jalen Hurts, RT Lane Johnson and S CJ Gardner Johnson, all of whom missed multiple weeks on the tail end of the regular season. Each of those starters is back and healthy for this one with no designation on the injury report in the Divisional Round.

  • The last time the Eagles faced the Giants at full strength, they scored 24 points total on 4 of their first 5 possessions. They produced points on 8 of 10 possessions, outgained the Giants 437-304 and racked up 253 total rushing yds on 31 carries (8.2 YPC). The Eagles also sacked Daniel Jones 7 times and forced 2 fumbles.

  • The Eagles are equipped to dominate the line of scrimmage in this game and exploit the Giants’ weaknesses across the board. We are on the Eagles at -1.5 in a teaser with the Chiefs. If you’re looking for some additional angles to attack this game, consider the following:

    • Miles Sanders O69.5 rushing yds (17 carries, 144 yds, 2 TD’s in Week 14)

    • Dallas Goedert O52.5 receiving yds. TJ Hockenson caught 10 balls for 129 yds in the Wild Card round and 13 balls for 109 yds and 2 TD’s in Week 16 against the Giants. Goedert this week: “Hopefully I can take a little bit of what TJ Hockenson did last week. I definitely went to the coaches, looked at that game and tried to get a few more plays for myself.”

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BUF -5 vs. CIN (O/U 48.5)

  • This is a rematch of perhaps the most highly anticipated regular season game in recent memory. It is a matchup of two highly efficient offenses:

    • The Bills rank 6th in the league in offensive efficiency, 2nd in YPP, 1st in 3rd down conversion rate, 7th in passing YPG, 2nd in YPC, 8th in explosive rushes and 9th in RZ conversion rate.

    • The Bengals rank 4th in offensive efficiency, 3rd on 3rd down conversion rate, 5th in passing YPG, 6th in explosive passing plays and 5th in RZ conversion rate.

  • The key storyline in this game aside from the matchup of two of the most high-powered offenses in the league is the deterioration of the Bengals’ offensive line. They have lost RT La’el Collins, LT Jonah Williams and RG Alex Cappa over the last month and now have the Bills’ 10th rated pass rush to face in the Division Round. Burrow was sacked 4 times last week against Baltimore’s top-5 pass rush.

  • We previewed this game in Week 17 and picked up on what Tyler Boyd had to say about Buffalo’s secondary: “It’s kind of basic. They don’t do too much disguising – it’s kind of straightforward, they don’t do all the trickery things that we’ve seen a lot from defenses.” Buffalo has faced five offenses that rank in the top 10 of our offensive efficiency ratings since Wk 10; the OVER has hit in 4 of those 5 games:

    • Minnesota: 9th in OE; 63 total points

    • Detroit: 4th in OE; 53 total points

    • Miami: 7th in OE; 62 total points

    • Chicago: 8th in OE; 48 total points

    • Miami: 7th in OE; 65 total points

  • Jamar Chase this week on matchup with Bills: “We started off making a statement, throwing a deep ball first play of the game. I think that right there really got us lit. The receivers were ready for it, we had a great week of practice. We’ve got to go back into that, same great week of practice going back into the game, but it probably won’t be the same game plan.”

  • Our model liked the OVER in this game in Week 17 and it likes OVER 48.5 again this week. It’s a matchup of two offenses that love to pass and one that struggles to run. Josh Allen is extremely aggressive and was also extremely careless with the football last week. This style of play could lead to two things: points for the Bills on explosive passing plays, or a short field for Burrow and the Bengals. Burrow is elusive in the pocket and led the Bengals to the Super Bowl last year with one of the worst OL’s in the league. Expect the Bengals to try to get the ball out quickly via bubble passes and screens.

SF -3.5 vs. DAL (O/U 46.5)

  • The nightcap of the Divisional Round is the 2nd most anticipated game of the weekend as the high-powered 49ers will host the Cowboys off a dominant rout of the Bucs in what could end up being a knockout punch to Brady’s career in Tampa.

  • We’ve been bullish on the 49ers all season and their performance throughout the 2nd half of the year has vindicated our forecast on SF. Under Brock Purdy, the 49ers rank 3rd in YPP, 6th in 3rd down conversion rate and are scoring 34.1 PPG. the OVER has hit in 6 of SF’s L7 games.

  • Similar to BUF / CIN, this is a matchup of two highly efficient offenses – SF ranks 7th in our offensive efficiency rating, while Dallas ranks 5th. Both teams can move the ball through the air and on the ground as demonstrated by the above matchup dashboard.

  • Dallas’ biggest weakness in defending the run is the staple of SF’s offensive identify. The Cowboys rank 29th in explosive rushing plays allowed, while the 49ers rank 7th in the league in explosive rushing plays created. Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell are all healthy in this game and should create matchup issues all over the field.

  • SF rushed for 181 yards on a bad Seattle rushing defense last week. McCaffrey rushed for 119 yds on just 15 carries (7.9 YPC). In a game in which Dallas had an opportunity to potentially improve playoff seeding in Week 18, they allowed the Commanders to rush for 151 yds on 36 carries to the likes of players named Jaret Patterson, Jonathan Williams and Sam Howell. A month ago, the Jaguars rushed for 192 yds on 27 carries.

  • SF has an elite defense across the board with a pass rush that should test Dak’s ability to stand in the pocket and/or throw on the run outside the pocket. SF ranks 7th in the league in sacks and 2nd in total QB hits. The Cowboys did not face a particularly difficult schedule of defenses over the last month and a half of the season. Since Week 10, the Cowboys have not faced a particularly strong slate of defenses:

    • Wk 11: MIN – 18th in DE

    • Wk 12: NYG – 21st in DE

    • Wk 13: IND – 25th in DE

    • Wk 14: HOU: 16th in DE

    • Wk 15: JAX – 19th in DE

    • Wk 16: PHI – 2nd in DE (Dallas scored 40)

    • Wk 17: TEN – 14th in DE

    • Wk 18: WAS – 11th in DE

  • Our model likes the OVER 46.5 in this game. The 49ers should be able to use Deebo, CMC and Elijah Mitchell to create mismatches in the running game via play action and motion. Brock Purdy has proven to be a more than capable passer in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, throwing for 332 yds and 3 TD’s in his first playoff start last week against Seattle. Dallas has enough offensive playmakers to exploit a borderline weakness of SF’s defense in the secondary (23rd in passing YPG allowed), and should be chasing SF should they execute their offensive gameplan early. Purdy has shown poise and Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in the game.

  • Other props to consider: CMC, Elijah Mitchel anytime TD’s:

    • CMC has rushed for or caught a TD each of his L6 games

    • Elijah Mitchell has scored 3 TD’s in the L2 weeks since returning from injury

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