Which NFC teams could challenge the New Orleans Saints for supremacy? Which has a striking resemblance to predecessors from the past? To answer this question, since 1990, when the NFL took on the playoff structure with six teams in each conference, I have achieved a similarity rating for all playoff teams. This time, however, I only use games up to week 16, as several top contenders rested their starters last week.
There were 336 playoff teams in this range, and I look to the top 15 most closely for every NFC playoff hopeful. This is most similar to the 5% of the playoff teams.
Here are the categories in which I set this up:
- Points adjusted to the league's average
- Allowed points adjusted to the league's average
- Point Difference
- Profit Percentage
- Net Over Penalty Per Game Offense, Adjusted to League Scores
- Net Exceed Yards Per Defense Game, Adjusted to League Scores
- Rushing Yards Per Carry Off, adjusted to league average [1
- Pass-to-run ratio in attack, adjusted to league average
- Pass-to-run ratio to defensive, adjusted to league average
Not just looking at the record and points, but also the efficiency statistics and passing identity categories, we have a good grasp of f for teams that were the most similar. The Rams and Bears are pretty close in terms of record and point difference, but the way they do it is very different, with the Rams having the explosive offensive and the Bears the much better defensive numbers the two are still fighting for the last playoff spot.
So I created these charts with the 15 most similar teams. and a color-coded diagram of how they behaved each round. Blue is for a week a week, green is a win and red is a loss.
The Eagles have not made the playoffs and are a bit lengthy, they need both a win and a Vikings loss this week. If they can do it, there will be many reds.
The 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars, who stunned a Denver Broncos team that would win the next two Super Bowls, are the only ones to reach the Conference Championship Game. There is much talk of Nick Foles' magic when the Eagles return to the postseason, but they are not similar to the teams that have run except these jags. Just look at the facts: Philadelphia has a negative point differential, and although they have a decent passing game, they are at the top of the league in offense offenses and defense numbers and have a below-average pass efficiency rating.
If the Eagles fail, it will be because the Vikings are there. Surprisingly, comparable teams are not doing much better.
I say surprisingly, because the Vikings are among the top eight in both passport and hurry defense efficiency. But they are just an average pass team this year and are in a bad shape both in terms of efficiency and volume. If you think that the later firing of John DeFilippo changed things for this team, you might think these numbers are meaningless.
The 2008 Eagles – who incidentally ended in the regular 9-6-1 season Donovan McNabb learned there might be ties in the NFL – are the only ones to reach a conference championship game.