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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Ranking the remaining NFL playoff teams

By Matthew Coller

The wild card round of the NFL playoffs may have been a dud, but the divisional round is now set up with three of the four games looking like too-close-to-call matchups.

Which teams should be considered the biggest favorites to win the Super Bowl? Which are long shots? What do the stats tell us about their chances?

1- New England Patriots

Key stat: 15.6 points allowed per game, No. 1 in the NFL

Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady will be in the running for the MVP, but Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are too. It’s New England’s defense that makes them the best remaining team. Opposing quarterbacks managed just 6.8 yards per attempt and an 84.4 quarterback rating against the Pats, which is eighth best in the NFL. Cornerback Malcolm Butler and safety Devin McCourtey both rank in the top 10 at their position in Pro Football Focus rankings.

2 – Dallas Cowboys

Key stat: 7.1 Net Yards Per Attempt, fifth in the NFL

Dak Prescott is leading one of the NFL’s best offenses. Adjusted for sacks, the Dallas Cowboys’ passing game out-produced every team in the league except for Atlanta, Washington, New England and New Orleans. They added in the league’s third best running game in yards per rush and gained the second most first downs by rushing. The Cowboys’ defense is just averaged (tied for 13th) in yards per play against, but they have also allowed the fifth fewest points against in the NFL.

3 – Atlanta Falcons

Key stat: 52.6% scoring percentage, No. 1 in the NFL

There are so many stats that represent how prolific the Falcons’ offense has been in 2016, but scoring points on more than half of their drives is incredible. The next best team scored at a 45.6% rate. The Matt Ryan-led passing game produced the league’s best yards per attempt and most points per game while Atlanta’s running backs ranked fourth with 4.6 yards per attempt. The Falcons’ defensive issues put them behind Dallas as they have given up 27th points against per game.

4 – Green Bay Packers

Key stat: Aaron Rodgers 19 TD, 0 INT in his last seven games

The New York Giants’ defense was one of the best in the NFL and they got shredded for 362 yards and four touchdowns by Aaron Rodgers, who has been on fire since guaranteeing the Packers would run the table. Green Bay also has sneaky-good running game, which ranks eighth in the NFL in yards per carry. If a rib injury keeps Jordy Nelson out of the lineup, life will be a little tougher on the Green Bay offense.

5 – Seattle Seahawks

Key stat: 18.3 points per game against, third in the NFL

The loss of Earl Thomas to injury has knocked the Seattle defense down a peg, but the Seahawks proved in the wild card game against the Detroit Lions that there is enough talent remaining to stifle opponents’ attacks. The short-handed secondary is helped by an excellent pass-rush trio of Michael Bennett, Frank Clark and Cliff Avril combined for 26.5 sacks this season. The biggest concern for the Seahawks is not on the defensive side, it’s the brutal offensive line they are trotting out in front of Russell Wilson, who set a career high in passing yards, but saw a slip in his other statistics this year including QBR and rating.

6 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Key stat: Le’Veon Bell 1,002 yards, 32 receptions in last seven games

The Steelers’ offense has two of the most dynamic players in the league in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The pair demolished the Miami Dolphins’ defense last weekend and present a huge challenge for the remainder of the AFC. Bell gained 167 yards rushing against Miami and Brown picked up 124 yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh has the big-time playmakers to make a Super Bowl run, but their roster past those two isn’t on par with some of the other top teams and their defense was average across the board (tied for 13th in yards per play, 10th in points against).

7 – Kansas City Chiefs

Key stat: 5.5 yards per play, 16th in the NFL and 5.5 yards per play against, T-13th

Would you rather be good at a lot of things or great at one thing? The Chiefs are certainly the former. They are an average offensive team and average defensive team in terms of yards per play. While Kansas City has been competitive since Andy Reid arrived in 2013, winning 11 or more games in three of his four years. But limitations at quarterback have caught up with the Chiefs. It is difficult to see any of the AFC’s defenses concerned about an offense that threw only 19 touchdowns. However, Alex Smith did nearly lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2011, so a run by the Chiefs is not impossible, but that San Francisco squad had a much more impressive defense than Kansas City’s.

8 – Houston Texans

Key stat: Houston team QB rating 73.3, 30th in the NFL

The Texans went all-in on Brock Osweiler in the offseason, signing him to a $72 million contract and the deal has mostly gone bust. It’s only “mostly” because the Texans were able to beat the Oakland Raiders in the wild card round. However, that victory was largely on the back of Houston’s stout defense. The Texans will need an other-worldly performance on D against the Patriots to advance another round because their quarterback is the league intimidating still remaining in the playoffs.

The post Ranking the remaining NFL playoff teams appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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