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NFL playoff predictions: Picking the entire AFC and NFC field

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

After predicting the Chiefs record correctly for the third straight year in a row I have become a little too big headed so I’ve decided I’ll try my hand at predicting the 2016 postseason and prove I am, in fact, an idiot.

The Key Stat We’ll Use

I’m going to use SRS, OSRS, and DSRS primarily for the predictions used in this article. If you are curious about this stat you can read more about it here.

For those of you who don’t want to read the article, SRS is a rating system. SRS stands for Simple Rating System and it evaluates teams based on their strength of schedule and point differential. OSRS and DSRS are the offensive and defensive components that are used to create the total SRS value.

Below is a list of the NFL’s 2016 playoff teams and their OSRS, DSRS, and SRS ratings. They are sorted by SRS (which is a total of OSRS and DSRS)

2016 NFL SRS Values

Team OSRS DSRS SRS
Team OSRS DSRS SRS
Patriots 4.3 5 9.3
Falcons 10.5 -2 8.5
Cowboys 4.1 2.9 7
Chiefs 1.2 4.4 5.6
Steelers 2.8 2 4.8
Raiders 3.5 -0.3 3.3
Packers 4.9 -2 2.8
Giants -3.2 5.4 2.1
Seahawks -2.4 4.5 2.1
Lions -1.3 -0.1 -1.4
Dolphins -0.6 -1.8 -2.4
Texans -5.3 2.7 -2.6

The Chiefs are the fourth best team in the NFL according to this. SRS is an excellent way to evaluate a teams performance through the season.

How We’ll Make Decisions

Using the OSRS, DSRS, and SRS ratings and each playoff matchup since the 2002 post season, I was able to come up with a few stats that will help guide my predictions.

Since 2002, 63 percent of playoff teams with the better SRS win the game.

Every year there are 11 playoff games. This means on average there are four SRS upsets, and seven SRS favorite victories.

Later when I make the predictions I will use the four upset games as a guideline for my predictions.

But just going off the SRS value was not enough for me. I wanted to look at things more in depth before I made my predictions and I came up with the following eight stats I will use. Remember these numbers were based on playoff games from the 2002 season onward.

  1. Home teams with better OSRS and better DSRS win 74 percent of their games.
  2. Away teams with better OSRS and better DSRS win 64 percent of their games.
  3. Home teams with better OSRS and worse DSRS win 64 percent of their games.
  4. Away teams with better OSRS and worse DSRS win 43 percent of their games.
  5. Home teams with worse OSRS and better DSRS win 57 percent of their games.
  6. Away teams with worse OSRS and better DSRS win 36 percent of their games.
  7. Home teams with worse OSRS and worse DSRS win 36 percent of their games.
  8. Away teams with worse OSRS and worse DSRS win 26 percent of their games.

Now that we have a little knowledge about what has happened in the past we can make some decisions.

Wild Card

AFC

Raiders (OSRS 3.5, DSRS -0.3, SRS 3.3)
Texans (OSRS -5.3, DSRS 2.7, SRS -2.6)

Winner: Texans

The Texans are like team number five from the list above, and in the past that has equated to a 57 percent chance of winning. I don’t see Connor Cook playing well against a really good defensive Texans team. This is an SRS upset so there are only three more upsets left for me to choose from.

Dolphins (OSRS -0.6, DSRS -1.8, SRS -2.4)
Steelers (OSRS 2.8, DSRS 2, SRS 4.8)

Winner: Steelers

The Steelers are like team number one from the list above, and in the past that has equated to a 74 percent chance of winning. This game, on paper, is a near sure thing for the Steelers.

NFC

Lions (OSRS -1.3, DSRS -0.1, SRS -1.4)
Seahawks (OSRS -2.4, DSRS 4.5, SRS 2.1)

Winner: Seahawks

The Seahawks are like the Texans above - better defense, worse offense, and playing at home. These teams have won 57 percent of their matchups in the past. Also I just can’t pick the Lions to upset the Seahawks in Seattle

Giants (OSRS -3.2, DSRS 5.4, SRS 2.1)
Packers (OSRS 4.9, DSRS -2.0, SRS 2.8)

Winner: Packers

The Packers are like team number three from the list above, and those teams have won 64 percent of the time since 2002.

Divisional Round

AFC

Steelers (OSRS 2.8, DSRS 2.0, SRS 4.8)
Chiefs (OSRS 1.2, DSRS 4.4, SRS 5.6)

Winner: Chiefs

The Chiefs fall into the same category as the Texans and Seahawks above. The fact the Chiefs have a bye week and will be playing at home also factor into this decision.

Texans (OSRS -5.3, DSRS 2.7, SRS -2.6)
Patriots (OSRS 4.3, DSRS 5.0, SRS 9.3)

Winner: Patriots

Do I really need to explain this one?

NFC

Seahawks (OSRS -2.4, DSRS 4.5, SRS 2.1)
Falcons (OSRS 10.5, DSRS -2.0, SRS 8.5)

Winner: Falcons

The Seahawks beat the Falcons earlier in the year, but the Falcons edge them this time around. The Falcons are team number three from above, which win 64 percent of their playoff games.

Packers (OSRS 4.9, DSRS -2.0, SRS 2.8)
Cowboys (OSRS 4.1, DSRS 2.9, SRS 7.0)

Winner: Packers

The Packers have one thing that the Cowboys are lacking: Experience at the QB position. The Packers fall into team number four from the list above. I have one upset left ...

Championship Round

AFC

Chiefs (OSRS 1.2, DSRS 4.4, SRS 5.6)
Patriots (OSRS 4.3, DSRS 5.0, SRS 9.3)

Winner: Chiefs

One of my upsets. The Patriots SRS rankings have been bloated through the 2016 season by facing mediocre opponents and blowing them out. The Patriots have had one of the easiest schedules. The Chiefs pull off the unthinkable and win a game where they are the worse OSRS and worse DSRS team on the road. Only 26 percent of teams win in these circumstances. Am I being a homer? Maybe - but I had two upsets to use and if I’m not going to use it here...

NFC

Packers (OSRS 4.9, DSRS -2.0, SRS 2.8)
Falcons (OSRS 10.5, DSRS -2.0, SRS 8.5)

Winner: Packers

Like the Patriots above, the Falcons SRS numbers are bloated due to high scoring wins and large margins of victory. SRS tends to favor offensive teams and the Falcons may be slightly overrated. Aaron Rodgers continues to play on another level and the Packers win the game. I am out of upsets now...

Super Bowl

Packers (OSRS 4.9, DSRS -2.0, SRS 2.8)
Chiefs (OSRS 1.2, DSRS 4.4, SRS 5.6)

Winner: Chiefs

Who did you expect me to pick?

Most of these predictions forced me to make a decision that wasn’t entirely based on fact. If I went the simple route and picked the team with the better “chances” of winning, I may have a better prediction.

However, I had to account for the upsets. The entire predictions are based on the upsets and where they will happen. For each upset I tried to think hard about a teams chances of winning, and I think I picked the most likely upset scenarios through my Chiefs tinted glasses.

There are two upset scenarios which could happen that I would like to give honorable mentions to - the Steelers over Chiefs and Cowboys over Falcons. Both of these games (if they happen) could go either way.