It’s finally playoff time, and the Cold, Hard Football Facts and Quality Stats are here to help discern contenders from one-and-done sort of teams. Let’s see what’s on tap for Wild Card Weekend.
The Niners are genuine contenders
After 18 weeks, three quarterbacks, and a litany of injuries, the 49ers are atop the Quality Stats Power Rankings. They host Seattle in what should be a relatively comfortable game for one of the league’s deepest and best-coached teams. Kyle Shanahan has done wonders, and Brock Purdy has done his job. In a weak NFC, that might be enough to get to the Super Bowl.
The Bucs are pretenders
Tampa Bay never really clicked this season, as injuries upended the offensive line and the defense regressed. Yet, at 8-9, they will host the Cowboys in a game many have circled as a Dallas meltdown, and a Tom Brady victory. Block out the noise; the Quality Stats Power Rankings have Tampa Bay 20th, last amongst playoff teams, while the Cowboys are fourth. Trust the data. Furthermore, if we were doing Mental Mismatches this week, Dallas and their 26-spot Index edge would be one. This is a massive mismatch for a playoff game.
The Dolphins are cooked without Tua
The Dolphins rank just 17th on the Power Rankings, and without their star QB, they have no chance. Despite the extended play from backups, Miami still ranks second in Real Passing Yards per Attempt, but with Skylar Thompson at the helm, their explosive passing game will be kneecapped. The Bills should roll in this one.
The Jags might be better than the Chargers
The Jags are seventh on the Power Rankings, while the Chargers are 14th. Yes, Los Angeles battled many injuries and appear healthier now, but Jacksonville is playing their best ball of the season as well. And the Jags are the ones getting points, despite being at home. This looks like a great opportunity to back Trevor Lawrence and company against a Chargers team riding off of name value and perception.
The Chiefs have a bye, but don’t forget about them
The single most predictive Quality Stat this season has been Real Passing Yards per Attempt, at 62%. Leading the way is Patrick Mahomes, and with Tua out, the second-place Dolphins pose no threat. This is the Super Bowl favorite, especially with a game against a good but not great team like Jacksonville or Los Angeles up next, while the Bills and Bengals will have to go through each other.