The National Football League (NFL) playoffs begin Saturday. Twelve teams will battle it out over the next three weekends to see which two teams will play in the Super Bowl on February 5.
Football folks love to talk about who will win the big games. Unlike in sports where teams play several games a week, football teams play only once a week. That leaves plenty of time to talk. Coaches, TV announcers and just plain fans analyze the offenses, defenses, quarterbacks, even the weather to predict which team will win.
Football, like many sports, is pretty simple. Each team tries to score points when it is on offense and tries to stop the other team from scoring when it is on defense. The best teams score a lot more points than they give up.
With that in mind, let’s rank the 12 playoff teams by taking the total number of points they scored during the 2011 regular season and subtracting the number of points they let other teams score. It’s one way of judging the best teams. Here’s the point-difference list for the teams in the playoffs. (A minus score means the team gave up more points than it scored.)
Playoff teams ranked by points scored minus points allowed
|Baltimore||112||N.Y. Giants||minus 6|
In the past 10 years, 15 of the 20 teams that made it to the Super Bowl had a point difference of at least 100 points during the regular season. A 16th team, the 2001 New England Patriots, had a point difference of 99.
So chances are good that one or two of the top five teams on the list — the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers or Baltimore Ravens — will play in Super Bowl XLVI. (That’s the Roman numeral for 46.) They all scored at least 100 more points than their opponents this season. I didn’t include the Houston Texans because their best quarterback, Matt Schaub, broke his foot and can’t play in the playoffs.
I’m sure that Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions fans will scream that their teams are going all the way. Pittsburgh, with its top-rated defense, could pull off an upset. But I think the Saints will play the Patriots in a high-scoring Super Bowl.
Of course, that’s just talk.