Some Numbers to Chew On (Part Two)
Now we will look at the passing offenses of the 6 NFC playoff teams. The first group of numbers are completion percentage; yards per pass attempt; and TD passes:
Chicago: 59.2 completion %; 7.3 yards per attempt; 23 TDs
Atlanta: 62.6 %; 6.5 ypa; 28 TDs
Philadelphia: 62.0 %; 7.5 ypa; 28 TDs
Seattle: 59.6 %; 6.5 ypa; 14 TDs
New Orleans: 68.1 %; 7.0 ypa; 33 TDs
Green Bay: 65.1 %; 8.0 ypa; 31 TDs
One interesting thing of note is that the Bears, while having the 2nd-worst completion rate; have one of the best yards per pass attempt. This means that we are probably taking more shots at mid-to-long range passes than any of the other teams. Think about this: if the Bears had the NFL average completion percentage, which is 62%, and kept the same pass attempt rate, our yards per attempt jumps to 7.8 ypa. The other interesting thing that jumps out is the low ypa for the Falcons, even with such a high completion rate. This means the Falcons rarely go downfield; and are content with safe, 5-6 yard passes, checkdowns, and screens. The NFL average for yards per COMPLETED pass is 12.3; the Falcons are at 9.8 yards per completion. I think you will see teams begin to dare Matt Ryan to throw downfield as the playoffs progress.
The next stats are explosive passing plays—pass plays of 20+ yards, and pass plays of 40+ yards:
Chicago: 42 passes of 20+ yards; 6 passes of 40+ yards
Atlanta: 32; 6
Philadelphia: 61; 15
Seattle: 39; 11
New Orleans: 47; 10
Green Bay: 57; 11
After the last stats, it should come as no surprise, then, that the Falcons had the fewest pass plays of at least 20 yards. It did surprise me that they had less than the Seahawks, whose passing offense was one of the worst in the NFL. And I think its fair to note that of the Bears 48 pass plays of 20 yards or more, I would bet at least 70% of those cam in the last half of the season, primarily in the games against the Eagles, Jets, and Vikings; once the offensive line solidified and Martz opened up the playbook a little more.
The last group of stats are the negative passing plays—sacks and interceptions:
Chicago: 56 sacks allowed; 21 INTs
Atlanta: 23 ; 9
Philadelphia: 50; 13
Seattle: 35; 20
New Orleans: 26; 22
Green Bay: 38; 13
The first thing that surprised me is that for all the talk about Jay Cutler being a INT-machine, he threw 16 this season (Todd Collins somehow managed 5 INTs in 6 or 7 passing attempts); and The Great Drew Brees threw 22. The Falcons are rarely getting sacked or picked off because they do not throw passes that have to travel more than 5 yards in the air. Its clear that the Saints have the pass protection of the teams that are left in the NFC.
When you look at the Offensive numbers as a whole; with the exception of the Seahawks (who got in only because SOMEONE from the NFC West had to), the numbers of are all pretty consistent. You can notice some trends, like the big play capability of the Eagles, and the conservative nature of the Falcons. But nothing that you probably would not notice just watching these teams for a few games. Teams are so evenly matched in the playoffs, it usually comes down to a few big plays or turnovers.