Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
The team that nobody is giving a chance in Denver and even less for hoisting a Lombardi in New Orleans may be sneaky good. A deeper “Freakonomics” like analysis shows why.
Let us play Jeopardy! The answer is: this team had the two top fantasy performers for these positions and the #2 fantasy performer at a third position this first week of the playoffs. If you answered, “Who are the Ravens?” you win. Boldin was the #1 fantasy receiver this weekend, the Ravens had the #2 fantasy defense and guess who the #1 fantasy QB was this past weekend- some non-elite schmuck named Joe Flacco.
Let us examine that defensive gem up above a little more. Defenses are officially ranked by yards allowed, yet many folks tend to argue it should be points allowed. So let us consider both. Now granted I may be accused of cherry picking stats a bit, but let us look at the past two “meaningful” games for the arguably four best defenses left in the playoffs.
For Atlanta, they allowed a paltry 18 points but a whopping 780 (-!) yards. Denver allowed an even less 15 points and a very respectful 456 yards. But there are more asterisks associated with these Denver stats than there are in the steroid era of baseball. The Broncos at home for these two games were facing the Murders’ Row of Quinn, Wheeden and McCoy in opposing quarterbacks, whose teams packed it in for the season long ago. Not saying Denver’s defense is bad, but they might be benefiting from some stats that are padded more than a Winona Ryder bra.
Seattle has allowed 27 points (still respectable) and a decent 550 yards over their last two meaningful games. But they faced a crippled RGIII for three quarters. If Cousins plays those three quarters instead, not only are those numbers very different, Seattle might be working on their collective golf swings right now…
The Ravens have allowed 23 points and 657 yards –not too shabby at all, especially given our injuries. Look at our opposing QB’s- one is a bona fide Rookie of the Year candidate who, on the road, averages 20+ points per game and almost 300 yards, and a two –time Super Bowl winning QB fighting for his playoff life. Not exactly push overs and our defense shut them both down. In addition this defense, while basically playing with both arms and one leg tied behind its back (think the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”) in terms of injuries, held Peyton in check for the first half before succumbing.
On offense, sometimes all it takes is one player to get hot for a few games and the whole team goes on a roll. If Boldin can keep up his dominating play, our offense might put up high 20’s in Denver. And I saw shades of a previous ball hawking (picks AND fumbles) defense from yesteryear this past Sunday…