Happy belated birthday to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have been 86 on Jan. 15 (his actual birthday), and a Happy Inauguration Day to all. Regardless of your political persuasion, everyone can enjoy a balmy Monday off of work in the middle of January.
Unless, of course, you’re working today, in which case thank you for choosing to procrastinate with the Redskins.
Yesterday’s playoff football action determined that the Baltimore Ravens will face the San Francisco 49ers on Super Bowl Sunday in two weeks.
Even if you don’t give two hoots about the matchup, there are many heart-stopping appetizers and hilarious commercials to be watched that day, so there is something for everyone.
To find out how the Redskins’ player predictions and a weird statistical anomaly played out, check the link below:
1. Fletcher and Alexander were only half right.
Redskins Pro Bowl linebackers/captains London Fletcher and Lorenzo Alexander each played NFL expert this week, predicting that the 49ers would face the New England Patriots in New Orleans for the Lombardi Trophy. As you well know, they were only half right. Here’s a look back at what they said.
Fletcher made his predictions first, with Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio. One thing that Fletcher kept coming back to in picking the Patriots was the play of Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco, who Fletcher said was an easy read:
“When we study [Flacco] going into the game, we knew where he was going to go with the football based on formations, pre-snap reads, [and] things like that,” Fletcher said of Flacco. “Once we took away his first read, he would kind of panic a little bit.”
It isn’t my job to defend Flacco, but the numbers speak for themselves. In three playoff games this year, Flacco is 51-for-93 for 853 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
What’s the difference from Week 14? Who knows, but it may have to do with the arrival of Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator, who replaced Cam Cameron following the Redskins’ victory over the Ravens.
Alexander made his predictions later last week, on the CSN Washington set. While he didn’t call the outcome correctly, his analysis was solid, especially as it relates to the turnover margin in the playoffs:
“In our game, we came out winning the turnover battle, which is key in any game, especially the playoffs. But they’re playing very well right now, [Joe] Flacco is doing an awesome job. Obviously, everyone is going around Ray Lewis and everything he represents, especially with this being his last season.”
The Ravens have played inspired football since linebacker Ray Lewis announced this would be his final season. But more tangibly, the Ravens won the turnover battle in yesterday’s game, intercepting Tom Brady twice and recovering a fumble. The Ravens’ offense protected the football all day long, upsetting the heavily-favored Patriots at home.
That is, as they say, the reason why you play the game.
2. Is the AFC East key to winning the NFC Crown?
The NFL schedule is put together with parity in mind, as each in-conference division plays each other every three years, and each out-of-conference division plays each other every four years. Given the “magic” of playing the AFC East, I’m sure every NFC team wishes they could play the Bills, Patriots, Jets and Dolphins more often.
As pointed out by media relations specialist and Redskins’ stats guru Ross Taylor, the NFC Champion has come from the division that plays the AFC East in every season since 2006. Here’s a recap:
2006 NFC Champion: Chicago Bears, 2-2 vs. AFC East (W: Jets, Bills. L: Patriots, Dolphins).
2007 NFC Champion: New York Giants, 3-1 vs. AFC East (W: Bills, Jets, Dolphins. L: Patriots).
2008 NFC Champion: Arizona Cardinals, 2-2 vs. AFC East (W: Dolphins, Bills. L: Patriots, Jets).
2009 NFC Champion: New Orleans Saints, 4-0 vs. AFC East.
2010 NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers, 2-2 vs. AFC East (W: Bills, Jets. L: Dolphins, Patriots).
2011 NFC Champion: New York Giants, 4-0 vs. AFC East.
2012 NFC Champion: San Francisco 49ers, 4-0 vs. AFC East.
As you can see, only three of these teams have actually swept the AFC East during regular season, with the third being the 2012 San Francisco 49ers. The first two teams went on to win the Super Bowl, although none of this is statistically significant.
This is merely a fun fact to keep in the back of your brain the next time the NFC Championship rolls around. If it holds true next season, the NFC Champion will be crowned out of the NFC South.
If this anomaly holds true for three more years, would you accept a trip to the Super Bowl following the 2015 season? Share your thoughts below!