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Deconstructing the Championship Round Betting Lines

Throughout the season we broke down implied team totals each week based on offensive and defensive scoring tendencies. Let’s do the same for the championship round playoff matchups based on regular season scoring trends.

The percentages in the below tables refer to each team’s points scored and points allowed tendencies from the regular season. The “Tm %” and “Opp %” are rates of a team’s total points scored or allowed that come through each phase of the game. Those rates are applied to the team’s weekly implied total via two different calculation methods in the final two columns.1

The premise is that implied totals build in factors like matchup or home/road status, while applying scoring tendencies allow us to better define what that total is truly implying for each team. For more information, consult the Week 1 article or the original article in the series from the middle of last season. I also reviewed the accuracy of last season’s projections over the offseason, with positive results.

Here are your championship round implied team totals broken down by passing, rushing, kicking, and DST scoring.

Passing Scoring and Notes

League Average Passing Points Rate: 40.5 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg paPtsSD paPts
ATLGBP3342.2%49.5%15.1315.50
GBPATL2855.6%45.8%14.1914.50
NEPPIT28.2543.5%36.7%11.3310.97
PITNEP22.2549.6%50.4%11.1311.13

Note: Lines come from Vegas Insider on January 20th.

  • All four teams scored points in the passing game at a rate higher than league average, and three of the four defenses did as well. Because of that, each of these projections grade out really well compared to a normal week (i.e. anything in double digits is usually near the top of the table).
  • That fact makes me most interested in the Pittsburgh passing game as a contrarian play. Pittsburgh carries the only team total below 28, and they are way down at 22.25. But both their offense and the Patriots defense scored/allowed passing points at rates much higher than league average. If you think the Steelers can contend in this game, there’s a good shot their points come through the air.
  • New England’s passing offense takes the biggest hit by this deconstruction. Pittsburgh’s defense allowed a lower rate of scoring through the air than league average by about four percentage points.
  • The Atlanta-Green Bay tendencies explain the crazy high total. Expect there to be plenty of passing touchdowns in the NFC Championship.

Rushing Scoring and Notes

League Average Rushing Points Rate: 22.7 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg ruPtsSD ruPts
NEPPIT28.2525.9%27.5%7.547.56
ATLGBP3322.2%17.0%6.476.16
GBPATL2815.3%22.2%5.244.89
PITNEP22.2519.5%14.4%3.783.65

  • Dion Lewis caught a TD and returned another, but it was his third TD that was perhaps most interesting because it came of the one-yard rush variety. LeGarrette Blount led the NFL in rushing touchdowns this season with 18, so Lewis getting the money touches is a change to be sure. The Steelers profile as a defense that concedes points on the ground, but it’s anybody’s guess which back gets the looks.
  • Both Atlanta backs are very much in play, as they have a decent projection here and also see passing work. Tevin Coleman caught a touchdown last week, and the two combined for five receiving TDs in the regular season.
  • Ty Montgomery scored two short touchdowns last week, but keep in mind that one came after Davante Adams stepped out of bounds barely before crossing the plane of the goal line on a reception one play prior. Montgomery totaled 81 yards and had six catches, but those touchdowns really put his day over the top. With the high game total and injured receivers aplenty for the Packers, many will expect Montgomery to be the beneficiary. The table above argues pivoting to lower-owned Packers passing-game options is a strong consideration.

Kicking and Defense/Special Teams Scoring and Notes

League Average Kicking Points Rate: 31.5 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg kiPtsSD kiPts
ATLGBP3329.3%30.4%9.859.81
NEPPIT28.2528.8%32.7%8.698.42
GBPATL2828.2%25.6%7.547.49
PITNEP22.2527.3%34.4%6.876.53

Over the course of the regular season, the 85 recommendations I highlighted in this article averaged 8.6 fantasy points, and 62 scored 7 or more (73 percent).

Based on this methodology, the championship round options line up in conjunction with implied team totals, but Mason Crosby and Green Bay are closer to Chris Boswell and the Steelers at the bottom of the list than competing with the top two. The top options are Matt Bryant and Stephen Gostkowski, in that order.

League Average DST Points Rate: 5.2 percent

TeamOppImp PtsTm %Opp %Avg dstPtsSD dstPts
ATLGBP335.6%3.1%1.431.23
NEPPIT28.251.4%1.8%0.450.45
GBPATL280.0%3.0%0.410.33
PITNEP22.252.0%0.0%0.220.20

As always, keep in mind that this is the one facet of this segmented analysis that performed worse last season than just using the implied lines alone, and it was pretty dramatic. The logic follows that defensive or special teams scores are random, and the teams who score a high percentage of points this way could potentially have inflated implied point totals. Additionally, their DST units could be potential fades in DFS due to inflated fantasy success built on an unrepeatable trait.

  1. The first averages the offensive and defensive rates, while the second squares the difference between each rate and the league average, combines them, divides by two, and finds the square root, similar to the process for calculating standard deviation. This emphasizes teams with substantially higher or lower rates than league average.  (back)

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