In my first, two posts last week, I almost burned out my abacus crunching numbers and calculating statistical predictions for the Packers playoff game against the Cowboys on Sunday. I didn’t realize how in depth it was going to be when I started, and by the time I started regretting my decision, I was in too deep and had to gut it out. But we made it through!
In today’s post, I wanted to revisit those numbers and see how the game stats actually played out by the time the final whistle blew on Sunday. But before we dive into the numbers, let me remind you how I came up with the predictions.
I first created lists of the Top 25 players that the Packers and Cowboys played during the regular season based on receiving yards and rushing yards. I also made lists of the Top 15 quarterbacks each team faced as well. After that, I averaged out those players’ numbers to find the team’s average performance against top tier players. A potentially shaky premise, I realize, but one that I felt was relevant based on the teams’ offensive arsenals.
I then took the per game numbers of Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson, and averaged them out with the other team’s defensive stats against elite players. Got it now? If not, feel free to revisit my posts from last Tuesday and Friday. Once you’re all set, feel free to continue reading.
Prediction: Tony Romo would throw for 255 yards, 2 TDs and one interception
Reality: Romo threw for 191 and 2 TDs
Prediction: DeMarco Murray would rush for 91 yards and a touchdown
Reality: Murray rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown
Prediction: Dez Bryant would have 80 yards and a touchdown
Reality: Bryant caught three passes for 38 yards
Romo more or less played right into the predictions. The reason his yardage was low was most likely due to the fact that he only attempted 19 passes. He wasn’t struggling either – he went 15/19 on the game. (Note: Romo’s 15 completions and 19 attempts were both season lows.) While he didn’t throw an interception, he did fumble the ball twice. Both were recovered by Dallas, however. Murray rushed for more yards than predicted, mostly due to tremendous blocking by his offensive line and some missed tackles by the Packers. Can’t say I’m shocked on that front. He was the offensive player that scared me the most going into this game.
The big surprise, however, came in the lack of production from Dez. He actually had the exact same stat line as Cole Beasley! But if you were to add in the catch* he had in the fourth quarter, he would have potentially finished with 70 yards and a touchdown – right on projection. Romo seemed to default to Jason Witten for most of the game. In fact, six of Romo’s 15 completions were to Witten.
* We can all agree he caught the ball. However, the refs made the correct call based on the rule that’s in place. Great catch, stupid rule.
Finally, I predicted the Cowboys to finish with 24 points on the game – two Romo touchdowns (to Dez & Terrance Williams), one on the ground from Murray and one Dan Bailey field goal. In the end, it would have been spot on had Bailey not missed his only attempt of the game.
Prediction: Aaron Rodgers would throw for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns
Reality: Rodgers finished with 316 yards, 3 TD and a lost fumble
Prediction: Eddie Lacy would rush for 70 yards and a touchdown
Reality: Lacy rushed for 101 yards
Prediction: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb would combine for 183 and two touchdowns
Reality: Nelson finished with 22 yards, and Cobb had 116 yards
Even with only one good calf, Rodgers still managed to put up the elite numbers we’re used to from him, although the calf issue may have contributed to the limited mobility and the lost fumble. His stats were virtually right in line with predictions too, I might add. Lacy put up more yards than expected, but was unable to find the end zone. James Starks also got a handful of carries in the first half while Lacy was sidelined due to asthma issues.
Cobb put up a solid game yardage wise, but wasn’t able to find the end zone. Nelson is the big head scratcher from Sunday. His two catches for 22 yards is something we’d expect from Jarrett Boykin or Andrew Quarless, but never Air Jordy! If memory serves me well, I believe his two catches were both for third-and-long conversions to move the sticks, but I’m not positive. Hopefully we’ll see more from him next week.
But since Jordy wasn’t racking up his usual yardage, someone else had to fill in. Welcome to the big stage, Davante Adams! The rookie’s huge game put him on peoples’ radar, and rightly so. His stat line of seven catches for 117 yards and a juke-filled, 46-yard touchdown was a huge play in the game. Rodgers showed late-game confidence in the young receiver as well, despite being on the wrong page a couple times in the first half.
For the game, I predicted the Packers to put 34 points on the scoreboard – three Rodgers TDs (Nelson, Cobb, one of the tight ends), one from Lacy, and two Mason Crosby field goals. They ended up one touchdown short, tying their lowest point output at home on the season (Week 13 vs New England). But 26 was still enough to get the win and move on to the NFC Championship, so you won’t hear any complaining from me.
Unless you ask me about Brad Jones.