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The Packers Are Still The Team To Beat In The Playoffs

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FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Week 16 DVOA Ratings. Once again, the Green Bay Packers are the highest ranked team in the league, not only by record, but by the Football Outsiders rankings. But what I was interested this week was how the other top teams stack up against the Packers.

A good point is made by FO that the Packers, Patriots, and Saints offenses should be ranked 1A, 1B, 1C. It's so close that the differences don't really matter. For as much legitimate concern as there is about the state of the Packers defense, the Patriots and Saints have even more worries. Especially the Patriots, who have the worst ranked defense in the NFL according to FO. I'm concerned that those two offenses could go on a run against a struggling Packer defense, but their two defenses probably have more to worry about from Aaron Rodgers.

Two of the AFC contenders have balanced attacks with good offense and defense (Steelers and Texans). But both teams have quarterback problems. T.J. Yates has played better than I expected, but his stats are still below average. And that looks even worse when considering that he's got a great supporting cast surrounding him (even minus Andre Johnson). Ben Roethlisberger is hurting now, but there's no doubt he'll play once the playoffs start. However, if he's the same immobile statue that got pummeled by the 49ers a couple weeks ago, then they're in a lot of trouble. Big Ben isn't much of a runner, but he relies on his mobility to extend the play behind his shaky offensive line.

The 6th and 7th ranked teams by Football Outsiders are similar, and both have coaches with the same last name. The 49ers and Ravens have very good defenses, but it's hard to be concerned that either Alex Smith or Joe Flacco could keep up with Rodgers in a shootout.

My point of all this, without breaking down every potential playoff opponent, is that while the Packers have legitimate concerns on defense, I see big concerns for all the top teams. Upsets can happen in the playoffs, ask every team that lost at home to the Packers last season, but the Packers still have the best looking team going into the playoffs.