The League

Brandon Benson
Packers Blogger

Brandon Benson

Brandon Benson is the lead blogger at Acme Packing Company.

How 'bout them Cowboys?


In the past four seasons, three teams have played in a wild card game and managed to win the Super Bowl. The Steelers in 2005, the Colts in 2006, and the Giants in 2007. How did they do it?

The story was pretty much the same for the Steelers and Giants. Their defenses clamped down (holding all their opponents to 20 points or less) while their offense did a good job of avoiding turnovers. The story was different for the Colts who won with their defense in Baltimore, and then won a shootout against the Patriots. While I won't claim to have developed a formula to winning in the playoffs, the Steelers and the Giants have demonstrated a solid formula for winning any football game. Win the turnover battle and hold your opponent to 20 points or less.

I could take a look at the stats overall during the regular season. The Packers finished No. 1 with a +24 turnover margin. That's impressive considering the Eagles are a distant second at +15 and only two other teams (Saints and Ravens) are positive by double digits. Nine playoff teams finished the season allowing under 20 points per game, led by the Jets who allowed just under 15 points per game. But how did these teams do against other playoff teams?

I went back through the regular season schedule and noted the turnover margin and score in each game in which the eight wild card weekend teams played another playoff team. In those matchups, no team combined a positive turnover margin with a stingy defense (allowing 20 points or less). The Packers led the way in turnover margin with a +10 in six games against other playoff teams. While the Jets allowed just under 16 points per game against five playoff caliber opponents, the Cowboys had the star playoff defense and only allowed 14 points per game against five potential playoff opponents.

I'll narrow the wild card playoff field to only the Packers, Jets, and Cowboys. The Jets would have to win at Cincinnati, at Indianapolis, and (probably) at San Diego. Mark Sanchez has struggled with turnovers and would be expected to force INTs in at least one of those games. The Packers would have to win at Arizona and at New Orleans before they get a rematch opportunity at either Minnesota or Dallas. I'm a Packer fan and I like my team's chances, but the combination of the Cowboys' defense and their respectable turnover margin against other playoff teams, except in their regular season game in Green Bay, makes them a formidable opponent.

The Cowboys have already shed the stigma that they can't win in December, so there's no reason they can't start winning in the playoff too. I'm not counting any of these teams out, but it looks like the Cowboys have the best shot of winning the Super Bowl out of any of the teams that are playing on this wild card weekend.

By Brandon Benson  |  January 8, 2010; 12:42 PM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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