Commentary

Quick Reads: Divisional round

Metrics reveal the best and brightest from the second round of the playoffs

Updated: January 18, 2010, 4:47 PM ET
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
Drew BreesJohn David Mercer/US PresswireThis guy was the top-performing quarterback this past weekend.

Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez is given the credit for coining a famous phrase: "I'd rather be lucky than good."

That doesn't fly in football. The idea that teams require or even benefit from luck is distasteful to many fans, despite the fact that every team requires luck if it wants to make it to, and then go deep into, the postseason.

Of course, some luck is merely the absence of catastrophic events. The Patriots were unlucky when Tom Brady's knee exploded after a Bernard Pollard hit in 2008, but it's difficult to suggest that a team whose star quarterback makes it through all 16 games is "lucky." It would be fair, on the other hand, to say that the 2008 Dolphins were lucky to have Chad Pennington stay healthy for all 16 games, considering his health record over the rest of his career.

Luck can manifest itself in any number of ways. Take this season's Jets. Before we start explaining why they're lucky, let's provide a disclaimer: The Jets are a very good football team. They ranked 10th in our DVOA rankings this season, ahead of both the Chargers (11th) and the Bengals (20th), whom they've beaten to advance to their rematch with the Colts.


To read more about the top performers in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.