Commentary

2011 NFL Playoffs Predictor

Atlanta Falcons are NFC's No. 6 seed, replacing Lions; Broncos are inching closer

Originally Published: November 29, 2011
By Nik Bonaddio and Keith Goldner | numberFire

Pressure is about to become one of the defining characteristics of the remainder of the NFL season. We can see the playoff picture shift based on decisions made in the face of it.

Pressure shifted the playoff picture this week. Cincinnati faced it, but squeaked out a win against Cleveland in a game the Bengals simply could not afford to lose. Mark Sanchez had it piled high, at least for a quarter, but made big plays in a win, giving Jets fans yet another placebo before the inevitable heartbreak that comes later. And of course, Tim Tebow dealt with it, sealing what has to be Norv Turner's inevitable fate.

But what now? Can the Broncos do it? Will the Lions backslide out of the playoffs? Can Caleb Hanie learn to hand the ball off 40 times? It will be obvious soon enough, and it will all depend on how well each team can handle the pressure. Using the efficiency formulas and projections at numberFire, we're projecting the playoffs to give you a better sense of who we think will stand up to the pressure, and who will collapse like Groupon stock.

Please note that all rankings refer to the opponent-adjusted efficiency as calculated by numberFire, not the gross yardage.