A Playoff Preview By The Numbers

Posted: December 28, 1991

Of the dozen teams that survived the rigors of the regular season and

qualified for the 1991 NFL playoffs, eight begin their sudden-death trek toward the Super Bowl this weekend.

With that in mind, and taking a break between resignations, retirements and firings among the league's head coaches, here's how the playoffs shape up, by the numbers:

0. Number of playoff games won by New Orleans, ever; number of games lost by Dallas this season playing on grass-covered swards like Soldier Field; number of winning teams beaten by the Jets this season; number of fans secretly hoping to see Denver reach another Super Bowl.

1. Number of games won by the Falcons on artificial turf; number of home games lost by the Oilers, Broncos, Bills and Redskins (who start the playoffs at home); number of winning teams beaten by Denver this season; IQ of people who do the wave during a playoff game.

2. Number of division champions beaten by the Eagles (Redskins, Oilers); number of times Chiefs have beaten Raiders this year; number of Raiders victories on turf.

3. Number of NFC playoff teams that weren't in the postseason last year (Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta); point spread in Cowboys-Bears bash, with Chicago curiously favored; number of coaches likely to be fired before the end of the Jets-Houston game.

4. Number of Jets wins and losses, on home and road; number of Falcons losses on the road; number soon to be awarded for a devalued touchdown, unless someone does something about the recession.

Thus the picks:



This is the first playoff contest staged at Arrowhead Stadium since they opened the place in 1972, and the matchup could hardly be more fitting. Even if the Raiders (9-7) and the Chiefs (10-6) played each other only a week ago, their 31-year-old rivalry deserves a postseason showcase. The Chiefs have won the last four meetings in this series, have a slight edge in health, and own the NFL's No. 3-ranked rushing attack. Raiders coach Art Shell was playing it coy about who will start today, but all indications are that it will be rookie QB Todd Marinovich, who started for Jay Schroeder on Sunday and threw for 243 yards and three TDS, with neither an interception nor a sack. The Raiders' defense must find some solution to the ball-control rushing power of Christian Okoye and Barry Word. The Raiders have lost three straight, giving up 84 points in the process.

Prediction: Chiefs 21, Raiders 14.



Here's another division rivalry that has come up for the third time this season, and it should be a charm. Given the close contests that have marked this series, including the 23-20 overtime battle the Falcons (10-6) won from the Saints (11-5) on Nov. 24 at the Superdome, this could be the most dramatic production of the weekend. The Saints are shooting for their first playoff victory in history, hoping to overcome suspect talent at cornerback with a formidable pass-rush and a blitz package led by Pro Bowl linebacker Pat Swilling. Falcons QB Chris Miller will try to exploit the Saints' cornerback problem by throwing deep for wide receivers Andre Rison and Michael Haynes. Saints QB Bobby Hebert, who is 7-0 as a starter vs. Atlanta, should be able to move the ball on the Falcons' 24th-ranked defense, given some run support.

Prediction: Saints 23, Falcons 17.

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