sandiegochargers

AFC divisional playoffs by the numbers

Here's a first look at the two AFC divisional playoff games from a statistical standpoint…

Colts at Patriots: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, CBS

Red-hot receiver: T.Y. Hilton has a ridiculous 37 catches and 509 yards in his last four games, which leads the league by a wide margin. The New England pass defense was solid this year, giving up a passer rating of 81.0 (9th best in the NFL), so Andrew Luck and Hilton could be in for a tougher day than they had against the Chiefs. Then again, it's not as though Kansas City's defense is shabby. 

No lead is safe: Luck led a ridiculous 28-point comeback against Kansas City and now has five fourth-quarter comebacks this year, which is tied for the league lead with the quarterback he'll face Saturday, Tom Brady. But strangely, neither quarterback was particularly good in one-score games in the fourth quarter. Luck's passer rating was 82.5 in those situations, while Brady's was 79.3. 

Pressure coming: The Colts have 15 sacks in their last four games and Robert Mathis is coming off his best season with a league-high 19.5 sacks. Alex Smith was pressured 19 times and sacked twice last week, and New England's offensive line gave up 194 pressures this season, which was tied for the 11th highest total in the NFL. With left tackle Nate Solder ailing, the Pats surrendered 12 sacks in their last three games of the regular season. 

Taking and giving: New England had a solid 29 takeaways on defense during the regular season (ranking 10th in the NFL) but the Colts turned it over a league-low 14 times. 

The difference: The Patriots finished third in the NFL with 27.8 points per game. Indy averaged 24.4, finishing just ahead of the middle of the pack in a tie for 14th. 

Chargers at Broncos: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Sneaky San Diego in the turnover battle: San Diego recorded just 17 takeaways during the regular season but had a season-high four of them in Cincinnati on wild-card weekend. As good as the Broncos offense was it, they turned it over 26 times, which was sub-par, and they turned it over at least three times in four of their last 11 games. San Diego had just 21 turnovers all season, and zero in two games against Denver. 

Mismatch of the game: The Broncos had the league's No. 1 passing offense as Peyton Manning broke records for passing yardage and touchdown throws, while San Diego's defense gave up 8.0 yards per pass attempt, ranking 31st in the NFL. Pro Football Focus didn't rank a single Chargers cornerback above 94th out of 110. 

The Chargers own the clock: So how did the Chargers beat the Broncos last time out despite that mismatch on D? They set the tempo by pounding away with Ryan Mathews, who had 127 yards on 29 carries. As a result, Manning never really got into a rhythm. San Diego possessed the ball with a ridiculous 38:49 that evening, and they finished first in the league in time of possession during the regular season. During the final four weeks of the year, Mathews led all AFC backs with 473 yards. The Broncos gave up only 3.9 yards per carry but had a lot of trouble with Mathews and Jamaal Charles down the stretch.

Third downs: These teams finished first and second in the league in terms of third down percentage on offense, but the Broncos were just 5-for-17 on third down against San Diego this season, while the Chargers were 13 of 28. 

Elite quarterback battle: As good as Manning was, San Diego's Philip Rivers was often right there with him. The 32-year-old matched a career high with a 105.5 passer rating, and his yards-per-attempt average of 8.2 was only a tenth of a yard back of Manning. 

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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