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50-Point Games Close the NBA’s 2016
Isaiah Thomas’ 52-point game of H.O.R.S.E. on December 30 wasn’t even the best performance in the final week of 2016; one night later, he was one-upped by the Houston Rockets’ James Harden, who put up 53 points, 17 assists, and 16 rebounds in one of the most impressive triple-doubles in NBA history. Think that scoring 50 points this year is common? Check the list of players who have dropped 50 in a game this year, and none of them are fluky. When you drop the barometer to 40 points in a game, the list expands to include the likes of Bradley Beal, Lou Williams, and Zach LaVine. Impressive all the same, but a 50-point performance seems to be the threshold for entering video-game territory. Of note – Steph Curry has eclipsed 35 points once in 2016-17, a 46-point output in November. You tell me what’s more fun to watch – a superteam winning by 12.7 points per game, or heroic performances by super players.
The AFC Wild Cards – One King, Three Jokers
The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are sitting pretty in the AFC Divisional round, while the Oakland Raiders will visit the Houston Texans, and the Miami Dolphins will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers. The potential quarterbacks for each Wild Card team:
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, whose 5.7% touchdown percentage ranks 7th in the NFL this season
- Houston Texans: Brock Osweiler, who finished the season with 16 interceptions and 15 touchdowns
- Oakland Raiders: Matt McGloin, who has attempted 15 passes this season
- Miami Dolphins: whose most recent touchdown before this season was in 2012
We’ll go with Pittsburgh and Oakland to advance to the Divisional round.
The NFC Wild Cards – Home Is Where the Heart Is
If you’re rattling off the toughest places to play in the NFL, Seattle and Green Bay are likely near the top of your list. That’s bad news for the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, who will visit those cities, respectively, to open their postseasons. Especially tough for the Lions is the Seahawks’ stingy pass defense at CenturyLink Field, which allows a 56.4 pass completion percentage at home (league average is 62.2%).
Picture a cold, snowy Lambeau Field in January, and that’s the epitome of tough environments to play in. Aaron Rodgers is familiar with those conditions and is as comfortable as anyone could be in Green Bay. He has posted a 106.5 QB rating at home this season and leads all quarterbacks in QB rating at home since 2008 (109.7).
The home teams prevail, as Seattle and Green Bay move on to the Divisional Round.
Matt Tardiff is the resident stathead at Chin Music Pod, and as a New England Patriots fan wonders what it’s like to have to play in the Wild Card round. If you know, please tell him on Twitter @StatTardiff. As always, check back next Tuesday for more stats.