I've heard for years that yards per point, or YPP, is the single biggest predictor of victory in the NFL, and that oddsmakers and professional sports bettors have been using the method for quite some time. The logic is that net YPP takes into account ALL aspects of the game, offense, defense, special teams, red zone performance, turnovers, and field position.
Since I can't wait for Sunday, I crunched the numbers today.
The 49ers had the #1 net YPP in the NFL regular season in 2011, which essentially means that the 49ers were the MOST COMPLETE TEAM IN THE NFL; Net YPP is defensive YPP allowed minus offensive YPP gained. This playoffs, every team with a better in-game net YPP won the game. Comparing total season Net YPP vs. winning percentage for teams that have made the playoffs, a linear regression yields an R^2 of over 0.8, which is very strong. If you add in Tennessee, it still stays above 0.8. And if you limit the data to the 20 teams that finished .500 or better, the R^2 is still 0.67.
If you dig into YPP, things begin to make sense. For example, the Patriots is #2 in YPP allowed (19.4 YPP) after the 49ers at 21. Both teams have incredible bend but don't break defense. For offense, the lower the number the better. The 49ers were #2 in the NFL in offensive YPP after the Packers, 12.9 and 11.8. The 49ers scored a point every.
The Giants are 29th in Net YPP this year, an outlier. Net YPP is only 0.33, but they're a league best 14.73 in the playoffs. Keep in mind that most of that metric comes from a whopping 105 Net YPP from the Atlanta game.
I firmly believe they will deviate back to the mean for the season. Playoff teams all revert back to their mean -- the Giants would be the only team NOT to do this...you can have one bad game (e.g. the 2011 Packers), but you can't just have an amazing playoffs. It doesn't work like that.