This bled over from today's discussion. Instead of burying a long-winded response to this conversation, I've moved it over to a Fanpost.
Here we go...
1 Carolina 14.7
2 Seattle 14.8
3 San Fran 16.3
4 Kansas City 18.5
5 New Orleans 19.1
6 Cincinnati 19.2
7 Arizona 20.1
8 Miami 21.0
9A N.England 21.2
9B Baltimore 21.2
Of the 10 teams listed above, 5 are in the playoffs, and of the other 5 (SF, NO, AZ, MIA, BAL), 2 will get in between SF/NO/AZ and MIA/BAL are fighting for another. There's a very good chance that 8 of those 10 teams will make the playoffs, and 2 will be very good teams who "just missed." And what list is this, btw?
Top 10 teams with lowest PPG Defenses.
BTW, bottom 11? MN, WAS, CHI, JAX, OAK, ATL, HOU, DAL, GB, CLE, DEN. Only one of those teams is guaranteed a playoff spot b/c they have Peyton FREAKING Manning and the 11th "least bad" defense (22nd in PPG). Either CHI/GB will make the playoffs as heavy underdogs, and DAL is taking their putrid D vs. the high-flying Eagles for a playoff shot.
Now let's look at the results of "must have a top-talent QB" in 2013:
Name Comp % Yds Rating
1 Nick Foles 63.9 2,628 118.8
2 Peyton Manning 67.4 5,211 113.0
3 Josh McCown 66.5 1,829 109.0
4 Aaron Rodgers 66.9 2,218 108.0
5 Philip Rivers 69.7 4,249 105.5
6 Drew Brees 68.2 4,781 101.8
7 Russell Wilson 63.0 3,185 101.1
8 Tony Romo 63.9 3,828 96.7
9 Ben Roethlisberger 64.4 4,082 93.7
10 Andy Dalton 62.2 4,015 91.0
Let's assume a different season if Rodgers is healthy, i.e. they're in, CHI is not, and week 17 doesn't matter. There are ONLY 3 "2013 top tier" QBs guaranteed a playoff game. One more definitely will be added (Romo or Foles), and 1 more might be added (Big Ben or Philip Rivers) if MIA loses (plus some other stuff). So only *40%* of the top-flight 2013 QBs are getting in for sure, with a MAX of 50%. With a quick-math handicap (i.e. SWAG #), I'll go with a "likelihood %" of 43%.
PS: Bottom 10 QB's by Rating: Geno Smith, T.Pryor/M.McGloin combo, Eli Manning, B.Wheeden/J.Campbell combo,Matt Schaub/Case Keenum combo, Joe Flacco, Chad Henne, EJ Manuel, Ponder/Cassel combo, and RGIII. Who's going to the playoffs in THAT bunch? Joe Flacco... maybe.
Granted, it's just one year, and a bad QB guarantees no playoffs. But in 2013, if you have a top-10 defense, you have an 80% likelihood of being in the playoffs. If you have a top-10 passing QB, you have a just-over 40% chance of being in the playoffs.
It says NOTHING about long-term implications of settling "Top QB vs. Top Defense," but for 2013, there is no doubt: if you want to hoist the Lombardi, you will likely be better off with a top defense. Oh, and Peyton Manning is an outlier. (BTW, what's Peyton's playoff record again? ;-)