Divisional Playoff History
January 7, 2014
By Bruce Marshall
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Divisional Playoff games have historically been the territory of home teams and favorites (almost always one and the same), their dominance has not been especially pronounced in recent years. Indeed, since the 2004 postseason, road underdogs stand 23-16 against the number in the Division Round.
Remember some dynamics worth mentioning that are unique to this round. Since 1990, when the playoffs expanded from 10 teams to 12, all Division Round hosts have been off a "bye" and a week of rest.
And almost all of the "powerhouse" NFL teams in recent memory are from that first-round "bye" group, including 54 of the last 70 Super Bowl participants since '78 (when the first-round "bye" was introduced).
However, at least one top conference seed has met defeat in seven of the past eight seasons, including Denver in the AFC a year ago.
Also identifiable with this round are lopsided results, which have recurred with regularity over the decades. In fact, since 1975, more than half of these games have been decided by double-digit margins.
Favored teams laying a TD or more (usually representing the cream of the NFL crop) have covered at a 56% (42-33-1) in the Division Round since '75.
The strongest trend in recent years has been on the "totals" side, "overs" in particular, now 11-1 since the 2010 season playoffs (and 4-0 a year ago).
Following are the point-spread results in various spread categories of NFL Division Round playoff games since 1975. Our "charting" begins with the '75 season because, prior to then, playoff home teams were predetermined in a divisional rotation, as opposed to the better won-loss record.
A "margin of victory" chart for the games since 1975 is included as well.
Favorites vs. line... 76-72-3 (1 pick)
Favorites straight up... 104-47
Favored by 0-3 points... 9-15-1
Favored by 31/2-61/2 points... 26-23-1
Favored by 7-91/2 points... 27-22
Favored by 10-131/2 points... 12-8
Favored by 14 points or more... 3-3-1
Home teams straight up... 107-45
Home teams vs. spread... 79-70-3
Home favorites vs. spread... 74-68-3
Home underdogs vs. spread... 4-2
Home picks vs. spread... 1-0
Over/under (since 1986...) 60-48
MARGINS OF VICTORY
1-3 points... 36
4-6 points... 12
7-10 points... 26
11-13 points... 12
14 points or more... 66