Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM

Divisional Playoff Trends

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The NFL Divisional Playoff Round games have historically been fertile territory for home teams and favorites (almost always one and the same), their dominance has not been especially pronounced recent years.

Indeed, since the 2004 postseason, road underdogs stand 30-22-2 against the spread in these playoff games, though home chalk was 4-3-1 the last two seasons.

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 are 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 59 of the last 74 Super Bowl participants since ’78 (when the first-round “bye” was introduced).

At least one top conference seed has also met defeat in six of the past nine seasons, though top seeds Denver (AFC) & Carolina (NFC) won all of the way thru their respective conference playoffs a year ago.

Also identifiable in the past with this round are one-sided 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 55% clip (45-37-3) in the Division Round since ‘75, and covered their only chance a year ago (Patriots over Texans).

A recent Division Round trend note has been on the “totals” side, in particular “over” tickets, which are now 19-9 since the 2010 playoffs after a 3-1 mark in the 2016 playoffs.

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.

Point-Spread Results (1975-2017)
Category Result
Favorites vs. line 84-78-5 (1 pick)
Favorites straight up 117-50
Favored by 0-3 points 11-16-1
Favored by 3½-6½ points 28-25-1
Favored by 7-9½ points 28-26-2
Favored by 10-13½ points 13-8
Favored by 14 points or more 4-3-1
Home teams straight up 119-49
Home teams vs. spread 85-78-5
Home favorites vs. spread 80-75-5
Home underdogs vs. spread 4-3
Home picks vs. spread 1-0
Over/Under (since 1986) 68-56



MARGINS OF VICTORY (1975-2017)
Margin Result
1-3 points 38
4-6 points 15
7-10 points 31
11-13 points 14
14 points or more 70



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