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TGS NFL PLAYOFFS PREVIEW... DIVISION ROUND NOTEBOOK

                                   by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

While Division Round games were once fertile territory for home teams and favorites (almost always one and the same), their dominance has disappeared in recent years.  Indeed, since the 2004 postseason, road dogs stand 32-23-2 against the number in these playoff games.

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 63 of the last 78 Super Bowl participants since '78 (when the first-round "bye" was introduced; the 1982 "strike" season, with no byes, not included).  At least one top conference seed has met defeat in Division Rounds in seven of the past eleven seasons, though five of the six top seeds won all of the way thru their respective conference playoffs the past three years.   

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 fair 55% clip (46-38-3) in the Division Round since ‘75.  A recent Division Round trend note has been on the “totals” side, in particular “overs,” now 22-10 since the 2010 playoffs after a 3-1 marks in both the 2016 and 2017 postseasons

Following are the pointspread 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.

 

CATEGORY RESULT

Favorites vs. line                             85-81-5 (1 pick)

Favorites straight up                                    119-52

Favored by 0-3 points                                  11-17-1

Favored by 3½-6½ points                            28-26-1

Favored by 7-9½ points                               28-27-2

Favored by 10-13½ points                                14-8

Favored by 14 points or more                         4-3-1

Home teams straight up                               122-50

Home teams vs. spread                               87-80-5

Home favorites vs. spread                           81-77-5

Home underdogs vs. spread                              5-3

Home picks vs. spread                                      1-0

Over/under (since 1986)                                  71-57

 

    MARGINS OF VICTORY

1-3 points... ....................................................... 39

4-6 points... ....................................................... 17

7-10 points. ....................................................... 31

11-13 points....................................................... 14

14 points or more.............................................. 71



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