Numbers to Watch During the NFL Playoffs
The NFL playoffs are here! The field is set and action begins Saturday, January 9, with a full slate of three wild card games. Sunday will feature the same three-game card as the playoff field is whittled down eight.
This is the first season in which seven teams, instead of six, qualified for the postseason in each conference. A total of 14 teams are in the playoffs. Only one team in each conference – Kansas City in the AFC and Green Bay in the NFC – received a bye this season.
Here are some other numbers to watch during the NFL playoffs.
Three Out of Four
In each of the past two NFL Wild Card playoffs, three lower-seeded teams were victorious. Of those six, five were true underdogs. In the playoffs after the 2018 regular season, the No. 5 L.A. Chargers (+2.5), the No. 6 Indianapolis Colts (+2.5), and the No. 6 Philadelphia Eagles (+5.5) all won their wild card games.
Last year, it was No. 5 Seattle, and No. 6 seeds Minnesota and Tennessee that won in the wild card round. Seattle was a one-point road favorite while the Vikings (+6) and Titans (+4.5) were both road underdogs.
Will that trend continue in 2021?
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There was plenty of talk throughout the season about the NFC East and how the winner would ultimately end up with a losing record. Washington did just that beating Philadelphia in Week 17 to earn the division crown with a 7-9 record.
The Football Team joins the 2010 Seahawks and 2014 Panthers as the only teams to make the postseason with sub-.500 records. That Seattle team actually won a playoff game and still holds the record for the team with the lowest regular season winning percentage to win a postseason game.
No team with a sub-.500 record has ever advanced to a conference championship game. The ‘87 Vikings were 8-7 (strike shortened season) and made the NFC title game. Five AFC teams with a 9-7 regular season record have reached the conference championship game.
Cover Me – NFL Playoff Edition
Of the teams playing on NFL Wild Card weekend, the Bills own the best ATS record at 11-5. Green Bay, which received the bye in the NFC, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore all finished 10-6 ATS during the regular season.
Buffalo is a 6.5-point favorite in its game with Indianapolis. Pittsburgh is favored by four points at home against Cleveland and Baltimore is a 3.5-point road favorite at Tennessee.
182, 71 & 20-13
Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel would like nothing more than a repeat of last year’s wild card performance. Titans RB and NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry rushed for 182 yards and QB Ryan Tannehill needed only 71 passing yards to beat New England 20-13 last season. A good look at NFL scores and odds will always tell the full story.
Henry became just the eighth running back to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a season with his 250-yard performance in Week 17.
The NFL Playoff Half-Point
Of the six games on Wild Card weekend, four of the point spreads included a half-point. Sportsbooks seem to be intent on a winner and a loser in this year’s wild card games.
New Orleans (-8) and Tampa Bay (-7.5) are touchdown-plus favorites. The Steelers, which lost to Cleveland in Week 17, are a -4 favorite over the Browns this week. Pittsburgh starting QB Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play in the season finale.
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