Four for the road
NFL history was made yesterday when the Seahawks and Packers ventured to Minnesota and Washington and won their respective NFC wild card games.
This past weekend marked the first time visiting teams swept four playoff games since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The previous high water mark was 3-1 for the away sides.
The 2015 playoffs already has more wins for visiting teams than all of the 2014 postseason, when home teams were 8-2.
The success of visiting teams on the road in the divisional round dips significantly, largely because the four home teams had a bye in the wild card round and thus are much better rested.
There have been six instances since the current playoff structure was introduced in 1990 where the four home teams swept the divisional round, although that hasn’t happened since 2004.
In 2005 and 2008, road teams won three of four divisional round games. Each time, the Steelers ended up winning the Super Bowl.
Strangely enough, in 2008, Pittsburgh was the lone home team to survive the divisional round, ousting San Diego 35-24. Baltimore, Arizona and Philadelphia all won on the road, and because of the chaos in the NFC, the No. 4 seed Cardinals got to go back home for the NFC championship vs the No. 5 Eagles.
Three teams have won the Super Bowl under the current playoff structure without hosting a playoff game: the 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants and 2010 Packers. The Chiefs pulled off the feat in 1969, but they only had to win two playoff games instead of three.
The four home teams are favored for the divisional playoff games, although I could see the line in the Seahawks-Panthers game swinging towards Seattle if the Las Vegas bookies take in enough money on the two-time NFC champions. Kansas City may be a big play for its game with New England, but I doubt the Steelers (at Denver) or Packers (at Arizona) are going to be big bets.
Happy anniversary Chiefs fans. It was 46 years ago today your team won its first and only Super Bowl championship, defeating the Vikings 23-7 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.