If the Saints or Chargers win this weekend, they could keep a rather fascinating streak alive.
In each of the last six postseasons, an underdog of more than a touchdown has won outright in the divisional-playoff round, according to Marc Lawrence point spread data.
In fact, favorites of more than a touchdown are just 6-7 overall in this span.
To repeat, seven of these big favorites didn’t even get out of Round Two.
The streak began in 2007, when the Giants (+7.5) upset Dallas and the Chargers (+10.5) won at Indianapolis. The next year, the Cardinals (+10) stunned the Panthers. Then, in back-to-back postseasons, the Jets went on the road and won as nine-point underdogs, first stunning the Chargers in San Diego, then knocking off the Patriots in Foxborough.
In the previous two postseasons, the eventual Super Bowl winner has entered the divisional round as a sizable underdog and emerged one step closer to the Lombardi Trophy. In 2011, the Giants (+9) rolled at Green Bay. Finally, the Ravens (+9) upset the top-seeded Broncos in Denver last January.
Digging a little deeper, we find that at least one underdog has won outright in each of the last eight postseasons. In fact, we have to go back to 2004 to find a season where all four favorites survived the divisional round.
According to multiple line-tracking websites, the Chargers (+9.5) are the biggest underdogs of Round Two, per Nevada oddsmakers. The Chargers, the No. 6 seed in the AFC, visit No. 1 seed Denver on Sunday afternoon.
The Saints, who play at eight-point favorite Seattle on Saturday afternoon, are the second-biggest underdogs of Round Two, with the Colts (+7) the third-biggest underdogs. It’s quite possible Indianapolis could close as a consensus underdog of more than a touchdown, too.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are currently one-point home underdogs to San Francisco on Sunday. Since 2003, home teams are 24-16 straight-up in the divisional round, with home teams winning at least three games in the divisional round in each of the last two seasons.
The last two divisional-round teams to lose, of course, were the 2012 Broncos and 2011 Packers, who ultimately had something of an excuse.
After all, they were defeated by Super Bowl champions.