Big divisional-round favorites haven’t had it easy in recent years

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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.

18 responses to “Big divisional-round favorites haven’t had it easy in recent years

  1. Before week 17 of this year, I read an online post from a “disgruntled former NFL employee” that the playoffs would be rigged by the NFL to allow the Chargers to win the Superbowl against the Sea Hawks in order to gain pubic support for a new stadium in San Diego.

    I obviously thought nothing of it at the time, as the Chargers had not even qualified for the playoffs. but now? And if the Chargers win this week and then go on to beat the Seahawks? I may never watch the NFL again

  2. Giants win over Dallas was awesome. Than they beat GB in Ice Bowl II. And who can forget beating the 18-0 Pats in the SB? What a legendary playoff run.

  3. Of all the games being played this weekend, only the Chargers have no shot at all. The other game should be pretty entertaining.

  4. Basically, now that these posers don’t have to worry about the road warrior Giants, they don’t have to fear upset. Got it!

  5. Love how so many people are crowning the Chargers and locking them in for the upset this week. This is a team that lost to the Raiders earlier in the year, barely beats KC’s 2nd stringers after the playoff stars align, and then beats the Bengal in a game where Dalton may as well have been wearing a Chargers jersey. You don’t become the #1 seed 2 years in a row by chance. Sure these teams played eachother close this year but Denver and particularly Manning will be hungry in this one after the Baltimore loss last year. Denver makes a statement in this one 31-24.

  6. If the Seahawks lose the football game this weekend, does the 12th man automatically advance to the conference championships?

  7. Denver will choke on its own arrogance and sense of entitlement. Manning utterly collapsed under pressure when it truly mattered. I don’t know if Denver fans remember, but the offense only scored three touchdowns compared to Baltimore’s four. Manning also threw a pick six and a pick in OT to seal his team’s fate. Also, keep on mind that the Ravens were the most dominant of all the teams who played in the WC round last year. Guess who won by the most points last weekend! Get ready, Broncos. Chargers are coming to zap you just like the Ravens did last year. Ouch.

  8. Though it won’t be an easy beat-down like the first game of the season, Denver wins this one with ease.

  9. True, the Tebow-led Broncos walloped the Roethlisbooger-led Steelers in the playoffs, but but Denver is facing a superior team this time around.

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