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NEW TGS COVER STORY...NFL DIVISION ROUND NOTEBOOK

                                    by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

While Division Round games have historically been fertile territory for home teams and favorites (almost always one and the same), their dominance has not been especially pronounced recent years. Indeed, since the 2004 postseason, road dogs stand 27-18-1 against the number in these playoff games, including 3-1 last season.

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 57 of the last 72 Super Bowl participants since ’78 (when the first-round “bye” was introduced; '82 strike year not included). But at least one top conference seed has met defeat in six of the past nine seasons (the latest being Denver after the 2012 campaign).

Also identifiable 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 55% rate (44-36-2) in the Division Round since ‘75, though covered only one of three chances last season (Seattle over Carolina). A recent Division Round trend note has been on the “totals” side, “overs” in particular, now 14-6 since the 2011 playoffs despite posting only a 3-5 mark the past two years.

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... 79-76-4 (1 pick)
Favorites straight up... 111-48
Favored by 0-3 points... 10-15-1
Favored by 3½-6½ points... 26-24-1
Favored by 7-9½ points... 28-25-1
Favored by 10-13½ points... 13-8
Favored by 14 points or more... 3-3-1
Home teams straight up... 113-47
Home teams vs. spread... 81-75-4
Home favorites vs. spread... 76-72-4
Home underdogs vs. spread... 4-3
Home picks vs. spread... 1-0
Over/under (since 1986)... 63-53

MARGINS OF VICTORY

1-3 points... 36
4-6 points... 14
7-10 points... 28
11-13 points... 14
14 points or more... 68


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