CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09:  Mike Tomlin the head coach of the Pittsburg Steelers gives insturctions to his team before the game against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Life is harder for road teams in the divisional playoffs, but that’s changing

For the first time in NFL history, all four road teams won on wild-card weekend to kick-off the 2015 NFL playoffs. But can the Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks and Packers keep rolling?

The broad numbers indicate that those teams will have a much tougher time making history again in the divisional round. Since the league adopted its current playoff format in 1990, home teams have a .625 winning percentage on wild-card weekend. But that rate increases to .730 in the divisional playoffs.

However, it’s been a different story in the last decade. Since 2005, 16 road teams have won divisional games. That’s up significantly from 11 in the first 15 years under this format. Between 1990 and 2004, home teams had an .817 winning percentage in the divisional round.

Since then, that rate has dropped to .600.

(A similar trend has taken place in wild-card games. In the first 14 years under the current system, wild-card home teams won at a .732 cut, but that number has plummeted to an even .500 in the last 12 years.)

Now, we’ve never had a year in which all four road teams won on divisional playoff weekend, but Baltimore, Arizona and Philadelphia beat Tennessee, Carolina and the Giants in 2008 and road teams went 2-2 in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010. And the home teams haven’t swept the divisional playoffs since 2003, when New England, Philly, Atlanta and Pittsburgh all took care of Indianapolis, Minnesota, St. Louis and the Jets.

So it’s possible we’re due for a big weekend from the road teams, even if they’re all underdogs.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

Quantcast