Never before in the modern history of the NFL playoffs has there been an opening series of games in which every road team was favored and every home team was an underdog. Yet that’s just what we have going on this weekend. While the two teams with the best record in each conference get a “bye” and are able to stay home and rest, the division winners with the 3rd and 4th best records host the Wild Card teams with the two best records in each conference that did not win their division. So 3 play 6 and 4 plays 5, and with home field advantage usually considered to be worth at least 3 points, more often than not home teams are favored in these games.
But not this bizarre year. San Diego (though playing better and winners of 4 in a row) and Arizona won their divisions with mediocre 8-8 records, and the 11-5 Dolphins and 10-6 Vikings happen to be playing an awesome defense that’s already beaten them this year (the Ravens) and one of the hottest teams in the league (the Eagles) respectively. So all the road teams (Indianapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Philly) are favored by 1-3 points, and I’ve yet to hear one sportswriter or ESPN commentator pick the Cardinals or Vikings to win (though a few think the Chargers and Dolphins can pull it off).
Let’s hope the oddsmakers got it wrong–Go Vikes and Go Fish!