The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs is where the rubber usually meets the road. Every year, there is at least a team or two that sneaks into the last eight that probably doesn’t belong, and this is where those teams have their tests.
Are the Jaguars, Titans and Eagles for real? We’re going to get our answers this weekend.
0: The number of times a No. 1 seed has been an underdog in its first playoff game in NFL history. Barring an unforeseen swing in the betting line, the Eagles are going to break that trend. Of course, most No. 1 seeds aren’t playing without their starting quarterback like Philadelphia is, but this is totally unprecedented. Not only is this going to be the first time a No. 1 seed is a dog in its first playoff game, but it’s also going to be the only time a No. 6 has ever been favored over a No. 1. The Eagles are the longest shot on the board to win the NFC of the four teams left standing in spite of the fact that someone is going to have to beat them at Lincoln Financial Field to end their season.
1: The number of times Ben Roethlisberger has beaten the Jaguars at home in his career. The sample set is relatively small at just five games, but the Jaguars are one of the two teams to have a winning record against Big Ben at Heinz Field in his career. The other, of course, is New England. The Jags don’t just have a 4-1 record at Pittsburgh since 2004 when Big Ben was drafted, but they also have a playoff win here as well from 2008. They’re 7-point dogs, but they’re definitively live like they were when they beat the Steelers 30-9 here at Heinz Field in Week 5.
3: The number of teams who have pulled upsets in NFL playoff history as 13.5-point dogs or greater. The Titans aren’t exactly Joe Namath’s Jets against the Colts, but the fact of the matter is that they’re really up against it. New England is 17-3 at home in the playoffs in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, and it has only once lost to a team anywhere near as toothless as Tennessee looks (that coming when the Jets went to back-to-back AFC Championship Games under Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez).
47: The number representing the highest total of the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Titans/Patriots total is one that could actually drop throughout the week, especially if Mother Nature hands a nasty forecast to the greater Boston area on Saturday night. With that in mind, this is the first time since the 1998 playoffs that none of the four games in the second round of the playoffs has had a total of at least 48. This has been one of the most defensive seasons in the NFL in years, namely due to the fact that no one averaged 30+ points per game. We’re already in a postseason that has featured the sixth-lowest scoring game in playoff history when the Jaguars beat the Titans 10-3, and now, we have totals that are as low as they have been in two decades in the middle of January.
63: The number of postseason touchdowns Tom Brady has thrown in his career. In a related story, Marcus Mariota has thrown 60 touchdowns in his entire career, including both regular season games and his lone postseason start last week. Brady has played in 34 playoff games. Mariota has played in 43 games overall. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about Titans/Patriots, we’re not sure what more you need.
Opening Divisional NFL Odds
Falcons at Eagles (+3, 43.5)
Titans at Patriots (-13.5, 47)
Jaguars at Steelers (-7, 41)
Saints at Vikings (-3.5, 44.5)
(Odds Courtesy of BookMaker.eu)