• The Host(s) With The Most?

    Off a weekend in which some felt the visiting teams had a great chance to win at least 2 or possibly 3 of the NFC Wild Card matchups, home was where the heart was as the Texans, Saints, Giants and (yes) Broncos made it a clean sweep for the home teams, the first time since 2006 that all 4 host teams won on Wild Card Weekend.

    Now we’re back at it again in the Divisional Round, where it’s been a 50-50 proposition the last 6 postseasons for the home clubs (12-12) dating back to the 2005 postseason. But rarely have we seen 4 home teams which such gaudy credentials when it comes to protecting their turf.

    It starts in San Francisco where most people feel the Saints will make the 49ers’ first appearance in the playoffs since 2002 and 3 to 4-hour experience. Sean Payton’s team has won 9 straight games by a combined score of 332-178 (an average of just over 17 points per game) but has also been a different team not only away from the Superdome (5-3) but most notably outdoors, scoring fewer than 24 points in 3 of those 5 outings. Factor in the aspect that the defensive-minded Niners were 7-1 at home this season and have won 6 straight at Candlestick Park and let the chess match begin.

    In Foxborough, much will be made of the fact that the Patriots went unbeaten at home in 2009 and ’10, then lost their first playoff game at home to the Ravens and Jets, respectively. This season, Bill Belichick finished 7-1 at home and has won its last 4 games on their home turf. Enter the Denver Broncos, who fell to New England in Denver 4 weeks ago but have actually been better on the road (5-3) than at home.

    No matter where they’ve played, the Houston Texans have brought that portable game plan of theirs nearly every week and last Saturday held the visiting Bengals to 10 points, the 10th time in 17 games this season they’ve held an opponent to 14 points or less. But this week they’re visiting a Baltimore team that’s not only playing its first playoff game in front of its fans for the first time since 2006, the Ravens have won 10 straight games at home dating back to last season, including a 29-14 victory over the Matt Schaub-led Texans in Week 6 of this season. Unless one or both defensive units take matters into their own hands, points figure to be at a premium.

    And finally there’s the Giants, who won just 9 games this season but 5 came on the road And Tom Coughlin’s club seems to be playing its best football at the right time thanks to the sudden-awakening of a once-dormant ground attack that rolled up a season-high 172 yards against the Falcons last Sunday. Memories of the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl run seem to be dancing in many people’s heads given the team’s pass rush and balance on offense. But beating the Patriots in Arizona and toppling the Packers at Lambeau Field (where they’ve won 13 straight games and scored 42 or more points in 7 of them) may be an entirely different task.

    For the record, the last sweep by the home teams in the Divisional Round came in 2004 and as previously noted, it’s been somewhat rough sledding ever since. But entering last weekend, home teams were a combined 7-9 entering last weekend's Wild Card Playoffs and you saw the results.

    Will the form of recent seasons hold true, or are we in for a clean sweep? Thoughts?

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Ragar's Avatar
      Re: Giants resurgence of a running game:

      172 sounds impressive, then you realize ATL gave up over 150 yds against 3 of the last 5 regular season opponents, 4/5 over 115...and the only one they didn't was TB.

      And the Giants regular season was 4/5 over 100, none over 115.

      Seems about right for the Atl game.

      Bigger question is how many "screw-ups" the Packers have in this game. Giants way to win is to keep teh "scrw-up plays" below GB's: no To's, no dropped balls, hope GB drops some, hopes for some more Packers blown coverages, etc.
    1. Ty2010's Avatar
      This game makes me nervous as a Packers fan. I honestly think the key to the game is what GB can do on defense. If they can turn the ball over and get it back to Aaron Rodgers, then that will be key to winning the shootout. Based on the last matchup it may come down to whoever has the ball last with a sufficent amount of time (1 minute for these quarterbacks).
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      I think both AFC home teams win pretty easily this round. Houston is pretty depleted and doesn't have the playoff experience to go much further and I think the Pats defense can contain Tebows just enough for Brady to light up the Bronco defense.

      In the NFC, I don't feel confident with either home team winning. The Giants seem to rise up to their competition, so I can see them upsetting the Packers. And the Saints are the hottest team in the NFL and even though its an outdoor game, I don't think that is giong to hurt them that much. But the 49ers smash mouth football might be enough for them to win it. I chose the 49ers as my upset pick, but I can easily see New Orleans winning it.
    1. RSConn5's Avatar
      Seeing all that snow in Green Bay has to be a welcome sight to the Giants. If the passing conditions are bad and it turns into a running game/defensive game then the advantage goes to New York.
    1. giantsfan97's Avatar
      I am a persistant pessimist I guess. Everyone keeps talking about how the Giants have the tools to win against the Packers with their pass rush and new found running game and Eli's great play. Here's how I see it: the Giants need all three of those parts to play very well to even be in the game. And even then the Packers will still put up points and make stops.

      Sure, the Giants have a better chance than a lot of teams, but that doesn't automatically mean they have even a good chance of winning.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Awesome stuff Russ. I think the recent history will be broken up. I like how DEN is ballin' during the year and have the chance to in the postseason. I feel like once NE lost the Super Bowl in 2008 [for the 2007 season], that did something to them in addition to the loss of key leaders like Harrison & Bruschi. The defense have guys like Wilfork but can't seem to get that same treading like in previous seasons. Also, I think the Giants can make another run for the SB with Coughlin & Eli. This could be their year & it seems like JUST when you want to write off Coughlin & fire him, it TOTALLY redeems himself. That was the storyline in 2007, the same season Tiki Barber talked trash. This year's talk? Eli is not Elite. The performance hasn't impressed everyone, let alone the whole year, but there is some opportunity for him to solidify himself with his brother & Brady. The overhead of talk from nay-sayers is the perfect concoction for winning for Coughlin & Eli.