It’s time for the big boys to get back to action.
Of course, that’s in reference to the Denver Broncos (13-3), Atlanta Falcons (13-3), New England Patriots (12-4) and San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1), who earned an extra week off thanks to their impressive seasons, the quartet finishing a combined 49-14-1 in the 2012 NFL regular season.
But it’s back to action for these clubs as they each host one of last weekend’s winners. But don’t think that’s an automatic rubber stamp to the conference championship game.
From 1990-2004 (under the current playoff format), home teams won all four games in the divisional round six times in those 15 seasons. But there hasn’t been a clean sweep since. In 2011, the 15-1 Green Bay Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Since 2005, those clubs getting that first-round bye are just 15-13 in the divisional playoffs. That’s quite a turnaround after the home teams forged an impressive 49-11 mark in this round from 1990-2004.
Food for thought as we venture into the next round of the NFL’s postseason tournament…