Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

By Steve Makinen  () 

For as different as this NFL season has been due to the impact of COVID-19, the first two weeks of the playoffs have generally followed the trends of recent years. Over the last two weeks, I have compiled trends from the wild-card and divisional rounds of recent NFL playoffs. In the wild-card round, it was obvious going in that road teams had held an edge recently. They did so again in 2021. In the divisional round, I explained that hosts typically won three of the four games. That’s exactly what happened last weekend.

Up next are the conference championships, and the most noticeable factor when analyzing recent conference title games is that besides the road sweep two years ago, home teams have won every game outright since 2013. They also own an ATS edge of 10-4 during that seven-year stretch. Last year’s games were decided by double digits, re-establishing the trend that was thwarted in 2019, when the previous 10-game run by the hosts produced average scores of 33.3-16.

Will we see a return to competitiveness this weekend, or are we looking again at two relatively easy home wins? The matchups are very interesting, and both point spreads have been set at three points in favor of the top-seeded hosts. Coincidentally, both the 2019 road upset wins had 3-point spreads as well. This might be the most anticipated Championship Sunday ever because of the star power at quarterback. Three of the four starting QBs are Super Bowl champions. The exception is Buffalo’s Josh Allen, who is among the front-runners for this year’s MVP award. 

Using similar methodologies to that of the last two weeks, here are some of the notable trends and systems from recent conference championship games. When applicable, I will apply the key information to this year’s matchups, Tampa Bay-Green Bay and Buffalo-Kansas City.

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