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NFL Playoffs - Home vs. Visitor 1998 - 2003
David M. Dorey
January 4, 2005

For the last five years, there are patterns for whether a playoff game was won by the home (H) or the visiting (V) teams:

Wildcard Rounds
1998 Winners
H
Miami 24, Buffalo 17
H
Jacksonville 25, New England 10
H
San Francisco 30, Green Bay 27
V
Arizona 20, Dallas 7
1999 Winners
H
Tennessee 22, Buffalo 16
V
Miami 20, Seattle 17
H
Washington 27, Detroit 13
H
Minnesota 27, Dallas 10
2000 Winners
H
Miami 23, Indianapolis 17 (OT)
H
Baltimore 21, Denver 3
H
New Orleans 31, St. Louis 28
H
Philadelphia 21, Tampa Bay 3
2001 Winners
H
Oakland 38, NY Jets 24
V
Baltimore 20, Miami 3
H
Philadelphia 31, Tampa Bay 9
H
Green Bay 25, San Francisco 15
2002 Winners
H
NY Jets 41, Indianapolis 0
H
Pittsburgh 36, Cleveland 33
V
Atlanta 27, Green Bay 7
H
San Francisco 39, NY Giants 38
2003 Winners
V
Tennessee 20, Baltimore 17
H
Indianapolis 41, Denver 10
H
Carolina 29, Dallas 10
H
Green Bay 33, Seattle 27

The wild card round has witnessed one visitor win in four of the last five years - and it actually goes even farther back. The 2000 season was the lone exception when all four home teams won.

While it would seem this would be the least predictable round since it has the "stragglers" into the playoffs, the reality is that it is the most consistent every season. The question is almost always - what road team wins?

This year:
St. Louis at Seattle
N.Y. Jets at San Diego
Denver at Indianapolis
Minnesota at Green Bay

Both St. Louis and Denver have aleady beaten the team they are visiting though Denver got the easy version of the Colts last week.

Divisional Rounds
1998 Winners
H
NY Jets 34, Jacksonville 24
H
Denver 38, Miami 3
H
Atlanta 20, San Francisco 18
H
Minnesota 41, Arizona 21
1999 Winners
H
Jacksonville 62, Miami 7
V
Tennessee 19, Indianapolis 16
H
Tampa Bay 14, Washington 13
H
St. Louis 49, Minnesota 37
2000 Winners
H
Oakland 27, Miami 0
V
Baltimore 24, Tennessee 10
H
Minnesota 34, New Orleans 16
H
NY Giants 20, Philadelphia 10
2001 Winners
H
New England 16, Oakland 13
H
Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 10
H
St. Louis 45, Green Bay 17
V
Philadelphia 33, Chicago 19
2002 Winners
H
Oakland 30, NY Jets 10
H
Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 31
H
Philadelphia 20, Atlanta 6
H
Tampa Bay 31, San Francisco 6
2003 Winners
H
New England 17, Tennessee 14
V
Indianapolis 38, Kansas City 31
V
Carolina 29, St. Louis 23 (2 OT)
H
Philadelphia 20, Green Bay 17

The divisional round is less consistent but only lately. Historically it was usually all home teams winning and then one visitor won for three straight years. In 2003, there was a tremendous abberation when two visitors won though it took an overtime game for it to happen.

This year would seem far more likely to see a return to all the home teams winning since there was such a great difference in records between the bye week winners and the rest of the field. That hardly guarantees anything, but this season does present an apparently softer set of teams coming out of the wildcard round.

This year:
SD or NYJ or DEN at Pittsburgh
GB or SEA or STL at Atlanta
SEA or STL or MIN at Philadelphia
IND or SD or NYJ at New England


Championship Rounds
1998 Winners
H
Denver 23, NY Jets 10
V
Atlanta 30, Minnesota 27 (OT)
1999 Winners
V
Tennessee 33, Jacksonville 14
H
St. Louis 11, Tampa Bay 6
2000 Winners
V
Baltimore 16, Oakland 3
H
NY Giants 41, Minnesota 0
2001 Winners
V
New England 24, Pittsburgh 17
H
St. Louis 29, Philadelphia 24
2002 Winners
H
Oakland 41, Tennessee 24
V
Tampa Bay 27, Philadelphia 10
2003 Winners
H
New England 24, Indianapolis 14
V
Carolina 14, Philadelphia 3
Considering that this final round pits the four best teams, it is somewhat suprising to see that every season there is one visitor that advances to the Super Bowl. In all five years, one team has been the #1 seed in their conference and yet allowed a visiting team to deny them a trip to the Super Bowl.

When we reach the Championship Round, chances are obviously best that one of the #1 seeds are going to fall - Pittsburgh or Philadelphia?

Compounding it further is that each Super Bowl is seeing some entirely new team reach the final game of the year. The Falcons, Titans, Giants, Patriots, Raiders and finally the Panthers were surprise contestants - and all but the Giants won on the road.

There's nothing in the past that controls the future and every matchup should be evaluated individually if you are in playoff leagues, but it is interesting to see the patterns that have been largely consistent - one road team wins in both the Wildcard and Championship rounds in most years.