Everyone is acutely aware of how Andy Reid manages success during the regular season, with the mustachioed coach going 16-2 with the Chiefs and Eagles when given an extra week to prepare for an opponent.
But the success actually carries over to the postseason as well. Reid has acquired a bye week in the playoffs just four times in his 18-year career (which is really just proof of how hard it is to get a bye in the NFL). And in those four years, with 2016 pending, he's undefeated.
|Team||Year||Opponent||Line||Opp. PPG (Rank)||Turnover Diff.||Score (Result)|
|Eagles||2002||ATL||PHI -7.5||25.1 (5th)||+2||20-6 (W)|
|Eagles||2003||GB||PHI -4.0||27.6 (4th)||0||20-17 (W-OT)|
|Eagles||2004||MIN||PHI -8.0||25.3 (6th)||+1||27-14 (W)|
The biggest thing that stood out here? What a set of opponents that was for Reid's defense. That's the Michael Vick-led Falcons, the Brett Favre-led Packers and the Daunte Culpepper/Randy Moss-led Vikings in three straight seasons to start the playoffs.
These were all top-10 offenses in the respective years that Reid's teams played them. Holding those three teams to a total of 37 points in three different years is a remarkable feat.
The Steelers will be no different, with Pittsburgh coming in as the 10th-highest scoring offense, a number that probably belies their real ability to put up points. When Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are on the same field, the Steelers are one of the most dangerous offenses you'll see in the league.
It's worth noting that Reid's previous three postseason byes were over a decade ago and he had the help of late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.
All of this becomes infinitely interesting when you add in two factors. One, Big Ben was seen in a walking boot after the Steelers wild-card win. It probably won't affect him too much because injury only makes Ben stronger. But Ben not at 100 percent -- with everyone already criticizing Mike Tomlin for leaving him in the game -- doesn't make the Steelers better.
And, two, the Chiefs are underdogs. Kansas City opened as a 1.5-point underdog at Sportsbook.ag, a slight surprise considering how good Reid is after the bye and the game being played at Arrowhead Stadium. The public just saw Pittsburgh dominate the Dolphins and the Steelers are a much bigger public darling than the boring Chiefs, but this is an unusual situation for Reid.
He's never been an underdog as the home team in a divisional-round off a bye. History tells us he has a pretty good chance of covering.
Other items of note from wild-card Sunday:
A whole pack of rematches
Every single matchup on the docket for the divisional round next weekend is going to be a rematch from the regular season. Let's break them down real quick, looking at the previous games and any differences.
Seahawks vs. Falcons
First game: 26-24 Seahawks win in Week 6 at CenturyLink Field -- Christine Michael scored two touchdowns, Russell Wilson was only sacked once and the Seahawks held off a furious Falcons rally to beat Atlanta late, with a controversial no call on pass interference by Richard Sherman against Julio Jones.
What's different: Thomas Rawls is healthy for the Seahawks and looked fantastic in the wild card round against the Lions, but Earl Thomas is out for Seattle. Matt Ryan put up 335 passing yards in the first one, which should be indicative of what he can do this time around at home.
First game: 27-0 Patriots win in Week 3 at Gillette Stadium -- With rookie Jacoby Brissett starting, the Pats manhandled the Texans and Brock Osweiler, managing to win on defense and special teams while pitching a shutout.
What's different: Tom Brady is back. The Texans defense is good, but Houston is a 16-point underdog. Football is weird but there's very little reason to believe this won't be a blowout.
Steelers vs. Chiefs
First game: 43-14 Steelers win in Week 4 at Heinz Field -- Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell went nuts (in Bell's first game back) and the Steelers offense looked like the most dangerous unit in the league.
What's different: The Chiefs are more dangerous on offense, with Tyreek Hill turning into one of the league's most explosive weapons.
Packers vs. Cowboys
First game: 30-16 Cowboys win in Week 4 at Lambeau Field -- Aaron Rodgers was outplayed by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 157 yards yards and the Cowboys rolled on the road in a stunning victory (Green Bay was favored by five points).
What's different: Rodgers is playing out of his mind lately and this is the first playoff game for Zeke and Dak. The Cowboys aren't a different team and it's possible their offense overpowers a questionable Packers defense, but Green Bay should put up a fight. Don't forget -- Rodgers won his only Super Bowl in AT&T Stadium.
Big favorites roll huge
During all four games of wild-card weekend, we saw the favorite cover and cover easily. The Texans handled Connor Cook and the Raiders, the Seahawks ran the Lions into the ground and Pittsburgh blasted Miami. The Steelers game was the most curious because of how huge the line was -- the Steelers opened as a 10-point favorite and climbed to as high as a 12.5-point favorite before kickoff. (The line settled at 11.5 or 12 depending on where you got it.)
If you're talking about a playoff game during the first weekend and you're looking at a team getting nearly two touchdowns, you have to take the underdog, right? Maybe not. History actually isn't kind to the big dogs on wild card weekend.
Those are all the games in the PFR database featuring a wild-card favorite of 10 points or more and every single team the home team has been favored by double digits, they've not only won, they've also covered.
The only exception in the list was the Seahawks, who not only covered against the Saints in 2010, but also beat Seattle straight up during the epic Beast Quake game that featured Marshawn Lynch's epic touchdown run.
Whenever someone is a 10-point dog in the playoffs, it's easy to make them an automatic play. But for whatever reason, history tells us that huge favorites run away from the competition in the wild card round.
Asked after the game by Fox's Erin Andrews how the Packers managed to grab some momentum at halftime, Aaron Rodgers said simply, "We hit a Hail Mary."
He wasn't kidding -- Rodgers completed the third Hail Mary in a single calendar year on Sunday, a bomb to Randall Cobb that somehow got over six different Giants defenders before the diminutive receiver grabbed it in the back of the end zone. Kudos for the subtle push off too.
He's not wrong, by the way. This really did change the momentum in this game. Rodgers played poorly the first half, the Giants dominated, smothering the Packers receivers. Only the offensive line and Rodgers' ability to move in the pocket kept the Packers in the game.
Then, all of a sudden, they hit this play and go up 14-6 into the half. It set the stage for the rest of the game and Green Bay ran away with it.