Every time NFL Playoffs discussions start up I hear this same debate - would you rather be a 1 or 2 seed and get the bye so your team can rest a week, or would you rather play in the first round and keep up your momentum?
Basically there are a lot of people that think some teams benefit from the confidence earned by playing in the first round and that it's actually better for those teams to get even more playing time vs getting to rest a full week instead. They argument is teams can get on a roll and the teams with a bye can be at a disadvantage because they won't be as 'hot' going into the divisional playoff game.
I gotta disagree, because the #s do not bear that out at all.
Looked up the win %s of teams with home field advantage in the playoffs for each round. And from 1990 (when the wildcard round was introduced to the league) until 2019, here's how the numbers shake out:
Wildcard Round home teams win 61.6% of the time.
Divisional Round home teams win 71% of the time.
Conference Championship home teams win 67.1% of the time.
So this means if you finish better in the regular season than your opponent and get to host the playoff game, you win at least 61% of the time no matter what. But it also means the 1 and 2 seeds that earn a bye week win 71% of the time. They get to rest in the first round. Game plan for 2 full weeks. And play their first playoff game in their home stadium. Makes total sense that they would win a vast majority of those games.
Sure there are teams that have bucked the trends like the Giants. But those are the outliers. If you were told you had historically a 29% chance to win a game one way or a 71% chance to win another, and the higher odds way was WAY easier, which would you choose?
Just wanted to put this argument to rest. Unless you have a compelling argument against these numbers?