To find an NFL Wildcard round as odd as the one we saw last weekend, you’d have to go all the way back to the 2011-12 season. That’s the last time we saw all four higher-seeded home teams actually win out in the first round of the NFL playoffs the way they did in the first round last weekend. Not only did those home teams win, they covered against the spread, and UNU was right on top of things.
The Divisional Round of the playoffs presents a new set of challenges for forecasters. With last week’s hard fought games behind them, teams that looked great winning at home now have to hit the road and face opponents who have enjoyed an extra week of rest and preparation. This creates a new set of challenges for UNU.
Like last week’s Wildcard picks, we used an extra layer of questions to really try to drill down on the Swarm’s Divisional playoff round predictions. By asking UNU to express a wager for the game, we’re not recommending a bet amount, but rather really getting the Swarm to focus in on how confident it feels in its prediction. For instance, we’ve already shown that UNU believes the Steelers will beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead on Sunday. Here’s a pretty clear illustration of the extent of that confidence.
Also, like last week, we had two separate UNUs with different swarm participants take their best shot at the divisional round. First up, our group of regular football experts who have met weekly over the past season. This group went 3-1 last week in their picks against the spread.
The chart shows that at least three of these games look playable. At the top of the table, this UNU believes strongly in the Steelers and then a little less so in the Falcons and that huge number the Patriots must cover. The Swarm had less clarity on Dallas.
Our second Swarm is a larger group pulled from football fans across the country. This UNU was very impressive last week, managing to go 4-0 against the spread across all four games. Here’s what they have for us this week.
This UNU was a bit more fearless about that giant point spread facing the Patriots in New England. Interestingly, they also liked the Steelers a great deal on the road as a small underdog. This group also expects a very close game in Atlanta, with the Hawks either covering or just edging the Falcons.
If we place the results of both Swarms side by side, we can draw things into a little clearer focus. Both Swarms have high degrees of agreement that Pittsburgh should dispatch the Chiefs. And despite the gigantic 16 point spread in New England, they favor the Patriots to cover the spread as well.
The other two games are a bit muddier, and we can’t firmly recommend a bet on either. If you must, our Swarms have a somewhat high degree of belief in Green Bay down in Dallas. Taken together, however, they paint a picture of a very tight matchup in Atlanta. That game should be played cautiously, if at all.