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2014 NFL Divisional Round Betting Spread; 1st Seed Patriots Hosting 6th Seed Ravens: The Hype

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Doesn't it seem like the Patriots don't have a chance? Aren't they the #1 seed for a reason?

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The 1st seed New England Patriots are considered the favorites over the 6th seed Baltimore Ravens, but there's a lot of negativity surrounding the host team. While few have outrightly stated that the Patriots are doomed, there've been some thinly veiled attempts of predicting a Patriots demise, hedged by a caveat "but they should win if they do their job."

The Ravens were a team that most believed best matched up against New England, but has any 6th seed really been talked up as much as Baltimore has?

Surprisingly, yes. Over the past ten playoffs, the 6th seed has traveled to play the 1st seed 10 times, most recently last season when the Chargers faced the Broncos.

R1, R2 are regular season head-to-heads. P1 is playoff head-to-head. Podd is the playoff spread.

Year 1 Seed 6 Seed R1 R2 P1 Podd Cover?
2004 Eagles Vikings 1 1 -8 Y
2005 Seahawks Washington 6 1 -8.5 Y
2005 Colts Steelers 1 6 -8.5 N
2008 Giants Eagles 1 6 6 -4 N
2008 Titans Ravens 1 6 -3 N
2009 Colts Ravens 1 1 -6.5 Y
2010 Falcons Packers 1 6 -1.5 N
2010 Patriots Jets 6 1 6 -9.5 N
2013 Broncos Chargers 1 6 1 -7.5 N
2013 Seahawks Saints 1 1 -9 N
2014 Patriots Ravens N/A TBD -6.5 TBD

In fact, that Chargers team even managed to defeat the Broncos in Week 15, so that hype might match how people feel about the Ravens right now. That said, the spread for the game was -7.5 for the Broncos, or the expectation that the Broncos would win by more than a touchdown.

The Patriots are currently favored over the Ravens with a spread of -6.5 or -7.0, meaning that the odds makers believe New England can win by a touchdown. Same situation.

There have been three games with smaller spreads than the project Patriots and Ravens, and all three times the 6th seed was victorious- but of the seven games with a -6.5 or greater spread, the #1 seed has been victorious in five games (with the Patriots loss to the Jets in 2010 one of the defeats).

This hype for a 6th seed isn't too strange, even if it seems misplaced. In nine of the prior ten games, the #1 seed had won earlier in the season. Let's hope this year's #1 seed can defeat the #6 in the first match-up of the year.