Wild Card weekend was a good one for the road team. Three of the four visitors picked up victories and moved on to the divisional round for the first time since the 2015-16 season when all four lower-seeded teams earned a spot in round two. The wins have their respective fan bases feeling good as the league gets ready for divisional play this weekend.
For fans of the Los Angeles Chargers, there is a sense of vindication following the team’s win over the Ravens, a team that had beaten them just three short weeks ago. Now, fans begin to look ahead as a date with the New England Patriots looms in the divisional round. Larger than the shadow of the Patriots is that of NFL playoff history which isn’t too kind to teams that start the postseason on the road.
Since the NFL introduced the Wild Card weekend of games as currently formatted in 1978, only four teams have ever won the three road games necessary to make it to the Super Bowl. The 1984-85 Patriots, 2005-06 Steelers, 2007-08 Giants and the 2010-11 Packers all accomplished the feat.
Three of those teams (Steelers, Giants, Packers) won the Super Bowl in the year they made that run. All accomplished the feat in the last 15 years, which should certainly give fans a reason for hope.
But, the odds are stacked against the Chargers, along with the Eagles and Colts who both won their games this weekend. With four teams seeded 5 and 6 playing road games each year for the last 40 years, you’re looking at 160 teams that have had the chance with only four (.025%) making the Super Bowl and three (.018%) winning the whole thing.
Philip Rivers’ personal history against the Patriots is even more of an issue for Charger nation. The 37-year-old quarterback is 0-7 in his career when facing the Patriots with Tom Brady under center (he did beat them when Matt Cassel filled in for Brady in 2010), including 0-2 in postseason play. The last time that the two met in the playoffs came back in 2007-08 when the Patriots beat the Charger 21-12 in the AFC Championship Game. That game does come with a caveat: Rivers was playing on a torn ACL he suffered in a win over the Indianapolis Colts the week before.
In some good news, FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model has the Chargers with a 20 percent chance of making and an 11 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is slightly less optimistic, with a 7.3% chance. But, to quote Dumb and Dumber: “So, you’re saying there’s a chance?”