By Marc Lawrence
It seems like only yesterday when NFL playoff teams took the field with a week of rest against advancing Wild Card Round winners and proceeded directly to winners circle. But such is not the case today. As Bob Dylan so sagely put it, "The times are a-changin'."
Don't know if you've noticed but what was once a moneymaking proposition backing rested teams in the NFL postseason has turned into a stone-cold loser, instead. Perhaps it's been an over-adjustment by the linesmaker. Or maybe it was an edge that was lost by teams that opted not to play their starters in season finales. Whatever the case, to ask them to ‘turn on the switch' two weeks later simply isn't working.
Let's examine how these rested teams have fared in the playoffs since 1990, when the league shifted from a ten to a twelve-team playoff format. Here are the results. (Note - all rested teams were hosting unrested Wild Card round winners and dated listed are by ‘season'):
56-20 SU and 39-35-2 ATS
Overall an unspectacular 53% winning effort against the number. However, let's break down the numbers and take a closer look at how these same teams have fared over the past two decades:
33-7 SU and 24-15-1 ATS
23-13 SU and 15-20-1 ATS
Uh, oh. Do you see what I see? Like the Exxon Valdez, these well-rested home teams appear to be leaking oil at an alarming rate. In fact, over the last four years these teams appear to have blown a gasket, going just 7-9 SU and 4-12 ATS.
Now, what is your take on coaches resting starters in Week Sixteen of the season? So much for letting air out of the ‘momentum balloon'.
My suggestion this week would be to take the time and carefully evaluate the four rested hosts and get a better perspective of their condition as they enter their opening round games. It could be time well spent...