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APC NFL Picks, Divisional Playoffs: Will a top-two seed lose at home?

History suggests that at least one home team will fail to advance this weekend. But figuring out who that might be is a tall task.

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

In days gone by, both the #1 and #2 seeds in each conference would receive byes during the first round of the NFL Playoffs. The 2022 NFL season marks the third year of the current system, in which seven teams now make the postseason in each conference and the #2 team has to play on Wild Card weekend with only one team per conference getting a bye.

However, through these last three years, no #7 seed has ever beaten a #2. In fact, most of those games are blowouts; only twice in six 2v7 games has the contest been decided by fewer than 10 points, with the Buffalo Bills being the victor in each case. They defeated the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 in 2020 and won a 34-31 game against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday afternoon.

This week, those second-seeded Bills host the Cincinnati Bengals for a rematch of the regular season meeting that was deemed a no contest after Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati. Hamlin is back in Buffalo recovering, a fantastic sign, and will surely be cheering on his teammates. The Bills are the favorites in that game this week, as are all of the other home teams.

The tightest point spread, according to DraftKings, comes in the NFC’s #2 vs. #5 game. That contest will see the San Francisco 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the weekend on Sunday evening.

Will any of the home favorites lose outright this weekend? History suggests that at least one will. Both #1 seeds were upset in the Divisional Playoffs last season, and only twice in the last 17 years have all four 1 and 2 seeds advanced to the Conference Championship Games (2015 and 2018).

Who will pull an upset this weekend? Here are APC’s picks for this weekend’s games as we try to predict just that.