The NFL may be a passing league now but when it comes to paving the road to the Super Bowl, teams are looking to ground and pound postseason opponents.
This trend is especially prominent in the NFC, where teams have controlled the ball and the clock with their rushing attack, keeping final scores Under the total. All four NFC playoff games have finished below the number, and each of those contests has featured the winner taking to the turf to secure the victory.
New Orleans shocked Philadelphia with a run-focused attack in the Wild Card Round, picking up 185 yards on the ground and San Francisco rushed for 167 yards in its win over Green Bay. The Niners followed that with 126 yards rushing in the win over Carolina Sunday while Seattle marched for 167 yards in its win over the Saints. Those winning teams scored a total of just three passing touchdowns in those playoff victories, compared to a combined five scores on the ground.
And this change in offensive pace isn’t reserved to the NFC, with the AFC also seeing many potent pass attacks turn to the ground game.
New England dominated Indianapolis with 234 yards rushing, but also ran into the end zone six times while Tom Brady passed for a pedestrian 13 of 25 for 198 yards. The Patriots won 43-22 and blew the 51-point total away.
The Denver Broncos also switched gears with the run game leading the charge in Sunday’s victory over San Diego. The Broncos rumbled for 133 yards behind RBs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. That kept scoring low, with Denver hanging on for a 24-17 win that stayed below the 55-point number.
Unders in the postseason are nothing new to football bettors. Last year’s Wild Card Weekend provided a 0-4 Over/Under record. However, the Divisional Round returned serve with a 4-0 O/U count. The Championship Round produced a 1-1 O/U mark and Super Bowl XLVII played well over the 47.5-point total, with Baltimore beating San Francisco 34-31.
Oddsmakers have set the total for the AFC Championship between New England and Denver at 54.5 while the NFC Championship total is posted at 39.5 points.