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How Do #6 Seeds Fare Against #3 Seeds on Wild Card Weekend?

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Better than you think.

Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers

I only included results from 2002 and forward, when the current Playoff structure seedings went into effect (4 division leaders + 2 Wild Card...previously it had been the 3 division winners + 3 Wild Cards). Would you be surprised if I told you it was a wash between the #3 and #6 seeds?

14-14.

Some other interesting tidbits in this admittedly small sample size:

  • #6 seeds are 5-1 in the last 3 years.
  • #6 seeds have won both games (5) as many times as they have lost both games (5); #5 seeds, on the other hand, have won both games 3 times, while whiffing on both games 5 times.
  • The AFC representative of the #6 seed is 6-2 in the last 8 years.
  • #6 seeds are 14-14 while #5 seeds are 12-16, despite #5 seeds facing the team with the worst record of the division winners.
  • Last year’s Playoffs was the 1st year since the new Playoff seedings began that all underdogs won Wild Card Weekend; 2006 and 2011 were the only 2 years where all favorites won.

Now, my stupidity is well-documented, but I am NOT silly enough to think that history will have any causal influence on Sunday’s game. Every single #3/#6 game has been different, and the victor has emerged from the ashes for a variety of reasons. Just because there are some cute stats to support it doesn’t mean every #6 seed is an equal opportunity Playoff-wrecker.

Pittsburgh is currently favored by 10 points against our beloved Miami Dolphins. My guess is the line swings if Ryan Tannehill can play, but I’m not sure it’d be by more than 3 or 4 points.

However, if you think we’re showing up to save face, you’re sadly mistaken. Resilience is one of the first words that come to mind when describing this team. I’ve seen the Dolphins win at Pittsburgh in the snow with Tannehill under center; we beat them earlier in the year. Is it easy to beat an opponent twice or more in the same season? Of course not. No one said this will be easy.

Psych yourself out, do a reverse jinx, get all deflated if you think that helps you withstand the emotional turmoil of the game on Sunday - learned helplessness is a powerful defense mechanism.

Just don’t expect the Dolphins players or coaches to buy into consolation prizes. And if you’re advancing all the favorites Wild Card Weekend, I’d do it in pencil, not in pen.