With four teams eliminated, the playoff power rankings have been reshuffled...except at the top.
Home-field advantage may not be dead, but it's not doing well.
All four road teams won this past weekend, marking the first time that has occurred in the NFL playoffs. A road sweep also has never happened in the divisional round, so perhaps the higher seeds can reestablish some normalcy on Saturday and Sunday. All four (Carolina, Arizona, Denver and New England) are expected to be favored.
The NFL's seeding system itself is to blame for the home-team stumble, of course. Were it not for division champs automatically earning the right to play on their own turf, both Kansas City and Green Bay would have hosted in Round 1, instead of traveling to Houston and Washington, respectively.
Beyond that, there's not much for the league to do, shy of sweeping changes—i.e. scrapping the divisions entirely or setting up the postseason as the NCAA does its playoff, with neutral-site action. Oooooh ... NFL bowl games, anyone? No? Good call.
What the first four playoff outcomes really did was reinforce a running theme throughout the 2015 season: parity bordering on mediocrity. Save for the likes of Carolina and Arizona, teams were jumbled across the board from September through the start of January, so a handful of road wins here and there should come as little surprise. In fact, not one of the wild-card weekend's results truly counted as an "upset," by Vegas's definition.
Will the top seeds flip the script in the divisional round? Until then, here's how the remaining eight stack up: