The Road to the Super Bowl Runs Through…

By Blaidd Drwg

You hear all about home field advantage in the NFL, and there is definitely an advantage to playing at home, in the regular season. Come playoff time, momentum seems to be more important than playing in your front. I think it becomes exaggerated because the #1 and #2 seeds end up sitting around, doing nothing for a week and lose some of their competitive edge. I decided to take a look at just what kind of impact the bye week had on the top 2 seeds since the NFL went to the 8 team playoff in 2002.

#1 Seed

Game Wins Losses
Divisional Playoff 13 9
Conference Championship 9 4
Super Bowl 2 7


#2 Seed

Game Wins Losses
Divisional Playoff 15 7
Conference Championship 5 10
Super Bowl 3 2


The results are definitely surprising. The #1 seed has won just 59% of the time in the Divisional Playoff game. Considering that is a team that generally has won better than 75% of its games at home during the season, I would have expected better. The #2 seed wins about 68% of it Divisional Playoff games, which seems about right considering that they get the highest remaining seed for that game (usually the 3 or 4 seed). I suspect that the #1 seed ends up getting the tougher team for their matchup since it seems, especially over the last few seasons, that there is at least one Wild Card team who ends up with a better record than a couple of the division winners.

When you get to the Conference Championship game, it gets a bit interesting. There have been 8 times in the 22 instances that #1 and #2 have squared off in that game, with the #1 seed holding a 5-3 advantage in those games. That makes the results look a bit weird against the other seeds:

  #1 Seed #2 Seed
Vs. 1 or 2 seed 5-3 3-5 (On The Road)
Vs. any other seed 4-1 2-5 (At Home)


Basically, if you are the #1 seed and you survive the Divisional Playoff game, you really would rather face anyone other than the #2 seed.

Either way, I would almost be willing to bet that you won’t be seeing a Seattle – Denver (this year’s #1 seeds from their respective conferences) Super Bowl matchup. A battle of #1’s has only happened once in the last 10 seasons – in 2009 when Indy and New Orleans squared off.

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