You’re putting together your fantasy roster for the postseason. Do you load up on players from Kansas City and New Orleans? Or is it more likely that we’ll see a pair of more lightly regarded teams in the Super Bowl?
On these kind of things, I always like to look at the historical numbers. Not that the answer is hidden there, but it gives us a better idea of what kind of odds we’re looking at.
In the last five years, only one No. 1 seed failed to make it to the Super Bowl (the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, slayed by Green Bay in the divisional round when Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook connected on that unlikely long completion in the dying seconds to set up a game-winning field goal. Other than that, 9 of the last 10 No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl.
So if recent form is a guide, we’ll be seeing New Orleans and Kansas City playing in Super Bowl LIII.
But if we go back a little further, the record gets a lot spottier. In the previous 11 seasons only 10 of the 22 teams playing in the Super Bowl were No. 1 seeds.
The NFL went to the 32-team format in 2002. In the 16 seasons since that switch, 19 of the 32 Super Bowl combatants have been No. 1 seeds. Just over half.
Of the last 16 winners, seven have been No. 1 seeds – just under half.
For me, I don’t consider either one of these franchises to be of the lock variety. I don’t think they’re as strong as what we typically see as a No. 1 seed. So if I had to guess, I would expect we’ll see at least one team in the Super Bowl that isn’t a No. 1 seed.
Unlikely, however, that both No. 1 seeds fall before Atlanta. Only three teams in the last 16 years has there been a Super Bowl with neither No. 1 seed (2008, 2010, 2012).
|No. 1 seeds in the 32-team era|
|2018||New Orleans Saints||13-3||???|
|2017||New England Patriots||13-3||lost in Super Bowl|
|2017||Philadelphia Eagles||13-3||won Super Bowl|
|2016||Dallas Cowboys||13-3||lost in divisional round|
|2016||New England Patriots||14-2||won Super Bowl|
|2015||Carolina Panthers||15-1||lost in Super Bowl|
|2015||Denver Broncos||12-4||won Super Bowl|
|2014||Seattle Seahawks||12-4||lost in Super Bowl|
|2014||New England Patriots||12-4||won Super Bowl|
|2013||Denver Broncos||13-3||lost in Super Bowl|
|2013||Seattle Seahawks||13-3||won Super Bowl|
|2012||Atlanta Falcons||13-3||lost in conference championship|
|2012||Denver Broncos||13-3||lost in divisional round|
|2011||Green Bay Packers||15-1||lost in divisional round|
|2011||New England Patriots||13-3||lost in Super Bowl|
|2010||New England Patriots||14-2||lost in divisional round|
|2010||Atlanta Falcons||13-3||lost in divisional round|
|2009||Indianapolis Colts||14-2||lost in Super Bowl|
|2009||New Orleans Saints||13-3||won Super Bowl|
|2008||Tennessee Titans||13-3||lost in divisional round|
|2008||New York Giants||12-4||lost in divisional round|
|2007||Dallas Cowboys||13-3||lost in divisional round|
|2007||New England Patriots||16-0||lost in Super Bowl|
|2006||San Diego Chargers||14-2||lost in divisional round|
|2006||Chicago Bears||13-3||lost in Super Bowl|
|2005||Indianapolis Colts||14-2||lost in divisional round|
|2005||Seattle Seahawks||13-3||lost in Super Bowl|
|2004||Pittsburgh Steelers||15-1||lost in Super Bowl|
|2004||Philadelphia Eagles||13-3||lost in Super Bowl|
|2003||Philadelphia Eagles||12-4||lost in conference championship|
|2003||New England Patriots||14-2||won Super Bowl|
|2002||Philadelphia Eagles||12-4||lost in conference championship|
|2002||Oakland Raiders||11-5||lost in Super Bowl|