Today’s NFL Playoffs question: What seed do you want to be?
Answer: Statistically speaking, you overwhelmingly want to be the NFC #1 seed. Congrats Falcons fans! On the flipside, you overwhelmingly don’t want to be the AFC #5 or NFC #3. Sorry Colts. Sucks to be you, Packers.
Check out the graph below. Since the playoffs expanded to the current six-team, two-byes per conference format in 1990-91, the NFC’s top seed has appeared in nearly half (10 of 22) Super Bowls and won nearly a third (7 of 22) of them. The AFC #1 has appeared in a comparable nine Big Games, but won just twice. Only three times has both conference’s top seeds matched up – and only once (New Orleans vs. Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV) in the last 15 years during the so-called “parity era.”
In the first round, you really don’t want to be the AFC #6 seed – they’ve won only five of 22 first-round games since 1990. But the NFC #6? They’re .500 in the first round. Go figure.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, other than very strong performances by the NFC #1, it’s a toss-up. No NFC #3 or AFC #5 has won under the current format. Curiously, the average seeding of each conference’s participant is trending in opposite directions – the NFC, with recent appearances by its #4, #5, and #6 seeds in the last five years, is trending higher, and its average appearance seed is 2.0. The AFC, while having a higher average at 2.18, is trending lower with only #1 and #2 seeds appearing in the last five years.
Yesterday: Do rookie quarterbacks drafted #1 succeed?
Tomorrow: Is being the best, best?