Why Clinching No. 1 Seed Would Be Huge for Eagles

As the Eagles warmed up before their game against the Rams two weeks ago, the big screen atop L.A. Memorial Coliseum showed Cam Newton running 62 yards down to the 8-yard-line in the Panthers' game against the Vikings in Charlotte.

It may have been one of the biggest plays of the year for the Eagles.

That 62-yard-run set up the winning touchdown with a minute left in the Panthers' win over the Vikings, a win that gives the Eagles a tiebreaker over the Vikings.

Philadelphia Eagles

Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Eagles-Seahawks Week 12 Report Card: Another Ugly Offensive Performance

Brandon Graham to Carson Wentz: ‘Man, I've Been There'

Largely because of Newton's long run, the Eagles can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC this weekend, either with a Vikings loss to the Packers Saturday or a win over the Raiders Monday.

If not, they'll get two more chances the last weekend of the season.

All of which leads to this question: How important is the No. 1 seed?

It guarantees nothing. But looking at NFL playoff history, it sure does give teams a huge advantage.

Let's take a look:

Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was introduced, No. 1 seeds have reached the Super Bowl 28 times - 13 times from the AFC and 15 times from the NFC.

So that's 28 of 54 No. 1 seeds, or 52 percent.

During the same 26-year span, only 15 No. 2 seeds have made it to the Super Bowl - eight from the AFC and seven from the NFC.

That's 28 percent. 

So historically, you have about close to twice as good a chance to get to the Super Bowl as a No. 1 seed than as a No. 2 seed.

Once you get there, the difference is minimal.

No. 1 seeds since 1990 are 13-15 in the Super Bowl, a 46 percent winning percentage, which is really not that much higher than No. 2 seeds, who are 6-9, a .400 winning percentage. 

Only three No. 1 seeds from the NFC have won the Super Bowl in the last 20 years - the Rams in 1999, the Saints in 2009 and the Seahawks in 2013. The last NFC No. 2 seed to win the Super Bowl was the 2002 Buccaneers, who beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game at the Vet to get there.

The No. 1 seed in the AFC has won five Super Bowls since 1990 but won just two from 1990 through 2013 before winning the last three. No. 2 seeds out of the AFC have won just three Super Bowls since 1990.

Here's a look at the Super Bowl won-lost records by seed since the playoff field expanded in 1990.  

No. 1 seed: 13-15

No. 2 seed: 6-8

No. 3 seed: 1-1

No. 4 seed: 4-3

No. 5 seed: 1-0

No. 6 seed: 2-0

It's been eight years since a No. 2 seed won the Super Bowl. That was the Steelers beating the No. 4 seed Cards in 2008. The last No. 2 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in a Super Bowl was the 2004 Patriots over the Eagles. The last NFC No. 2 to beat a No. 1 in a Super Bowl was Tampa, which beat the AFC's top-seeded Raiders in 2002.

Matter of fact, since 1993, as many No. 4 seeds have won a Super Bowl as No. 2 seeds (four), despite having to play one more game to get there.

The home team is 8-0 over the last four years in the NFC Championship Game and 68-32 in the 50 years since the AFL-NFL merger. Upsets have been rare the last decade, with the higher seed winning 15 of 20 NFC Championship Games since 2006.

The only times the home teams lost both conference championship games since the merger were 1992 and 1996.

Teams seeded third and lower have reached the Super Bowl just 14 times but interestingly have a 9-5 record in those 14 Super Bowls.

In NFL history, teams playing at home are 87-51 in the wild-card round (.630), 149-61 in the conference semifinal round (.710) and 92-46 (.667) in the conference championship round.

Overall, that's 328-158, a .675 winning percentage.

Copyright CSNPhily
Contact Us