The late Lamar Hunt seemed to be smiling down, the stars aligned, Fate distracted, and her mischievious son Twist pulling the strings. Our persistently mediocre Chiefs beat Jacksonville, the Titans and the Bengals both went down at home, and the hapless 49ers pulled off a stunning upset in Denver. So KC was in. Then, without a first down in the first half, we were obliterated by Indy.
The wildcard week was drearily predictable, with both #5 and #6 seeds losing to their respective #4 and #3 seeded hosts. When I last followed the NFL closely back in 2001, the 'parity' phenomenon was all the rage. Picking the winner on 'any given Sunday' was tantamount to correctly predicting whether a quarter would land heads- or tails-up.
With free-agency and shorter and less binding contracts that does appear to be the case on a season-by-season basis (eg the Saints, Ravens, and Chargers this year), but when it comes to who takes home the Lombardi trophy, it's historically a tale of two seeds: #1 most of the time, with #2 occasionally threatening. (The anomalous '05-06 Steelers, seeded sixth last year, actually were tied for the third-best record in the AFC and had been on a tear in the second half of the season).
Since the NFL went to a seed-based tournament playoff bracket system in the 1977-78 season, a #1 seed has won the Superbowl 62% of the time, a number #2 seed 21% of the time, although #2s have surged in the era of parity, having won three of the last six. A #3 has only won once, when the Redskins beat the Broncos in '87-88. Three #4s have gone all the way, no #5 ever has, and until last year no #6 ever had either.
The winner of the losing conference has similarly been the domain of the #1 and #2 seeds, who've dominated over 86% of the time. (Click graphics for detail)
If you're a football-illiterate who spends his Sundays productively, you can still sound pretty sagacious by predicting a Bears/Chargers matchup in Miami. To add an extra layer of insight, be sure to leave open the possibility of either Baltimore or New Orleans clawing their way in as well!
Swivel posting here.