The No. 1 seed is an advantage, but it's anything but a free pass to the Super Bowl.
Over the past seven postseasons (from 2004 through 2010), only the 2009 New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl as a No. 1 seed.
Incredibly since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, more No. 1 seeds went one-and-done than win the Super Bowl. Over the past 21 postseasons, nine teams went from home field advantage to Super Bowl champions, but 12 teams didn't even get out of the divisional round. In 2008 and 2010, not only did none of the No. 1 seeds reach the Super Bowl, but all four teams — the Titans and Giants in 2008 and Patriots and Falcons in 2010 — were ousted in the divisional round.
"Everybody is in the playoffs now, everybody has a chance to make their run," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We did it last year as the sixth seed, the Steelers did it as the sixth seed, the Giants as a five seed. We know it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough games and we'll be fortunate enough to have that at home and I'm excited about that advantage."
Home field used to be an overwhelming advantage. From 1993 through 1996, the NFC's No. 1 seed wound up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy each year. The Packers won Super Bowl XXXI in 1996 and St. Louis won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. After that, though, the NFC's top seed lost five Super Bowls, two conference championship games and two divisional games before the Saints snapped the nine-year drought.
Still, No. 1 beats the alternative. Since 1990, the No. 1 seed is 9-11 in the Super Bowl, followed by 6-6 for No. 2, 1-1 for No. 3, 2-3 for No. 4, 1-0 for No. 5 and 2-0 for No. 6. However, since 2000, the No. 6 seed has won as many Super Bowl as the No. 1 seed, with the No. 1s a shocking 2-8.
Whether the Packers can buck that trend remains to be seen. Green Bay, at least, enters the playoffs remarkably healthy for this time of the season. They've got statistically the best playoff quarterback in NFL history in Rodgers, and they've got a defense that tied San Francisco with a league-high 38 takeaways.
"It's all out there," cornerback Charles Woodson told Packer Report for the Cover Story of our new magazine. "You know, you start the season and everybody is optimistic about where they'll be at this point. You had all the turmoil with the lockout and all of that, and training camp was kind of sprung on us. So, you never really know where you're going to be but you're optimistic. For us to come through that to be where we are right now with this opportunity, it's great to be a part of it.
"We understand as a team that we still have a long way to go. We're 15-1 — like we were talking earlier, when you start talking about the history of the game and then you talk about the history of the Green Bay Packers, with all of the accomplishments that they've had, for you to be the only one that's ever done this is pretty special. To have it all out in front of you — to clinch the division, clinch the bye week, clinch home field advantage — there's only one things to do and that's finish it."
|SEASON||AFC NO. 1 SEED||SEASON RESULT||NFC NO. 1 SEED||SEASON RESULT|
|1990||BUF||Lost Super Bowl XXV||SFO||Lost NFC Championship|
|1991||BUF||Lost Super Bowl XXVI||WAS||Won Super Bowl XXVI|
|1992||PIT||Lost Divisional||SFO||Lost NFC Championship|
|1993||BUF||Lost Super Bowl XXVIII||DAL||Won Super Bowl XXVIII|
|1994||PIT||Lost AFC Championship||SFO||Won Super Bowl XXIX|
|1995||KAN||Lost Divisional||DAL||Won Super Bowl XXX|
|1996||DEN||Lost Divisional||GNB||Won Super Bowl XXXI|
|1997||KAN||Lost Divisional||SFO||Lost NFC Championship|
|1998||DEN||Won Super Bowl XXXIII||MIN||Lost NFC Championship|
|1999||JAC||Lost AFC Championship||STL||Won Super Bowl XXXIV|
|2000||TEN||Lost Divisional||NYG||Lost Super Bowl XXXV|
|2001||PIT||Lost AFC Championship||STL||Lost Super Bowl XXXVI|
|2002||OAK||Lost Super Bowl XXXVII||PHI||Lost NFC Championship|
|2003||NWE||Won Super Bowl XXXVIII||PHI||Lost NFC Championship|
|2004||PIT||Lost AFC Championship||PHI||Lost Super Bowl XXXIX|
|2005||IND||Lost Divisional||SEA||Lost Super Bowl XL|
|2006||SDG||Lost Divisional||CHI||Lost Super Bowl XLI|
|2007||NWE||Lost Super Bowl XLII||DAL||Lost Divisional|
|2008||TEN||Lost Divisional||NYG||Lost Divisional|
|2009||IND||Lost Super Bowl XLIV||NOR||Won Super Bowl XLIV|
|2010||NWE||Lost Divisional||ATL||Lost Divisional|
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.