Home Field Advantage Doesn't Help Packers

The Packers earned the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs with a 15-1 record. What does it mean? Historically, almost nothing. Incredibly, as many No. 6 seeds have won the Super Bowl as No. 1 seeds since 2000. We have the breakdown and perspective from Rodgers and Woodson.

The Green Bay Packers worked hard to earn home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. They hope to receive a portion of the payoff on Sunday.

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
2011 NWE ??? GNB ???


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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