In 1975, the NFL made the decision to seed the playoff teams in each conference as they began the post-season push towards the Super Bowl. The format has been in effect for 39 years.
For the number one seeds in each conference, getting the top spot gives them home field advantage throughout the playoffs (if they win each game leading up to the Super Bowl). With home field advantage, these number one seeds are typically the odds-on favorites to make the Super Bowl and represent their conference in the championship game.
With almost four decades of stats, we need to ask: Does having home field advantage as the number one seed assure teams of a trip to the Super Bowl?
Since 1975, number one seeds have won the title 21 of the 39 times. In fact, if you look at the Super Bowl champs from 1975-1999, 18 of the 25 were a number one seed (a 72% success rate). Once the calendar turned to the next millennium, however, number one seeds have been less successful in the playoffs and the big game… only three number one seeds have won a Super Bowl since 2000 (that includes last year’s NFC number one seed, Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks).
We also notice that the number one seeds from each conference have had a little less success just making the Super Bowl since 2000. Again, from 1975-99, 29 of the 50 teams (58%) that played in the Super Bowl were the number one seed in their conference. Since 2000, however, that number has dropped to 46% as 13 of the 28 Super Bowl teams this century were the number one seed in their conference.
Through games of Week #15 this season, the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals hold the number one seed. For the Patriots, they have been a number one seed four times since 2003. The Cards, on the other hand, have never been a number one seed… and with two remaining games against division rivals Seattle and San Francisco, Arizona will have a challenge on their hands to keep that number one seed until the end of the 2014 season.
Here’s a look at the franchises that have had the most number one seeds in the playoffs since 1975.
8: San Francisco
5: Dallas, Oakland/L.A. Raiders
4: New England
3: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, L.A./St. Louis Rams, Minnesota, N.Y. Giants, Philadelphia, San Diego, Washington
2: Cincinnati, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Seattle, Tennessee
1: Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, New Orleans
Seven of the 32 current NFL franchises have never been a conference number one seed for the playoffs: the aforementioned Arizona, Baltimore, Carolina, Detroit, Houston, N.Y. Jets and Tampa Bay.
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With the Seattle Seahawks looking to wrap up home field advantage in the NFC playoffs this weekend, the San Francisco 49ers trying to hold on to a Wild Card spot, the Arizona Cardinals one win from a 10-win season, and the St. Louis Rams just two games under .500 with two games to play, it’s not out of the question to look at the NFC West as the best division in the NFL this season.
In 2002, the NFL went to a four-division format in each conference with four teams in each division. In the 11 years since, only three times have the four teams in a division won a combined 4o or more games in a season. In 2007, the four NFC East teams combined for 40 wins; in 2008, the four NFC South teams won 40 games. Also in 2007, the four AFC South teams won 42 games (Indianapolis, 13; Jacksonville, 11; Tennessee, 10; and Houston, eight) most since the new format was instituted back in 2002.
There’s a good chance that the NFC West this year will not only join the other three 40-win divisions, but they might match the 42 wins of the 2007 AFC South. These four teams currently have a combined 37 wins going into Week #16 games (Seattle, 12; San Francisco, 10; Arizona, nine; and St. Louis, six).
Here’s a quick look at the combined wins of each of the eight NFL divisions.
NFC West, 37
AFC West, 33
AFC East, 29
NFC South, 28
AFC North, 27
NFC North, 26
NFC East, 23
AFC South, 20
Interesting stat: Since 2002, the eventual Super Bowl champion has come from the division with the most combined wins three times… in 2002 (Tampa Bay), 2003 (New England) and 2004 (New England). Of the three divisions that had a combined 40 or more wins since 2002, only once, the NFC East in 2007, had a team win the Super Bowl, the New York Giants.
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With four weeks left in the 2013 NFL regular season, there is more and more conversation about the playoffs and which teams will not only make the playoffs, but which teams might have home field advantage throughout the duration of the post-season.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that having the home field is a benefit during the season and also in the playoffs. For the record, from the 2010 season through Week #13 of this year, home teams have won .572 of the games with road teams at .428, a difference of .144. (In the last three NFL playoffs, home teams have an 18-12 record, a .600 winning percentage.)
For some teams, however, the difference between their regular season home and road winning percentage is much greater than the league average of .144 since 2010. The Arizona Cardinals since 2010 are 19-11 (.633) at home and 6-24 (.200) on the road. That .433 difference is the largest of all NFL teams in that time period.
After looking at the records below, you will notice that:
* Two teams, Philadelphia and Washington, have actually played better on the road than at home since 2010. Only two teams, New England (.700) and Philadelphia (.600) have won 60 percent or more of their regular season road games since 2010.
Here’s a look at each NFL teams winning percentage at home and on the road since 2010.
Difference, Team (Home win pct/Road win pct)
+.433 Arizona (.633/.200)
+.400 Baltimore (.867/.467)
+.334 Seattle (.767/.433)
+.317 Green Bay (.850/.533)
+.250 Minnesota (.500/.250)
+.247 Cleveland (.419/.172)
+.245 Buffalo (.452/.207)
+.233 Indianapolis (.633/.400)
+.217 San Francisco (.750/.533)
+.200 New England (.900/.700)
+.200 New Orleans (.767/.567)
+.200 New York Jets (.600/.400)
+.166 Atlanta (.733/.567)
+.150 St. Louis (.433/.283)
+.142 Pittsburgh (.690/.548)
+.134 Oakland (.467/.333)
+.133 San Diego (.552/.419)
+ .102 Kansas City (.516/.414)
+.100 Chicago (.633/.533)
+.100 Dallas (.533/.433)
+.100 Denver (.633/.533)
+.100 Detroit (.500/.400)
+.100 New York Giants (.600/.500)
+.087 Jacksonville (.345/.258)
+.068 Cincinnati (.552/.484)
+.067 Tennessee (.467/.400)
+.066 Carolina (.433/.367)
+.033 Houston (.516/.483)
+.000 Miami (.433/.433)
+.000 Tampa Bay (.400/.400)
-.066 Washington (.367/.433)
-.233 Philadelphia (.367/.600)
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Last week I posted an article that noted the chances of winning an NFL game where a team commits four or more turnovers was about 20 percent. Let’s take a look at the other end of the turnover spectrum… no turnovers in a contest.
Last week’s games featured 10 teams that did not commit a turnover. Those teams were 8-2 (the two teams that lost even though they did not commit a turnover were Miami and Detroit). That 80% winning percentage last week is pretty close to what we’ve seen since 2010. In the last three-plus years of NFL play, teams with no turnovers in a game have won 298, lost 79 and tied once. That’s a .790 winning percentage.
Since 2010, the New England Patriots have played the most turnover-less games, 27. The San Francisco 49ers are the only other team with 20 or more such games; they have played in 21 turnover-less games in the last three-plus seasons. At the bottom of the scale are the Arizona Cardinals who have had no turnovers in only five of their last 54 games.
Following are the number of games since 2010 that each NFL team has played without committing a turnover (the team’s record in those games is also noted).
Team, Turnover-less games (Record)
New England, 27 (25-2)
San Francisco, 21 (19-1-1)
Atlanta, 16 (15-1)
Baltimore, 16 (15-1)
Houston, 16 (15-1)
Kansas City, 16 (11-5)
Tennessee, 16 (12-4)
Green Bay, 15 (13-2)
Tampa Bay, 15 (9-6)
Detroit, 12 (8-4)
Indianapolis, 12 (11-1)
New Orleans, 12 (11-1)
Cincinnati, 11 (9-2)
New York Giants, 11 (9-2)
Pittsburgh, 11 (10-1)
San Diego, 11 (9-2)
Seattle, 11 (8-3)
Cleveland, 10 (6-4)
Dallas, 10 (7-3)
Minnesota, 10 (7-3)
Philadelphia, 10 (7-3)
Carolina, 9 (8-1)
Jacksonville, 9 (5-4)
Miami, 9 (7-2)
New York Jets, 9 (8-1)
St. Louis, 9 (5-4)
Buffalo, 8 (3-5)
Chicago, 8 (5-3)
Oakland, 8 (5-3)
Washington, 8 (5-3)
Denver, 7 (7-0)
Arizona, 5 (4-1)
Note: there have been 35 times this season that a team has gone without a turnover in a game. Teams are 26-9 in those games, a .743 winning percentage.
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In the 2012 season, there were eight games in which a team scored 50 or more points. Two teams, New England and Seattle, had two games each with 50-plus points; the Seahawks actually topped the 50-point mark in consecutive weeks (December 9 and 16).
The eight games with a team scoring 50 or more points was the second most in a season since teams scored 50 or above in 10 games in 1966 (the first year of the Super Bowl era).
There are a couple of interesting notes about teams that scored 50-plus last seasons:
- Although the Seahawks scored 50-plus in two straight weeks, when they scored 58 in their shutout of the Arizona Cardinals on December 9, it was Seattle’s first game with 50 or more points since 1983, an almost 30-year wait.
- The New York Giants defeated the New Orleans Saints 52-27 on December 9. It was their first game with 50-plus points since 1986.
- The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens topped the 50-point mark on November 11 last season with a 55-20 win over Oakland. It was the Ravens’ first game with 50-plus points in their franchise history.
- The Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Bucs both have not scored 50 or more points in their franchises’ histories.
Following is a look at the last time each team has scored 50 or more points in a game.
Last year team scored 50-plus points in a game, Teams
Never: Houston, Tampa Bay
1998: Atlanta, Minnesota
2000: Jacksonville, St. Louis
2003: San Francisco
2004: Kansas City, Cincinnati, Indianapolis
2008: New York Jets, Buffalo, San Diego
2010: Arizona, Oakland, Philadelphia
2011: New Orleans
2012: New England, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, New York Giants, Green Bay
Since 1966, there have been 114 regular season games and nine playoff games where a team has scored 50 or more points. The last time a team scored 50 in a playoff game was on January 10, 2010 when the Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers, 51-45.
Since ’66, the Dallas Cowboys have had the most games with 50-plus points, 10. Here’s a look at the teams that have scored 50 or more in five or more games since 1966 (includes regular season and playoff games).
Games with 50-plus points
9: New England
8: Cincinnati, Oakland
7: San Diego, San Francisco
6: Buffalo, Indianapolis, Minnesota
5: Green Bay, St. Louis, Washington
“99 Stats Before Kickoff” (Stats you need to know before the start of the 2013 NFL season) is available from e-book publisher Smashwords. Go to www.smashwords.com to download a copy, including a pdf version which can be viewed on your home computer. Cost is $2.99.