Monday, February 8, 2016

The Eagles' chances as a 3-seed

How has the 3-seed done historically in the playoffs? Here's a look at what the Eagles are up against.

The Eagles' chances as a 3-seed


I decided to take a look today to see how the three-seed has historically performed in the playoffs.

The Birds, of course, are locked into that seed and might have cost themselves a shot at the one- or two-seed with their loss to the Vikings on Tuesday night.

So here's a breakdown of which seed from each conference has made the Super Bowl the last 10 years:

  Seed of NFC champ Seed of AFC champ
2009 1 1
2008 4 2
2007 5 1
2006 1 3
2005 1 6
2004 1 2
2003 3 1
2002 2 1
2001 1 2
2000 1 4

What stands out here other than a bunch of random numbers?

In four of the last five seasons, and six of the last 10, a three-seed or lower has reached the Super Bowl. In two of the last three seasons, the NFC champ has not been a team that had a first-round bye.

Only four times in the past 10 seasons have BOTH Super Bowl participants had byes in the first round. Of course, last year was the exception as both top seeds (the Saints and the Colts) got there.

Here's a quick look at the Super Bowl participants, broken down by seed, in the last 10 years:

Seed SB appearances Pct.
1-seed 10 50%
2-seed 4 20%
3-seed 2 10%
4-seed 2 10%
5-seed 1 5%
6-seed 1 5%

Two three-seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl in the last 10 seasons. The Colts won the Super Bowl as a three-seed in 2006. They finished 12-4, but finished behind the Chargers (14-2) and Ravens (13-3) in the AFC playoff picture. Indianapolis beat Kansas City, 28-3, in the first round. The Colts traveled to Baltimore and took out the Ravens, 15-6, in the divisional round. And they won a shootout in the NFC championship, beating the Patriots, 38-34.

The other three-seed that got to the Super Bowl (and you're not going to like this) was the Carolina Panthers in 2003. They took out Dallas, 29-10, at home in the wild-card round and then beat the Rams, 29-23, in St. Louis. The Panthers of course then came to the Linc and beat the Eagles, 14-3, before falling to the Patriots, 32-29, in the Super Bowl.

Here's how the three seeds have finished in the last 10 years:

Finish No. of times Pct.
1st-round loss 8 40%
2nd-round loss 7 35%
Conf. championship loss 3 15%
Super Bowl loss 1 5%
Super Bowl champ 1 5%

Overall, the one-seeds clearly have an advantage, and that makes sense. They are the teams that prove themselves as the best in each conference over the course of the 16-week schedule. In 9 of the past 10 seasons, at least one No. 1 seed has reached the Super Bowl. And one-seeds make up 50 percent of the Super Bowl participants in the last 10 years.

The numbers are fun to look at, but each year is different. In 2005, the Steelers were the six-seed and won on the road at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver before beating the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

For what it's worth, Vegas hasn't soured much on the Eagles. The Birds' odds of winning the Super Bowl are 8/1, according to Bodog. Only the Patriots (9/4), Falcons (13/2) and Steelers (7/1) have better odds.

If you missed it earlier this week, I broke down the Eagles' playoff scenarios.

And on Thursday morning, I posted Man Up on the offense.
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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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