Home field advantage in the NFL playoffs may not be what it is all cracked up to be. Earning the top seed in your conference and playing two home games to get to the Super Bowl sounds easy enough but before this season it has not happened in both the AFC and NFC in the same year since 1993.
The Indianapolis Colts, the top seed in the AFC and the New Orleans Saints, the top seed in the NFC will meet in Super Bowl XLIV this Sunday.
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The NFL is actually pretty happy that this No. 1 vs. No. 1 thing does not happen that often. Looking back the games have almost all been blowouts, a pretty remarkable statistic considering one team is supposed to be the best from the other conference. In the eight Super Bowls pitting the top seeds from both conferences all but one game has been decided by at least 13 points. In those eight Super Bowls the average margin of victory is more than 18 points.
What is even more remarkable is the amount of success the overall No. 1 seed has had in the Super Bowl when facing the No. 1 seed from an opposing conference. The team with the best record in the NFL that season is 5-1 SU and 5-1 ATS when facing the No. 1 seed from the opposite conference. In two Super Bowls teams were tied with the best record in the league.
This is good news for Indianapolis Colts fans and backers. They finished the season 14-2 SU while the Saints were 13-3 SU. Of course, the Colts remain undefeated in games they were trying to win. Colts’ starters were benched for the majority of Indianapolis’ games in Weeks 16 and 17.
The lone exception to the favorite dominating this matchup is in Super Bowl XVIII, when the top seeded Washington Redskins were blown out out as three-point favorites by the Los Angeles Raiders, 38-9.
List of all Super Bowls featuring No. 1 vs No. 1
(*-denotes overall No. 1 seed)
XXVIII 1993-94 Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) 30-13 Buffalo Bills
XXVI 1991-92 *-Washington Redskins (-7) 37-24 Buffalo Bills
XXIV 1989-90 *-San Francisco 49ers (-12) 55-10 Denver Broncos
XIX 1984-85 *-San Francisco 49ers (-3) 38-16 Miami Dolphins
XVIII 1983-84 Los Angeles Raiders (+3) 38-9 *-Washington Redskins
XVI 1981-82 *-San Francisco 49ers (-2) 26-21 Cincinnati Bengals
XII 1977-78 Dallas Cowboys (-5) 27-10 Denver Broncos
XI 1976-77 Oakland Raiders (-5) 32-14 Minnesota Vikings 14
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Even in the situations when teams were tied for the best record in the NFL (Dallas and Buffalo in 1993-94 and Oakland and Minnesota in 1976-77), the favorite had an easy time over the underdog. So not only is the top overall seed in the playoffs 5-1 SU and 5-1 ATS when facing the No. 1 seed from the other conference, the No. 1 seed who is favored is 7-1 SU and 7-1 ATS in Super Bowls when going up against another No. 1 seed. Either way you look at, Super Bowl history shows that the best regular season translates to the Super Bowl when top teams collide.