By Danny O’Neil
The Seahawks will not be league’s hottest team entering the playoffs, and that is actually a good thing. At least that’s what recent history says when it comes to winning the Super Bowl.
Last year’s Ravens lost four of their last five regular-season games before they caught fire in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl. (AP)
Over the previous nine seasons, there have been 14 teams that entered the playoffs riding a winning streak of five or more regular-season games. Of those 14 teams, none won the Super Bowl. Not one. And not only that, but six of the 14 lost their first playoff game.
That total includes last year’s Washington team, which had won seven in a row entering the playoffs only to be beaten – at home – in the wild-card round by the Seahawks.
So as impressive as it may sound to say that the team streaking to the finish of the regular season has an advantage when the playoffs start, that’s more myth than any sort of verifiable reality.
Does that make you feel a little bit better about the fact Seattle has lost twice already this month? Because it should.
Of the past seven Super Bowl champs, only two were riding anything that could be termed a winning streak. The 2010 Packers and 2011 Giants each won their final two regular-season games before qualifying for the playoffs and then went on to win the Super Bowl. That’s it.
So the next time you hear someone say Seattle has lost its momentum and cost itself any chance of winning the Super Bowl, point them in the direction of last season’s Baltimore team. The 2012 Ravens lost four of their final five regular-season games. They fired their offensive coordinator in the middle season and shuffled the offensive line entering the postseason.
They were a team in disarray and yet somehow strung together four straight playoff games and became the fourth wild-card playoff entrant in eight years to win the Super Bowl.
That fact is the one that people most often use – or misuse, as the case may be – to support the idea that more than ever, the hot team has the best chance of winning the Super Bowl.
People aren’t wrong when they say that, but they’re not always looking at the right time to get hot. It’s January, not December.
A big winning streak can put a team in the playoffs, but it doesn’t get a team through the playoffs. At least not that often.