Today is the day. The day that the two “best” teams in the NFL get together and play in a four hour long game, where commercials and musical entertainment steal the screen and make you forget this is supposed to be about a football game.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Super Bowl as much as anyone. What I do not fancy is that the Super Bowl rarely provides the fans with the leagues true two “best” teams.
In the past 11 years, six of the 11 Super Bowl champions have been a 3rd thru 6th seed, which means six of the last 11 Super Bowl champions were not one of the top two teams in their respected conference throughout the 16 game regular season. (via GreenBaypressgazette.com)
I believe that this is strictly due to the NFL’s one game, winner takes all playoff format.
For example, not many can argue that the New England Patriots were the NFL’s best team in 2007, but unfortunately for Patriots fans, they were not that season’s Super Bowl champions.
The Patriots were upset by the New York Giants and lost the Super Bowl by a score of 17-14. I am not trying to take anything away from the Giants, as they were a great team in their own right, but if you put those same Patriots and Giants teams on the field for seven games, I believe the Patriots would win at least four of the games and show that they were the better team.
Now, let’s compare the NFL playoffs to another major sports league.
The NFL’s Super Bowl playoffs last a total of four weeks, with the top two teams in the AFC and NFC sitting out the first week with a bye. In another major professional sports league, the NHL, their Stanley Cup playoffs last at least two months long and each playoff match-up is a best-of-seven series, where the winner must defeat the other team four out of the seven games to advance.
In the last 20 NHL seasons, only one time has a 6th thru 8th seed won the Stanley Cup; while the NFL has witnessed six of its last 11 Super Bowl champions come into the playoffs with a seed lower than three. (via Puckreport.com)
Some may believe that the best team should win a “win or go home” game and I am not any different. But I also believe in the term “any given Sunday” and the idea that any team can beat another when given one opportunity. Just look at the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” where the U.S.A. hockey team defeated the Soviet Union (Russia) 4-3 in the Olympics. The Soviet Union was the best team in the word. They didn’t only beat that same U.S.A. team by a score of 10-3 a week before the Olympics; the Soviet Union also beat the 1979 NHL All-Star team in a three game series.
The Soviet Union should have won the 1980 Olympics Gold Medal but they did not. Instead, a group of Americans pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all time, strictly because it was a one game series. I will always be proud of the 1980 U.S.A. hockey team, but I am also glad that the match-up wasn’t more than just one game.
Whether you like or dislike a one-game series to determine the Super Bowl champion, statistics and past history proves that it does not matter which sport it is, a one-game contest may not be the best way to determine a winner and it does not always show which team was truly the better team.
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