A common misconception around the NFL is that each season, the best team wins the Super Bowl. That's simply not true. Last season, we saw the 15-1 Green Bay Packers get blown out at home by the New York Giants in the divisional round. The Giants had only won nine regular games and possessed the league's worst rushing attack. However, New York got hot at the right time and made a run to the Super Bowl.
The NFL playoffs are perhaps the most unpredictable, tension-filled athletic competitions in all of professional sports. The one-and-done format provides a forum for lower seeds to fight their way into Super Bowl contention against the elite teams in the league. The playoffs are, in effect, a reset button.
Teams that win championships do not necessarily have to be the best squad in the league. They simply have to be the best team in the stadium for three Sundays in January and the first Sunday in February.
At the conclusion of Week 17, it's no longer relevant how many regular season wins a team has or how many Pro Bowlers are on the roster. All it takes is one bad matchup for a top-seeded team to have its season derailed. Health, along with quarterback play and pass rushing ability are the three biggest factors in determining a team's Super Bowl chances.
As the 2012 playoff picture begins to take shape, let's take a look at four teams that may get sent home earlier than expected.