NFL Teams with the Easiest Routes to the Super Bowl

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IDecember 27, 2012

Dec 10, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) celebrates a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Although Week 17's outcomes could ultimately change the NFL playoff picture, as it currently stands, three teams have great routes to the Super Bowl. 

No, they're not just the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in each respective conference, either. 

Let's check them out and explain why. 


Houston Texans

If the Texans can defeat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, they'll be the AFC's No. 1 seed. With the Denver Broncos hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, Gary Kubiak's club is highly unlikely to get help from the team directly below them in the standings. 

With that top spot, the first-round bye and home-field advantage through the Super Bowl will be huge for the Texans. 

Here's why. 

By now, we know the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage don't guarantee anything, but the way the rest of the AFC playoff picture is structured, Houston could especially benefit from the top spot. 

With New England as the No. 3 seed, the Texans avoid the team that spanked them on Monday Night Football until at least the AFC title game that will be inside Reliant Stadium. 

They beat but were in a tight battle with the Denver Broncos early in the season and will avoid Peyton Manning until the AFC title game as well. 

Facing either the Baltimore Ravens, a team the Texans destroyed in Houston this year, the Indianapolis Colts, a team the Texans know well, or the Cincinnati Bengals, the team Arian Foster and Co. ran all over in last year's playoffs, gives the Texans a relatively easy route to the Super Bowl. 


New England Patriots

If the standings hold, the Patriots will have the No. 3 seed, a good spot for them to be in to start another deep playoff run. 

The Bengals will be a formidable opponent on Wild Card Weekend, mainly due to their stout defensive front and superstar wideout A.J. Green, but one has to believe that Tom Brady will play much better than Andy Dalton in Foxborough. 

After that, New England will have to go on the road to Denver to play a Broncos team it convincingly beat earlier this season. 

Though Manning's crew is playing much better, the Patriots rightfully will go into that game with confidence. 

If they manage a win there, it's likely off to Houston to play a team Tom Brady shredded in Week 14. 

There are countless possibilities if any upsets occur in the opening round, but the Pats should really like their chances against a Colts team they trounced and a Ravens team at home. 


San Francisco 49ers

As NFC's No. 3 seed, the 49ers should love their playoff positioning. 

They could face a multitude of teams that sneak into the No. 6 spot after Week 17's action, but with a defense that, according to Football Outsiders, allows the fewest touchdowns and total points per drive, they should feel confident going into a home contest against a wild-card entrant. 

After that, a trip to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers will be in store. 

Although Alex Smith was under center, the 49ers did beat Aaron Rodgers and Co. in Week 1. 

San Francisco should have the psychological edge in that one. 

Then, if the seeds hold, they'll travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons, a team that struggles to run and allows 4.8 yards per carry as a defense.

Sounds good, right?