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2013 NFL Preview: Why the Saints or Falcons Will Reach the Super Bowl

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2013 NFL Preview: Why the Saints or Falcons Will Reach the Super Bowl
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Will one of these QBs be playing in Super Bowl XLVIII?

I'm not normally one to make big, bold predictions, because they're generally wrong.

In fact, by making a prediction, I suspect my prediction may doom itself to failure in some sort of weird karmic retribution.

That said, I will predict right now that the Super Bowl XLVIII representative from the NFC will be a team from the NFC South—either the New Orleans Saints or the Atlanta Falcons.

Why?

Which division will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year?

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Because they're playing the AFC East this season.

At this point, you might be asking yourself why that matters.

It matters because the NFC champion has come from the division that has played the AFC East for seven consecutive seasons:

So what is it about playing the AFC East that helps so much? I think there are two reasons.

First, the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins collectively have not been very good since that streak began. Their combined record in that time is 145–191 (0.431). They've played only slightly better than that against NFC teams in the same span, going 38–46 (0.452).

Top teams in the NFC get to feast on some relatively weaker competition, which helps them boost their records and their playoff position as a result. In fact, every team in the above list won at least two of their three games against the Bills, Jets and Dolphins that year.

Did you know about the AFC East streak?

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By comparison, the main NFC West contenders—the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers—have to play the NFC South. This means they get games against the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

That helps. After all, playing the AFC East also means playing the New England Patriots.

The Patriots have played at a much higher level over that time span than their AFC East brethren. In fact, their record over the last seven seasons is 88–24 (0.785)—14 wins more than any other team in that span. 

Therefore, it's not entirely surprising that Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson described the team's 2012 regular-season matchup against the Patriots as the "biggest game in the history of the franchise," as reported by CSN Houston.

Teams know that if they don't bring their A-game against the Patriots, and the Patriots bring their A-game, the best-case scenario is an embarrassing loss (like this or this).

Of course, if they're unlucky, the result might be a game like this or this.

It's obviously quite possible that this will be the year the streak ends, but I wouldn't count on it.

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