NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots and Packers Hope to Avoid Recent Playoff Trend

Craig HortonCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2012

The Patriots are the AFC's No. 1 seed for the second straight year.
The Patriots are the AFC's No. 1 seed for the second straight year.Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 seeds in the NFL playoffs.  This gave them a first-round bye last week and the coveted home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

A recent NFL trend, however, seems to indicate that home-field advantage may not be as valuable as it used to be: the trend of top-seeded NFL playoff teams going one-and-done.

In years past, a top-seeded team was a veritable lock to host a conference championship game. 

This was especially true in the NFC.

From 1990—the year the NFL expanded the playoffs to 12 teams—until 2006, every top-seeded NFC team hosted the NFC Championship Game.  Top-seeded NFC teams were 17-0 in the divisional round over that period of time.

Things began to change in 2007 when the fifth-seeded New York Giants beat the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round on their way to upsetting New England in Super Bowl XLII.

Ironically, the very next year, the Giants were the No. 1 seed when they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional playoffs.

In the AFC, No. 1 seeds have historically had a tougher time winning in the divisional playoffs.

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From 1990 until 2004, five top-seeded teams fell in the divisional round: the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992, the Kansas City Chiefs in 1995 and 1997, the Denver Broncos in 1996 and the Tennessee Titans in 2000.

Aaron Rodgers hopes to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl repeat.
Aaron Rodgers hopes to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl repeat.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Since 2005, it has gotten even harder for a No. 1 AFC seed to win a divisional playoff game.

In 2005, the Indianapolis Colts were one-and-done.  The San Diego Chargers lost in the divisional round in 2006, and the Titans washed out early in 2008.

Last year, both top seeds—the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC and the New England Patriots in the AFC—were one-and-done.

This year, however, the Patriots hope to redeem themselves.

The Packers—Super Bowl winners last year as the sixth seed—also hope to avoid a dose of their own medicine.

Both are playing teams they beat in December.

Those games don't matter now, though.

What does matter is this: Will the Patriots and Packers meet in the Super Bowl, or will they join the list of top-seeded teams that went one-and-done in the NFL playoffs?

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