Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seahawks and Broncos is a bit of a rarity, but it's not because it involves a Cinderella wildcard team, or two franchises who have never been to the Big Game. The upcoming Super Bowl is a bit of an anomaly because the two teams with the two best records during the regular season will actually be playing for the right to be called the best in the football world.
With 13-3 records, both Seattle and Denver entered the playoffs as No. 1 seeds, and unless I missed something in my wikipedia research, it's only the second time that two top seeds have advanced it to the Super Bowl since the 1993 playoffs, when the Cowboys faced Buffalo.
One of the reasons the NFL has become so popular over the years is parity, and that all teams, whether they represent Green Bay or New York, can find themselves playing on Super Bowl Sunday. While other professional sports leagues regularly crown champions who have the largest payrolls or hail from the biggest cities, smaller towns like Pittsburgh and Baltimore have recently hosted Super Bowl parades.
Parity was never so evident than the better part of the past decade, when six of the last eight league champions had to start the postseason on Wildcard Weekend and win three games just to make it to the Super Bowl.
In fact, the last three champions--the Ravens, Giants and Packers--combined to win 29 regular season games and had an average win/loss record of somewhere between 10-6 and 9-7.
In 2010, Green Bay placed 15 guys on Injured Reserve, entered the postseason as the sixth seed with a 10-6 record, and yet still managed to steamroll through the playoffs and to their fourth Lombardi after defeating Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
In 2011, the Giants were 7-7 after 14 games and needed to knock off Dallas in Week 17 just to make the playoffs, but they were able to navigate through through three postseason games and to their fourth Super Bowl championship after upsetting the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
And then, of course, last year's Super Bowl champions, the Ravens, lost four of their last five regular season games and even fired their offensive coordinator in December, but with some luck and a key play here and there, they did just enough to send Ray Lewis out a champion.
Don't get me wrong, I love parity and consider the Steelers Super Bowl XL season, in which they became the first sixth seed to win it all, to be my favorite sports season of all time and can't imagine having more fun following a team from now until eternity. However, it is nice to see the two best teams (at least on paper) battle it out on the NFL's biggest stage.
The Broncos top offense against Seattle's top defense.
Peyton Manning trying to cement his legacy vs. Richard Sherman, who will be trying to establish one of his own.
Two teams who combined to win 26 regular season games, and not only advanced to the Super Bowl, they had to go up against the best their conferences had to offer on Championship Sunday just to make it there.
Super Bowl XLVIII will be great and exciting, and no matter who comes out on top, there should be no question that the best team (not the hottest, healthiest or luckiest) won.
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