With the final week of the NFL regular season knocking on the door, there are still some big decisions to be made. In addition to the fight for the last available playoff spots, the race for the top seeds in each conference is particularly exciting. Six teams still have the hope of getting a bye for the first round of the NFL Playoffs!
The film drama “Margin Call” treats the global financial crisis of 2007, which is well worth seeing, and takes a look behind the scenes of an investment bank for about a day and a night, which is teetering on the abyss due to a speculatively bloated real estate market. During a late night crisis meeting, CEO John Tuld, played by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons and based on the real-life Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, teaches his subordinates his formula for success: “There are three ways you can be successful in this business. You can Be first, be smarter, or cheat. I don’t cheat and even though I know we have quite a number of bright minds in this building, it’s a lot easier to be first in the end.”
Six NFL teams are still hoping for the top seed
Apart from diffuse machinations like Spygate and the intellectual excesses of smoking football tacticians, this mantra could well get caught in the NFL. Here, too, a fundamental advantage can arise from being at the front of the pack, which is probably no more evident than before the NFL playoffs. As a reward for the best regular season performance in the respective conference, there is a bye in the first postseason round. The so-called “Bye” seems like a gift from football heaven after 18 long, hard and tiring weeks of the season that even with a playoff spot already made it’s worth fighting for.
The race for the top seeds in the NFL is particularly exciting this season. In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals still have chances to secure a comfortable TV seat for the wild card round of the playoffs. In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys are squinting at the privilege that could tip the scales decisively in a sport that is more than physically demanding.
Number One Seed an Advantage in the NFL Playoffs
Historically, the NFL playoffs have undergone multiple evolutions. In terms of the powerful bye, the expansion in 1990 is particularly crucial, when the league increased the postseason field from ten to twelve teams. The two top-seeded teams in each conference thus automatically ended up in the Divisional Round, for which the remaining teams first had to qualify on the Wild Card Weekend. Since 2020, seven teams have made it into the NFL playoffs in each conferencewhich means that there is only one bye to win in each conference in a total of six first-round games.
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2023
As enticing, prestigious, and desirable as that makes a top seed, it’s not a free ticket to the Super Bowl. You only have to ask the two Number One Seeds from last year. The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans each failed in their first postseason game, becoming the first two top seeds to do so since 2010. There have been a total of 64 Number One Seeds since 1990, of which 32 advanced to the Super Bowl and 14 eventually won it.
NFC Leader Philadelphia in freefall
Even if some teams have problems finding their rhythm again after almost 14 days without live action, the advantages of a top seed are not only obvious through extended preparation. You know that the road to the Super Bowl will lead through your own stadium and with your own fans behind you, highly dramatic games are often a bit easier to live through than “on the road”. Especially in football, where the volume of the crowd, the weather and the stress of travel can have a lasting effect on the outcome of the game, home advantage becomes a real asset.
Football is family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/bGbCMGCIWG
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2023
The Philadelphia Eagles already seemed to have this in their pockets this NFL season, but without their starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Eagles recently maneuvered themselves into unexpected turbulence. A win in the final game of the season against the New York Giants is still enough for the top seed, and their division rival could be playing with the handbrake on for lack of incentive. Of course, the Cowboys and 49ers, Philly’s direct competitors for first place, wouldn’t find that so exhilarating. Dallas heads to Washington and needs losses from the Eagles and 49ers The latter host Arizona and bet on a stumble from Philadelphia in front of their home crowd.
Buffalo Bills bangen um Safety Damar Hamlin
The situation is similarly tight in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs (balance 13:3) still lead the conference, but they also have one game more than their two well-known pursuers from Buffalo (12:3) and Cincinnati (11:4). The Bills have their destiny in their own hands as they hold the tiebreaker against Patrick Mahomes and co after their win at Arrowhead Stadium a few months ago. Wins with the Bengals and against the Patriots would complete the top seed.
But nobody is thinking about that at the moment. Because in the much-anticipated Monday Night Football matchup with the Bengals, he was known to be injured Bills-Safety Damar Hamlin heavy. He collapsed in the field from cardiac arrest, had to be resuscitated and was in critical condition on the way to the hospital. The game was rightly interrupted and sport became a minor matter. With the Bills, like actually in the NFL, it doesn’t really matter in these hours who’s first or smarter or whatever.
At the moment, all that matters is that a man gets well again. All the best Damar!