The NFL playoffs kick off Saturday with Wild-Card Weekend, which means that neither No. 1 seed – the Green Bay Packers in the NFC and Tennessee Titans in the AFC – will be in action. However, we are here to predict that both will not reach the Super Bowl because each top seed doing so is pretty rare and a top seed winning it doesn’t happen often, either.
NFL 2021-2022 Playoffs Prediction
Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams and realigned into eight divisions in 2002, more than half the No. 1 seeds from the AFC and NFC – 20 of 38 – eventually played for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That includes at least one in seven of the last eight years and five instances in which both No. 1s met for the title.
Only eight No. 1 seeds have won the Super Bowl over the last 19 years and more than half of those (five) were the result of the 1 vs. 1 matchups. The most recent 1 vs. 1 matchup was Super Bowl LII when Philadelphia upset New England.
Green Bay was the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year and lost in the conference title game at home to Tampa Bay. Tennessee hasn’t been the AFC top seed since 2008 and the Titans lost in the divisional round then to Baltimore.
Seven of the 14 teams to qualify for the playoffs with one game remaining are new to the postseason in 2021, having missed the playoffs a year ago: Arizona, Cincinnati, Dallas, Las Vegas, New England, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. The AFC North (Cincinnati) and NFC East (Dallas) were both won by teams that missed the postseason in 2020.
Cincinnati completed the “worst-to-first” turnaround, winning the AFC North the season after finishing in last place. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 17 of the past 19 seasons. The Los Angeles Rams (NFC West) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South) are also new division winners in 2021.
At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 18 of the past 19 years. In each of the past 44 seasons (1977-2021, excluding 1982, when divisional play did not occur), at least one team has won its division the season after missing the playoffs.
Seven of this season’s 14 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 1999, capturing 14 of the past 22 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII), Buccaneers (XXXVII, LV), Steelers (XL, XLIII), Packers (XLV), Chiefs (LIV), Eagles (LII) and Rams (XXXIV).
Six playoff starting quarterbacks are under the age of 27 – Buffalo’s Josh Allen (age 25), Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow (25), Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts (23), New England’s Mac Jones (23), Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (26) and Arizona’s Kyler Murray (24). The only postseason with more was 2020 (seven).
There were seven head coaches hired last January and there’s just one of them who has his team in the playoffs a year later: Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni.
He made some bad decisions during a 1-4 start to the season that didn’t really improve until Halloween, when he coached up his team to a blowout win over Campbell and the Lions and used that to propel Philly to a 7-3 finish to the season and a wild card berth.
“I don’t think about that,” Sirianni said on Monday. “All I care about is that our team is successful, our team is ready to play each week. So, I haven’t really thought too much about that. I’m just thankful that we’re in the position we’re in now to go down to Tampa and play a really good team in the playoffs and prepare for that.”
The Eagles figure to be one-and-done as they are 9-point underdogs on Sunday at defending champion Tampa Bay. The Bucs won in Philly earlier this season but the teams do have the same record against common opponents.
They’ve faced seven teams in common – the Cowboys, Falcons, Saints, Washington, Giants, Panthers and Jets. They both handled the Falcons, Panthers and Jets, the Bucs beating Atlanta and Carolina twice each. The Bucs beat the Cowboys, who beat the Eagles twice. And the Eagles split against the Giants, who the Bucs beat once. But the Eagles swept Washington, who Tampa lost to, and the Eagles also beat the Saints, who the Bucs lost to twice. Both are 7-3 against common opponents.