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The Cowboys Easiest Path To Making The Super Bowl

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How much of an edge do first seeds in a conference have in reaching the Super Bowl? In the last 20 years, they’ve gotten to the title game half of the time.

NFL: Handoff to Houston-Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are the top seed in the NFC after six games, with a five-game winning streak and a 5-1 record overall. With a game against the only other one-loss team in the NFC (Minnesota), Dallas can control its final seeding. The last time Dallas finished with the top seed in the NFC was 2007, in Tony Romo’s first year as a full-time starter. That’s the only top seed the Cowboys have had since they won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1995 season.

Over the last three seasons, the top seeds in the NFC and AFC have faced off in the Super Bowl. And in the twenty seasons since the Dallas Cowboys last won the Super Bowl, the top seed has played in the Super Bowl 20 times, or 50% of the time.

Season Team Won SB Lost SB Off Pts Rk Def Pts Rk Seed
2015 DEN W 19 4 1
2015 CAR L 1 6 1
2014 NE W 4 8 1
2014 SEA L 10 1 1
2013 SEA W 8 1 1
2013 DEN L 1 22 1
2012 BAL W 10 12 4
2012 SF L 11 2 2
2011 NYG W 9 25 4
2011 NE L 3 15 1
2010 GB W 10 2 6
2010 PIT L 12 1 2
2009 NO W 1 20 1
2009 IND L 7 8 1
2008 PIT W 20 1 2
2008 AZ L 3 28 4
2007 NYG W 14 17 5
2007 NE L 1 4 1
2006 IND W 2 23 3
2006 CHI L 2 3 1
2005 PIT W 9 3 6
2005 SEA L 1 7 1
2004 NE W 4 2 2
2004 PHI L 8 2 1
2003 NE W 12 1 1
2003 CAR L 15 10 3
2002 TB W 18 1 2
2002 OAK L 2 6 1
2001 NE W 6 6 2
2001 STL L 1 7 1
2000 BAL W 14 1 4
2000 NYG L 15 5 1
1999 STL W 1 4 1
1999 TEN L 7 15 4
1998 DEN W 2 8 1
1998 ATL L 4 4 2
1997 DEN W 1 6 4
1997 GB L 2 5 2
1996 GB W 1 1 1
1996 NE L 10 6 2
Total 281 303 85

Also, in every year except 1997, 2008, 2010, and 2012, at least one of the Super Bowl teams was a first seed.

Second seeds have made the Super Bowl in nine seasons, third seeds twice, fourth seeds six times, fifth seeds once, and sixth seeds twice.

The table is sortable, so you can try this for yourselves. What you can see from the totals is that teams in the Super Bowl have averaged just over a second seed over the last twenty years (85/40).

How often have they had the top scoring offense? Nine seasons. Overall, they’ve averaged seventh in offense (281/40).

How often have they had the top defense in fewest points allowed? Eight seasons. Overall, Super Bowl teams have averaged seventh-and-a-half position on defense (303/40).

There is no claim of a causal relationship here. But there’s also no harm in staying on top and making opponents come through Dallas in the playoffs.