Souhan: Lower NFL seeds can have high expectations

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2013 - 10:32 PM

 Think the Vikings' chances of winning the Super Bowl are outrageous? Several fringe playoff teams have beaten the odds.

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Vikings running back Adrian Peterson supplied 199 rushing yards against the Packers, but also caught this 2-yard touchdown pass from Christian Ponder in the third quarter.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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They elbowed their way into the playoffs like angry shoppers on Black Friday. Their playoff hopes seemed silly only weeks earlier, before they rallied in December. They faced the hardest possible road to the Super Bowl.

That's true of the 2012 Vikings. That was also true of the 2011 New York Giants, the 2010 Green Bay Packers, the 2007 Giants and, perhaps most notably, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Four of the past seven Super Bowl winners, including the past two, were seeded fourth or lower among the six playoff teams from their conference. Each defied the notion that Super Bowl champions always are dominant teams that earn a bye week and thrive on the comfort of home playoff games. Each defied the notion that champions can be identified in August, or even December.

With a second-year quarterback only a month removed from his most disappointing game as a pro, and a team a month removed from falling to 6-6 and facing the prospect of utter collapse, the Vikings enter the playoffs as the sixth seed in the NFC. They don't look like potential Super Bowl champs. Other recent champions didn't look primed to win it all, either.

Last year the New York Giants, like this year's Vikings, found themselves at 6-6. They followed a four-game losing streak by winning three of their last four games to finish 9-7 and earn the fourth seed in the NFC.

They beat Atlanta at home, then won at Green Bay and San Francisco before winning the Super Bowl over the Patriots. Hardly dominant or consistent, they became the first team ever to win the Super Bowl while posting a negative point differential during the regular season, scoring 394 points and allowing 400.

They weren't great, at least not before January. They got hot and healthy at the right time.

In 2010, the Packers lost two in a row to fall to 8-6. They needed to beat the division champion Chicago Bears in the last game of the regular season to make the playoffs, and they eked out a 10-3 victory.

They entered the playoffs as the sixth seed, then won playoff games at Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago -- the NFC's top three seeds -- before beating Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. All four of Aaron Rodgers' career playoff victories came during that run.

In 2007, the Giants defied the notion that resting players when a playoff berth is clinched is ideal. With nothing to gain from victory, they played an inspirational game in the last week of the regular season, losing 38-35 to a Patriots team that finished 16-0.

The Giants entered the playoffs as the fifth seed and won playoff games at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay before beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl and ruining New England's perfect season.

In 2005, the Steelers looked a bit like the 2012 Vikings. They featured a second-year quarterback who was a first-round draft pick. Ben Roethlisberger was an effective player but far from a star. The Steelers relied on running backs Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis and a powerful defense.

They entered the playoffs as the sixth seed, with an 11-5 record. They were 7-5 following a three-game losing streak before winning their last four regular-season games to make the playoffs. They won playoff games at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver (the AFC's top three seeds) before beating Seattle in the Super Bowl.

Those teams played their best at the end of the season. They benefited from avoiding a bye week, which can lead to rust or overconfidence.

Any rational oddsmaker would bet against the Vikings winning a Super Bowl, but teams not unlike the Vikings have beaten the odds before, recently and frequently.

Ponder began his news conference Tuesday by saying, "Playoffs?", channeling the old Jim Mora rant. Ponder's been talking about winning the Super Bowl all season.

Maybe he's just an optimist. Maybe he's a historian.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 73 4th Qtr 4:38
LA Lakers 82
Phoenix 61 3rd Qtr 10:52
LA Clippers 63
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 3rd Prd 3:01
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 0 3rd Prd
Anaheim 2
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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