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January 16, 2023

The No. 1 seed is far from smooth sailing for the Eagles

Just three of the NFC's one seeds have won the Super Bowl in the last 20 years, though the 2017 Eagles were the last to do it.

It's the easiest path to the Super Bowl, right? 

Well, in theory at least. 

The win in their regular-season finale against the Giants gave the Eagles a 14-3 record for the year and, finally, everything else they were after: The NFC East title and the NFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which meant home-field advantage throughout and an increasingly valuable first-round bye. 

Jalen Hurts, Lane Johnson, Avonte Maddox, and everyone else on the roster who needed it got an extra week to heal up along with the assurance that the road to Arizona requires a stop through Lincoln Financial Field. 

It sounds like a recipe for smooth sailing to the finish line, but history has proven that it's anything but. 

Going back through the last 20 years, the top seed, in either conference, has often meant little when it comes to crowning the Super Bowl champion. 

Lopsided records, routine blowouts, MVP campaigns? Doesn't matter. Once you're in the playoffs, anything goes – timely hot streaks, blown calls... Ricky Manning... all of it. 

So the 2022 Eagles have the No. 1 seed now. What they make of it is all on them beginning Saturday night in what will be Round 3 against Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and the Giants. 

As a means of reference, here are all the NFC's No. 1 seeds and how far they went from the past 20 seasons (plus a few notes at the end): 

 SeasonNFC No. 1 Seed (W-L)Result Super Bowl Champion (Rk)
2022Eagles (14-3) ??? ??? 
2021 Green Bay (13-4) Lost Divisional Round LA Rams (4, NFC)
2020 Green Bay (13-3)Lost NFC Championship Tampa Bay (5, NFC) 
2019 San Francisco (13-3) Lost Super Bowl Kansas City (2, AFC) 
2018 New Orleans (13-3) Lost NFC Championship New England (2, AFC) 
2017 Eagles (13-3) Won Super Bowl Eagles (1, NFC)
2016 Dallas (13-3) Lost Divisional Round New England (1, AFC) 
2015 Carolina (15-1) Lost Super Bowl Denver (1, AFC) 
2014 Seattle (12-4) Lost Super Bowl New England (1, AFC) 
2013 Seattle (13-3) Won Super Bowl  Seattle (1, NFC)
2012 Atlanta (13-3) Lost NFC Championship Baltimore (4, AFC) 
2011 Green Bay (15-1) Lost Divisional Round NY Giants (4, NFC) 
2010 Atlanta (13-3) Lost Divisional Round Green Bay (6, NFC) 
2009 New Orleans (13-3) Won Super Bowl New Orleans (1, NFC) 
2008 NY Giants (12-4) Lost Divisional Round Pittsburgh (2, AFC) 
2007 Dallas (13-3) Lost Divisional Round NY Giants (5, NFC) 
2006 Chicago (13-3) Lost Super Bowl Indianapolis (3, AFC) 
2005 Seattle (13-3) Lost Super Bowl Pittsburgh (6, AFC) 
2004 Eagles (13-3) Lost Super Bowl New England (2, AFC) 
2003 Eagles (12-4) Lost NFC Championship  New England (1, AFC)

• The 2017 Eagles are the last No. 1 seed to go and win the whole thing, but there's something important to remember about that team: At no point were they ever really treated like a No. 1 seed. Because of Carson Wentz's ACL tear and other significant injuries, few outside of Philadelphia took the Eagles seriously. The Falcons, Vikings, and then the Patriots were all favored over them in the playoffs – which was rare for a 13-3 team – but in the end, Nick Foles, Doug Pederson, dog masks, and the "next man up" mentality were what left with the trophy.

• A breakdown of NFC No. 1 seeds from 2003-2021: six lost in the Divisional Round, four won their Divisional Round game, six won the NFC Championship, and just three went on to win the Super Bowl. 

• The Eagles clinching the top seed in the conference four times over the past 20 seasons is a pretty impressive testament to their long-term consistency. Only Seattle and Green Bay come close to that mark, doing it three times each. 

• Dallas coasting through the regular season then bowing out immediately is peak Dallas. 

• Across the NFC and AFC, a one-seed has won the Super Bowl seven times. The Patriots were three of them (2003, 2014, 2016).

• 2003... Ricky Manning, dude...

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