Tuesday, January 26, 2010

44 Stops to Super Bowl XLIV: No. 31-35

The "44 Stops to Super Bowl XLIV" is a series that will feature stories, stats and interesting trivia that you can use to act smart as you prepare for Super Bowl XLIV. I've done this on SPORTZASSASSIN.COM for Super Bowls XL, XLI, XLIII and for AOL's FanHouse for Super Bowl XLII.

#31-COLTS KNOW BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN: The Indianapolis Colts are the only franchise to play in a Super Bowl as an AFC and NFC team. Well, they never were an "NFC" team, but the Colts played in Super Bowl III as the NFL representative against the AFC Champ Jets. Two years later, the Colts won Super Bowl V as a member of the AFC.

When the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the NFL's Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns moved to the American side of things. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls (and been to another one) but all were as the AFC champ. Cleveland is still waiting for their first appearance.

#32-VALIDATION OF THE "ROONEY RULE": Jim Caldwell will be the fourth African-American NFL head coach to take his team to the Super Bowl and the fourth in the last four years. Mike Tomlin and Tony Dungy won in their appearances while Lovie Smith lost to Dungy in Super Bowl XLI.

#33-TOP SEEDS ACTUALLY MEET: Believe it or not, but this is the first time that the No. 1 seed in the NFC and AFC will meet in the Super Bowl since 1993. In each year since the Bills and Cowboys met, one of the top seeds fall before getting to the big game. For a look at what the top seeds did during the drought, check out The Tygrrrr Express.

#34-NFC SOUTH IS ALL IN: With the Saints reaching their first Super Bowl, it completed the NFC South's participation in the game. The Saints join the Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers as Super Bowl participants. The only divisions that don't have all of their members with appearances is the AFC North, AFC South and NFC North.

No division has all their members with Super Bowl championships. The NFC East (Eagles didn't win), AFC West (Chargers) and AFC East (Bills) have seen three of their four members win a title. The NFC East is the only division to have each of their members in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys have been to eight, the Redskins have been to five, the Giants have been to four and the Eagles have been to two.

The odd thing is that each team in the NFC South has been exactly once to the Super Bowl. The Panthers and Falcons lost their only time there, while the Bucs beat the Raiders in their moment.

#35-NFC EAST TOPS THEM ALL: The NFC East easily has the most Super Bowl champions than any other division. The 11 titles won bests the AFC North for the top honors. Interestingly, the two participants in this year's game play in divisions that are the two worst at racking up titles.

The NFC East dominated from 1986-1995. In that span, the Giants ('86, '90), Redskins ('87, '91) and Cowboys ('92, '93, '95) went to and won 7 of 10 Super Bowls during that decade. The only other Super Bowl champ was San Francisco ('88, '89, '94).

Here's a rundown of the divisions:

11-NFC EAST (Cowboys-5, Redskins-3, Giants-3)
7-AFC NORTH (Steelers-6, Ravens-1)
6-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-1)
6-AFC EAST (Patriots-3, Dolphins-2, Jets-1)
6-AFC WEST (Raiders-3, Broncos-2, Chiefs-1)
4-NFC NORTH (Packers-3, Bears-1)
2-AFC SOUTH (Colts-2)
1-NFC SOUTH (Buccaneers-1)

As for Super Bowl appearances, the NFC East wins this title again:

19-NFC EAST (Cowboys-8, Redskins-5, Giants-4, Eagles-2)
16-AFC EAST (Patriots-6, Dolphins-5, Bills-4, Jets-1)
14-AFC WEST (Broncos-6, Raiders-5, Chiefs-2, Chargers-1)
10-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-3, Seahawks-1, Cardinals-1)
10-NFC NORTH (Packers-4, Vikings-4, Bears-2)
10-AFC NORTH (Steelers-7, Bengals-2, Ravens-1)
5-AFC SOUTH (Colts-4, Titans-1)
4-NFC SOUTH (Panthers-1, Bucs-1, Falcons-1, Saints-1)

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