By Julie Buehler

I want to write about the deep, searing pain I feel right now as Jim Harbaugh prepares to move to Ann Arbor and become the University of Michigan head coach, but by the time you read this, that’ll be old news and the NFL playoffs will be the top story, so I’ll save you the traumatizing task of walking through my therapy session and just talk football.

Wait… just have to wipe up the tears so I can type properly…

Ok… That’ll have to do…


The Seattle Seahawks are looking to become the first team in a decade to repeat as the Super Bowl champs. That’s pretty rad. My team punts the only head coach that made us relevant in nearly a decade and our top rival is looking to be only the 9th team ever to win back-to-back Lombardis. Sweet.

And while many prognosticators and pundits are sounding off, proclaiming the Seahawks to be the best team in the land, there are a couple key considerations to examine before you do the same.

(And before you declare this column hopelessly biased because I’m a die-hard Niners fan swimming in emotional turmoil, I’m simply presenting some fascinating facts and you can decide where to go from there. Me? I’m going somewhere I can by more beer.)

Since our current playoff system was developed in 1990, 18 of the 24 teams to win the Super Bowl were 1st or 2nd in the most important stat: Point Differential.

It’s the one stat that takes into consideration the margin of victory, margin of defeat, how well a defense plays and how strong an offense is in one singular number.

In essence, it’s the one stat that showcases how strong a TEAM is.

Plenty of top-flight offenses or top-flight defenses fall short in one way or another, they can get hot or go cold, but over the past 24 seasons, the most reliable stat for forecasting postseason success is regular season point differential.

And looking at that stat after the season finales, you’ll find the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks are #1 and #2 respectively. You’ll also find the top 7 teams in point differential are all playoff teams and 6 of them won their divisions. Again, it’s the single best measurement of how complete a team is.

So this is great for Seahawks fans, right? Let the trend continue. They were 2nd in point differential last year before beating the top-ranked team in the Super Bowl.

And even more impressively this year, they are the ONLY team in the NFL to boast a Top-10 finish in every major statistical category on both sides of the ball.

Specifically, they finished Top-10 in: Turnover Margin (5th), Total Offense (9th), Scoring Offense (10th), Passer Rating (8th), Total Defense (1st), Scoring Defense (1st), Rushing Defense (3rd), Passing Defense (1st) and more. Lots more actually.

So you’re probably thinking, “Gosh Jules, why are you piling the praise on the Seahawks… didn’t they rip your heart out in last year’s NFC Title Game?”

The answer is no, Kaepernick did that by throwing the football rather than handing it off, but more importantly, I’m pointing out that the Seahawks are doing EVERYTHING right. Everything.

Hottest team in football. In fact, they have the longest winning streak in the NFL right now. Haven’t lost in 6 games.

So the problem?

They’re winning too much. I realize you might think this sounds ridiculous, but the NFL is about parity, not dominance.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s look at the past decade of teams that finished the season with the longest winning streak heading into playoffs, and for good measure, we’ll look at the teams that won the Super Bowl that year.

2004- the Pittsburgh Steelers took a 14-game winning streak into the playoffs and lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Title Game. The Pats won it all that year, they headed into the playoffs with a swell 2-game winning streak.

2005- The Washington Redskins lost in the division round to eventual NFC Champion, the Seahawks after walking into the playoffs with a 5-game winning streak. The Steelers, who beat the Seahawks went into that postseason as a 6-seed on a 4-game winning streak. Hardly world beaters, but The Bus got his ring. And that 4-game winning streak is the longest going into the postseason by any Super Bowl winning team this past decade.

2006- The Chargers carried a 10-game winning streak into the top seed where they lost to the Patriots in the divisional round. The Colts, Super Bowl champs that year, limped into playoffs 2-3 in their last 5 games.

2007- The Patriots were looking for a perfect season. They went into the postseason on a 16-game winning streak. That streak ended against the Giants in Super Bowl XLII who lost their regular season finale.

2008- The Colts were the NFL’s hottest team on a 9-game winning streak to finish the season. They lost in the Wild Card round. Steelers won in all, got to the dance winning their final game.

2009- Once again the Chargers were on fire, ending the season on an 11-game winning streak. They still lost in the divisional round, but this time to the Jets, not the Pats. Oh, the Saints that year, finished the regular season on a 3-game losing streak. Still won the Lombardi.

2010- The Patriots were once again on a roll, capped the season off on a 10-game winning streak. Their efforts were rewarded with a divisional round loss. Packers finished 3-2 in the final 5 games and winners of their last 2.

2011- The Patriots once again finished the season on the NFL’s longest winning streak, this time tied with the Saints at 8 games. New England lost the Super Bowl, New Orleans lost in the divisional round, the Giants enjoyed a 2 game winning streak to end the year.

2012- The Broncos, with their shiny new quarterback blazed a trail into the postseason with an 11-game winning streak to lead the NFL. And they lost in the divisional round, at home, to a Ravens team that would win the Super Bowl but fell into the playoffs having gone 1-4 in their final 5 games.

2013- My Niners had the NFL’s best winning streak going into last postseason, like this year’s Seahawks, it was an impressive 6 game-stretch. And as I previously mentioned, Colin Kaepernick threw the ball to the wrong guy to seal the NFC Title Game and the Niners lost.

Last year, the Seahawks had won their season finale, but went 3-2 in their final 5 games. Not bad at all, but not great either. But when they turned up the juice in the postseason, they hit all time highs.

But the last 10 years the team that finished with the NFL’s longest winning streak did not win the Super Bowl. Only 2 Patriot teams even made it that far.

Call it fatigue, call it burn out, call it what you will, but the challenge to repeat as champions is tough enough, but to also do so while careening into the postseason on a winning streak means the margin of error is increasingly slim.

Can the Seahawks buck the trend? Of course. If any team can, it’s one led by Russell Wilson.

But it’s too striking a trend not to be aware of.

So enjoy the playoffs as each team gets to reset the season and move on one week at a time as their talent allows.

Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She can also be seen every morning between 6-7am on KMIR sharing the coolest stories in sports. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at or watch “Buehler’s Day Off” on Ustream and for her sports reports.