Associated PressThe NFL notebook …
The New York Giants and Carolina Panthers play Sunday night for the top seed in the NFC playoffs a few hours after Pittsburgh and Tennessee meet with the No. 1 spot in the AFC on the line.
Not that winning those games will make for a much easier route to the Super Bowl.
The last time the two top-seeded teams in the playoffs both made it to the Super Bowl was 15 years ago. In 1993, Dallas and Buffalo got there and the Cowboys won that game, their third victory in four seasons and the fourth straight Super Bowl loss for the Bills.
Last season, of course, the Giants won the title as a fifth seed, upsetting unbeaten and top-seeded New England. And after the 2005 season, the Steelers won as the sixth seed, winning at Cincinnati, at top-seeded Indianapolis and then at Denver before beating Seattle 21-10 in Detroit.
Not that No. 1 seeds always fail. During the past 15 seasons, 12 of the 30 No. 1s have made it to the title game. But of those dozen, only seven, or slightly more than half, have won the Super Bowl.
Since 2000, one top-seeded team has made the game every year. But only New England after the 2003 season won it. The others who have lost: the Giants to Baltimore in 2000; St. Louis to the Patriots in 2001; Oakland to Tampa Bay in 2002; Philadelphia to New England in 2004; Seattle to the Steelers in 2005; Chicago to the Colts in 2006; and the Patriots to the Giants last season.
With temperatures expected in the single digits Sunday when the Buffalo Bills face the Denver Broncos, Mike Shanahan joked that it wasn’t his players he was worried about.
“Our players will be fine. We get used to it. The hot chocolate will get a little bit cold, the hot dogs up in the press box will get a little bit cold, but I’m sure our coaches will fight through it, as well as you guys,” Shanahan told a roomful of reporters.
“I think it’s dealing with the elements. It’s part of the game. I don’t care of it’s rain, snow. It’s how you handle things. It’s more mental than it is physical. If you say you hate the cold and you don’t want to be out there, it’s miserable. If you’re saying, ‘I’m going to handle it better than the opposing team,’ the chances are you’re going to handle it better than the opposing team,” Shanahan said.
BIG BEN’S GIFT
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is taking part in a celebrity campaign through PayPal in which he helps raise money by regifting fruitcakes.
PayPal is making a $20,000 donation to each celebrity charity and provided the widgets to enable a secure way for donors to contribute.
“Not a big fan of the fruitcake,” Roethlisberger said. “But by donating with PayPal and regifting my fruitcake, you can help raise money for my foundation.
“Moms you want your kid to be an NFL quarterback? Get him a fruitcake.”
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