Teams fight hard for a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But recent history suggests that it's lower-seeded teams that fare better when it comes to winning the Super Bowl.
This year figures to fall right in line with that trend, given the missteps by the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans, who can sew up the top seed in the AFC before the final weekend of the regular season.
The Falcons locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win over the Lions on Saturday night, but they have lost to the Saints and Panthers, two teams below .500. Atlanta also struggled against the 4-10 Raiders, 5-9 Cardinals and Panthers in the teams' first meeting.
Teams such as the 49ers, Patriots and Packers might not be so fearful of traveling to Atlanta or Houston in the playoffs.
The Texans started 5-0 before getting blasted by the Packers 42-24. They also allowed 42 points in a shellacking at the hands of the Patriots, needed a huge comeback against the 2-12 Jaguars and hung on for a three-point win over the reeling Lions.
In other words, this year's playoffs are shaping up to be just like those of the past 11 seasons, when a No. 1 seed captured the Super Bowl only twice -- the Patriots in 2003 and the Saints in 2009.
But Brown isn't holding back when it comes to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.
Peterson has rushed for 1,812 yards in 14 games. He is within striking distance of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards, despite being one year removed from tearing two ligaments in his knee.
"We should have nothing but admiration for it," Brown said. "Only a person of great character could do it, so I'm glad that I saw his greatness early. This isn't the first time I have expressed my respect for him. It's a miracle to really accomplish what he's accomplishing now."
Brown revels in being regarded as the best running back in history. Naturally, he shied away from comparing Peterson to the all-time greats.
Suffice to say that Peterson has thrust himself into that conversation with a season that has the potential to rival any back's ever.
Until now. Rookies Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden already have passed the 3,000-yard mark, and Ryan Tannehill and Robert Griffin III need less than 100 yards Sunday to join them. Russell Wilson is 303 yards away.
n J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith and Von Miller rank one, two and three in sacks this season. All three are also from the 2011 draft class. Miller went No. 2 to the Broncos, Smith No. 7 to the 49ers and Watt No. 11 to the Texans.
He spent one game with the Texans last season, which Houston won. He played for the Texans through their 5-0 start this season before being waived, just in time to join the Broncos as they embarked upon their current nine-game win streak.
Therefore, if the Broncos beat the Browns on Sunday, Holliday will have played the equivalent of one season without losing.