Of the four teams that played in the conference championships this year, Carolina faced three in the regular season - Seattle, San Francisco, New England. Of those three, they defeated two - San Francisco and New England. Both New England and San Francisco finished 12-4. In the NFC West, Seattle finished 13-3, won the division and had homefield advantage. But if San Francisco had defeated Carolina, the 49ers would have won the division and been the #1 seed. In the AFC, if New England had beat Carolina, they would have been the #1 seed.
I know the season is made up of 16 games and you could say the same thing about any other team that won/lost against these teams, but it's just fun to think about. Essentially Carolina forced these two Superbowl contenders to go on the road in the playoffs, and I could go so far to say that cost them a chance at the Superbowl. Who wants to go to Seattle during the playoffs? Who wants to go face Peyton Manning in his house? I'm sure Brady would have MUCH rather faced his arch-rival in the friendly confines of Foxboro.
Just reflecting on a great season. Can't wait for next year.