It's pretty difficult to win the Super Bowl. That's not a crazy statement.
Earning a certain seed in the conference doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl berth, although better seeds make more Super Bowls because, well, they're better teams. Winning the conference doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl victory.
There are a lot of random events that can alter a team's postseason success. Joe Flacco could become immortal for a month, Malcolm Butler could make the most important play in football history, or a defense could play out of their collective mind.
It happens. And that's why great teams with extended success will have a greater chance of winning a Super Bowl trophy. Football Perspective's Chase Stuart posed the question what can we learn from the 2012-15 Denver Broncos?
Turns out, the lesson of the Broncos has been the same lesson of every Super Bowl champion.
In 2012, the Ravens won the Super Bowl after reaching the postseason in five straight years, reaching three total conference championships in 2008, 2011, and then ultimately 2012.
The 2013 Seahawks won the Super Bowl, made it back the subsequent year, and are currently in the midst of a four-season playoff streak.
The Peyton Manning-era of the Denver Broncos lasted four seasons with two Super Bowl trips and one victory.
The Patriots have made the playoffs in seven straight seasons, and in 13 of the 14 seasons with Tom Brady at quarterback. 10 of those teams reached the conference championship, six reached the Super Bowl, and four left victorious.
There is no simple blueprint to win a Super Bowl, other than be good for an extended period of time, and maybe the necessary bounces will go your way to become a Super Bowl champion.
Some teams build through the draft, or with great depth, like the Ravens and Patriots. Some go for a top heavy approach like the Seahawks and Broncos. The Patriots are able to overcome more injuries to go deeper in the playoffs on a consistent basis, but a healthy Broncos team would likely find a way to win at the end of a long season- and an injured Broncos team would flame out well before the Championship.
Bill Belichick has built his Patriots franchise on the theory of probabilities. He wants more draft picks because that will allow him to take greater risks, and for the opportunity to select more quality depth players. He wants to take risks on injury-prone players because they'll be available for cheaper- and if they succeed, then the team will have a top tier talent for a small amount of cap space.
He wants the Patriots to contend every single year, and he says that the first goal every year is to "win the division" to make the playoffs. Once the team buys a lottery ticket, anything can happen.
New England hasn't reached five straight AFC Championship games by accident. The team has been constructed to make it that far on a regular basis. But it still takes luck- a shanked Billy Cundiff field goal in 2011, or a shanked Stephen Gostkowsi extra point in 2015- to make it to the Super Bowl.
There are lessons from the Broncos victory, but it's not as simple as defense wins championships. It's that a team has to be constructed to contend for an extended period of time in order to win a Super Bowl.
And no team has been contending for a longer stretch than the Belichick-led Patriots.