Super Bowl 2013: Parity alive and well in NFC

USA TODAY Sports

In need of some optimism for the future of the Detroit Lions? Just look to the Super Bowl and how many different NFC teams have been in the game lately.

The Detroit Lions are one of only four teams to never reach the Super Bowl. In fact, they are the only NFC team left without a Super Bowl appearance. The AFC has three teams that have never made it to the Super Bowl: the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.

Given the Lions' lack of success over time and especially in recent memory, it can be tough to be optimistic about the future. Coming off a 4-12 season, the Lions are right back to where they were before going to the playoffs in 2011 with the offseason and NFL Draft feeling more like the Super Bowl for fans than the actual game. Lions fans have never had a chance to experience a Super Bowl appearance, but there is reason to believe that could change in the immediate future.

Say what you want about the current coaching staff or players on the team, but the NFC has provided plenty of reason to believe that the Lions' time could be coming at some point. Just look at how much parity there has been in the last 12 seasons. As pointed out by ESPN Stats & Info, 11 different NFC teams have appeared in the last 12 Super Bowls. Here's the list:

2013: San Francisco 49ers
2012: New York Giants
2011: Green Bay Packers
2010: New Orleans Saints
2009: Arizona Cardinals
2008: New York Giants
2007: Chicago Bears
2006: Seattle Seahawks
2005: Philadelphia Eagles
2004: Carolina Panthers
2003: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2002: St. Louis Rams

The Giants are the only team in that span with more than one appearance in the Super Bowl. The only NFC teams without a Super Bowl appearance in the last 12 seasons are the Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.

Perhaps just as amazing is how little parity there has been in the AFC in the last 12 seasons. The New England Patriots account for five Super Bowl appearances, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have been to the game three times. Two Super Bowls involved the Indianapolis Colts, with the other two featuring the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens as the AFC representative.

My basic point here is that all hope is not lost for the Lions in the future no matter how bleak it may seem at times. If the Lions can get to the playoffs like they did in 2011, all they need to do is get hot for a few games to make it to the Super Bowl. Obviously a lot goes into making it that far in the postseason, but if the NFC is any indication, you can't really rule any team out.

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