Saturday, January 07, 2006

The NFL Playoffs

This weekend marks the opening round of the NFL playoffs. Alas, with only 12 of 32 teams making it, the season, and the hopes, dreams, and nightmares associated therewith are over for most of the league. Actually, it's over for more than 20 teams. Since the NFL instituted the third round of playoffs in 1978, only a handful of teams have made it to the Super Bowl after playing three games. All of those teams had something in common, and that factor is present in none of those games this weekend. Let's take a look at those teams that did make it to the Super Bowl after playing on Wild Card Weekend:


YEARTEAMRECORDTOP SEED's RECORD
1980Oakland11-511-5
1985New England11-512-4
1992Buffalo11-511-5
1997Denver12-413-3
1999Tennessee13-314-2
2000Baltimore12-413-3
2003Carolina11-512-4


*Please note that I have excluded the strike-shortened 1982 season from the table above, as there were no first-round byes awarded. Note, though, that the teams that made the Super Bowl that year were the #1 and the #2 seed in their respective conferences (Washington and Miami, respectively), and thus would have had the first-round bye under the normal playoff system.

As you can see from the above table, EACH AND EVERY ONE of the teams that has made the Super Bowl after playing on Wild Card Weekend finished no more than one game behind the top-seeded team in the conference that year. Take a look at this year's standings, and you will see that none of the teams playing this weekend finished within one game of the conference's top team. You should still feel free to watch any or all of the games this weekend, if you so desire, but keep in mind that nearly thirty years of history tells us that win or lose today or tomorrow, the season will inevitably end short of Detroit. It is, of course, possible that history will be made this year, but I wouldn't bet on it. Super Bowl XL will feature Indianapolis or Denver facing Seattle or Chicago.

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