Much like the March Madness that is the NCAA basketball tournament, the magic of the NFL playoffs is in its finality. Other sports prefer a best-of-seven format to determine champions of each playoff round, but in the NFL it’s one loss and you’re done, adding credence to long-held mantra of the NFL that on any given Sunday, any team can win. The NFL playoffs were basically born out of a unique situation at the conclusion of the 1932 season which saw the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans deadlocked in the standings.
Up until that point, the league championship had been awarded to the team with the best regular-season winning pecentage but since the Bears and Spartans shared the same record and had tied both head-to-head meetings, a decision was made to play a sudden-death game between the two teams at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
For years, NFL playoff games and even Super Bowls have been contested indoors in domed stadiums, but did you know that the NFL playoffs acutually got started within the confines of a hockey rink?
When severe blizzards and sub-zero tempreratures gripped the Windy City, the decision was made to move the 1932 sudden-death title game between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans indoors to Chicago Stadium, home of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks.
The Bears and Chicago Cardinals had played a charity exhibition game there in 1930, and a dirt field was laid out, 80 yards in length and 45 yards wide. For the first time, the ball would be moved back to the hash marks at the conclusion of each play to keep the action away from the boards.
With poor footing on the dirt surface, the defenses dominated the game and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Bears scored the game’s only touchdown in a 9-0 victory on a halfback option pass from Bronko Nagurski to Red Grange.
The real winners, though, were football fans. So popular was the sudden-death format that the NFL opted to split into divisions, East and West, for the 1933 season and going forward have the two division winners meet in an annual championship game.
What Are The NFL Playoff Standings
This is where the NFL playoff standings are listed and if you don’t think home-field advantage is a signficant edge in postseason play, you’d better think again.
During regular-season play since 1940, home-field advantage in the NFL runs at about .572 but in the playoffs over the same time period, it jumps to .674. The No. 1 seed has captured the past four AFC Championship Games and the last three NFC Championship Games. In three of the past four AFC Championship Games and two of the past three NFC Championship Games, a one seed has defeated a two seed.
The last time the home team didn’t hold an edge in the NFL playoffs was in 2010, when the visitors posted a 6-4 record.
|1||New England Patriots||16||13||3||458||296||0.813|
|5||New Orleans Saints||16||11||5||448||326||0.688|
|6||Los Angeles Rams||16||11||5||478||329||0.688|
|9||Kansas City Chiefs||16||10||6||415||339||0.625|
|11||Los Angeles Chargers||16||9||7||355||272||0.563|
|19||Green Bay Packers||16||7||9||320||384||0.438|
|23||San Francisco 49ers||16||6||10||331||383||0.375|
|25||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||5||11||335||382||0.313|
|27||New York Jets||16||5||11||298||382||0.313|
|31||New York Giants||16||3||13||246||388||0.188|
How To Win Your NFL Playoff Bets
From 1933-65, the NFL maintained its one championship game as its only playoff tilt but in 1966, the NFL champion Green Bay Packers moved on to face the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl.
The next season the NFL switched to a four division format, with all division winners qualifying for postseason play. The AFL retained its two-division format but in 1969, added the second-place teams in each division to the playoffs as wildcard entries.
As the NFL-AFL merger went into effect in 1970, the AFC and NFC were both three-division entries. All division winners made the playoffs and the best second-place team qualified as a wildcard entry.
Today each conference playoff format includes eight division winners and four wildcards, two in each conference, and the wildcard teams should never be discounted when wagering on the NFL playoffs.
Including the 1969 AFL Kansas City Chiefs, 11 wildcard teams have reached the Super Bowl, and seven of them have won the big game. As recently as 2010, the Green Bay Packers rolled all to the Super Bowl by winning three road games as a No. 6 seed beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV
People love to debate the best of everything in sports, but what about the worst? If you’re looking for the worst playoff team in NFL history, by record it would be the 2010 Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks finished 7-9 but won the NFC West Division title in a tie-breaker with the 7-9 St. Louis Rams by beating the Rams in the final game of the regular season, finishing ahead of the San Francisco 49ers (6-10) and Arizona Cardinals (5-11).
Lest you think only a fool would wager on the Seahawks to post a vistory in a playoff game, they stunned the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints 41-36 in an NFL Wildcard game, despite being 11-point underdogs.
In 2014, the Carolina Panthers won the NFC South title despite a 7-8-1 mark that included a six-game losing streak. They then stunned the Arizona Cardinals 27-14 in their wildcard playoff game, forcing three Arizona turnovers and limiting the Cardinals to an NFL-playoff low 78 yards of total offense.
These two teams remain the only team in NFL history win a playoff game after posting a losing regular-season record and prove that just because they’re bad, it doesn’t always pay to count them out.