When the NFL Playoffs come around, we like to talk about the good with the 14 teams that try and compete for the Lombardi Trophy. What about the bad? Every few years, there is that one NFL team that doesn’t belong based on their record or quality of play.
Below is a list of some of the worst teams to make the NFL Playoffs.
10. 2004 St. Louis Rams
2004 was the end of the “Greatest Show on Turf” era. These Rams made one last effort to show they were still one of the better teams in the NFC but failed to do so after an 8-8 regular season with a -73 point differential. Despite winning one playoff game against division foe Seattle Seahawks, the show finally ended after a 47-17 blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round.
9. 2017 Buffalo Bills
At first glance, a 9-7 doesn’t seem too bad, but with a -57 point differential, it puts into perspective that the 2017 Buffalo Bills 9-7 record wasn’t as good as it seems. The Bills Season could be summed up by the week 11 performance of Nathan Peterman, throwing five INTs before being benched. Even with a 9-7, the Bills needed an upset win by the Cincinnati Bengals over the Baltimore Ravens just to get in the playoffs.
8. 2020 Chicago Bears
The 2020 Chicago Bears went 8-8 and made the playoffs despite a 6-game losing streak during the 2020 season. Not only did they have a 6-game losing streak, but they also couldn’t decide whether Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles was the best QB to lead them, switching back and forth between the two quarterbacks multiple times throughout the season. The Bears postseason didn’t last long as they lost in the Wild Card round 21-9 to the New Orleans Saints.
7. 2011 Denver Broncos
The 2011 Denver Broncos are just another team able to sneak into the playoffs without a winning record. They were finishing up the 2011 campaign with an 8-8 record and a 3-way tie in the AFC West. Holding tiebreakers of Oakland and San Deigo were able to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Broncos could reel off one playoff win behind Tim Tebow before losing to the Patriots the following week, 45-10.
6. 1981 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite ending the season with a respectable 9-7 record, the 1981 Tampa Bay Buccaneers had no business in the postseason. They didn’t beat a single team with a winning record during the regular season and lost five games by double digits during the regular season. As you may have guessed, their run in the postseason didn’t last long as they took another double-digit loss to the chin as they got blown out 38-0 by the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round.
5. 1991 New York Jets
The Jets didn’t have much business being in the playoffs this season. By week 8, they were just 4-4; then they lost three out of their last four games to end the season. New York did not beat a single playoff team and benefited from a weak AFC conference. The Jets endured two three-game losing streaks and crept into the playoffs via a Week 17 overtime win in Miami.
4. 2010 Seattle Seahawks
2010 became the first time in NFL history besides the 1982 strike-shortened season that a team made the NFL Playoffs with a losing record. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks finished first in the NFC West with a 7-9 regular-season record. Despite losing, the Seahawks did knock off the defending Super Bowl Champs, New Orleans behind Marshawn Lynch’s “BeastQuack” run. Eventually, The 2010 Seahawks’ luck ran out, and they lost in the divisional round to the Chicago Bears.
3. 2016 Detroit Lions
Somehow the 2016 Detroit Lions won nine games and made their way into the NFL Playoffs despite having a historically bad season statistically. These Detroit Lions were ranked dead last in Football Outsides’s DVOA metric. Not only did they rank last in the DVOA, but they were also dead last in rushing; their leading rusher Theo Riddick had a whopping 357 rushing yards for the season. The playoffs were no place for the Lions as they lost 26-6 to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round.
2. 2020 Washington Football Team
2020 was just the third time a team made the playoffs with a losing record. The Football finished the season 7-9 after starting the season 2-7. By the time the playoffs rolled around, Washington had started three different quarterbacks. Thanks to Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury, Carson Wentz losing his starting job, and the Giants in the final week of the season, Washington snuck into the playoffs. Washington lost to the future Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round.
1. 2014 Carolina Panthers
Another instance where a team clinched a playoff spot with a losing record. The Carolina Panthers went two months straight without winning a game and somehow won the NFC South. The Panthers owned a 3-8-1 record on December 6; they could win four straight games to end the season to win their division and host a playoff game. Cam Newton did lead Carolina to a playoff win against the Arizona Cardinals. They were playing their 3rd string QB Ryan Lindley and eventually lost to the Seattle Seahawks the following week.
Betting Tips For The NFL Playoffs
Everyone is either watching or betting on the NFL playoffs, so overreactions can be a bit extreme week-to-week, especially after a blowout wins. Per Action Network, since 1980, teams are 6-25-1 ATS after scoring 40 more points the previous week during the playoffs.
This is very important come playoff time. Most of what happened on the regular season no longer matters when teams face off in the postseason. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether one team is “better” than the other. This is why matchups become even more critical than usual. Compare offenses/defense, special teams, red zone offense/defense, and even coaching.
Don’t Blindly Bet Favorites
The general public likes backing favorites in the regular season and the postseason, but that’s not always the best bet. Since 2003, regular-season underdogs have gone 2121-2086-131 ATS for a -1.4% Return on Investment (ROI), while postseason dogs have gone 95-76-4 ATS for a +8.6% ROI.
There are sites like Safest Betting Sites that provide the most trusted online sportsbooks for NFL Playoffs; make sure you take advantage of the bonuses and promotions that most of the sportsbooks have.
With the NFL expanding the NFL Playoffs to seven teams per conference, we are sure to see more and more bad teams sneak their way into the playoffs. As fans, we just have to hope they make the games somewhat competitive, or as gamblers, we put money one those games so that we have a reason to watch the lousy team play.
Kurt Blakeway – Sporting Betting Analyst
Kurt is a Sports Betting Analyst for Safest Betting Sites. He enjoys all things MLB, NFL, CFB, and CBB. While he is a fan first, he is always trying to gain an edge on the books to make a little bit of money.