Numbers Game: Playoff Race Possibilites

Numbers game, Tremaine Hill

AFC Conference (Who are Leaders of the Pack)?

Every year there’s arguments amongst fans on which Conference is the toughest. Is it the AFC is it the NFC blah blah blah.  I know it makes for good cooler talk, but let’s not kid ourselves, none of the talk amounts to anything.  But I do know one thing, and that is no one wants to stake claim to their division in the AFC Conference.  Listen close people, 11 of the 16 teams are either in first place or within a game of first place in their division, which is the most by any Conference through 9 weeks since 1970.  From here on out every game becomes that much more important. Eventually teams will separate and defined division leaders will emerge, but at the moment I’m just going to sit back and watch it play itself out just as the Football Cosmos would want it.  Listed below are seasons since 1970 with the most teams in first place (or within a game of first place) through 9:

Season Conference Number of Teams
2011 AFC 11
2010 AFC 10
2010 NFC 10
2008 AFC 9
2007 NFC 9
2002 AFC 9
1995 AFC 9
1987 AFC 9
1985 AFC 9


3-5 and 4-4 to make the Playoffs under the current playoff format

Sorry fans, but if you’re looking for your 3-5 teams to make the playoffs, chances are that won’t happen. So if you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, or Washington Redskins, I would begin getting your Draft Boards ready and start studying a little college football. Don’t let me be the one to bring a damper to your day, but let’s just see what the numbers have to say:

Since 1990 (when the current playoff format started), teams that started 3-5:  6 of 117 Made Playoffs (5.1%)

Year Team Final W-L Playoffs
2008 SD chargers 8-8 Lost DIV RD
2002 NY Jets 9-7 Lost DIV RD
1996 JAC Jaguars 9-7 Lost CONF CH.
1995 DET Lions 10-6 Lost WC
1994 NE Patriots 10-6 Lost WC
1990 NO Saints 8-8 Lost WC

I have some good news for fans of 4-4 teams; there may be light at the end of the tunnel. You are not out of the running just yet so you can breathe easier than those 3-5 fans.  If you’re a fan of a team in the AFC West division only time will tell who wins that division since 3 teams are tied at 4-4. Combining both conferences, there are a total of 6 teams with 4-4 records, 4 in the AFC and 2 in the NFC. I’m going to let you in on a little secret about 4-4 teams reaching the playoffs: there have been 45 teams that started out 4-4, and made the playoffs out of 126. And of those 45 teams, 7 went on to the Conference Championship with 3 teams ending up in the Super Bowl.  One of them won the Super Bowl.

Since 1990, teams that started 4-4:  45 of 126 Made Playoffs (35.7%).  Here are the teams that made the Conference Championship and Super Bowl:

Year Team Final W-L Playoffs Super Bowl
2009 NY Jets 9-7 Lost CONF CH.
2007 SD Chargers 11-5 Lost CONF CH.
2002 TEN Titans 11-5 Lost CONF CH.
2002 OAK Raiders 11-5 Won CONF CH. Lost SB XXXVII
2001 NE Patriots 11-5 Won CONF CH. Won SB XXXVI
1999 TB Buccaneers 11-5 Lost CONF CH.
1995 PIT Steelers 11-5 Won CONF CH. Lost SB XXX

Trying to keep history alive

Aaron Rodgers (AP)

The Packers are off to a blazing 8-0 start for just the 5th time in franchise history and first since 1962. Aaron Rodgers has looked red hot and almost unbeatable, and let’s just say for argument’s sake that he stays that way. Rodgers and the Packers have team history on their side, and let’s hope history prevails because if not, Rodgers will become the first Packers QB to do something that no other QB in franchise history has done.  What is it, you ask?  I’m sure Rodgers doesn’t even know this exists, but I’m about to unveil it to him and the readers.  Before I do let me ask the question: what do all of these Packers teams have in common (1929, 1930, 1931, and 1962 Packers)?  Well I’ll tell you, all 4 of those teams started the season 8-0 and finished the season NFL Champs. Yes that’s right, each of the 4 previous Packers teams that started out 8-0 all ended up Champions. I’m sure Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have enough pressure on their shoulders with a run at perfection going on this season, so let’s see how history plays itself out because Rodgers has had a lot of impressive “firsts” in his career, but this is a first that would be unwelcomed.

Season Start Season Result
1929 10-0 Won NFL Championship
1962 10-0 Won NFL Championship
1931 9-0 Won NFL Championship
1930 8-0 Won NFL Championship
2011 8-0 ?
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