The Worst Playoff Teams in NFL History
With an expanded NFL playoff field, the chances of a below .500 team making the postseason became a more likely scenario.
But even if we were back to only two Wild Card teams, the 2020 season is set to produce a division champion that finishes as a losing team.
The NFC East, expansion of the postseason or not, is destined to go down as one of the worst divisions in NFL history, though it is still worth a look to bet online.
NFC East This Season
Heading into Week 13, both the Giants and Washington are tied for first place at 4-7. New York has games against Seattle, Arizona, Cleveland, and Baltimore – all teams battling for the playoffs, and all teams will have betting odds that will have them favored to beat the Giants. There is virtually no chance that the Giants finish at .500 or above.
Washington is playing better with Alex Smith at quarterback and only faces two potential playoff teams down the stretch, the Steelers and Seahawks. But both of those seem like sure losses, which would mean that even if Washington beats the 49ers, Panthers, and Eagles, 7-9 is the best it can finish.
Below-.500 Playoff Teams and How They’ve Fared
The team that eventually emerges from the NFC East will not be unprecedented. In the past, there have been four other below-.500 teams to make the playoffs.
2014 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
Not only did the Panthers manage to win four straight games to sneak into the playoffs as the winner of the NFC South, but they won in the first round of the postseason by knocking off the Arizona Cardinals.
It is worth noting that by the time the 11-5 Cardinals played at Carolina that January, they were down to Ryan Lindley at quarterback. Carolina lost to Seattle the next week.
2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
Four years before the Panthers made it as a losing team, it was the Seahawks winning the embarrassing NFC West. Seattle got into the playoffs with a minus-97 point differential – the third-worst in the NFC and the fifth-worst margin in the NFL.
But as bad as they were, and having to face Drew Brees and the Saints in the first round, Seattle actually won, 41-36, as Marshawn Lynch ran for 131 yards and Matt Hasselbeck threw for four touchdowns.
The next week they lost to the Bears.
1982 Detroit Lions (4-5), 1982 Cleveland Browns (4-5)
The last time the NFL expanded the playoffs was the strike-shortened season of 1982.
Three division winners and five Wild Card teams were chosen from each conference, and both the Lions and Browns got in as Wild Cards with 4-5 records.
Neither team was long for the postseason, as the Browns got bounced by the Raiders, 27-10, and Detroit lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Washington, 31-7.
So when it comes to below-.500 Wild Card teams, avoid betting on them in the playoffs. But if that below-.500 team is a division champion, like we are going to see from the NFC East this season, don’t automatically write them off.
There may be good betting value on a losing team hosting a first-round playoff game and beating the NFL betting odds.