Everybody knows that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ road to the playoffs will be difficult. Just how difficult? To grab a playoff spot the Steelers need to win and hope that three other teams lose. Historically that scenario hasn’t panned out for too many teams.
Only two teams out of 29 have ever made the playoffs after needing a victory and favorable outcomes in three or more other games in the league’s last regular-season week. The 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2006 Kansas City Chiefs being the only teams to ever pull off that feat.
Percentage of Playoff Appearances Based on Last Regular-Season Week Scenario – 1970-2012
Notes: The list doesn’t include teams that had playoff spots locked down before the start of the last regular-season week… The list counts the scenario heading into the final week; not the scenario that the team headed into at the kickoff of their game (i.e. of the teams that had different scenarios heading into their late afternoon or night games).
From 1970-1977, the playoffs were an eight-team tournament. In 1978, the playoffs expanded to ten teams, and in 1990 they were expanded to the current twelve-team format. In 1982, the NFL’s post-season included sixteen teams due to a strike-shortened season.
|Controlled Own Destiny||Made Playoffs||Missed Playoffs||Pct. That Made Playoffs|
|144 teams||110 teams||34 teams||76.39%|
|Depended on One Other Outcome||Made Playoffs||Missed Playoffs||Pct. That Made Playoffs|
|81 teams||27 teams||54 teams||33.33%|
|Since 2007, nine teams have been in this scenario – all missed the playoffs. Last team to make the playoffs with this scenario: 2006 New York Giants.|
|Depended on Two Other Outcomes||Made Playoffs||Missed Playoffs||Pct. That Made Playoffs|
|41 teams||3 teams||38 teams||7.32%|
|Made Playoffs: 1993 Pittsburgh Steelers; 2002 Cleveland Browns; 2008 Philadelphia Eagles.|
|Depended on Three or More Other Outcomes||Made Playoffs||Missed Playoffs||Pct. That Made Playoffs|
|29 teams||2 teams||27 teams||6.90%|
|Made Playoffs: 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers; 2006 Kansas City Chiefs.|
To make the playoffs all the Dallas Cowboys have to do is defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys have been in a similar situation the last three years: 2012 vs. Washington and 2011 vs. New York. In fact, the Cowboys have missed the playoffs four of the last six times that they have controlled their own playoff destiny in Week 17.
Fighting for a Playoff Spot in the Season’s Last Week – By Franchise (1933-2012)
The tallies include AAFC and AFL seasons.
Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header. You can search for a specific franchise using the search box to the right.
|Franchise||Playoff App.||-Already In||-Alive||--Control||Made||Pct.||--Depend||Made||Pct.|
|Green Bay Packers||28||24||14||4||3||75.0%||10||1||10.0%|
|Kansas City Chiefs||16||11||11||6||4||66.7%||5||1||20.0%|
|New England Patriots||20||15||16||8||5||62.5%||8||0||0.0%|
|New Orleans Saints||9||8||8||1||0||0.0%||7||1||14.3%|
|New York Giants||31||18||23||14||10||71.4%||10||3||30.0%|
|New York Jets||14||6||14||9||7||77.8%||5||1||20.0%|
|San Diego Chargers||17||12||7||4||4||100.0%||3||1||33.3%|
|San Francisco 49ers||25||19||11||7||6||85.7%||4||0||0.0%|
|St. Louis Rams||27||16||17||7||6||85.7%||10||5||50.0%|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||6||7||4||4||100.0%||3||0||0.0%|
|zBaltimore Colts (AAFC)||1||0||1||1||1||100.0%||0||0||0.0%|
|zBrooklyn Dodgers (NFL)||0||0||1||0||0||0.0%||1||0||0.0%|
|zBuffalo Bills (AAFC)||2||1||1||1||1||100.0%||0||0||0.0%|
|zChicago Hornets (AAFC)||0||0||1||0||0||0.0%||1||0||0.0%|
|zLos Angeles Dons (AAFC)||0||0||1||0||0||0.0%||1||0||0.0%|
|zNew York Yankees (AAFC)||3||3||0||0||0||0.0%||0||0||0.0%|
- This is the 13th consecutive season – a streak going back to 2001 – that the New England Patriots have either clinched a spot or have been alive in the playoff chase during the league’s last regular-season week. Only the Green Bay Packers from 1992-2004 can match the Patriots’ streak. The Los Angeles Rams had such a streak for 12 years (1969-1980).
- The Buffalo Bills haven’t been in the playoffs or at least in the playoff chase in the league’s last regular-season week since 2004; currently the oldest such drought in the NFL. Followed by the Cleveland Browns (2007)… From 1948-1971 (24 seasons) the Pittsburgh Steelers were never in the playoffs or in a playoff race at the end of the season.