Dec 272013

This Sunday the formula for a playoff berth is easy for the Bears, Cowboys, Eagles, Packers, and Saints – win and they are in the postseason.

In the history of the NFL (AAFC and AFL too) there have been 202 teams that have controlled their own playoff destiny heading into the league’s final week; needing only an end-of-season victory to keep their championship hopes alive.

Teams That Controlled Their Own Destiny in the League’s Final Week

Notes: The list doesn’t include teams that had playoff spots locked down before the start of the final regular-season week… The list counts the scenario heading into the final week, not necessarily 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).

Click here for a key on NFL team abbreviations.

Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header. You can search for a specific franchise or season using the search box to the right.

SeasonFranchiseW-L-TPlayoffs?Opp.Opp. Playoffs?Opp. W-L-TResult
1935Arizona (Chicago) Cardinals6-3-2Missedvs.CHI5-4-2L 13-0
1947Arizona (Chicago) Cardinals8-3MadeatCHIWin and in8-3W 30-21
1948Arizona (Chicago) Cardinals10-1MadeatCHIWin and in10-1W 24-21
1984Arizona (St. Louis) Cardinals9-6MissedatWASWin and in10-5L 29-27
1998Arizona Cardinals8-7Madevs.SDO5-10W 16-13
1978Atlanta Falcons9-6MadeatSTC5-10L 42-21
1995Atlanta Falcons8-7Madevs.SFOAlready in11-4W 28-27
2002Atlanta Falcons9-5-1MadeatCLENeeded help8-7L 24-16
2001Baltimore Ravens9-6Madevs.MIN5-10W 19-3
2003Baltimore Ravens9-6Madevs.PIT6-9W 13-10
2008Baltimore Ravens10-5Madevs.JAC5-10W 27-7
2009Baltimore Ravens8-7MadeatOAK5-10W 21-13
1964Buffalo Bills11-2MadeatBOSWin and in10-2-1W 24-14
1980Buffalo Bills10-5MadeatSFO6-9W 18-13
1982Buffalo Bills4-4MissedatNEWWin and in4-4L 30-19
1989Buffalo Bills8-7MadeatNYJ4-11W 37-0
1996Buffalo Bills9-6Madevs.KCYWin and in9-6W 20-9
2005Carolina Panthers10-5MadeatATL8-7W 44-11
1940Chicago Bears7-3Madevs.CHC2-6-2W 31-23
1941Chicago Bears9-1MadeatCHC3-6-1W 34-24
1947Chicago Bears8-3Missedvs.CHCWin and in8-3L 30-21
1948Chicago Bears10-1Missedvs.CHCWin and in10-1L 24-21
1950Chicago Bears8-3Madevs.DET6-5W 6-3
1956Chicago Bears8-2-1Madevs.DETWin and in9-2W 38-21
1963Chicago Bears10-1-2Madevs.DET5-7-1W 24-14
1968Chicago Bears7-6Missedvs.GBY5-7-1L 28-27
1994Chicago Bears9-6Madevs.NEWWin and in9-6L 13-3
2013Chicago Bears8-7?vs.GBYWin and in7-7-1?
1970Cincinnati Bengals7-6Madevs.BOS2-11W 45-7
1973Cincinnati Bengals9-4MadeatHOO1-12W 27-24
1975Cincinnati Bengals10-3Madevs.SDO2-11W 47-17
1977Cincinnati Bengals8-5MissedatHOO7-6L 21-16
2011Cincinnati Bengals9-6Madevs.BALAlready in11-4L 24-16
1950Cleveland Browns9-2MadeatWAS3-8W 45-21
1964Cleveland Browns9-3-1MadeatNYG2-9-2W 52-20
1980Cleveland Browns10-5MadeatCIN6-9W 27-24
1982Cleveland Browns4-4MadeatPITAlready in5-3L 37-21
1985Cleveland Browns8-7MadeatNYJWin and in10-5L 37-10
1989Cleveland Browns8-6-1MadeatHOOWin and in9-6W 24-20
1973Dallas Cowboys9-4MadeatSTC4-8-1W 30-3
1990Dallas Cowboys7-8MissedatATL4-11L 26-7
1999Dallas Cowboys7-8Madevs.NYGNeeded help7-8W 26-18
2008Dallas Cowboys9-6MissedatPHINeeded help8-6-1L 44-6
2011Dallas Cowboys8-7MissedatNYGWin and in8-7L 31-14
2012Dallas Cowboys8-7MissedatWASWin and in9-6L 28-18
2013Dallas Cowboys8-7?vs.PHIWin and in9-6?
1973Denver Broncos7-4-2MissedatOAKWin and in8-4-1L 21-17
1979Denver Broncos10-5MadeatSDOAlready in11-4L 17-7
1981Denver Broncos10-5MissedatCHI5-10L 35-24
1992Denver Broncos8-7MissedatKCYWin and in9-6L 42-20
2004Denver Broncos9-6Madevs.INDAlready in12-3W 33-14
2006Denver Broncos9-6Missedvs.SFO6-9L 26-23
2008Denver Broncos8-7MissedatSDOWin and in7-8L 52-21
2011Denver Broncos8-7Madevs.KCY6-9L 7-3
1934Detroit Lions10-2MissedatCHIAlready in12-0L 10-7
1938Detroit Lions7-3Missedvs.PHI4-6L 21-7
1951Detroit Lions7-3-1MissedatSFONeeded help6-4-1L 21-17
1952Detroit Lions8-3Madevs.DAX1-10W 41-6
1956Detroit Lions9-2MadeatCHIWin and in8-2-1L 38-21
1957Detroit Lions7-4MadeatCHI5-6W 21-13
1981Detroit Lions8-7Missedvs.TBYWin and in8-7L 20-17
1983Detroit Lions8-7Madevs.TBY2-13W 23-20
1994Detroit Lions9-6MadeatMIAAlready in9-6L 27-20
1997Detroit Lions8-7Madevs.NYJWin and in9-6W 13-10
2000Detroit Lions9-6Missedvs.CHI4-11L 23-20
1965Green Bay Packers10-3MadeatSFO7-6T 24-24
1978Green Bay Packers8-6-1MissedatLAMAlready in11-4L 31-14
1994Green Bay Packers8-7MadeatTBY6-9W 34-19
2010Green Bay Packers9-6Madevs.CHIAlready in11-4W 10-3
2013Green Bay Packers7-7-1?atCHIWin and in8-7?
1957Indianapolis (Baltimore) Colts7-4MissedatLAM5-6L 37-21
1967Indianapolis (Baltimore) Colts11-0-2MissedatLAMWin and in10-1-2L 34-10
1975Indianapolis (Baltimore) Colts9-4Madevs.NEW3-10W 34-21
1977Indianapolis (Baltimore) Colts9-4Madevs.NEWNeeded help9-4W 30-24
1987Indianapolis Colts8-6Madevs.TBY4-10W 24-6
1989Indianapolis Colts8-7MissedatNOR8-7L 41-6
1995Indianapolis Colts8-7Madevs.NEW6-9W 10-7
1996Indianapolis Colts9-6MadeatCIN7-8L 31-24
2002Indianapolis Colts9-6Madevs.JAC6-9W 20-13
2010Indianapolis Colts9-6Madevs.TEN6-9W 23-20
1996Jacksonville Jaguars8-7Madevs.ATL3-12W 19-17
1968Kansas City Chiefs11-2MadeatDEN5-8W 30-7
1986Kansas City Chiefs9-6MadeatPIT6-9W 24-19
1992Kansas City Chiefs9-6Madevs.DENWin and in8-7W 42-20
1994Kansas City Chiefs8-7MadeatLAIWin and in9-6W 19-9
1996Kansas City Chiefs9-6MissedatBUFWin and in9-6L 20-9
1999Kansas City Chiefs9-6Missedvs.OAK7-8L 41-38
1970Miami Dolphins9-4Madevs.BUF3-9-1W 45-7
1991Miami Dolphins8-7Missedvs.NYJWin and in7-8L 23-20
1993Miami Dolphins9-6MissedatNEW4-11L 33-27
1997Miami Dolphins9-6Madevs.NEWWin and in9-6L 14-12
2000Miami Dolphins10-5MadeatNEW5-10W 27-24
2002Miami Dolphins9-6MissedatNEWNeeded help8-7L 27-24
2008Miami Dolphins10-5MadeatNYJNeeded help9-6W 24-17
1977Minnesota Vikings8-5MadeatDET6-7W 30-21
1978Minnesota Vikings8-6-1MadeatOAK8-7L 27-20
1987Minnesota Vikings8-6Madevs.WASAlready in10-4L 27-24
1988Minnesota Vikings10-5Madevs.CHIAlready in12-3W 28-27
1989Minnesota Vikings9-6Madevs.CINNeeded help8-7W 29-21
1993Minnesota Vikings8-7MadeatWAS4-11W 14-9
1994Minnesota Vikings9-6Madevs.SFOAlready in13-2W 21-14
1997Minnesota Vikings8-7Madevs.IND3-12W 39-28
2003Minnesota Vikings9-6MissedatARZ3-12L 18-17
2004Minnesota Vikings8-7MadeatWAS5-10L 21-18
2008Minnesota Vikings9-6Madevs.NYGAlready in12-3W 20-19
2012Minnesota Vikings9-6Madevs.GBYAlready in11-4W 37-34
1964New England (Bos.) Patriots10-2-1Missedvs.BUFWin and in11-2L 24-14
1966New England (Bos.) Patriots8-3-2MissedatNYJ5-6-2L 38-28
1982New England Patriots4-4Madevs.BUFWin and in4-4W 30-19
1985New England Patriots10-5Madevs.CINNeeded help7-8W 34-23
1986New England Patriots10-5MadeatMIANeeded help8-7W 34-27
1988New England Patriots9-6MissedatDEN7-8L 21-10
1994New England Patriots9-6MadeatCHIWin and in9-6W 13-3
1997New England Patriots9-6MadeatMIAWin and in9-6W 14-12
1983New Orleans Saints8-7Missedvs.LAMNeeded help8-7L 26-24
2013New Orleans Saints10-5?vs.TBY4-11?
1936New York Giants5-5-1Missedvs.BORWin and in6-5L 14-0
1937New York Giants6-2-2Missedvs.WASWin and in7-3L 49-14
1938New York Giants7-2-1Madevs.WASWin and in6-2-2W 36-0
1939New York Giants8-1-1Madevs.WASWin and in8-1-1W 9-7
1943New York Giants5-3-1MadeatWASAlready in6-2-1W 31-7
1944New York Giants7-1-1MadeatWASNeeded help6-2-1W 31-0
1950New York Giants9-2MadeatPHI6-5W 9-7
1956New York Giants7-3-1MadeatPHI3-7-1W 21-7
1958New York Giants8-3Madevs.CLEAlready in9-2W 13-10
1970New York Giants9-4Missedvs.LAMNeeded help8-4-1L 31-3
1985New York Giants9-6Madevs.PIT7-8W 28-10
1988New York Giants10-5MissedatNYJ7-7-1L 27-21
2002New York Giants9-6Madevs.PHIAlready in12-3W 10-7
2011New York Giants8-7Madevs.DALWin and in8-7W 31-14
1981New York Jets9-5-1Madevs.GBYNeeded help8-7W 28-3
1985New York Jets10-5Madevs.CLEWin and in8-7W 37-10
1991New York Jets7-8MadeatMIAWin and in8-7W 23-20
1997New York Jets9-6MissedatDETWin and in8-7L 13-10
2000New York Jets9-6MissedatBALAlready in11-4L 34-20
2001New York Jets9-6MadeatOAKAlready in10-5W 24-22
2004New York Jets10-5MadeatSTLNeeded help7-8L 32-29
2006New York Jets9-6Madevs.OAK2-13W 23-3
2009New York Jets8-7Madevs.CINAlready in10-5W 37-0
1988Oakland (L.A.) Raiders7-8Missedvs.SEAWin and in8-7L 43-37
1993Oakland (L.A.) Raiders9-6Madevs.DENAlready in9-6W 33-30
1994Oakland (L.A.) Raiders9-6Missedvs.KCYWin and in8-7L 19-9
1968Oakland Raiders11-2MadeatSDO9-4W 34-27
1973Oakland Raiders8-4-1Madevs.DENWin and in7-4-2W 21-17
1980Oakland Raiders10-5MadeatNYG4-11W 33-17
1947Philadelphia Eagles7-4Madevs.GBY6-4-1W 28-14
1989Philadelphia Eagles10-5Madevs.PHX5-10W 31-14
2013Philadelphia Eagles9-6?atDALWin and in8-7?
1973Pittsburgh Steelers9-4MadeatSFO5-8W 37-14
1976Pittsburgh Steelers9-4MadeatHOO5-8W 21-0
1984Pittsburgh Steelers8-7MadeatLAIAlready in11-4W 13-7
1990Pittsburgh Steelers9-6MissedatHOONeeded help8-7L 34-14
2005Pittsburgh Steelers10-5Madevs.DET5-10W 35-21
1963San Diego Chargers10-3Madevs.DEN2-10-1W 58-20
1980San Diego Chargers10-5Madevs.PITNeeded help9-6W 26-17
1995San Diego Chargers8-7MadeatNYG5-10W 27-17
2008San Diego Chargers7-8Madevs.DENWin and in8-7W 52-21
1957San Francisco 49ers7-4Madevs.GBY3-8W 27-20
1970San Francisco 49ers9-3-1MadeatOAKAlready in8-3-2W 38-7
1971San Francisco 49ers8-5Madevs.DET7-5-1W 31-27
1972San Francisco 49ers7-5-1Madevs.MIN7-6W 20-17
1982San Francisco 49ers3-5Missedvs.LAM1-7L 21-20
1983San Francisco 49ers9-6Madevs.DALAlready in12-3W 42-17
1985San Francisco 49ers9-6Madevs.DALAlready in10-5W 31-16
1983Seattle Seahawks8-7Madevs.NEWNeeded help8-7W 24-6
1987Seattle Seahawks9-5MadeatKCY3-11L 41-20
1988Seattle Seahawks8-7MadeatLAIWin and in7-8W 43-37
1999Seattle Seahawks9-6MadeatNYJ7-8L 19-9
2010Seattle Seahawks6-9Madevs.STLWin and in7-8W 16-6
1949St. Louis (L.A.) Rams7-2-2Madevs.WAS4-6-1W 53-27
1952St. Louis (L.A.) Rams8-3Madevs.PIT5-6W 28-14
1955St. Louis (L.A.) Rams7-3-1Madevs.GBY6-5W 31-17
1967St. Louis (L.A.) Rams10-1-2Madevs.BACWin and in11-0-2W 34-10
1984St. Louis (L.A.) Rams10-5MadeatSFOAlready in14-1L 19-16
1989St. Louis (L.A.) Rams10-5MadeatNEW5-10W 24-20
2010St. Louis Rams7-8MissedatSEAWin and in6-9L 16-6
1979Tampa Bay Buccaneers9-6Madevs.KCY7-8W 3-0
1981Tampa Bay Buccaneers8-7MadeatDETWin and in8-7W 20-17
1982Tampa Bay Buccaneers4-4Madevs.CHINeeded help3-5W 26-23
2005Tampa Bay Buccaneers10-5Madevs.NOR3-12W 27-13
2007Tennessee Titans9-6MadeatINDAlready in13-2W 16-10
1961Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)9-3-1MadeatOAK2-11W 47-16
1962Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)10-3MadeatNYT5-8W 44-10
1967Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)8-4-1MadeatMIA4-9W 41-10
1980Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)10-5Madevs.MINAlready in9-6W 20-16
1987Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)8-6Madevs.CIN4-10W 21-17
1988Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)10-5MadeatCLENeeded help9-6L 28-23
1989Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)9-6Madevs.CLEWin and in8-6-1L 24-20
1936Washington (Bos.) Redskins6-5MadeatNYGWin and in5-5-1W 14-0
1937Washington Redskins7-3MadeatNYGWin and in6-2-2W 49-14
1938Washington Redskins6-2-2MissedatNYGWin and in7-2-1L 36-0
1939Washington Redskins8-1-1MissedatNYGWin and in8-1-1L 9-7
1946Washington Redskins5-4-1MissedatNYGAlready in6-3-1L 31-0
1973Washington Redskins9-4Madevs.PHI5-7-1W 38-20
1976Washington Redskins9-4MadeatDALAlready in11-2W 27-14
1979Washington Redskins10-5MissedatDALAlready in10-5L 35-34
1984Washington Redskins10-5Madevs.STCWin and in9-6W 29-27
2005Washington Redskins9-6MadeatPHI6-9W 31-20
2007Washington Redskins8-7Madevs.DALAlready in13-2W 27-6
2012Washington Redskins9-6Madevs.DALWin and in8-7W 28-18
1948zBaltimore Colts (AAFC)6-7Madevs.BULAlready in7-6W 35-15
1949zBuffalo Bills (AAFC)4-5-2MadeatBAO1-10W 38-14


It’s no surprise that teams in control of their own playoff destiny have performed the best in games vs. teams with losing records; with an all-time record of 62-23 (.729 W Pct.) in such matchups. Check out the chart below for the specifics.

NFL Teams That Controlled Their Own Destiny in the League’s Final Week – By Matchup

Teams that controlled their own destiny… Overall vs. teams already in the playoffs vs. teams in control of their own destiny vs. teams that needed help to get in the playoffs vs. teams already out of the playoffs
vs. teams with W-L-T records below .500 62-23 - 2-3 3-1 57-19
(.729 W Pct.) - (.400 W Pct.) (.750 W Pct.) (.750 W Pct.)
vs. teams with W-L-T records at .500 2-2 - 2-1 - 0-1
(.500 W Pct.) - (.667 W Pct.) - (.000 W Pct.)
vs. teams with W-L-T records above .500 61-46-1 22-11 23-23 8-8 8-4-1
(.569 W Pct.) (.667 W Pct.) (.500 W Pct.) (.500 W Pct.) (.654 W Pct.)
Totals 125-71-1 22-11 27-27 11-9 65-24-1
(.637 W Pct.) (.667 W Pct.) (.500 W Pct.) (.550 W Pct.) (.728 W Pct.)


Sources: Pro-Football-Reference.comClick here for a list of newspaper resources I used to confirm/find playoff possibilities.


Additional reading in The Coffin Corner

In The Coffin Corner – the official magazine of the Professional Football Researchers Association – Mark L. Ford wrote an in-depth article on winner-take-all games.

He listed and summarized all the regular season games in which the winner made it to the playoffs and the loser saw their season end. He looked at such games from the perspective of the scenario at the time of the game; not the scenario at the beginning of the week’s games – the perspective I took with my research.

You can view his article in the members only section at the PFRA’s website. It was published in 2012 in volume No. 34 and issue No. 1; it’s titled Winner Takes All.


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