Parity in the NFL: So-So Teams That Made the Playoffs

The Los Angeles Rams inadvertently set a new precedent for the NFL by knocking off the Arizona Cardinals Dec. 13, 2021, on the road. With the loss, the Cardinals fell to 10-3 and meant every team in the NFL has at least three losses in Week 13 for the first time since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. This occurrence has made for an interesting occurrence for bettors wagering on NFL lines.

Trying to discern which teams are Super Bowl contenders or who will emerge from the pack unscathed is difficult to figure out. There is a chance that a team with a losing record or that finishes just below .500 may make the playoffs. But of the 12 teams that have made the playoffs with a .500 worse record, half of them have ended up winning at least one playoff game. The NFL isn’t immune to having subpar teams sneak into the playoffs. Fans won’t even have to venture far to find an example of a less than deserving team being one of the last few seeking a chance to grab a Lombardi Trophy.

 

Have Yourself a Heinicke

The 2020 Washington Football Team started the season 1-5. Usually, that’s a sign of an NFL team going nowhere. However, the NFC East in 2020 was the worst division in recent memory and none of the teams would finish with a winning record.

The Football Team would start three different quarterbacks, but would ultimately rally behind Alex Smith, who was returning to the NFL following a gruesome knee injury. He would be their most consistent passer and lead the team to a 5-1 mark in games he started. Smith was injured, however, before Washington’s playoff Wild Card playoff game with eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers won 31-23, but XFL alumni Taylor Heinicke impressed for Washington passing for 306 yards and a touchdown.

 

Chill Out Joe

The 2004 Minnesota Vikings lost four of its last five games but were able to sneak into the NFC Playoffs as a Wild Card team. In the first round, Minnesota would be paired with the Green Bay Packers, who had beaten the Vikings by double digits twice in the regular season. But in the postseason, Mike Tice’s Minnesota squad found its magic. Dante Culpepper threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter allowing the Vikings to build a 17-0 lead.

The dagger came in the fourth quarter when Randy Moss hauled in a 34-yard strike from Culpepper that allowed the Vikings to win 31-17. After Moss scored, he went near the goal post and pretended to pull down his pants and moon the Green Bay crowd. Announcer Joe Buck called the act disgusting. Minnesota would lose to Philadelphia in the next round.

 

Seahawks Have Their Beast Quake

Pete Carroll made a good impression in his first year in Seattle by winning the NFC West, right? In some respects, yes, but Seattle won the division after losing three of its last four and beating the St. Louis Rams 16-6 to clinch the crown in an uninspiring affair. Coming into a first-round matchup with the defending champion Saints, things were looking bleak.

The Wild Card game is best known for Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run, better known as the “Beast quake” run for the crowd reaction registering on the Richter scale, but the Seahawks offense dominated the Saints from the outset. Seattle scored 24 points in the first half and didn’t seem to have problems moving the ball on the Saints. The Seahawks’ magic didn’t follow them to Chicago, as they bowed out with a 35-24 loss in the divisional round.

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