NFL Playoff Picture: 6 Players and Teams Lucky to Be in Postseason Field

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 6, 2012

NFL Playoff Picture: 6 Players and Teams Lucky to Be in Postseason Field

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    It's difficult to call any team or player in the NFL playoffs lucky, but the reality is that the following six players and teams truly are lucky to be part of the postseason field.

    Whether it was a late-season losing streak by a team or poor performances in the final weeks by a key player, here are six players and teams that are lucky to be in the postseason field. 

New England Patriots

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    It may sound crazy for me to consider the New England Patriots lucky considering they are the top seed in the AFC, but they really are rather lucky.

    When you consider that the Patriots didn't beat a single team this year with a winning record, you have to realize this team is lucky. I mean, look at every other team in the playoff field, and they all have wins over teams with winning records.

    New England making the playoffs with no wins against elite teams should bring up some major questions about how far they'll actually be able to go in the playoffs.

Tim Tebow

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    Tim Tebow is the luckiest quarterback in the AFC playoffs.

    After leading the Denver Broncos to first place in the AFC West, Tebow and the Broncos lost their last three games heading into the Wild Card game. Had the Oakland Raiders or San Diego Chargers been able to produce just one more win, Tebow would be watching the playoffs from home.

    However, luck was certainly on Tebow's side as even with a pathetic performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17, he still finds himself in the playoffs.

T.J. Yates

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    When T.J. Yates made a late touchdown pass to give the Houston Texans their first playoff berth in franchise history, he must have been on top of the world.

    Since that victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Texans have lost three straight games against unimpressive opponents. What has been even less impressive has been the play of Yates.

    Had Yates and the Texans not sealed up the AFC South in Week 14, it's very likely that they wouldn't have made the playoffs, and all the blame would be placed on his shoulders.

Hakeem Nicks

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    Few teams have been as up-and-down as the New York Giants have been this year. Back in Week 15 against the Washington Redskins, the Giants had the opportunity to stay tied with the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC East.

    However, they lost that game to drop to 7-7 on the season, and playoff hopes looked dim. One key play to their loss was Hakeem Nicks dropping a wide open pass that would have been a touchdown from Eli Manning.

    The pass was perfectly thrown, and Nicks just dropped it. Had the Giants missed the playoffs this year, people could have pointed to that one moment and blamed the failure of the season on Nicks and his lack of hands in Week 15.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    There were numerous times this season when the Cincinnati Bengals had the opportunity to take their season to the next level, and they just squandered it.

    In their final game of the season, they played the Baltimore Ravens and really needed to win the game. If they didn't win, they would need tons and tons of help to make the playoffs.

    Well, they didn't win, but they did get extremely lucky, and everyone they needed to lose ended up losing their game. They literally crept into the playoffs thanks to the awful play of every other AFC team that week.

Ray Lewis and Ed Reed

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    Yes, I know that this is technically two players, but Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have been joined at the hip on the field since Reed was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.

    These two players are so crucial to their team that when they play poorly, the Ravens usually don't win. However, this year neither Reed or Lewis have played up to their expected level of play, but Baltimore still finds themselves in the playoffs.

    Had they not made the postseason this year, both Lewis and Reed could have been called old and suggested that it was time to go. However, they were lucky that their team pulled through, and they now have a chance to prove all their haters wrong.