The Denver Broncos and 10 Worst Teams to Back into Playoffs in NFL History

Clint DalyContributor IIJanuary 6, 2012

The Denver Broncos and 10 Worst Teams to Back into Playoffs in NFL History

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    Last Sunday the Denver Broncos could have clinched the AFC West by simply beating the 6-9 Chiefs at home. Not only did the Broncos have the division to play for, but they also were going against their former quarterback Kyle Orton, who was benched and then waived in favor of Tim Tebow.

    The Broncos lost 7-3 to the Chiefs. They failed to score a single touchdown at home and passed for just 50 total net yards.

    Yet the Broncos still made the playoffs with some assistance from the San Diego Chargers, who knocked off the Raiders in Oakland.

    Are the 2011 Denver Broncos one of the worst teams to ever qualify for the playoffs? Probably, although time will give a more definitive answer.

    Let's take a look at 10 of the worst teams that have ever made the playoffs.

10. 1999 Miami Dolphins

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    The '99 Dolphins had Dan Marino but not much else. They lost six of their final eight games.

    Their leading rusher was J.J. Johnson. Leading receiver? Tony Martin.

    The Dolphins went 9-7 and finished third in the AFC East qualifying for an AFC Wild Card berth.

    They actually managed to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round.

    Then they faced the Jacksonville Jaguars,

    The Jags beat them 62-7.

9. 1981 New York Giants

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    Prior to the Super Bowl successes the 1981 New York Giants struggled to just make the playoffs.

    Quarterback Phil Simms was in his third season and threw just 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

    In fact, the Giants offense was ranked 24th out of 28 teams, averaging just 18 points per game.

    The Giants began the season 5-6 before winning four of their final five games.

    They finished third in the NFC East and beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-21 in the Wild Card game before losing to the San Fransisco 49ers in the divisional round 38-24.

8. 1982 St. Louis Cardinals

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    1982 was a strike-shortened year with teams playing just nine regular season games so it is a little tough to put a team in this group, but the Cardinals qualify.

    This team earned a Wild Card spot after going just 5-4 and finishing third in the NFC East.

    Under quarterback Neil Lomax (pictured) they averaged scoring just 15 points per game. The defense gave up 19 points per game.

    They played the Green Bay Packers in Wild Card Weekend and were beaten soundly 41-16.

7. 1994 Chicago Bears

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    The 1994 Chicago Bears were led by quarterback Steve Walsh. "Led" may be too strong of a word as the Bears offense averaged just 16.9 points per game which ranked them 24th out of 28 teams.

    The Bears defense allowed 19.2 points per game and the Bears were a minus-4 in the turnover ratio.

    They lost three of their final four games of the season yet managed to upset the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs.

    The next week they met the eventual Super Bowl champion San Fransisco 49ers.

    The Niners whipped them 44-15.

6. 1978 Minnesota Vikings

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    The 1978 Minnesota Vikings were a team in transition. They were at the end of an amazing run that had seen four Super Bowl appearances.

    Quarterback Fran Tarkenton (pictured) was 38 years old and would retire following the season. Tarkenton would throw a career high 32 interceptions on the year.

    The Vikings managed to finish 8-7-1 and win what was at the time a depleted NFC Central Division.

    The dynasty that never won a Super Bowl would end in Los Angeles as the Rams beat the Vikings 34-10 in the NFC divisional round.

5. 1985 Cleveland Browns

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    The Cleveland Browns of the late '80s ended up being a tough physical team that was a contender each year in the AFC.

    However the 1985 Browns were young and just getting started.

    They won the AFC Central outright with an 8-8 record!

    Quarterback Bernie Kosar was just a rookie and the Browns' offense was averaging only 17.9 points per game which ranked them 23rd out of 28 teams.

    In the final week of the regular season the Browns were beaten up by the New York Jets 37-10. That's never a good sign for a playoff team.

    The Browns would lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Miami Dolphins 24-21.

4. 1969 Houston Oilers

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    The 1969 Houston Oilers managed to get into the playoffs with a record of 6-6-2.

    That's right not one but TWO ties.

    They actually happened in consecutive weeks. First the Oilers tied the Bengals 31-31, the very next week they would tie the Broncos 20-20.

    Quarterback Pete Beathard threw 10 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

    The Oilers' leading rusher was Hoyle Granger. Granger finished the season with 740 yards and just three touchdowns.

    The most exciting player on the field may have been wide receiver and kick returner Jerry Levias (pictured). Levias had five receiving touchdowns.

    The Oilers finished second in the AFL East and were smacked by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the playoffs 56-7.

3. 1990 New Orleans Saints

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    The 1990 New Orleans Saints qualified for the postseason despite never at any time having a winning record throughout the season.

    The finished the season at 8-8, second in the NFC West and qualified for a Wild Card berth.

    The Saints scored 17 points per game. Fortunately their defense was starting to come together and they kept them in most games.

    Still, the Saints finished the season with negative 12 in turnover ratio.

    They lost in the Wild Card game to the Chicago Bears 16-6.

2. 2010 Seattle Seahawks

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    How is this team not No. 1?

    They are the only team in NFL history to qualify for the playoffs with a LOSING record.

    The Seahawks finished the 2010 season 7-9.

    They scored only 310 points on the season while allowing 407 points to be scored on them!

    So how do they only get the No. 2 spot?

    Simple. They won that playoff game.

    This team somehow managed to beat the 11-5 New Orleans Saints 41-36 in the Wild Card game.

    They would lose the following week against the Chicago Bears 35-24.

1. 2004 St. Louis Rams

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    Just a few years removed from being the "Greatest Show on Turf" the 2004 Rams limped into the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

    That once potent offense now averaged just 19.9 points per game under quarterback Marc Bulger (pictured).

    The defense was allowing 24.5 points per game.

    However, this may be the most telling statistic for this team.

    They were second in the NFC West and earned a Wild Card spot despite finishing the season with an amazing negative-24 in the turnover ratio.

    They turned the ball over 49 times on the year!

    In the Wild Card round the Rams would manage to knock off a very average Seattle Seahawk team.

    Then in the divisional round they would be crushed by the Atlanta Falcons 47-17.

    Keep one thing in mind this year while watching the NFL playoffs. A number of these teams who were limping into the playoffs actually won a game. Just goes to show you that on any given week in the NFL anything can happen.