The NFL Playoffs Will Never Be the Same Again

Pete TreperinasCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2009

From the NFC Worst—er, West—to NFC Champs, the Arizona Cardinals have raised many an eyebrow this postseason. 

However, Arizona wasn't the first team to shock the world and make a trip to the Super Bowl. Last year, the 8-8 New York Giants somehow won it, and in the past couple of years, wild card teams are a lot more prevalent in the big game.

Has the NFL gone soft? I sure don't think or hope so. I think this playoff revolution is all about mediocre teams exploding in the playoffs to prove something.

In 2006, when the sixth-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl, they won three road games to get there, and were avenging their AFC Championship game loss in 2005, a season in which the Steelers went 15-1.

Nobody thought Pittsburgh would beat an Indianapolis team that a lot of people thought would go undefeated, a Cincinnati team that won the AFC North, and the Broncos, who went 13-3. 

Last year, Eli Manning led the Giants on a similar trend. 

The G-Men were a .500 team that many thought would've gotten creamed on the road against Tampa Bay.


New York pulled the ultimate Cinderella, coach Tom Coughlin saved his job, and Manning finally got some respect. 

This Cardinals team is a lot like their fellow improbable Super Bowl winners. Kurt Warner is 104 years old, and although the Cards play in arguably the worst division in football, two home games and a huge defensive effort in Carolina has them playing for the title. 

The old days are gone. The NFL fan must now know that anything can happen in the postseason. In the past two seasons, three of the four No. 1 seeds have been eliminated in their first playoff game.

Several years ago, the NFL playoffs were more about the division winners pounding through wild card teams and moving on. 

Now, it's more about getting into the postseason. Once a team is in, it seems like anything is possible, and teams like the Giants and Cardinals could very well keep making trips to Disneyland.