Making the playoffs is a great accomplishment for some teams; the fact that some will lose their very first postseason game doesn't dim the shine of actually qualifying. This is but a building block in what those organizations hope will be a lengthy streak of postseason appearances.
Other teams may have aspirations to go deep into the playoffs, and those teams and their fanbases will be crushed by early exits.
Here are two teams that have or will qualify for the postseason but will lose their first playoff game:
I believe the Bears will reach the playoffs on the strength of a win in Detroit on Sunday and a Minnesota Vikings loss against the Green Bay Packers, but their season will end the following week.
If they qualify, they are locked into the sixth seed, and that means they'll be traveling to either San Francisco or Seattle—two places they can't win.
They were already thumped 32-7 in Week 11 in San Fran, and they lost a 23-27 OT heartbreaker against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13 at Soldier Field.
Playing the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field is an entirely different ballgame.
The team is undefeated there this season, and they have outscored their last three opponents 128-20 at home. Both the San Francisco 49ers and the Seahawks bring a pass rush that the Bears' O-Line can't contain.
Moreover, the Bears passing game has not made the necessary strides to take pressure off the running game. Jay Cutler began Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals by completing just one of his first 11 passes.
The Bears still haven't found a second option to Brandon Marshall, and as such teams have had great success grounding the Bears aerial attack.
Marshall's 113 receptions are more than the rest of the Bears' WR/TEs combined. The team is 29th in the NFL in passing yards per game. It's difficult to win that way, especially when you don't have a O-Line physical enough to lead a dominant run attack.
The Bears will not win a playoff game.
Management will have to decide if reaching the postseason is enough to retain Lovie Smith as head coach. He deserves to return, but something must be done about the offensive coordinator position and the person in charge of play-calling.
That is the area that is of the greatest peril for the Bears.
The Colts have drastically overachieved, and they are certainly one of those teams that is on the upswing. That said, they aren't ready to win in the postseason.
No matter what happens in the final game of the regular season against the Houston Texans, they are locked into traveling to Baltimore or New England. The Colts won't win at M&T Bank Stadium or at Foxboro.
As good as Andrew Luck has been in spots, he hasn't shown the poise needed to win a playoff game on the road in a hostile environment. He leads the NFL in interceptions with 18, and the Colts don't have the type of rushing attack that can take the pressure off their rookie QB.
Rookie RB Vick Ballard is the team's leading rusher with 736 yards this season. The Colts have had just one game this season where a RB ran for 100 or more yards.
This is a team on the rise, but they aren't ready to succeed just yet.
That said, they should be terribly proud of what they have accomplished. Moving from 2-14 to 10 or 11 wins and a playoff berth is quite a feat.
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