NFL Truths: Why Teams Make the Playoffs

Football ManiaxsSenior Writer IJune 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH - FEBRUARY 03:  Santonio Holmes #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up his MVP and the Lombardi trophy after a parade to celebrate winning Super Bowl XLIII on February 3, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

By Derek Lofland.

Last Week I wrote the article NFL Myths – Injuries, Tough Schedule, and Close Games.  This week I am going to explore what factors are essential to a playoff team’s success. What are the three most important factors? 

1) Winning teams win road games - The Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles were the only playoff teams who had losing records on the road last season. The combined road record of the 12 playoff teams was 55-40-1 or a winning percentage of 58 percent.

Compare that to the teams that finished last in their divisions, which had a cumulative road record of 18-46 or a winning percentage of 28 percent. The only team that had a winning record on the road and missed the playoffs was the 11-5 New England Patriots.

Only 10 teams had winning records on the road, which means the other 22 teams were at .500 or below. Compare that to 19 teams that had winning records at home and another four that finished .500. That equals that only nine teams had losing records at home. Every team that is worth anything wins at home; it’s the playoff teams that take it to the next level and win on the road that are truly contenders.

To be a shoo-in for the playoffs a team usually has to be no worse than 10-6.  Therefore, if a team goes 4-4 or 3-5 on the road they are going to have to go 6-2 or 7-1 at home to get to that 10 win level.

While winning road games may be hard, it’s even harder to win seven or eight home games in a single season...


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