NFL Wild Card Scramble Features 3 Super Bowl Champs

Greg RiotAnalyst IDecember 10, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 01:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 1, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

NFL Week 14 will be paramount in helping decide the wild card teams and any team with the best odds to win the Super Bowl . NFL wild card teams over the long haul have won the Super Bowl only five times since 1970.

However, three teams in the 21st Century that played three playoff games on the road have done particular well — they won it all.

In ’07, the New York Giants knocked off Tampa Bay in the wild card contest and beat Dallas in the divisional playoff. The Giants won the NFC championship in overtime, edging Green Bay, 23-20. New York then tripped New England in the Super Bowl, 17-14.

In ’05, Pittsburgh whipped Cincinnati in the wild card decider and got by Indianapolis in the divisional playoff. The Steelers crushed Denver for the AFC title, 34-17. Pittsburgh then defeated Seattle, 21-10, in Super Bowl 40.

In ’00, Baltimore bombed the Broncos in the wild card and cruised past Tennessee in the divisional playoff. The Ravens won the AFC championship 16-3 over Oakland, the first of five wild card survivors to capture the Super Bowl back in ’80. Then the Ravens destroyed the Giants 34-7 in the big one.

All three of those Super Bowl winners have a shot this year at making the playoffs as wild cards and could play on Feb. 7 at Land Shark Stadium, home of the Dolphins, as Miami hosts its 10th Super Bowl in 44 years.

The Giants are in a three-way battle for the East Division title of the National Conference. New York must even the series against Philadelphia at home Sunday night to remain in contention, since it’s a game behind the 8-4 Eagles and Cowboys with three other contests to play, including the Jan. 3 finale at North Division leading Minnesota.

The Steelers should defeat cellar-dwelling Cleveland in the North Division of the America Conference Thursday evening while Baltimore on Sunday likely will get by Detroit, last in the North Division of the National Conference.

On Dec. 27, the division rivals clash in Pittsburgh, where the home team needs to even its series with the Ravens because the other opponents are in the wild card hunt: the Packers on Dec. 20 and the Dolphins on Jan. 3

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s other two foes are unlikely to make the playoffs: Chicago on Dec. 20 and Oakland on Jan. 3.

In the National Conference, the Eagles and Packers are currently the wild card teams, while the Giants are a game behind and the Falcons are two games back. 

Only undefeated New Orleans has locked up a playoff slot. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Saints go marching into Atlanta on Sunday.
Denver and Jacksonville are currently the American Conference wild cards, but the Steelers, Ravens, Dolphins, and Jets are only a game back.

Unfortunately for three of those teams, each must play the unbeaten Colts, who are assured of a playoff berth. The Broncos visit Indianapolis on Sunday, the Jaguars host the Colts Dec. 17, and the Jets are at Indianapolis on Dec. 27.

In addition, the Texans and Titans are two games behind and have an outside chance to sneak in as a wild card, depending on how the remaining NFL schedule shakes out.