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NFL Playoffs: 25 Worst Playoff Teams of All Time

Nathaniel UyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2011

NFL Playoffs: 25 Worst Playoff Teams of All Time

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    There's this league-wide obsession with the worst playoff teams around now that 7-9 Seattle Seahawks have won the NFC West and subsequently qualified for the postseason.

    Remember, we're just talking about overall records here. 

    Some teams that didn't exactly impress in the regular season went on to make deep playoff runs. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals should ring a bell.

    Once the playoffs begin, it's a different story.  Anything can happen.

    That's probably what the Seahawks are hoping for. 

    Using the Seahawks as our inspiration, here are the 25 worst playoff teams of all-time.

25. 1996 Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

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    After a strong 4-0 start, the Colts went into a midseason funk that nearly erased their playoff chances.

    They ended up losing six of their next eight games.

    But they were able to squeak into the playoffs as a Wild Card team.

    Matched up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round, the Colts were crushed 42-14.

24. 1983 Denver Broncos (9-7)

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    This Broncos squad ended the regular season with a lopsided loss to the AFC West's worst team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Clearly that loss stung for the team with a young rookie named John Elway.

    Denver was embarrassed in the opening round, losing 31-7 to the Seattle Seahawks.

23. 1979 Los Angeles Rams (9-7)

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    This Rams won the NFC West with a 9-7 record and when the playoffs started, they were able to step up their game.

    Behind quarterback Vince Ferragamo's three touchdown passes, the Rams managed to hang on for a divisional round win against the Cowboys.

    In the NFC Championship, they managed to shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-0.

    This team made it all the way to the Super Bowl, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-19.

22. 1998 Arizona Cardinals (9-7)

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    The 1998 Cardinals started December of that year with a 6-7 record.  However, a strong run to close out the season gave them a three-game winning streak and it carried them into the playoffs.

    In the Wild Card Round, they upset the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys, 20-7.

    However, they lost the to the Minnesota Vikings in the following divisional round, 41-21.

21. 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)

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    This was a young football team that many considered to be rebuilding.  In fact, they started the year with a 51-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

    But they managed to turn around their season and make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

    They came from behind and won their opening round game against the Houston Oilers, 26-23. They then fell to the John Elway-led Broncos near the end of the game, 24-23, in the AFC division round.

20. 1991 Los Angeles Raiders (9-7)

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    The Raiders slumped at the end of the regular season and lost their last three games.  However, they still qualified for the playoffs as the Wild Card.

    They wouldn't find any success in the opening round, losing 10-6 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

19. 1983 Seattle Seahawks (9-7)

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    Under first-year head coach Chuck Knox, the Seahawks won their last two games of the season to make it into the playoffs.

    That momentum carried them to a deep playoff run, winning the Wild Card round and the divisional round.

    However, they ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC Championship.

18. 1978 Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

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    Starting the season with a 2-4 record, this team didn't look like they were destined for the playoffs.  But a midseason surge aided their cause and squeaked in with a 9-7 record.

    They managed to win the first playoff game in franchise history with a 14-13 victory over the Eagles in the Wild Card round.

    But Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski was helpless against the Dallas defense in the following NFC divisional round, as they lost 27-20.

17. 1994 Chicago Bears (9-7)

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    With Dave Wannstedt as head coach, the Bears finished the year losing three of their last four games.

    Despite that slump, they pulled off an upset win against the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round.  This team was not known for offense, but still managed to put up points against the Vikes in a 35-18 victory.

    They ultimately lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the next round, 44-15.

16. 2002 Cleveland Browns (9-7)

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    This football team didn't exactly boast any big stars.  But they still qualified for the playoffs with their 9-7 record.

    It was a short run, however, as they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, 36-33.

15. 1978 Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1)

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    This Vikings squad with Fran Tarkenton at quarterback entered the playoffs losing their last two games. 

    In fact, they won only one of their last five games (another game was a tie). 

    Needless to say, this squad was fortunate enough to squeak into the playoffs, winning a tiebreaker against the Green Bay Packers.

    Once in the playoffs, the Vikes were sent home after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams, 34-10.

14. 1982 Atlanta Falcons (5-4)

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    Because of a strike-shortened season, this team managed to steal away the NFC West from the San Francisco 49ers.

    But they weren't so fortunate in the first round, losing 30-24 to the Minnesota Vikings.

13. 1985 Cleveland Browns (8-8)

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    The Browns were winners of the AFC Central despite their 8-8 record.

    They did manage to make it to the divisional round, falling 24-21 to the Miami Dolphins.

12. 2006 New York Giants (8-8)

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    This team started strong and ended the year poorly with a 2-6 record in the second half of the season.

    Eli Manning and Tiki Barber were the stars of this team.

    New York was unable to work out their struggles in the first round, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-20.

11. 2004 Minnesota Vikings (8-8)

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    This was believed to be an up-and-coming team with two youngsters named Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss on the roster.

    Despite going 3-7 in their final 10 games, the upstart Vikings still found a way to get into the playoffs.

    There they zoomed through the Wild Card round and then fell to the Eagles, 27-14, in the divisional round.

10. 1999 Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

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    This Chan Gailey-led football team lost three of their last five games, but still managed to make it into the playoffs.

    Defense was supposed to be their forte, but they still fell to the Vikings in the opening Wild Card round, 27-10.

9. 1999 Detroit Lions (8-8)

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    This Lions team stumbled late in the season, struggling with the offense and lost their last four games of the regular season.

    Those struggles continued in the Wild Card round as they fell to the Washington Redskins, 27-13.

8. 1990 New Orleans Saints (8-8)

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    Last year, the Saints won the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

    So we know this team didn't exactly have as much success.

    After going 8-8 in the regular season, they fell to the Bears in the Wild Card round, 16-6.

7. 2004 St. Louis Rams (8-8)

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    A .500 record was good enough to give them a Wild Card spot a year after going 12-6.

    This Mike Martz football team used their playoff experience to notch a win in the Wild Card round over the Seahawks.

    But they eventually folded in the following round as their defense was blatantly absent in a 47-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

6. 1991 New York Jets (8-8)

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    They ended the year losing three of their last four games, but still made it into the playoffs.

    In the first round, they were ousted by the Houston Oilers, 17-10.

5. 2008 San Diego Chargers (8-8)

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    There were a pair of teams tied for the lead in the AFC West at the end of the season, the Chargers and the Denver Broncos.

    As a result of a tiebreaker, San Diego made it back to the playoffs where they upset the high-powered Colts.

    They eventually fell to the Steelers in the next round.  Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl that season.

4. 1969 Houston Oilers (6-6-2)

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    Technically, they were not a part of the NFL until the following year.  But this team's run still deserves notice.

    At 6-6-2, they qualified for the playoffs in the American Football League.

    And they were ultimately snuffed by the Oakland Raiders in the divisional round.

3. 1982 Cleveland Browns (4-5)

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    That's right, the Seattle Seahawks are not the first NFL team to make it into the playoffs with a losing record.  The Browns were.

    Well, the Browns and the team you'll see in the next slide.

    Because of a strike-shortened season, the Browns made it in.

    But their playoff run was immediately put to an end in the first round by the Los Angeles Raiders.

2. 1982 Detroit Lions (4-5)

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    The '82 Lions also carry the distinction of being a sub .500 football team to play in the postseason.

    In fact, the Lions also won a division title.

    They lost to the Washington Redskins in the opening round.

1. 2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Seahawks are, hands down, the worst team to ever qualify for the playoffs. 

    They have a sub. 500 record, after all.

    They're even a bad team on paper: no clear-cut starter at quarterback, a joke for an offensive line and deficiencies on both sides of the ball.

    But they're in the playoffs.

    And that means they can still turn things around. 

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