As the 2020 NFL season draws to a close, there is still a host of teams chasing a spot in the playoffs. While some teams have secured a position early, including the Chiefs, the Steelers, and the Saints as of 13th December, others are still on the hunt. Hope remains high amongst the teams yet to make the playoffs, as there have been numerous occasions where teams with poor starts have gone on to claim a spot as late as the final day of the regular season.
Indeed, belief is so high that fans bet on which unlikely teams will make it, with the underdogs for the playoffs including the Miami Dolphins, who are currently priced at +125. If you want to find out more regarding the odds of teams making the playoffs, you can visit https://www.bonusfinder.com/sports-betting/, which provides a list of available bookies and bonuses. So, which underdogs have previously been able to defy the odds to claim a spot? Let’s take a look back at some of the teams that were able to make it in previous seasons after particularly bad starts.
San Diego Chargers: 2008 (Record 8-8)
Back in 2008, the Chargers became the first team to make the playoffs after starting the season with a record of 4-8. Although the results were poor, seven of the Chargers’ eight defeats had been by one possession, so it could be argued that they were unlucky to be in such a poor position. Despite this, the Chargers were able to rally and win their four remaining regular season games, to finish with a record of 8-8. This handed them the AFC West title and secured their place.
In the postseason, the Chargers were able to beat the Colts in the Wild Card, before losing to the Steelers in the AFC divisional round.
Seattle Seahawks: 2010 (Record 7-9)
In 2009, the Seattle Seahawks made history by becoming the first team ever to finish the season with a sub-.500 record and make the playoffs. The Seahawks were inconsistent throughout the season and arrived at their final regular season game with a record of 6-9. In the final game, the Seahawks were able to beat the St Louis Rams, their NFC West rivals, and become the first team to be division champions with a losing record (7-9).
They were also able to pull off an upset in the wildcard playoff round, beating the New Orleans Saints 41-36, before being beaten by the Bears in the divisional game. According to https://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/, the 2010 Seattle Seahawks were ranked as the second-worst team to make the playoffs in NFL history.
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Carolina Panthers: 2014 (Record 7-8-1)
The Carolina Panthers pulled off an insane comeback in 2014. At the end of gameweek 13, the Panthers had a record of 3-8-1. Remarkably, they were able to win their remaining four regular season games and claim the NFC South division title, securing their place in the playoffs.
The Panthers were able to win their wild card game against the Arizona Cardinals, but came up short against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional game. As stated at https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/, the Panthers were the fourth team in NFL history to ever make the playoffs with a losing record.
Stories of teams regarded as underdogs making the playoffs should provide inspiration for any team still in the hunt. As we all know, it’s not over until the final whistle.