How often do NFL teams finish with winning records but miss the playoffs?

For the 1967-68 season, the NFL added the divisional round to the playoffs expanding them after having added the championship round only two years earlier. Since the divisional round of the playoffs was added, there have been 147 teams to have finished the regular season with a winning record and not make the playoffs. This includes the NFL since the 1967-68 season and the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons of the AFL.

Timeline and breakdown by season

1967: NFL adds two divisional rounds, four-team playoffs

1968: AFL adds one divisional round, three-team playoffs

1969: AFL adds two divisional rounds, four-team playoffs

1970: NFL-AFL merger, eight-team playoffs

1978: Wildcard round added, 10 team playoffs

1982: Strike shortened season (nine games), special 16 team playoffs

1987: Strike shortened season (15 games)

1990: Second wildcard round added, 12 team playoffs

There have been 10 seasons where at least five teams finished with winning record and missed the playoffs. In contrast, there have only been two seasons where it did not happen. The strike-shortened 1982 season and the 1998 season.

Teams with winning records to miss playoffs in the NFL, notes

Click here to view larger image of above graph

Breakdown by Era and 10+ win teams

The next three graphs show a breakdown of the above cumulative graph into three different eras based on how the playoffs were formatted.

Teams with winning records to miss playoffs in NFL Divisional Round Era (1967-68 to 1977-78)

Teams with winning records to miss playoffs in NFL's 10 team Wild Card Era (1978-79 to 1989-90)

Teams with winning records to miss playoffs in NFL's 12 team Wild Card Era (1990-91 to 2017-18)

The graph below shows how often a team that finished the season with 10 or more wins missed the playoffs in each NFL season.

Teams with 10+ wins to miss playoffs in the NFL each season (1967-68 to 2017-18)

Records of teams to not make the playoffs

The table below shows the number of times each the playoffs was missed by a team with a specific winning record. Since the NFL expanded to a 16-game regular season schedule, 70/103 (67.96%) of teams to miss the playoffs with winning records finished at 9-7. In the 14-game era, the most common winning record was 8-6, which happened 11/44 times (25%).

*All four 8-7 teams came during the NFL’s strike-shortened 15-game season in 1987.

Record
Number of times team missed playoffs with that record
11-1-2 (.917) 1
10-3-1 (.769) 1
10-4 (.714) 5
9-4-1 (.692) 3
11-5 (.688) 2
8-4-2 (.667) 1
9-5 (.643) 8
10-6 (.625) 21
8-5-1 (.615) 4
8-6 (.571) 11
7-5-2 (.571) 5
9-7 (.563) 70
7-6-1 (.538) 5
8-7 (.533)* 4
8-7-1 (.531) 6

The best teams to miss the playoffs in this span

Below is a list of the top 13 teams (those with at least a .667 win percentage) who did not make the playoffs in this span. Since 1977, only two teams with this high of a winning percentage have missed the playoffs, the 1985 Broncos and 2008 Patriots.

Team Year Record
Baltimore Colts 1967 11-1-2 (.917)
Los Angeles Rams 1968 10-3-1 (.769)
Miami Dolphins 1975 10-4 (.714)
Houston Oilers 1975 10-4 (.714)
St. Louis Cardinals 1976 10-4 (.714)
Cincinnati Bengals 1976 10-4 (.714)
Miami Dolphins 1977 10-4 (.714)
St. Louis Cardinals 1968 9-4-1 (.692)
Detroit Lions 1969 9-4-1 (.692)
Los Angeles Rams 1970 9-4-1 (.692)
Denver Broncos 1985 11-5 (.688)
New England Patriots 2008 11-5 (.688)
Oakland Raiders 1971 8-4-1 (.667)

The total amount of times each franchise has missed the playoffs with a winning record in this span

The Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins have both missed the playoffs with a winning record a league-high nine times. Since 2000, 27/32 (84.37%) of the league has missed the playoffs at least once with a winning record. The only exceptions are the Panthers (who have never done so), the Raiders (1994), Colts (1992), 49ers (1991), Bengals (1986) and the Rams (1971).

Team # of times missed playoffs with winning record
Last year missed with winning record
Kansas City Chiefs 9 2014: 9-7 (.563%)
Washington Redskins 9 2016: 8-7-1 (.531%)
Denver Broncos 8 2016: 9-7 (.563%)
Los Angeles Chargers 8 2017: 9-7 (.563%)
New England Patriots 8 2008: 11-5 (.688)
Miami Dolphins 7 2005: 9-7 (.563%)
Arizona Cardinals 6 2013: 10-6 (.625%)
Detroit Lions 6 2017: 9-7 (.563%)
New York Giants 6 2012: 9-7 (.563%)
Seattle Seahawks 6 2017: 9-7 (.563%)
Cleveland Browns 5 2007: 10-6 (.625%)
Dallas Cowboys 5 2017: 9-7 (.563%)
Green Bay Packers 5 2000: 9-7 (.563%)
New York Jets 5 2015: 10-6 (.625%)
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 2009: 9-7 (.563%)
Buffalo Bills 4 2014: 9-7 (.563%)
Chicago Bears 4 2012: 10-6 (.625%)
Cincinnati Bengals 4 1986: 10-6 (.625%)
Indianapolis Colts 4 1992: 9-7 (.563%)
Oakland Raiders 4 1994: 9-7 (.563%)
Tennessee Titans* 4 2016: 9-7 (.563%)
Atlanta Falcons 3 2009: 9-7 (.563%)
Los Angeles Rams 3 1971: 8-5-1 (.615)
Minnesota Vikings 3 2005: 9-7 (.563%)
New Orleans Saints 3 2002: 9-7 (.563%)
San Francisco 49ers 3 1991: 10-6 (.625%)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 2016: 9-7 (.563%)
Philadelphia Eagles 2 2014: 10-6 (.625%)
Baltimore Ravens 2 2017: 9-7 (.563%)
Houston Texans 2 2014: 9-7 (.563%)
Jacksonville Jaguars 1 2004: 9-7 (.563%)
Carolina Panthers 0 N/A

Teams to make the playoffs with a losing record

In contrast to the 147 teams to have missed the playoffs with a winning record, only four have made the playoffs with a losing one. Two of these teams make the playoffs during the 1982 strike-shortened season, which featured a special 16 team playoff.

Team Year Record
Detroit Lions 1982 4-5 (.444)
Cleveland Browns 1982 4-5 (.444)
Seattle Seahawks 2010 7-9 (.438)
Carolina Panthers 2014 7-8-1 (.469)

Sources and info:

Featured Image: “Game Competition Sport Athletic American Football” from maxpixel.net is CC0 Public Domain

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1967/ (Used this season through the last 2017-18 season)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1968_AFL/index.htm (Used the 1968 and 1969 seasons)

All other charts and tables made using Google Spreadsheet

 

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Comparing every team’s playoff record since 2000 in the four major sports

After taking an individual look at each of the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) it is time to see how all of these team compared to each other in terms of playoff success. This article will look at the every NBA, NFL and NHL season starting with 1999-00 and every MLB season since 2000.

Playoff Appearances and totals for each sport

The graph below shows the total number of playoff appearances for all 123 franchises between the four major sports since the 2000 playoffs.

Number of playoff appearances by each team in the four major sports since 2000

Click here for larger version of the above graph

*Did not count Vegas toward NHL total for at least 5 and 9 playoff appearances in the table below since they have only played one season as a franchise.

Sport At least 1 Playoff App. At least 5 Playoff App. At least 9 Playoff App.
MLB 30/30 (100%) 16/30 (53.33%) 5/30 (16.66%)
NBA 30/30 (100%) 30/30 (100%) 21/30 (70%)
NHL 31/31 (100%) 26/30* (86.67%) 20/30* (66.67%)
NFL 32/32 (100%) 24/32 (75%) 8/32 (25%)

The table below shows the only five teams to have at least 15 playoff appearances since 2000, as well as the Yankees who have the most of any MLB team. While the next table shows all of the teams who have two or fewer playoff appearances.

Team Sport # of Playoff Appearances
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19
Detriot Red Wings NHL 16
San Jose Sharks NHL 16
New England Patriots NFL 15
Dallas Mavericks NBA 15
New York Yankees MLB 14

*The NBA teams with the fewest playoff appearances are the Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New York Knicks with six each.

*Vegas has only played one season. After them, the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have the fewest in the NHL with three appearances.

Team Sport # of Playoff Appearances
Buffalo Bills NFL 2
Kansas City Royals MLB 2
Milwaukee Brewers MLB 2
San Diego Padres MLB 2
Seattle Mariners MLB 2
Toronto Blue Jays MLB 2
Vegas Golden Knights* NHL 1
Miami Marlins MLB 1
Cleveland Browns NFL 1

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Best and worst performing playoff teams since 2000 by game

Out of the 123 teams, only 12 (4 NFL, 4 MLB, 3 NBA 1 NHL) have won at least 60% of there playoff games. In contrast, 13 (8 NFL, 3 MLB, 2 NHL) have won less than 30% of them.

Team Sport # of Playoff App Win % (record)
New England Patriots NFL 15 73% (27-10)
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 71% (22-9)
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 68.1% (77-36)
Baltimore Ravens NFL 10 65.2% (15-8)
Vegas Golden Knights NHL 1 65% (13-7)
Miami Marlins MLB 1 64.7% (11-6)
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 63.8% (97-55)
Chicago White Sox MLB 3 63.2% (12-7)
New York Giants NFL 8 62.5% (10-6)
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 62.1% (123-75)
San Fransico Giants MLB 7 61.5% (48-30)
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 12 60% (15-10)

*Lowest NBA team is the Denver Nuggets at 34.4% win percentage (22-42 record in 10 playoff appearances).

Team Sport # of Playoff App Win % (record)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 29.4% (5-12)
Miami Dolphins NFL 5 28.6% (2-5)
Washington Redskins NFL 5 28.6% (2-5)
Blue Jackets NHL 4 23.8% (5-16)
Dallas Cowboys NFL 7 22.2% (2-7)
Cincinnati Reds MLB 3 22.2% (2-7)
Minnesota Twins MLB 7 21.4% (6-22)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 14.3% (1-6)
Kansa City Chiefs NFL 7 12.5% (1-7)
Cincinnati Bengals NFL 7 0% (0-7)
Detroit Lions NFL 4 0% (0-4)
Buffalo Bills NFL 2 0% (0-2)
Cleveland Browns NFL 1 0% (0-1)

The graph below shows the winning percentage of every single team in this time frame by playoff game.

Percentage of playoff games won in 4 major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) since 2000 playoffs (2000 season for MLB, 1999-00 season for other sports)

Click here to view the larger version of this graph

Team with the most and least total games won in each sport

Team Sport # of Playoff App Games Won Win % (Record)
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 148 59% (148-103)
New England Patriots NFL 15 27 73% (27-10)
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 112 56.3% (112-87)
New York Yankees MLB 14 69 53.1% (69-61)
Team Sport # of Playoff App Games Won Win % (Record)
Cincinnati Bengals NFL 7 0 0% (0-7)
Charlotte Hornets NBA 6 14 36.8% (14-24)
Blue Jackets NHL 4 5 23.8% (5-16)
Detroit Lions NFL 4 0 0% (0-4)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 5 29.4% (5-12)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 1 14.3% (1-6)
Buffalo Bills NFL 2 0 0% (0-2)
Cleveland Browns NFL 1 0 0% (0-1)

Best and worst performing playoff teams by series

Since the NFL does not have playoff series, this next section will only focus on MLB, NBA and NHL teams in terms of their playoff series success. While the NBA and NHL have four rounds of playoff series, MLB only has three. For MLB I did not count the play-in wild-card games towards series wins/losses.

The next two tables below show every team that has won at least 65% of there playoff series and won less than 20% of there playoff series.

Team Sport # of Playoff App Series Win % (record)
Miami Marlins MLB 1 100% (3-0)
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 83.3% (5-1)
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 81% (17-4)
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 78.9% (30-8)
Carolina Hurricanes NHL 4 75% (9-3)
Vegas Golden Knights NHL 1 75% (3-1)
San Fransico Giants MLB 7 73.3% (11-4)
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 72.4% (21-8)
Chicago Blackhawks NHL 10 69.6% (16-7)
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 68.1% (32-15)
Miami Heat NBA 14 67.6% (23-11)
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 67.6% (23-11)
Team Sports # of Playoff App Series Win % (record)
Denver Nuggets NBA 10 16.7% (2-10)
Milwaukee Bucks NBA 10 16.7% (2-10)
Minnesota Twins MLB 7 14.3% (1-6)
Oakland Athletics MLB 8 12.5% (1-7)
New York Islanders NHL 7 12.5% (1-7)
Atlanta Braves MLB 9 11.1% (1-8)
Washington Nationals MLB 4 0% (0-4)
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 4 0% (0-4)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 0% (0-3)
Cincinnati Reds MLB 3 0% (0-2)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 0% (0-2)
Pittsburgh Pirates MLB 3 0% (0-1)

The chart below shows every MLB, NBA and NHL team’s winning percentage by series.

Percentage of playoff series won by MLB, NBA and NHL since 2000

Click here to view larger version of above graph

*Did not count Vegas toward NHL total for at least 5 and 9 playoff series since they have only played one season as a franchise.

Sport At least 1 Series Won At least 5 Series Won At least 10 Series Won
MLB* 26/30 (86.67%) 12/30 (40%) 4/30 (13.33%)
NBA 30/30 (100%) 20/30 (66.67%) 11/30 (36.67%)
NHL 29/31 (93.54%) 22/30 (73.33%) 14/30 (46.67%)

The first table shows the top team in the MLB, NBA, and NHL in terms of playoff series won. Meanwhile, the next table shows the bottom teams in each of these sports in terms of series won.

Team Sport # of Playoff App Series Won Series % (Record)
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 23 67.6% (23-11)
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 30 78.9% (30-8)
St. Louis Cardinals MLB 12 15 60% (15-10)
Team Sport # of Playoff App Series Won Series % (Record)
Charlotte Hornets NBA 6 2 25% (2-6)
Minnesota Timberwolves NBA 6 2 25% (2-6)
New Orleans Pelicans NBA 7 2 22.2% (2-7)
Denver Nuggets NBA 10 2 16.7% (2-10)
Milwaukee Bucks NBA 10 2 16.7% (2-10)
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 4 0 0% (0-4)
Florida Panthers NHL 3 0 0% (0-3)
Washington Nationals MLB 4 0 0% (0-4)
Cincinnati Reds MLB 3 0 0% (0-2)
San Diego Padres MLB 2 0 0% (0-2)
Pittsburgh Pirates MLB 3 0 0% (0-1)

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Playoff sweeps

In the time frame of this article, these have been a total of 116 playoff sweeps between the NBA (53), NHL (31) and MLB (32). Eight of the 91 teams in these three sports have accounted for 46 (41.07%) of these sweeps.

Team Sport # of Playoff App # of Sweeps # of times Swept
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 10 2
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 7 2
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 7 3
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 5 0
Anaheim Ducks NHL 12 5 1
Detroit Red Wings NHL 16 4 1
Miami Heat NBA 14 4 2
Boston Red Sox MLB 9 4 3

On the opposite side of the spectrum, only ten teams have been swept at least three times. However, no NHL has been swept more than two times. These ten teams account for 36 (31.03%) of these sweeps.

Team Sport # of Playoff App # of times Swept # of Sweeps
Memphis Grizzlies NBA 10 5 0
Toronto Raptors NBA 10 4 0
Atlanta Hawks NBA 10 4 0
Portland Trail Blazers NBA 12 4 0
Detroit Pistons NBA 10 4 1
Chicago Cubs MLB 6 3 0
Minnesota Twins MLB 7 3 0
Arizona Diamondbacks
MLB 5 3 1
Los Angeles Angels MLB 7 3 1
Boston Red Sox MLB 9 3 4

The table below compares sweeps in each sport, as well as how many teams have yet to sweep or be swept.

Sport Teams to sweep opp Teams to be swept
Teams neither sweep or been swept
MLB 19/30 19/30 5/30
NBA 18/30 24/30 2/30
NHL 17/31 23/31 3/31

Conference Championships and Championships

The table below shows how each sport compares in terms of what percentage of there teams have appeared in a conference championship, championship and won a championship.

Sport Conf. Champ App. Champ App. Champ Won
MLB 26/30 (86.67%) 19/30 (63.33) 12/30 (40%)
NBA 26/30 (86.67%) 13/32 (40.62%) 8/32 (25%)
NHL 28/31 (90.32%) 21/31 (67.74%) 11/31 (35.48%)
NFL 23/32 (71.87%) 19/32 (59.37%) 12/32 (37.5%)

Between the 123 teams in the four major sports, only 17 have appeared in at least five conference championship games. The New England Patriots led the way with 12 appearances and eight wins.

Team Sport Conf Champ. App Won Lost
New England Patriots NFL 12 8 4
San Antonio Spurs NBA 9 5 4
St. Louis Cardinals MLB 9 4 5
New York Yankees MLB 8 4 4
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 7 7 0
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 6 5 1
Miami Heat NBA 6 5 1
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 6 4 2
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 6 3 3
Philadelphia Eagles NFL 6 2 4
Boston Celtics NBA 6 2 4
Detroit Pistons NBA 6 2 4
Boston Red Sox MLB 5 3 2
Chicago Blackhawks NHL 5 3 2
Anaheim Ducks NHL 5 2 3
Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 5 2 3
Los Angeles Dodgers MLB 5 1 4

There have also been ten teams to appear in multiple conference championship games without losing one with the Los Angeles Lakers being an impressive 7-0. On the flipside, there have been ten teams to appear in multiple conference championship games and not win one.

Team Sport Conf Champ. App Won Lost
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 7 7 0
Golden State Warriors NBA 4 4 0
San Francisco Giants MLB 4 4 0
New Jersey Devils NHL 4 4 0
New York Giants NFL 3 3 0
Seattle Seahawks NFL 3 3 0
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 2 0
Boston Bruins NHL 2 2 0
Texas Rangers MLB 2 2 0
Los Angeles Rams NFL 2 2 0
Team Sport Conf Champ. App Won Lost
Minnesota Vikings NFL 3 0 3
Phoenix Suns NBA 3 0 3
Buffalo Sabres NHL 2 0 2
Houston Rockets NBA 2 0 2
Jacksonville Jaguars NFL 2 0 2
New York Jets NFL 2 0 2
Montreal Canadiens NHL 2 0 2
Seattle Mariners MLB 2 0 2
St. Louis Blues NHL 2 0 2
Toronto Blue Jays MLB 2 0 2

Every team to win multiple championships

Team Sport Playoff App Champ App. Champ Record Game record
New England Patriots NFL 15 8 5-3 5-3
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 13 7 5-2 23-15
San Antonio Spurs NBA 19 5 4-1 19-10
Miami Heat NBA 14 5 3-2 15-14
Golden State Warriors NBA 7 4 3-1 15-7
Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 14 4 3-1 14-11
San Francisco Giants MLB 7 4 3-1 15-8
Boston Red Sox MLB 9 3 3-0 12-2
Chicago Blackhawks NHL 10 3 3-0 12-6
New York Yankees MLB 14 4 2-2 13-11
New Jersey Devils NHL 12 4 2-2 13-13
St. Louis Cardinals MLB 12 4 2-2 10-12
Detroit Red Wings NHL 16 3 2-1 11-7
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 12 3 2-1 2-1
New York Giants NFL 8 3 2-1 2-1
Baltimore Ravens NFL 10 3 2-0 2-0
Los Angeles Kings NHL 10 3 2-0 8-3

Every team with one championship

Team Sport Playoff App Champ App Champ Record Game Record
Cleveland Cavaliers NBA 9 5 1-4 7-19
Seattle Seahawks NFL 12 3 1-2 1-2
Dallas Mavericks NBA 15 2 1-1 6-6
Boston Celtics NBA 14 2 1-1 7-6
Indianapolis Colts NFL 14 2 1-1 1-1
Anaheim Ducks NHL 12 2 1-1 7-5
Boston Bruins NHL 12 2 1-1 6-7
Philadelphia Eagles NFL 11 2 1-1 1-1
Detroit Pistons NBA 10 2 1-1 7-5
Denver Broncos NFL 9 2 1-1 1-1
Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 9 2 1-1 6-7
Los Angeles Rams NFL 6 2 1-1 1-1
Philadelphia Phillies MLB 5 2 1-1 6-5
Houston Astros MLB 5 2 1-1 4-7
Carolina Hurricanes NHL 4 2 1-1 5-7
Kansas City Royals MLB 2 2 1-1 7-5
Green Bay Packers NFL 13 1 1-0 1-0
Washington Capitals NHL 13 1 1-0 4-1
Colorado Avalanche NHL 10 1 1-0 4-3
Los Angeles Angels NFL 7 1 1-0 4-3
New Orleans Saints NFL 7 1 1-0 1-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL 6 1 1-0 1-0
Chicago Cubs MLB 6 1 1-0 4-3
Arizona Diamondbacks MLB 5 1 1-0 4-3
Chicago White Sox MLB 3 1 1-0 4-0
Miami Marlins MLB 1 1 1-0 4-2

Teams with no championship

Team Sport Playoff App Champ App Champ Record Game Record
Brooklyn Nets NBA 9 2 0-2 2-8
Carolina Panthers NFL 7 2 0-2 0-2
Detroit Tigers MLB 5 2 0-2 1-8
Texas Rangers MLB 5 2 0-2 4-8
New York Mets MLB 4 2 0-2 2-8
San Jose Sharks NHL 16 1 0-1 2-4
Philadelphia Flyers NHL 14 1 0-1 2-4
Indiana Pacers NBA 14 1 0-1 2-4
Ottawa Senators NHL 13 1 0-1 1-4
Nashville Predators NHL 11 1 0-1 2-4
New York Rangers NHL 11 1 0-1 1-4
Vancouver Canucks NHL 11 1 0-1 3-4
Oklahoma City Thunder NBA 11 1 0-1 1-4
Philadelphia 76ers NBA 10 1 0-1 1-4
Orlando Magic NBA 9 1 0-1 1-4
Los Angeles Dodgers MLB 9 1 0-1 3-4
Dallas Stars NHL 9 1 0-1 2-4
Atlanta Falcons NFL 8 1 0-1 0-1
Calgary Flames NHL 7 1 0-1 3-4
Tennessee Titans NFL 7 1 0-1 0-1
Edmonton Oilers NHL 5 1 0-1 3-4
San Francisco 49ers NFL 5 1 0-1 0-1
Cleveland Indians MLB 5 1 0-1 3-4
Tampa Bay Rays MLB 4 1 0-1 1-4
Arizona Cardinals NFL 4 1 0-1 0-1
Chicago Bears NFL 4 1 0-1 0-1
Oakland Raiders NFL 4 1 0-1 0-1
Colorado Rockies MLB 3 1 0-1 0-4
Vegas Golden Knights NHL 1 1 0-1 1-4

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: Featured Image: “Sports” by Charly W. Karl is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/index.htm (Used to get playoff information for each team)

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/

https://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/index.html

https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/

https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)

Used Google Spreadsheet to make charts and tables

 

Every NFL team’s playoff record since the 1999-00 season

Which NFL teams have performed the best and which have underachieved in the playoffs this century? Who has the most playoff appearances and who has the least? All of these questions will be answered as this article takes a look at each team’s playoff history over the last 19 postseasons (1999-2000 to 2017-18).

Every NFL’s team playoff record

Below is a table of every NFL teams playoff and Super Bowl records, as well as their number of playoff and Super Bowl appearances. It is sorted based on the number of playoff appearances that each team has.

Team Playoff App Record (%) SB App Super Bowls Rec
New England Patriots 15 27-10 (73%) 8 5-3
Indianapolis Colts 14 12-13 (48%) 2 1-1
Green Bay Packers 13 12-12 (50%) 1 1-0
Pittsburgh Steelers 12 15-10 (60%) 3 2-1
Seattle Seahawks 12 13-11 (54.2%) 3 1-2
Philadelphia Eagles 11 13-10 (56.5%) 2 1-1
Baltimore Ravens 10 15-8 (65.2%) 2 2-0
Denver Broncos 9 7-8 (46.7%) 2 1-1
New York Giants 8 10-6 (62.5%) 3 2-1
Atlanta Falcons 8 6-8 (42.9%) 1 0-1
Minnesota Vikings 8 5-8 (38.5%) 0 N/A
New Orleans Saints 7 8-6 (57.1%) 1 1-0
Carolina Panthers 7 8-7 (53.3%) 2 0-2
Tennessee Titans 7 6-7 (46.2%) 1 0-1
Dallas Cowboys 7 2-7 (22.2%) 0 N/A
Kansas City Chiefs 7 1-7 (12.5%) 0 N/A
Cincinnati Bengals 7 0-7 (0%) 0 N/A
Los Angeles Rams 6 6-5 (54.5%) 2 1-1
New York Jets 6 6-6 (50%) 0 N/A
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 4-5 (44.4%) 1 1-0
Los Angeles Chargers 6 4-6 (40%) 0 N/A
San Francisco 49ers 5 6-5 (54.5%) 1 0-1
Miami Dolphins 5 2-5 (28.6%) 0 N/A
Washington Redskins 5 2-5 (28.6%) 0 N/A
Arizona Cardinals 4 5-4 (55.6%) 1 0-1
Oakland Raiders 4 4-4 (50%) 1 0-1
Jacksonville Jaguars 4 4-4 (50%) 0 N/A
Chicago Bears 4 3-4 (42.9%) 1 0-1
Houston Texans 4 3-4 (42.9%) 0 N/A
Detroit Lions 4 0-4 (0%) 0 N/A
Buffalo Bills 2 0-2 (0%) 0 N/A
Cleveland Browns 1 0-1 (0%) 0 N/A

All 32 teams have made the playoffs at least four times except for the Buffalo Bills (2) and the Cleveland Browns (1). The New England Patriots have made the playoffs 15 (78.94%) out of a possible 19 times this century. They missed the playoffs the first two years (1999-00 & 2000-01), which was Pete Carroll’s last year as head coach and Bill Belichick’s first.

The Patriots and Colts have as many or more playoff appearances this century then ten other NFL franchises. Seven franchises have as many or more playoff appearances this century than the Cardinals (10) have in their entire 98-year history.

Minnesota has the most playoff appearances this century (8) without a Super Bowl appearance, while the New York Jets have the most playoff wins (6) of any team without an appearance in the big game.

Playoff Winning Percentage for every team (1999-00 to 2017-18)
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Best and worst performing playoff teams this century

Over the 19 playoffs that have taken place so far this century only four teams have won at least 60% of their games. At 73% the Patriots are out in front of everyone else. This is along with that fact that their 27 wins this century is more than all but four franchises (49ers, Cowboys, Packers, Steelers) have in their entire histories.

Team Playoff App Record (%)
New England Patriots 15 27-10 (73%)
Baltimore Ravens 10 15-8 (65.2%)
New York Giants 8 10-6 (62.5%)
Pittsburgh Steelers 12 15-10 (60%)
Kansas City Chiefs 7 1-7 (12.5%)
Cincinnati Bengals 7 0-7 (0%)
Detroit Lions 4 0-4 (0%)
Buffalo Bills 2 0-2 (0%)
Cleveland Browns 1 0-1 (0%)

On the other end of the spectrum are the Bengals, who are 0-7 this century, making them one of four NFL franchises to have not won a playoff game this century. It has been 27 seasons since they won a playoff game, with the Lions (26), Bills (22) and Browns (20) right behind them. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have lost an NFL-record six straight playoff games at home.
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Super Bowls

Uncoincidentally, the four teams to have at least a 60% win rate in the playoffs are also the only ones to win at least two Super Bowls this century. New England has once again dominated in this area with eight (42.10%) of the AFC’s Super Bowl appearances and five (26.31%) of the league’s Super Bowl titles.

In fact, the top five AFC teams (Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, and Broncos) combined have 17 (89.47%) of the AFC’s 19 Super Bowl appearances. For contrast, the top five NFC teams (Giants, Seahawks, Eagles, Rams, Panthers) have 12 (63.15%) Super Bowl appearances between them.

Team SB App Super Bowls Rec
New England Patriots 8 5-3
Pittsburgh Steelers 3 2-1
New York Giants 3 2-1
Seattle Seahawks 3 1-2
Baltimore Ravens 2 2-0
Philadelphia Eagles 2 1-1
Denver Broncos 2 1-1
Indianapolis Colts 2 1-1
Los Angeles Rams 2 1-1
Carolina Panthers 2 0-2
Green Bay Packers 1 1-0
New Orleans Saints 1 1-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 1-0
Atlanta Falcons 1 0-1
San Francisco 49ers 1 0-1
Arizona Cardinals 1 0-1
Chicago Bears 1 0-1
Oakland Raiders 1 0-1
Tennessee Titans 1 0-1

The Carolina Panthers hold the distinction of being the only team to be 0-2 in Super Bowls this century. Meanwhile, the Rams have the least playoff wins of any team to have been in two Super Bowls with six, just ahead of Denver’s seven. Chicago has the least playoffs wins of any team to make a Super Bowl this century with only three.
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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “NFL Playoffs format bracket” by WClarke is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/index.htm (Used to get playoff information for each team)

https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)

The rarity of Cavs-Warriors IV in sports

Game one of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors tips off tonight. With that in mind, let’s take a look into the historical rareness of the same two teams meeting for a fourth consecutive season to play each other for a championship.

NBA

This is the 14th time in NBA history that the same two teams have met in the Finals for at least two consecutive seasons. The Cavaliers and Warriors are the first to ever meet three (and four) times in a row for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Teams Years Result
Minneapolis Lakers v. New York Knicks (2) 1952-53 Lakers 2-0
Boston Celtics v. St. Louis Hawks (2) 1957-58 Split 1-1
Boston Celtics v. St. Louis Hawks (2) 1960-61 Celtics 2-0
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1962-63 Celtics 2-0
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1965-66 Celtics 2-0
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1968-69 Celtics 2-0
Los Angeles Lakers v. New York Knicks (2) 1972-73 Split 1-1
Seattle Supersonics v. Washington Bullets (2) 1978-79 Split 1-1
Los Angeles Lakers v. Philadelphia 76ers (2) 1982-83 Split 1-1
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1984-85 Split 1-1
Detroit Pistons v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1988-89 Split 1-1
Chicago Bulls v. Utah Jazz (2) 1997-98 Bulls 2-0
Miami Heat v. San Antonio Spurs (2) 2013-14 Split 1-1
Cleveland Cavaliers v. Golden State Warriors (4) 2015-18 Warriors 2-1

NFL

In the NFL, there have only been eight times where the same two teams met in the Championship Game consecutive times. Since the Super Bowl era started in 1967, it has only happened once.

Teams Years Result
Chicago Bears v. New York Giants (2) 1933-34 Split 1-1
Green Bay Packers v. New York Giants (2) 1938-39 Split 1-1
Chicago Bears v. Washington Redskins (2) 1942-43 Split 1-1
Cleveland Browns v. Los Angeles Rams (2) 1950-51 Split 1-1
Cleveland Browns v. Detroit Lions (3) 1952-54 Lions 2-1
Baltimore Colts v. New York Giants (2) 1958-59 Colts 2-0
Green Bay Packers v. New York Giants (2) 1961-62 Packers 2-0
Buffalo Bills v. Dallas Cowboys (2) 1993-94 Cowboys 2-0

MLB

There have been nine times in baseball history that two teams played each other consecutive years in the World Series. However, it has only happened only since 1960 and last took place four decades ago.

Teams Years Result
Chicago Cubs v. Detroit Tigers (2) 1907-08 Cubs 2-0
New York Giants v. New York Yankees (3) 1921-23 Giants 2-1
Philadelphia Athletics v. St. Louis Cardinals (2) 1930-31 Split 1-1
New York Giants v. New York Yankees (2) 1936-37 Yankees 2-0
New York Yankees v. St. Louis Cardinals (2) 1942-43 Split 1-1
Brooklyn Dodgers v. New York Yankees (2) 1952-53 Yankees 2-0
Brooklyn Dodgers v. New York Yankees (2) 1955-56 Split 1-1
Milwaukee Braves v. New York Yankees (2) 1957-58 Split 1-1
Los Angeles Dodgers v. New York Yankees (2) 1977-78 Yankees 2-0

NHL

The NHL has seen eight teams meet at least back-to-back times to play for the Stanley Cup. However, it has only happened once in the last four decades.

Teams Years Result
New York Rangers v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1932-33 Split 1-1
Detroit Red Wings v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1948-49 Leafs 2-0
Detroit Red Wings v. Montreal Canadiens (3) 1954-56 Red Wings 2-1
Montreal Canadiens v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1959-60 Canadiens 2-0
Detroit Red Wings v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1963-64 Leafs 2-0
Montreal Canadiens v. St. Louis Blues (2) 1968-69 Canadiens 2-0
Boston Bruins v. Montreal Canadiens (2) 1977-78 Canadiens 2-0
Detroit Red Wings v. Pittsburgh Penguins (2) 2008-09 Split 1-1

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Three-peat matchups in the big four

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meeting for a fourth straight time is truly historical among the combined histories of the four major North American sports.

It is not a surprise that the NBA was the first league to do so. Since 1980 there have been six times in the NBA two teams played each other back-to-back years for the championship. In the MLB, NFL and NHL combined it has happened twice in that same span.

Teams Sport Years Result
New York Giants v. New York Yankees MLB (3) 1921-23 Giants 2-1
Cleveland Browns v. Detroit Lions NFL (3) 1952-54 Lions 2-1
Detroit Red Wings v. Montreal Canadiens NHL (3) 1954-56 Red Wings 2-1
Cleveland Cavaliers v. Golden State Warriors NBA (4) 2015-18 Warriors 2-1

Four-peat matchups in other sports

While the Cavaliers and Warriors meeting for a four straight time is historical among the four major North American sports, how often has it happened in sports in general? I took a look at championship matchups in various other professional, Olympic and college sports to see if anything like this had occurred before.

Players/Teams Sport/Event Event Year/Span Result
USA v. Canada Hockey World Championships Met in 4 straight gold medal games 1931-34 Championships* 3-1 Canada
USA v. Soviet Union Olympic Men’s Basketball Met in 4 straight gold medal games 1952, 56, 60 and 64 Olympics 4-0 USA
S.Williams v. V.Williams Women’s Singles Tennis Met in 4 straight majors 2002 French Open to 2003 Aus Open 4-0 S. Williams
Mount Union v. Wisconsin-Whitewater Division III College Football Met in 7 straight championship games 2005-2011 4-3 Wisconsin
Djokovic v. Nadal Men’s Singles Tennis Met in 4 straight majors 2011 Wimbledon to 2012 French Open 3-1 Djokovic
Cavaliers v. Warriors NBA Met in 4 straight NBA Finals 2014-15 to 2017-18 2-1 Warriors

*The 1932 Winter Olympic’s Ice Hockey Tournament also counted as the World Championship

List of all sports/leagues checked:

Soccer: MLSWorld Cup, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League

Basketball: NBLABAG-League, WNBAEuroLeague, EuroLeague WomenFIBA World Championship

Baseball: Japan Championship Series, Baseball World Cup, World Baseball Classic

Hockey: WHAMemorial Cup Champions (CHL)KHL (Gagarin Cup)World Championships

Football: AAFC, AFL, CFL, Arena League

Tennis: Men & Women’s Singles in majors

Lacrosse: National Lacrosse League

Cricket: ICC Champions Trophy

Darts: World Professional Darts Championship

Summer Olympics: Men & Women’s Singles Tennis, Men & Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men and Women’s Soccer

Winter Olympics: Men & Women’s Hockey, Men & Women’s Curling

College Sports (Division I): Football (BCS) (Playoff) (FCS), Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Hockey, Women’s Hockey, Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer

College Sports (D II): Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s HockeyMen’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer

College Sports (D III): Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Hockey, Women’s HockeyMen’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer

College Sports (NAIA): Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Hockey, Men’s Soccer
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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “SD attends NBA Finals” by James N. Mattis is licensed under CC BY-2.0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NFL_champions_(1920%E2%80%931969)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Super_Bowl_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Series_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Stanley_Cup_champions

Quarterbacks selected in the top five of the NFL Draft since 2002

This past weekend saw the 83rd NFL Draft take place, which saw a record number of quarterbacks be taken in the first-round. Two of these quarterbacks were taken with the top five picks in the draft. The Cleveland Browns took Baker Mayfield with the first pick and the New York Jets selected Sam Darnold with the third pick.

This makes it a great time to look back and see how quarterbacks selected in the top five (starting with the 2002 NFL Draft) have fared. During this period there have been 21 quarterbacks taken in the top five not counting the 2018 draft.

Stats

Let’s start with looking at each quarterbacks stats compared to each other in terms of quarterback rating, completion, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and interceptions.

Bolded quarterbacks are retired

QB Draft (pick) GP/GS QB Rate Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
D.Carr 2002 (1) 94/79 74.9 1353 2267 59.70% 14,452 65 71
J.Harrington 2002 (3) 81/76 69.4 1424 2538 56.10% 14,693 79 85
C.Palmer 2003 (1) 182/181 87.9 3941 6307 62.50% 46,247 294 187
E.Manning 2004 (1) 216/214 83.5 4424 7369 59.80% 51,682 339 228
P.Rivers 2004 (4) 196/192 94.8 4171 6492 64.20% 50,348 342 166
A.Smith 2005 (1) 156/151 87.4 2877 4613 62.40% 31,888 183 96
V.Young 2006 (3) 60/50 74.4 755 1304 57.90% 8,964 46 51
J.Russell 2007 (1) 31/25 65.2 354 680 52.10% 4,083 18 23
M.Ryan 2008 (3) 158/158 93.4 3630 5593 64.90% 41,769 260 126
M.Stafford 2009 (1) 125/125 88.3 3005 4850 62.00% 34,479 216 118
M.Sanchez 2009 (5) 77/72 73.9 1295 2285 56.70% 15,219 86 86
S.Bradford 2010 (1) 80/80 85.1 1805 2887 62.50% 19,049 101 57
C.Newton 2011 (1) 109/108 85.3 2001 3420 58.50% 25,074 158 94
A.Luck 2012 (1) 70/70 87.3 1570 2651 59.20% 19,078 132 87
RG III 2012 (2) 42/40 88.4 766 1210 63.30% 8.983 42 26
B.Bortles 2014 (3) 62/61 80.8 1318 2229 59.10% 14,928 90 64
J.Winston 2015 (1) 45/45 87.2 939 1544 60.80% 11,636 69 44
M.Mariota 2015 (2) 42/42 88.6 787 1274 61.80% 9,476 58 34
J.Goff 2016 (1) 22/22 89.4 408 682 59.80% 4,893 33 14
C.Wentz 2016 (2) 29/29 88.8 644 1047 61.50% 7,078 49 21
M.Trubisky 2017 (2) 12/12 77.5 186 330 59.40% 2,193 7 7

Eli Manning has started and played the most games. He also has the most completions, attempts, passing yards and interceptions. Meanwhile, Philip Rivers has the highest quarterback rating and most passing touchdowns. Matt Ryan has the highest compleition percentage.

Jared Goff has the highest TD to Int ratio (2.35), followed by Carson Wentz (2.33). However, both of them have only played two seasons so it is unlikely either will stay that high. Rivers and Ryan are after them, with a TD/Int ratio of 2.06.

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QB Record, comebacks, and game-winning drives

Quarterbacks, more so then arguably any other position in professional team sports, are judged based on the performance of their team. They are also looked towards to lead their team in crunch time at the end of games.

QB Record (Win %) Comebacks GW Drives Playoff Rec P CB P GWD
D.Carr 23-56 (.291%) 7 11 0-0 0 0
J.Harrington 26-50 (.342%) 6 7 0-0 0 0
C.Palmer 92-88-1 (.511%) 22 35 1-3 (.250%) 1 1
E.Manning 111-103 (.519%) 26 35 8-4 (.667%) 4 5
P.Rivers 106-86 (.552%) 23 27 4-5 (.444%) 1 1
A.Smith 88-62-1 (.586%) 18 22 2-5 (.286%) 1 1
V.Young 31-19 (.620%) 7 13 0-1 (.000%) 0 0
J.Russell 7-18 (.280%) 3 4 0-0 0 0
M.Ryan 95-63 (.601%) 26 35 4-6 (.400%) 1 1
M.Stafford 60-65 (.480%) 26 32 0-3 (.000%) 0 0
M.Sanchez 37-35 (.514%) 8 10 4-2 (.667%) 2 2
S.Bradford 34-45-1 (.431%) 7 8 0-0 0 0
C.Newton 62-45-1 (.579%) 13 15 3-4 (.429%) 0 0
A.Luck 43-27 (.614%) 13 17 3-3 (.500%) 1 1
RG III 15-25 (.375%) 4 5 0-1 (.000%) 0 0
B.Bortles 21-40 (.344%) 6 7 2-1 (.667%) 0 0
J.Winston 18-27 (.400%) 5 8 0-0 0 0
M.Mariota 20-22 (.476%) 7 8 1-1 (.500%) 1 1
J.Goff 11-11 (.500%) 1 1 0-1 (.000%) 0 0
C.Wentz 18-11 (.621%) 2 2 0-0 0 0
M.Trubisky 4-8 (.333%) 0 1 0-0 0 0

Out of the all the quarterbacks taken in the top five since 2002, only Carson Wentz (.621%), Vince Young (,620%), Andrew Luck (.614%) and Matt Ryan (.601%) have won over 60% of their games. However, a quarterback alone doesn’t make a winning team as 11 of these 21 quarterbacks have losing records.

Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford have the most comebacks (26). Manning, Ryan and Carson Palmer all have the most game-winning drives (35).

32 (53%) of Stafford’s 60 wins have involved a game-winning drive. 26 (43%) have been due to comebacks that he has helped orchestrate.

Only four quarterbacks (Manning, Sanchez, Bortles, and Luck) have non-losing records in the playoffs. In the playoffs, Manning has 8 playoff wins, 4 comebacks, and 5 game-winning drives. The other 20 quarterbacks have a combined 24 wins, 8 comebacks and 7 game-winning drives.

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Awards and Honors

Finally, how do quarterbacks who have been taken in the top five spots of the draft since 2002 stack up in terms of the honors they have been awarded?

POW: Player of the Week

OROY: Offensive Rookie of the Year

All-Rook: NFL All-Rookie Team

CPOY: Comeback Player of the Year

OPOY: Offensive Player of the Year.

QB POW OROY All-Rook CPOY OPOY Pro Bowl AP All-Pro MVP SB SB MVP
D.Carr 0 No Yes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.Harrington 1 No No 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C.Palmer 3 No No 0 0 3 1 0 0 0
E.Manning 4 No No 0 0 4 0 0 2 2
P.Rivers 9 No No 0 0 7 0 0 0 0
A.Smith 2 No No 0 0 3 0 0 0 0
V.Young 2 Yes Yes 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
J.Russell 0 No No 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
M.Ryan 8 Yes Yes 0 1 4 1 1 0 0
M.Stafford 1 No No 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
M.Sanchez 1 No Yes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S.Bradford 1 Yes Yes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C.Newton 9 Yes Yes 0 1 3 1 1 0 0
A.Luck 4 No No 0 0 3 0 0 0 0
RG III 2 Yes Yes 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
B.Bortles 0 No No 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.Winston 1 No Yes 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
M.Mariota 3 No No 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.Goff 1 No No 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
C.Wentz 2 No No 0 0 1 1 0 1 0
M.Trubisky 0 No No 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Vince Young, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III are the only top five quarterbacks to make the NFL’s All-Rookie Team and be named Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Newton and Ryan are the only MVP winners in this group, while Matthew Stafford is the only one to win Comeback Player of the Year. Eli Manning has more Super Bowls (2 to 1) and Super Bowl MVPs (2 to 0) then the other 20 quarterbacks combined.

Jetpack

Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Eli Manning” by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/draft-finder.cgi (use to see which quarterbacks were drafted in the top five since 2002 and see their profiles)

https://www.footballdb.com/leaders/career-passing-tdintratio (used to find TD-to-Int ratio for QBs)

https://www.footballdb.com/stats/qb-records.html?type=reg&alltime=1 (Use to find winning percentage for QBs)

Charts make using Google Spreadsheets

Looking back at the careers of Jason Witten and Jay Cutler

Today, it was reported by ESPN that their sources told them legendary Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten would be retiring. While his decision is not officially final, it seems like the end the line for one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history as he will join ESPN as a Monday Night Football analyst.

Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport reported that former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler would be retiring. In his 12 year career, Cutler has been at the center of a love/hate relationship with fans due to his on-field play and demeanor. With both players seemingly calling it a career, let’s take a look to see where they rank statistically in NFL history using Pro Football Reference.

Jason Witten 

In his 15 year career, Jason Witten has proven to be one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL. A third-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Tennesse, he has proven to be a reliable target for the likes of Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, and Dak Prescott.

He has made the Pro Bowl 11 times in his career and was honored as the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2012. Witten has also been named to two AP All-Pro 1st teams and two AP All-Pro 2nd teams.

Category Stats Ranks among Cowboys Ranks among all TE Ranks among all receivers
Games played 239 1  2 *7
Games started 229 1  2  2
Receptions 1,152 1 2 4
Receiving yards 12,448 1 2 21
TD 68 3 *5 T-46
Pro Bowls 11 *T-1 2 T-3

*Pro Bowls: Tied with Bob Lily

*Games played: Not counting Trey Junkin, who was primarily a long snapper.

*TD: Not counting Harold Carmichael who mostly played receiver

Witten is also one of the few players to rank in the top 30 all-time for receiving yards while having played his entire career for one team.

Bolded players are still playing, italicized players are in Hall of Fame

Player Team Rank Yards
Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals 3 15,454
Marvin Harrison Colts 9 14,580
Reggie Wayne Colts 10 14,345
Steve Largent Seahawks 18 13,089
Jason Witten Cowboys 21 12,448
Hines Ward Steelers 25 12,083
Michael Irvin Cowboys 27 11,904
Calvin Johnson Lions 29 11,619
Antonio Gates Chargers 30 11,508

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Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler was a first-round pick by the Denver Broncos in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt. He spent three years with the team, making the Pro Bowl in 2008, He was then traded to the Chicago Bears, spending eight up-and-down seasons there.

Cutler made his only career playoff appearance in 2010 with the team. He then briefly retired after being released by the Bears before unretiring to spend last season with the Miami Dolphins.

Category Career Stats *Ranks among Bears Ranks among all QB
Games played 153 17 71
QB Rating 85.3 *1 T-33
Completions 3048 1 24
Attempts 4920 1 28
Comp % 62.00% *1 T-24
Pass yards 35,133 1 27
Pass TD 227 1 31
Interceptions 160 2 T-53
Yards per attempt 7.1 *5 T-68
Yards per game 229.6 *1 31
Wins 74 1 57
Game winning drives 28 1 T-20
Comebacks 23 1 T-19

*Rank among Bears only counts stats Cutler accumulated with Chicago

*Only counts players with minimum of 300 career pass attempts with Bears

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Sources and info:

Featured Image: “Jason Witten” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WittJa00.htm (Witten’s career stats)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/rec_yds_career.htm (Cowboys career leaders in receiving)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/pro_bowls_career.htm (Pro Bowls for all players)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/CutlJa00.htm (Cutler’s career stats)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/chi/career-passing.htm (Bears career leaders in passing)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/ (Career leaders for passing and receiving)

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi (Used to find comparisons for Witten and Cutler to other players)

Graphs made using Google Spreadsheets

Looking back at NFL Drafts that had at least 4 QBs taken in the first round

The 2018 NFL Draft is today and it is not out of the question that four quarterbacks could be taken in the first round. All four teams picking in the top five (Browns pick 1 and 4) are in need of a quarterback.

There is also the chance that teams like the Bills, Dolphins or  Cardinals all could make a move to take a quarterback in the first round. However, what does history say regarding how first rounds with this many quarterbacks taken has turned out.

The 1949 NFL Draft

The 1949 NFL Draft was the first to have four quarterbacks get taken, with all being selected in the top ten. Detriot took John Rauch with the second pick, Green Bay took Stan Heath (5), the Rams took Bobby Thomason (7) and Philadelphia took Frank Tripucka (9).

Player (pick #) GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
John Rauch 27/3 53.5 70 170 41.20% 959 8 9
Stan Heath 12/1 4.6 26 106 24.50% 355 1 14
Bobby Thomason 85/44 62.9 687 1346 51.00% 9480 68 90
Frank Tripukca 75/56 52.2 879 1745 50.40% 10282 69 124

Heath only lasted one year in the NFL, while Rauch stuck around for three seasons. Tripucka never managed in the NFL, lasting four seasons. However, following an eight-year hiatus from the sport, he found some success in the AFL with the Broncos. He was their starter for three seasons and made one Pro Bowl.

Thomason was the most successful QB out of this group. After two seasons with the Rams and one with the Packers. He had a successful six-year stint with the Eagles, making three Pro Bowls. In 1953, he had the first 400-yard passing game in Eagles history. At the time, it was only the seventh 400-yard game in NFL history.

The 1983 NFL Draft

It would not be until the fabled 1983 NFL Draft that at least four quarterbacks would be taken in the first round. The Colts took John Elway with the No. 1 pick and then the Chiefs took Todd Blackledge with the seventh pick. Buffalo then selected Jim Kelly (14), the Patriots took Tony Eason (15), the Jets took Ken O’Brien (24) and Miami picked Dan Marino (27).

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
John Elway 234/231 79.9 4123 7250 56.90% 51475 300 226
Todd Blackledge 46/29 60.2 424 881 48.10% 5286 29 38
Jim Kelly 160/160 84.4 2874 4779 60.10% 35467 237 175
Tony Eason 90/51 79.7 911 1564 58.20% 11142 61 51
Ken O’Brien 129/110 80.4 2110 3602 58.60% 25094 128 98
Dan Marino 242/240 86.4 4967 8358 59.40% 61361 420 252
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP Hall of Fame
John Elway 10 9 3 0 1 2/1 Yes
Todd Blackledge 1 0 0 0 0 0/0 No
Jim Kelly 8 5 2 0 0 0/0 Yes
Tony Eason 2 0 0 0 0 0/0 No
Ken O’Brien 3 2 0 0 0 0/0 No
Dan Marino 10 9 6 1 1 0/0 Yes

*All-Pro means they made the Associated Press (AP) 1st or 2nd team

*OPOY stands for Offensive Player of the Year

*Playoff App only counts years the QB started in the playoffs

Blackledge is the bust of this group, spending five seasons struggling with the Chiefs before becoming a backup in Pittsburg. Eason led New England to the playoffs twice in his three primary seasons as the starting quarterback. O’Brien made the Pro Bowl twice and led the Jets to three playoff appearances but is overshadowed by his contemporaries.

Kelly spent his first two seasons in the USFL after declining to play for the Bills, winning the league’s MVP award his rookie season. Eventually, he joined the Bills once the USFL folded, famously leading them to the Super Bowl four straight seasons.

Marino spent his entire career with the Dolphins, where he set season and career NFL passing records for yards and touchdowns. Elway never played for the Colts, as he was traded to Denver. Spending his entire career with the team, they made five Super Bowl appearances, winning two of them in back-to-back seasons.

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The 1987 NFL Draft

With the first pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Vinny Testaverde. The Cardinals then took Kelly Stouffer (6), Atlanta selected Chris Miller (13) and the Bears took Jim Harbaugh (26).

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
Vinny Testaverde 233/214 75.0 3787 6701 56.50% 46233 275 267
Kelly Stouffer 22/16 54.5 225 437 51.50% 2333 7 19
Chris Miller 98/92 74.9 1580 2892 54.60% 19320 123 102
Jim Harbaugh 177/140 77.6 2305 3918 58.80% 26288 129 117
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP
Vinny Testaverde 3 2 0 0 0 0/0
Kelly Stouffer 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Chris Miller 1 1 0 0 0 0/0
Jim Harbaugh 3 1 0 0 0 0/0

Stouffer sat out his rookie season due to a contract dispute and never played for the Cardinals, as his rights were traded to Seattle. He spent four seasons with Seattle and was mostly ineffective. Miller spent four seasons as the Falcons primary starter but only had success in 1991, when the team made the playoffs. Eventually, his career ended early a few years later due to a string of concussions he suffered with the Rams.

Harbaugh spent four seasons as the Bears starter, taking them to the playoffs twice, although he never played in the 1990 playoffs due to injury. He then spent four seasons as the Colts primary starter. Testaverde is arguably the NFL’s greatest journeyman QB, spending 21 seasons with seven different teams. He did help lead the Browns (1994) and the Jets (2001,2002) to the playoffs.

The 1999 NFL Draft

The first three picks in this draft were quarterbacks, as the Browns took Tim Couch, Philadelphia selected Donovan McNabb and the Bengals picked Akili Smith. Later on, Minnesota took Daunte Culpepper (11) and the Bears picked Cade McNown (12).

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
Tim Couch 62/59 75.1 1025 1714 59.80% 11131 64 67
Donovan McNabb 167/161 85.6 3170 5374 59.00% 37276 234 117
Akili Smith 22/17 52.8 215 461 46.60% 2212 5 13
Daune Culpepper 105/100 87.8 2016 3199 63.00% 24153 149 106
Cade McNown 25/15 67.7 281 515 54.60% 3111 16 19
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP
Tim Couch 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Donovan McNabb 7 6 0 0 0 0/0
Akili Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Daunte Culpepper 2 3 0 0 0 0/0
Cade McNown 0 0 0 0 0 0/0

McNown and Smith were both busts who lasted two and four years in the league. Couch took over a horrid expansion Browns team and lasted through five injury-plagued seasons. He did lead the team to an 8-6 record as a starter in 2002 but missed the team’s playoff game due to a broken leg he suffered in the final game of the season.

Culpepper burst on to the scene his second year, leading the Vikings to an 11-5 record before struggling the next two seasons. He then bounced back and produced two more Pro Bowl seasons. However, a major leg injury in 2005 derailed his career and he played sparingly for the next four seasons.

Donovan McNabb was the Eagles longtime starting quarterback who took them to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. He also became the franchise’s career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

The 2003 NFL Draft

In the 2003 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Carson Palmer with the first pick. Three more quarterbacks followed with the Jaguars taking Byron Leftwich (7), the Ravens took Kyle Boller (19) and the Bears selected Rex Grossman (22).

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
Carson Palmer 182/181 87.9 3941 6307 62.50% 46247 294 187
Byron Leftwich 60/50 78.9 930 1605 57.90% 10532 58 42
Kyle Boller 67/47 69.5 861 1519 56.70% 8931 48 54
Rex Grossman 54/47 71.4 863 1562 55.20% 10232 56 60
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP
Carson Palmer 3 3 1 0 0 0/0
Byron Leftwich 1 0 0 0 0 1/0
Kyle Boller 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Rex Grossman 2 0 0 0 0 0/0

Boller started his first two seasons with the Ravens having a winning record but mostly failed to impress as he was carried by the team’s stout defense and rushing attack. Boller then lost his job when the team signed veteran quarterback Steve McNair, becoming a backup for the rest of his career.

Grossman was on the Bears for seven seasons. He started 16 of his 31 games with the team during their run to the Super Bowl in 2006 behind their imposing defense and running game. He would later start 13 games with Washington during the 2011 season.

Leftwich was the Jaguars starting quarterback for his first three seasons but lost his job to David Garrard after missing most of his fourth season due to injury. He then spent his last five years in the league as a backup on the Falcons, Buccaneers, and Steelers.

Palmer spent seven seasons with the Bengals but the team only made the playoffs once as they struggled to find success despite Palmer’s ability when healthy. Eventually, a denied trade request led to him briefly retiring before being traded to the Raiders. After two subpar seasons their, he joined the Cardinals. In five seasons, he led them to the playoffs twice but basically lost two seasons due to injury.

Jetpack

The 2004 NFL Draft

The 2004 NFL Draft saw the Chargers select Eli Manning with the first pick and the Giants take Philip Rivers fourth. A trade was then orchestrated by the two teams to swap quarterbacks, with the Chargers receiving extra picks. The Steelers then took Ben Roethlisberger (11) and the Bills later selected J.P. Losman (22).

Italicized players are still active and on an NFL roster

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
Eli Manning 216/214 83.5 4424 7369 59.80% 51682 339 228
Philip Rivers 196/192 94.8 4171 6492 64.20% 50348 342 166
Ben Roethlisberger 200/198 94.0 4164 6493 64.10% 51065 329 174
J.P. Losman 45/33 75.6 564 952 59.20% 6271 33 34
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP
Eli Manning 6 4 0 0 0 2/2
Philip Rivers 5 7 0 0 0 0/0
Ben Roethlisberger 10 6 0 0 0 2/0
J.P. Losman 0 0 0 0 0 0/0

Losman was never able to find a role with the Bills due to injuries and up-and-down play, eventually losing his job to 2007 third-round pick Trent Edwards. Rivers, Manning and Roethlisberger are all future Hall of Famers, with all three holding most of their respective franchises career passing records. The trio also ranks in the top ten in career completions, passing yards, and touchdowns.

The 2011 NFL Draft

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Panthers selected Cam Newton with the first pick. This was then followed by a flurry of moves as the Titans picked Jake Locker (8), the Jaguars took Blaine Gabbert (10) and the Vikings nabbed Christian Ponder (12).

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
Cam Newton 109/108 85.3 2001 3420 58.50% 25074 158 94
Jake Locker 30/23 79 408 709 57.50% 4967 27 22
Blaine Gabbert 48/45 71.5 781 1397 55.90% 8437 44 43
Christian Ponder 38/36 75.9 632 1057 59.80% 6658 38 36
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP
Cam Newton 4 3 1 1 1 0/0
Jake Locker 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Blaine Gabbert 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Christian Ponder 0 0 0 0 0 0/0

Gabbert and Ponder both never worked out for their respective teams, causing them to both have to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft (Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater). Locker’s career never got on track due to injuries and the Titans would eventually end up drafting Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Newton won Rookie of the Year and has since led the Panthers to the playoffs four times in his seven years with the team. His most successful season came in 2015, when he won OPOY and MVP, leading Carolina to the Super Bowl.

The 2012 NFL Draft

The 2012 NFL Draft saw the top two picks be quarterbacks, as the Colts selected Andrew Luck with the first pick and the Redskins then took Robert Griffin III. Miami then picked Ryan Tannehill (8) and the Browns later selected Brandon Weeden (22).

Player GP/GS QB Rat Comp Att Comp % Yards TD Int
Andrew Luck 70/70 87.3 1570 2651 59.20% 19078 132 68
Robert Griffin 42/40 88.4 766 1210 63.30% 8983 42 26
Ryan Tannehill 77/77 86.5 1653 2637 62.70% 18455 106 66
Brandon Weeden 34/25 76 559 965 57.90% 6462 31 30
Player Playoff App Pro Bowls All-Pro OPOY MVP SB/SB MVP
Andrew Luck 3 3 0 0 0 0/0
Robert Griffin 1 1 0 0 0 0/0
Ryan Tannehill 0 0 0 0 0 0/0
Brandon Weeden 0 0 0 0 0 0/0

Weeden started his rookie season with the Browns. However, he ended up being benched in favored of Brain Hoyer and later Jason Campbell due to injury and poor performance in his second and last season with the team.

Griffin electrified the league his rookie season, winning OROY and making the Pro Bowl. However, he suffered a major knee injury in that year’s playoff game and was never the same after that. He had then never performed at the same level and suffered a rash of injuries over the next two seasons before losing his job to Kirk Cousins.

Tannehill has been a solid starter for the Dolphins over the years but everything seemed to finally come together in 2016 when the team when on a hot streak. However, he injured his knee, missing the end of the season and the team’s wild-card playoff game. He then tore his ALC in practice, causing him to miss the entire 2017-18 season.

Luck came into the league and led the Colts to the playoffs while making the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons. He was then limited to seven games in 2015 due to various injuries but bounced back and played 15 games the following season. Luck then missed the entire 2017-18 season due to a shoulder injury that had been affecting him since 2015.

Conclusions from years with 4+ QBs taken

There have been only eight times in the previous 82 NFL Drafts where at least four quarterbacks have been taken in the first round. However, if it happens this year it would be the third time in the last eight drafts that it would have occurred.

One of the quarterbacks taken in years with 4+ QBs selected has made at least one Pro Bowl. In six of the eight drafts, at least two quarterbacks have made at least one Pro Bowl.

However, it is not guaranteed that years with lots of quarterbacks taken will result in success as there is a reason picking in the draft is often filled with what-ifs when looking back.

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Sources and info:

Featured Image: “Philip Rivers” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Used Pro Football Reference’s draft finder to find which years had 4 quarterbacks taken in the first round and see their stats.

All charts made using Google Spreadsheet in Google Docs