In under two weeks, the NFL playoffs will be upon us. Championship hopes that began in OTA’s and summer camp will be put on the line for 12 teams, ranging from some who have already won this decade (New England and Seattle, step right up) to those hoping to finally break through like the Miami Dolphins.

Wait, Miami’s in the playoffs???

Already, teams like the Patriots, Packers, and Cowboys figure to be frontrunners to be holding the Lombardi Trophy in Houston on February 5, but history has shown that frontrunners aren’t always the best ones to pick in the playoffs. Unlike any other sport, the NFL postseason is truly a crapshoot; it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a Wild Card team can be the same team that captures a Super Bowl victory (hello, New York Giants). All it takes really, is a team getting hot at the right time. Single-game elimination makes it easier for fluke teams to break through and makes it easier for amazing teams to get eliminated, due to one bad outing.

Today, let’s take a look at 15 recent playoff teams that we still can’t believe, for one reason or another, just couldn’t get it done in the postseason.

Today, let’s take a look at 15 recent playoff teams that we still can’t believe, for one reason or another, just couldn’t get it done in the postseason.

15. 2010 New York Jets

via wordpress.com

via wordpress.com

Remember when Rex Ryan managed to find his inner Jim Jones and was flying high as the coach of the New York Jets? Few stars were as bright as the former Ravens’ defensive coordinator’s after a 2010 season that saw the team appear on Hard Knocks, dominate the NFL with a ground ‘n’ pound approach which led to 11 wins and a second straight AFC Championship Game.

And for as strong as the AFC was in 2010 (the Jets were the sixth seed with an 11-5 record), this Darrelle Revis-led team were maybe the third-best team in the AFC on paper – and I say that with no bias in the world. Between that insane defense and Mark Sanchez playing competently, it took one of Ben Roethlisberger’s best Pittsburgh Steelers teams to finally knock the Jets back to life.

And now, Rex just got fired from his second head coaching job in three years and the Jets have one winning season since that AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. He’s gone from Jim Jones and flying high to Jim Jones, killing everyone around him in sight with his own stupidity.

14. 2004 Philadelphia Eagles

via thesportsfansjournal.com

via thesportsfansjournal.com

How did an offense with Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Terrell Owens never win a championship in their lone two seasons together? Well, let’s just say that Terrell Owens was an absolute team killer – and not in the way the Eagles expected where he’d tear up a defense like it was no one’s business. Alright, that did happen, but Owens also killed the team’s chemistry with selfishness.

McNabb also was hurt during the Super Bowl against the Patriots, but that gets forgotten about because of Lord Owens the Selfish. This is one of the more frustrating teams on this list, though, because this was full of players one could root for on a team that people were rooting for. Unlike the Patriots or Cowboys who had previous success and had legitimate reasons for fans to hate them (looking at you, Spygate).

13. 2007 Dallas Cowboys

via NBCDFW.com

via NBCDFW.com

Another NFC East team, except one that people may have had more incentive to root against; these were the Cowboys, after all, and who was their number one wide receiver? Lord Owens the Selfish in what was his final Pro Bowl and All-Pro season before becoming a journeyman for his final three seasons in the league.

Featuring the league’s second-best offense, second-year starter and former undrafted rookie Tony Romo threw for 4,211 yards and 36 touchdowns while running backs Marion Barber and Julius Jones combined for 1,563 yards; the duo averaged 4.25 yards a carry altogether, helping the offense score 20 or more points in their first 14 games of the season. How did this team lose to the New York Giants in the divisional round?

12. 2008 Carolina Panthers

via nflspinzone.com

via nflspinzone.com

Like the 2007 Dallas Cowboys, the 2008 Carolina Panthers had some of their playoff hopes dashed by the New York Giants – though theirs came in the fight for home-field advantage throughout the postseason, something that ended up not mattering since both lost in the second round. Regardless, I think plenty of people expected these Panthers to have a serious case for the Super Bowl, with a ground ‘n’ pound offense led by DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart.

Then, Jake Delhomme collapsed, throwing for a 6-7 TD-INT ratio in his final eight games before totally imploding against the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs. That night, Delhomme threw five interceptions, putting the Panthers in a position they could never come back from. The franchise went into a tailspin following that game, and didn’t recover until Cam Newton rose to become one of the NFL’s biggest stars.

11. 2006 New Orleans Saints

via al.com

via al.com

I know what some of you are thinking: how could arguably the second-greatest season in New Orleans Saints history — and at the time, the greatest — possibly be unappreciated? The answer is simple: people only really think of one play from the 2006 Saints because the 2009 team was the one that achieved victory in the Super Bowl.

That one play, though, wasn’t a kickoff return by Reggie Bush or a long touchdown by Drew Brees. No, it was something from a 29-year-old special teamer who once was a member of the XFL.

Brees, fresh off a shoulder injury that led to the Miami Dolphins infamously passing up on him, has averaged 4,856 passing yards, a 35-15 TD-INT ratio, and a 68% completion percentage. Oh, and he won Super Bowl XLIV against the Colts. Not bad!

10. 2005 Seattle Seahawks

via blogs.seahawks.com

via blogs.seahawks.com

Best offense in the league? Check. Shaun Alexander racking up 1,880 rushing yards? Check. The defense only allowing 30 points or more once, even with the postseason games factored in? Check. Seattle had a five-year stretch from 2003-07 where they made the playoffs every year, but 2005 was the lone season where they managed to make the Super Bowl in a game that Seahawks fans loathe talking about.

Take away whatever happened with the referees in that game and you really have to ask yourself how this Seahawks team didn’t win the Super Bowl that year. Shaun Alexander had a career year that landed him on the cover of Madden NFL 07, Matt Hasselbeck had a 24-9 TD-INT ratio with a career-best 65.5 completion percentage, and the defense played better than most people expected them to. What could have possibly gone wrong?

9. 2011 New England Patriots

via boston.com

via boston.com

This team was a botched Wes Welker catch away from winning the Super Bowl. I’m serious when I say that I have no doubt in my mind that Tom Brady, with his 5,235 passing yards and MVP resume, would have found a way to get his long-awaited revenge on Tom Coughlin’s New York Giants instead of choking the game’s final drive away.

Even as a Jets fan, I still can’t believe that this Patriots team – one I thought was the scariest entering the playoffs, even more so than the 15-1 Green Bay Packers – couldn’t win it all in 2011. This was the type of year where every department where people expected the Patriots to struggle – the running game, the defense, even the offensive line – showed up as Bill Belichick’s boys won their final eight games after a 5-3 start to the season.

But, no Super Bowl ring. Maybe Victor Cruz was right in his comments about Tom Brady and the Patriots after all…

8. 2014 Dallas Cowboys

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

These guys are recent, so I’ll try my best to keep it quick. Every single thing that could have went right for the 2014 Dallas Cowboys — Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray both staying healthy, the defense keeping them in the game, and even Jason Garrett not making ridiculous decisions — went right and America’s Team was just a catch away from an NFC Championship Game appearance.

We forget how good the Cowboys were in 2014 partly because of the Dez Bryant incident and partly because the team fell to 4-12 in 2015, but make no mistake: these guys were goodAt least now, the Cowboys seem to have figured out their future with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott instead of the fragile Tony Romo and the current Tennessee Titan DeMarco Murray.

7. 2008 New York Giants

via zimbio.com

via zimbio.com

There was a lot of deserved hype about the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants coming into the 2008 season and, to be fair, it was all justified. These were the road warriors, led by an improved, more mature Eli Manning and a suffocating defense; add in the post-Super Bowl jubilation and the lack of a hangover as the team started 11-1, and we were most likely looking at a second straight Giants appearance in the Super Bowl.

Then, Plax happened. Once Plaxico Burress shot himself in a New York City nightclub – leading to a memorable interview between WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Hot 97’s Fatman Scoop – the Giants went from 11-1 to 12-4 before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round. The reason why this team didn’t win a championship make sense, but that doesn’t mean we can’t say, “we can’t believe the Giants didn’t win a championship in 2008!”

6. 1998 Minnesota Vikings

via taylorblitztimes.com

via taylorblitztimes.com

What? I’m ranking the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, a team that went 15-1 and had the league’s #1 offense, too low on this list? The truth is, for as much of a shock as it was at the time that the Vikings fell short of a Lombardi Trophy, was it really? I mean, Gary Anderson’s missed field goal was the catalyst as to why Minnesota missed out on a Super Bowl showdown with the Denver Broncos, but let’s think for a second.

Randall Cunningham had that amazing year at age 35, but would the veteran quarterback really have had some more magic against the Denver Broncos? Was Minnesota’s defense really going to stop John Elway and the Broncos offense? You hate to play the what-if game and I do think things would have been competitive early on, but maybe the Vikings dodged a bullet by avoiding the Broncos. Who knows?

5. 2005 Indianapolis Colts

via espn.com

via espn.com

Everything I’m going to say here pretty much applies for any Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis team, but there’s a caveat here: these Colts started 13-0, lost two of their final three games, and were knocked out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round by some Pittsburgh Steelers magic.

Seriously, how did this team not win the Super Bowl in 2005? Edgerrin James ran for 1,506 and 13 touchdowns in his final year with the Colts. Peyton Manning had a 28-10 TD-INT ratio on a passing offense that had two 1,000 yard receivers. The Colts even had the second-best defense in terms of points allowed! And yet, they lost because of some Steelers magic? That must have been a bad day at the betting offices…and yet, this isn’t even the last Colts team on this list.

4. 2004 Indianapolis Colts

via dailyworlds.com

via dailyworlds.com

This one, fine, I understand it because the Colts again failed to make the Super Bowl and again faced elimination from Tom Brady’s New England Patriots…and yet, I don’t understand why no one really talks about this team despite it being one of the best Indianapolis squads Peyton Manning played on. Once again though, the Pats proved to be Indy’s kryptonite.

Obviously, Manning played on some fantastic Colts teams but in 2004, the guy threw for a staggering 49 touchdowns — a combined 27 of which went to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne — and engineered an offense that also featured 1,548 rushing yards from Edgerrin James. Keep in mind, this was well before the dynamic, pass-heavy offenses now where 4,500 passing yards is chump change.

Where’s the love for Peyton’s boys, I ask?

3. 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers

via zimbio.com

via zimbio.com

Back when Ben Roethlisberger’s name couldn’t even fit in Madden, these Steelers were dangerous. Really dangerous. Dangerous as in Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley combined for 1,771 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Dangerous as in despite only having 78 catches between them, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El combined for 1,299 yards – with Burress averaging nearly 20 yards per reception.

Dangerous, as in Hines Ward catching 74.1 percent of balls thrown his way. This team had all of the makings of a Super Bowl contender. They had one of the most prolific offenses of this generation. They had a defense that was by no means great but kept their team in ball games. They had a Hall of Fame coach that was a great motivator…and then were blown out by the Patriots at home in the AFC Championship. Bill Belichick strikes again!

2. 2006 San Diego Chargers

via espn.com

via espn.com

Prime LaDainian Tomlinson and his NFL record 28 rushing touchdowns should be all I have to say here, but to be fair, I’ll be more descriptive and say a few other names. LT could have done things all by himself, but who would I be to deprive the others of their shot at glory?

– Philip Rivers threw for 3,388 yards, a 22-9 TD-INT ratio, and completed 61.7 percent of his passes as a first-year starter.

– Antonio Gates caught 71 passes for 924 yards and nine touchdowns.

– Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips combined for 28.5 sacks on a defense that ranked fourth in points allowed. 

– Quentin Jammer, Donnie Edwards, Dayton Florence, and Clinton Hart combined to pick off 13 passes. 13!

And somehow, this team didn’t win a championship??? What happened – oh, they ran into the Tom Brady train. Next…

1. 2007 New England Patriots

via vergecampus.com

via vergecampus.com

Well, you probably saw this coming from the get-go because yes, the 2007 New England Patriots – the same team that went 16-0 in the regular season and entered Super Bowl XLII 18-0 – are most likely the greatest team of all time to never win a championship in any sport. In addition to that, they are most likely the most unappreciated team of all time to never win a championship in any sport, even more so than the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors.

Forget the 18-1 jokes for a second and just look at the stats. Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdowns in a time where 35-plus was MVP worthy. Randy Moss caught 23 touchdowns, something even elite wideouts don’t do in a three-year span. Wes Welker came out of nowhere to shine as a slot receiver.

And yet, they get mocked for losing to a Giants team that ‘barely’ made the playoffs. Keep in mind, this is a Jets fan praising the Pats!

  • Ad Free Browsing
  • Over 10,000 Videos!
  • All in 1 Access
  • Join For Free!
GO PREMIUM WITH THESPORTSTER
Go Premium!

Videos