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Saturday, December 27, 2008
Double-digit wins provide no playoff guarantee


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

For those angry over the possibility an 8-8 team could reach the postseason while the New England Patriots might finish with 11 wins and not qualify, perhaps you can find solace in knowing that it has happened before.

Ten or More Wins, No Playoffs (1970-2007)
12-team field
YearTeamRecordPlace, Division
2007 Cleveland 10-6 2nd, AFC North
2005 Kansas City 10-6 2nd, AFC West
2003 Miami 10-6 2nd, AFC East
1991 Philadelphia 10-6 3rd, NFC East
1991 San Francisco 10-6 3rd, NFC West
10-team field
YearTeamRecordPlace, Division
1989 Washington 10-6 3rd, NFC East
1989 Green Bay 10-6 2nd, NFC Central
1988 N.Y. Giants 10-6 2nd, NFC East
1988 New Orleans 10-6 3rd, NFC West
1986 Cincinnati 10-6 2nd, AFC Central
1986 Seattle 10-6 3rd, AFC West
1985 Denver 11-5 2nd, AFC West
1985 Washington 10-6 3rd, NFC East
1981 Denver 10-6 2nd, AFC West
1980 New England 10-6 2nd, AFC East
1979 Washington 10-6 3rd, NFC East
8-team field
YearTeamRecordPlace, Division
1977 Miami 10-4 2nd, AFC East
1976 Cincinnati 10-4 2nd, AFC Central
1976 St. Louis 10-4 2nd, NFC East
1975 Miami 10-4 2nd, AFC East
1975 Houston 10-4 3rd, AFC Central
Note: Excludes 1982 strike season

Twenty-three years ago, John Elway led the Denver Broncos to an 11-5 record but wasn't good enough to make the playoffs. The Cleveland Browns made it at 8-8.

"The thing that sticks out that I remember about that season was that we lost two games to the Oakland Raiders in overtime," Dan Reeves, the coach of the 1985 Broncos, told Quincy Patriot Ledger reporter Eric McHugh.

"I just remember thinking if we get to 11-5 we'll be in the playoffs. If you win 11 games, it's hard to believe [you'd be shut out]. That kind of sticks in your craw."

Two AFC East teams could win 10 games and not reach the playoffs. That has happened 20 times in NFL history and usually in pairs. Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, there have been seven seasons in which two teams won 10 games but didn't advance. Although the last time that occurred was 1991.

If the New England Patriots defeat the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets beat the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, then this would happen:

If the Dolphins don't reach the postseason, then they will miss out for the fourth time in franchise history despite double-digit wins. They also didn't advance in 1975, 1977 and 2003.

The Washington Redskins won 10 games but couldn't get into the playoffs three times in an 11-season stretch, from 1979 to 1989.