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The Packers defense preserved a 24-16 win Sunday by stuffing Carolina’s MVP candidate running back Christian McCaffrey inches from a potential game-tying touchdown as the clock wound down at snowy Lambeau Field. It was a scene tailor-made for NFL Films. Green Bay is now 8-2, and if the season continues on this special path, Sunday’s dramatic closing sequence will appear in many highlight films for many years to come.


But how likely is this Packers run of success to continue?


There is an adage that you are what your record is, and at 8-2, it suggests that the Packers are one of the best teams in the NFL. But if you look at their statistical rankings, you’ll see a very odd sight.


In the four prominent team statistical rankings - Points Scored, Offensive Yards, Points Allowed, and Yards Allowed -the Packers currently rank 11th, 17th, 12th, and 28th respectively. What is odd about that? Since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, there have been 171 teams begin a season 8-2 or better over their first ten games. All but three finished ranked in the top 10 in at least one of those categories. 92% of those teams finished ranked in the top 10 in more than one of those categories. Nearly a third of those teams were ranked in the top 10 in ALL FOUR of those categories. Here is what the average 8-2 or better team's rankings look like in these categories:

Points Scored

Offensive Yards
Points Allowed Avg Yards Allowed Avg Final Win Total
6.29 8.49 7.45 10.12 12.02


While the Packers have had some thrilling victories and impressive individual performances this year, most fans would admit that they haven’t looked as dominant as an 8-2 team typically looks. That becomes even more apparent when you compare them to the two other eight win teams in the NFL this year; the 8-0 San Francisco 49ers and the 8-1 New England Patriots. Here are their rankings compared to the Packers:

Team Record Points Scored Rank Offensive Yards Rank Points Allowed Rank Yards Allowed Rank
Packers 8-2 11 17 12 28
Patriots 8-1 2 15 1 1
49ers 8-0 3 6 2 1


The Patriots and 49ers certainly fit the traditional profile of dominant teams. Granted, they have played fewer games at this point, and the 49ers have yet to play in Week 10 (though all these rankings are on a per-game basis). But to illustrate just how differently the Packers have performed, let’s imagine what it would take for San Francisco’s rankings to look similar to Green Bay’s after tonight’s game. The Seahawks would have to win tonight’s game 83-0, gain 1,520 yards of offense and hold the 49ers to 83 yards or less of total offense. However, even with the shutout, the 49ers would still rank ahead of the Packers in Points Scored 10th to 11th.


To play devil’s advocate, the Packers are nearly in the top 10 in Points Scored and Points Allowed, and you can argue that a top 10 ranking is arbitrary anyway. Both are true. But let’s make this rankings club even more exclusive. How many of the 174 teams (171 teams plus the three from 2019) did not rank in the top 5 in any category? That number jumps from 4 to 21. At first, it appears the Packers' situation is less rare until you realize this means that 83% of teams that started 8-2 or better were top 5 in one of these categories. Two-thirds of them ranked in the top five in at least two areas! The 2019 Packers are a very rare team that has a phenomenal record yet doesn’t excel in any area that would explain why they are 8-2 in the first place.


Most bizarre in all of this is Green Bay ranks an awful 28th in Yards Allowed while ranking a solid 12th in Points Allowed. They are taking the principle of “bend, but don’t break” to the extreme. The 16 slot discrepancy in Points Allowed and Yards Allowed is unusually wide. On average, a team’s Points Allowed and Yards Allowed rankings are separated by just 4.9 spots. Of the teams to finish 28th in Yards Allowed historically, none have finished as high as 12th in points allowed, and only five teams finished higher than 22nd. Conversely, just three teams have ever ranked 12th in points and finished lower than 23rd in yards. And not to go total math nerd, but since 1970 the correlation coefficient between Points Allowed and Yards Allowed is 0.82. That is incredibly strong. For reference, the correlation between the average daytime high temperature and the day of the year is about 0.85. As sure as it will be hot in July and cold in December, teams that give up lots of yards give up a lot of points and vice versa. It would seem something has to give.


Yds Allowed Ranking for the 28th Team in Pts Allowed
(Since 1976)
12th 1*
13th 1
15th 1
16th 1
17th 1
19th 1
22nd 4
23rd 1
24th 1
25th 4
26th 3
27th 6
28th 14
30th 3
31st 1

 *2019 Packers

Pts Allowed Ranking for the 12th Team in Yds Allowed (Since 1970) Count
1st 1
2nd 1
5th 2
7th 3
8th 1
10th 2
11th 2
12th 7
13th 4
14th 1
15th 2
16th 1
17th 2
18th 4
19th 3
20th 1
21st 1
22nd 2
23rd 4
27th 2
28th 1*
31st 1

 *2019 Packers


Now, I know what you’re thinking – Eric hasn’t produced any content in almost two years, and now he returns with this downer of an article to rain on the Packers’ parade. Not exactly. Historically, it would seem that it is unsustainable to win as often as the Packers have while having traditional rankings this mediocre. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are headed towards an impending disaster. I’ll use an example to illustrate this. At the midway point of last season, Andrew Luck was second in the NFL with 23 touchdown passes (nearly three a game) while averaging a mere 6.4 yards per pass attempt – second-worst in the NFL. Much like wins and team rankings, there is nothing statistically linked between throwing touchdowns and yards per attempt, but in the history of the NFL, no player had thrown for 2.5+ touchdown passes per game and averaged less than 7.0 yards per pass attempt. What Luck was doing was not impossible, but in the 99-year history of the NFL, no one had sustained that throughout an entire season. History suggested that a correction would occur and he would either start throwing fewer touchdowns or he would throw for more yards per attempt. Was Luck masking an unproductive season with an overabundance of touchdowns, or was his high touchdown count a sign that he soon would start to gain more yards on each pass attempt? The answer to both of those questions was yes, but the latter ended up being more accurate than the former. In the second half of the season, Luck’s touchdown rate went down, but he still threw 16 more touchdown passes. However, his yards per attempt increased by over 25%. Luck finished the year with a conventional-looking 7.19 yards per attempt, and 39 touchdown passes – a stellar season that saw him selected to the Pro Bowl. While the Packers propensity of surrendering lots of yards might be a sign that they'll soon give up more points, it could also be a sign that their ability to keep points off the board is a sign that their defense is better than they've played between the 20s.


The Packers may be a mediocre team that has been fortunate to win a bunch of close games. The Packers are 5-1 in one-score games. Winning in close games has shown to even out over more extended periods. The Packers could be a slightly above average team on a lucky streak. However, defensively, they’ve also been remarkably consistent at limiting points. In 2019, the NFL average for team points scored per game is 22.6. The Packers have held eight of their ten opponents to between 16 and 26 points. They’ve had one way above average (34 vs. Phi) and one way below average (3 at Chi). Maybe they’re just a good defense that has focused on guarding the red zone.  


Also, I’d be remiss if I did not point out the glaring exception to this data set: Belichick’s Patriots. Since 2000, New England has been ranked higher in Points Allowed than Yards Allowed every year but one. In the last ten years, the difference is even more extreme. Since 2010, the Patriots Points Allowed ranking is incredibly 11.5 spots higher on average than their Yards Allowed ranking.

Year Tm W L Pts Allowed Rk Yds Allowed Rk Rk Diff
2000 NWE 5 11 17 20 3
2001 NWE 11 5 6 24 18
2002 NWE 9 7 17 23 6
2003 NWE 14 2 1 7 6
2004 NWE 14 2 2 9 7
2005 NWE 10 6 17 26 9
2006 NWE 12 4 2 6 4
2007 NWE 16 0 4 4 0
2008 NWE 11 5 8 10 2
2009 NWE 10 6 5 11 6
2010 NWE 14 2 8 25 17
2011 NWE 13 3 15 31 16
2012 NWE 12 4 9 25 16
2013 NWE 12 4 10 26 16
2014 NWE 12 4 8 13 5
2015 NWE 12 4 10 9 -1
2016 NWE 14 2 1 8 7
2017 NWE 13 3 5 29 24
2018 NWE 11 5 7 21 14
2019 NWE 8 1 1 2 1


In that time frame, just 11 teams have been 16+ slots worse at allowing yards than points: this year’s Packers, five Patriots teams, and five other teams. Sacrificing yards while protecting points seems to be something that Patriots have uniquely figured out how to do consistently. Have the Packers cracked that code too? Perhaps.


So what does this all mean? We will see. One flaw of this study is that I do not have the rankings in these categories for the 8-2 or better teams after ten games. It is entirely possible that many of these teams had profiles similar to the Packers and improved throughout the season. I hope that is the case here. Remember earlier when I mentioned there were three teams that, like the 2019 Packers, started 8-2 or better and didn’t finish in the top 10 in any of the four major categories? In case you were curious, here is what happened to them:


  • 1986 Jets: New York started 10-1 with a high-flying offense and looked poised to take the AFC’s top seed. They had the 2nd highest-scoring offense through 11 games. Then suddenly, their offense cratered. They scored the fewest points in the NFL over the last five weeks and lost every game. At 10-6, they made the playoffs due to a four-way tie and briefly seemed to recapture their magic. They won the Wildcard Game 35-15 over the Chiefs and then held a 20-10 lead at the top-seeded Browns in Cleveland with 4:00 left in the 4th quarter. Then they collapsed one last time. The Browns would tie the game in the final seconds before winning 23-20 in overtime.


  • 1987 Chargers: In Dan Fouts’ final season, San Diego started 8-1 on the strength of a Top 10 defense (and a 3-0 record from the replacement Chargers in the strike games). However, their offense could never get going. Once the defense started to sink, the offense dragged them all the way to the bottom. They scored the fewest points and allowed the 5th most over the last six weeks. Like the Jets, they lost every game. This time fate wasn’t so kind, as 8-7 Chargers missed the playoffs by a game.


  • 2004 Falcons: This one most resembles the Packers. After ten games, the Falcons were 14th in Points Scored, 20th in Offensive Yards, 14th in Points Allowed, and 20th in Yards Allowed. They were a perfectly mediocre team that was somehow 8-2. Much of that was due to a stellar 4-1 record in one-score games. Over the final six weeks, the mediocre Falcons showed their true colors by going 3-3 over their remaining schedule. The NFC was historically bad in 2004, so the 11-5 Falcons clinched a first-round bye outright. They clobbered a lousy 8-8 Rams team 47-17 in the Divisional Round before being soundly defeated 27-10 in the NFC Championship Game by the Philadelphia Eagles, who were likely the only NFC team that was any good that year.


Are the 2019 Packers awaiting a 2004 Falcons fate? Who knows. Maybe. Green Bay’s 8-2 start has been so unexpected. With a new coaching staff and influx of new players, no one had any idea what this team was going to be. As a fan, it has been a ton of fun to watch. This year's team is easy to root for and has made the plays in crunch time when they needed to. They have earned their 8-2 record, even if it doesn’t look like it usually does when a team wins this often. Has it been a little unsettling at times? No doubt, but after the mediocrity of the last couple of years, it’s been wonderful to watch. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. If they turn out not to be as good as their record suggests, so be it. At least they will have played in big games in December and (probably) January. Maybe this is an excellent team that hasn’t played their best football yet; thus, their rankings are lagging behind their wins. If that’s the case, the rest of the NFL better look out. And if they end up sustaining this peculiar balance the rest of the way, the 2019 Packers will statistically be one of the rarest teams in NFL history. Buckle up. This is going to be one hell of a ride.  


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 


Thank you to anyone that reads this. I forgot how difficult it is to write even if you have a premise. This idea just came from my browsing Pro-Football-Reference.com and noticing how strange the Packers rankings were. Thanks for reading. I hope you found something interesting. I know it was probably a bit too long. I’ve missed producing content. I think I’ll just post things from time to time as I think of them and see if it gets any feedback. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments. 

 2017 Goldie Awards!!!


-Trying to forget the 2017 season? TOO BAD!! It's time to go back and give out awards for the bad and worst parts of the 2017 Green Bay Packers season!!


-Quick talk about the big news of the offseason: Ted Thompson and Dom Capers are out. Brian Gutekunst in.


-The 2017 Playoffs were awesome. Especially since the Patriots and Vikings lost.



  • You'll NEVER believe who the special guest host is?
  • Who were the Offensive and Defensive MVPs? Were there any?
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix takes home many "honors"
  • Who can we kick out of town now that Dom is gone? Perhaps we'll just kick Dom EVEN MORE out of town!
  • Eric goes to Urban Dictionary to try and decipher one of the fan awards.


-Where will all of these changes lead the Packers 5 years from now? How long will Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy last? Will they ever win another championship?


-THANK YOU for 6 great seasons!!




Download the Podbean App and Follow Green and Gold Forever!!

This is Part 5 of an ongoing series ranking every NFL playoffs I've ever seen. 

Check out No. 31-26No. 25-21, No. 20-16, and No. 15-11

Also, don't forget to vote for this year's Goldie Awards! The subject of those awards, the 2017 Packers, will not be discussed on this countdown.


10. 2014
Super Bowl: New England 28 Seattle 24
Avg Margin of Victory: 11.45
Close Games: 5
Blowouts: 1
Upsets: 2
Best Game: New England 28 Seattle 24 – Super Bowl XLIX
Worst Game: New England 45 Indianapolis 7 – AFC Championship Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: The Collapse (GB vs. SEA – NFC Championship Game)

I’ll always remember 2014 as that year that a viable Super Bowl contender in the NFC choked away a game in each playoff round in an increasingly absurd fashion. First, the 11-5 Lions, with their solid defense, blew a 13 point second half lead in a 24-20 loss at the Dallas Cowboys. They committed three defensive penalties in the fourth quarter that gave Dallas three extra first downs – two of which came on the Cowboys’ game-winning touchdown drive. Dallas paid this good fortune forward by traveling to Green Bay and losing to the Packers in the infamous Dez Bryant Catch game. By the letter of the rule, Dez dropped the ball. The rule really screwed the Cowboys, much like their second half defense, who could not prevent the Packers from scoring on all three of their possessions after the Cowboys took a 21-13 lead. Following the Dez Bryant ruling, there were still nearly five minutes remaining. However, Dallas allowed Green Bay to convert on two third downs and run out the clock. The Packers won 26-21. They took this momentum to the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game and dominated for the first 55 minutes of the game. Leading 19-7 and having just intercepted Russell Wilson for the 4th time, the Packers proceeded to collapse in a manner rarely seen in sports. Just over 8 minutes of game time after the interception, the Packers series of absurd blunders allowed Seattle to win 28-22 in overtime. Seattle went to Super Bowl XLIX to defend their title against the New England Patriots after having inflicted the perhaps the worst loss in history on the Packers. That was until they did worse to themselves. Down 28-24 with :26 seconds left and the ball at the Patriots 1 yard line, the top rushing offense in the NFL elected to throw. Russell Wilson did something that no passer had done in 2014, and statistically, fewer than 2% of passers have ever done in this situation: he threw an interception. Malcolm Butler made the play, the Patriots won again, and the NFC’s elite all took their turn squandering a rare championship opportunity. These four contests were the wildest succession of games I remember seeing in the playoffs and created one of the most interesting postseasons in memory. It might have even been higher on this list had the ultimate beneficiary of this late-game madness been someone other than a team that reached the Super Bowl allegedly due to using illegal formations in the Divisional Round and deflated footballs in the Championship game. But oh well. The 2014 postseason had the feel of an old Wild West shootout. All participants had blood on their hands, and the winner was the one that had the most luck. No shame in that.


9. 2008
Super Bowl: Pittsburgh 27 Arizona 23
Avg Margin of Victory: 9.82
Close Games: 5
Blowouts: 2
Upsets: 5
Best Game: Pittsburgh 27 Arizona 23 – Super Bowl XLIII
Worst Game: Baltimore 27 Miami 9 – AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Larry Fitzgerald scoring a long touchdown and realizing that the Arizona Cardinals might win the Super Bowl (PIT vs. ARZ – Super Bowl XLIII)

If you were playing Madden and this playoff bracket was produced, you would close out and resim the season. This field of teams was so strange for this time period. It had no Packers. It had no Seahawks. It had no PATRIOTS. Instead, it had Tavaris Jackson’s Vikings, Chad Pennington’s Dolphins, Kerry Collins’ Tennessee Titans as a ONE SEED. And it had the Arizona Cardinals playing the role of unstoppable offensive machine. While just 9-7 in the regular season, playoff Kurt Warner showed up in the postseason. The Cardinals scored 95 points in their three NFC playoff wins. While they played great, they also had the good fortune of becoming the lowest seed ever to host a Championship Game. They took advantage and went all the way to the Super Bowl. The AFC saw the near-miracle run of the tough Baltimore Ravens. They beat the Dolphins and Titans with great defense and dragged rookie QB Joe Flacco into the championship game. There, they met a team that always seemed to take advantage when the absence of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning left a void in the AFC: the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers went to yet another Super Bowl without having to play Tom Brady by beating the scrappy Ravens and claiming their second AFC Championship in four years. At the time, I couldn’t believe that the NFL season had led us to this point. This was seriously the Super Bowl? On one side, we had the Steelers, who lost to every playoff bound team they played in the regular season except for the two they ended up having to play in the playoffs (8-8 San Diego and the Wildcard Ravens). On the other side, we had the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals, a team so rich in tradition that they won more playoff games in their 2008 NFC Championship run than they had their first 88 years as a franchise. And yet, this turned out to be one of the most exciting football games of all time. It had big plays on offense and defense, it had lead changes in the 4th quarter, it had a last-second toe-tapping game-winning touchdown, it had The Boss Bruce Springsteen playing the halftime show, and it was the legendary John Madden’s last game in the booth. Pittsburgh won 27-23. It was a hard-fought game, and while the teams playing in it might not have been the best, they gave us a show worthy of the game’s biggest stage. As a matter of fact, that statement describes the 2008 playoffs nicely.


8. 2012
Super Bowl: Baltimore 34 San Francisco 31
Avg Margin of Victory: 9.00
Close Games: 5
Blowouts: 0
Upsets: 3
Best Game: Baltimore 38 Denver 35 – AFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: Houston 19 Cincinnati 13 – AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones sends Ravens to OT and eventually victory (BAL at DEN – AFC Divisional Playoff)

2012 is the only season in the past 31 years to not have a single playoff game decided by more than three scores. Even the one-sided games were somewhat tightly contested. The Wildcard Round was not great, but each games was close until well into the second half. The Divisional Round is where things turned. It began with the game of the year. The Baltimore Ravens went to the top-seeded Denver Broncos and matched them score for score through three quarters. With less than a minute left, the Ravens trailed by 7 and looked headed for elimination. Then Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones with a floating bomb that somehow sailed over the Denver secondary for a tying touchdown. This game became just the 6th in playoff history to go to double overtime, where Baltimore eventually won 38-35. New England beat Houston, and San Francisco beat Green Bay in games that were shootouts for the first half before the home teams kicked it into high gear and ran away (literally in Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers' case). In the other Divisional Round game, the Seattle Seahawks came back from 20 points down to take a 28-27 lead with :31 seconds left over the top seed Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons responded by somehow getting into field goal range in just three plays and won with a Field Goal 30-28. The conference championship games were solid, with the 49ers and Ravens each winning on the road. The Super Bowl gave us our first and likely only matchup of brother Head Coaches in championship game history – Jim vs. John Harbaugh. The game was a crazy affair that saw a furious comeback by the 49ers from 22 points down to pull to within 3. They would lose as their final pass fell short, though not without cries from San Francisco of a missed pass interference call. Not one of the best Super Bowls, but probably in the top third and definitely top 10 in best uniform matchup. 2012 is an all-around solid year. The only thing holding it back is the stupid colored uniform collars that several teams had. 2012 was thankfully the first and last year that Nike would put those on most teams' jerseys. If you want to see Joe Flacco play like Joe Montana and teams of guys looking to be wearing dress shirts underneath their pads, then 2012 is the year for you. If neither of those is your thing, there is still a ton in 2012 for you to enjoy.


7. 1997
Super Bowl: Denver 31 Green Bay 24
Avg Margin of Victory: 9.82
Close Games: 5
Blowouts: 1
Upsets: 3
Best Game: Denver 31 Green Bay 24 – Super Bowl XXXII
Worst Game: New England 17 Miami 3- AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: John Elway's Helicopter Run (GB vs. DEN – Super Bowl XXXII)

Personally, thinking about 1997 breaks my heart. The Packers run as defending champs was every bit as good of a story as the year before, if not better. They finally beat the Cowboys. They finally won at the Metrodome. Just like 1996, they won seven straight blowouts entering the Super Bowl. They beat Tampa Bay in the Divisional Round 21-7 in a blood and guts battle typical of the 1990s Black and Blue NFC Central. They dominated the 13-3 San Francisco 49ers at rainy Candlestick Park in the NFC Championship Game 23-10. They were one win away from staking their claim as one of the greatest teams in history. A win in the Super Bowl likely moves Brett Favre even higher on most all-time best quarterback lists and secures Hall of Fame enshrinements for Leroy Butler and Mike Holmgren. But they lost. It hurts. However, that hurt is somewhat eased by the realization that they didn’t choke. They were beaten fair and square by a better team. Super Bowl XXXII is a battle of two of the best organizations of the 1990s and is one of the best Super Bowls ever. For Denver, it was the best of their remarkable playoff run. They beat Jacksonville in a competitive game that got out of hand late. They won razor-close slugfests on the road in two the toughest venues in sports – Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, and Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. They earned their way to the Super Bowl. There were two one-point games as well. Minnesota’s 23-22 4th quarter comeback win over the Giants was exciting. The Steelers 7-6 win over the Patriots was for real football fans only. 1997 had some great action that showcased what made 90s football awesome. Ultimately, it is remembered for the clash of the titans in the Super Bowl. It was a great game and a capstone to a great year. I just wish it wouldn’t have been my team taking the fall.


6. 2011
Super Bowl: NY Giants 21 New England 17
Avg Margin of Victory: 12.64
Close Games: 6
Blowouts: 5
Upsets: 3
Best Game: San Francisco 36 New Orleans 32 - NFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: Houston 31 Bengals 10 - AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Alex Smith to Vernon Davis with :09 left (NO at SF - NFC Divisional Round)

2011 was feast or famine. Every game of these playoffs was either a blowout or a one-score game. The Packers lost a 37-20 blowout to the Giants and became the only 15-1 team not to win a playoff game. If you can somehow swallow that bitter pill, the good games of 2011 were as good as they get. Each round featured a classic. The Wildcard round saw Tebowmania run wild all over the Steelers. Tim Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime propelled the Broncos to a 29-23 victory and provided the most memorable highlight to his strange career. The Divisional Round featured the Catch III in San Francisco. The Saints and 49ers traded the lead four times in the final four minutes. San Francisco snatched the lead for good when Alex Smith hit Vernon Davis for a touchdown with just nine seconds left. Both championship games were outstanding. The Patriots were as lucky as ever as the Ravens receiver Lee Evans dropped the would-be game-winning touchdown with :27 left. Two plays later, K Billy Cundiff missed the would-be game-tying 32-yard field goal, and the Patriots escaped with a 23-20 win. In the NFC, the Giants had their own good fortune. After a four quarter stalemate, 49ers KR Kyle Williams fumbled a punt in overtime, allowing New York kicker Lawrence Tynes to hit a 31-yard field goal and send the Giants to the Super Bowl with a 20-17 overtime win. Super Bowl XLVI was a rematch of the fabled Super Bowl XLII four years earlier. The big moments weren’t as dramatic, but this was arguably a better game from start to finish than its counterpart. It didn’t have David Tyree, but it did have Mario Manningham down the sideline. Somehow, Eli Manning bested Tom Brady again, and the Giants claimed their second title in 5 seasons with a 21-17 victory. The best of 2011 had much of what I love about football. The games weren’t perfect. There were mistakes in critical moments. But football isn’t supposed to be pretty. The team that wins isn’t always the most precise one. It’s the one that can overcome adversity and capitalize on its opportunities. These playoffs were messy. That’s what made them beautiful.


Next time, we get the Top Five Playoffs of the past 30 years. Can you guess what order they will be?

Check out the rest of the series:

No. 31-26

No. 25-21

No. 20-16

No. 15-11


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 



This is Part 4 of an ongoing series ranking every NFL playoffs I've ever seen. Check out No. 31-26, No. 25-21, and No. 20-16

Also, don't forget to vote for this year's Goldie Awards! There have been twice as many Goldie Awards than there were Packers starters that played all 16 games!


15. 2009
Super Bowl: New Orleans 31 Indianapolis 17
Avg Margin of Victory: 15.18
Close Games: 3
Blowouts: 5
Upsets: 5
Best Game: Arizona 51 Green Bay 45 - NFC Wildcard Round
Worst Game: Minnesota 34 Dallas 3 - NFC Divisional Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Brett Favre throws the game away in New Orleans (MIN at NO – NFC Championship)

With :25 remaining in the NFC Championship Game, this Packers fan was sure this was the worst NFL season I’d ever see. Brett Favre was going to take the Vikings to the Super Bowl to play the Indianapolis Colts. While it had the potential to be a good game, I was tired of the Colts, and I sure as hell didn’t want Brett Favre taking the Vikings to the big dance. Then Brett did what he always did and injected a ton of drama into a playoff season by throwing the ball to the other team at the worst possible time. The Saints ended up winning, and the NFC Championship Game became one of my favorite games ever. It’s hard for me to objectively look at this season, with the Favre stuff and one of the most painful losses in Packers history occurring, but when I do, I see a mixed year. The Saints/Vikings game and Cardinals/Packers game are each one of the best games in NFL history. The Saints win over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV is very good. The rest? Yikes. Outside of the Jets and Chargers playing a competitive game, the rest of the tournament is a wasteland of blowouts. Some are fun, like the Ravens shellacking the Patriots in Foxboro, but most are just boring. I could be convinced to move this further down the list, but I’ll leave it here. The AFC Title Game is competitive, the Super Bowl is good, and there are two of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. That’s about all you can hope for in an average playoff season.


14. 2013
Super Bowl: Seattle 43 Denver 8
Avg Margin of Victory: 11.18
Close Games: 6
Blowouts: 3
Upsets: 4
Best Game: Seattle 23 San Francisco 17 – NFC Championship Game
Worst Game: New England 43 Indianapolis 22 – AFC Divisional Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Malcolm Smith interception in End Zone off a Richard Sherman Tip to clinch the NFC Championship (SF at SEA)

2013 has two of my favorite recent playoff games. Both are fantastic and entirely different. The first was the opening contest of the 2013 playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs raced out to a 38-10 lead over the Colts. Andrew Luck responded with the finest moment of his career, rallying the Colts to a 45-44 win. He does so in the most Andrew Luck fashion. The Colts score a touchdown on 5 of their 6 drives after falling down by 28. The only drive they don’t score on, Luck throws an interception. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery near the goal line that he dove into the end zone. It was Andrew Luck’s play-style in a nutshell: beautiful chaos. The other favorite game is the San Francisco vs. Seattle NFC Championship game. In an era of empty yards and frequent comebacks from huge deficits, it was refreshing to see an old-school dog fight between two bitter rivals for the right to go to the Super Bowl. While the offenses were still quite good, the defenses felt like they were equally good. In the modern NFL, defenses often seem like a nuisance for the offense to avoid rather than an equal participant in the game. It ended when Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s last-ditch pass to the end zone, and Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted it. Seattle won 23-17. The rest of the playoffs had some other excellent games as well. Two other Wildcard games were won on Field Goals as time expired: the Saints over Eagles and 49ers over the Packers. Despite several great games, 2013 is dropped down a notch by its awful Super Bowl. Seattle and their number one defense were matched up against the Denver Broncos – who arguably had the best offense in NFL history. It was a great style matchup on paper, but it followed the same script as nearly all of these matchups – Seattle’s defense destroyed Denver’s offense and won 43-8. Not only is that a disgusting score for Super Bowl trivia nerds like me, Seattle led the game for all but the first seven seconds of play. This game was a colossal letdown. Overall, 2013 has some outstanding highlights but doesn’t have quite the balance through the rest of the games to make this more than just an average playoff season.


13. 1995
Super Bowl: Dallas 27 Pittsburgh 17
Avg Margin of Victory: 13.09
Close Games: 2
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 4
Best Game: Dallas 38 Green Bay 27 – NFC Championship Game
Worst Game: Dallas 30 Philadelphia 11 – NFC Divisional Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Craig Newsome recovering Derrick Lovelle’s fumble and returning it for a touchdown to start the route (GB at SF – NFC Divisional Round)

The 1995 playoffs began with one of the worst weekends of football in NFL playoff history. All four games were decided by at least 15 points, with three of the four basically decided by halftime. While the games were not competitive, they did retain the key hallmark of the historic 1995 regular season – lots and lots of scoring. No team scored fewer than 20 points, and the winning teams all scored at least 35. The games would get more competitive in the second weekend. The two AFC games were tightly contested into the fourth quarter and included the 9-7 Colts upset of the top-seeded 13-3 Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium 10-7. In the NFC, Dallas rolled as usual, but Green Bay did the unthinkable and broke through the NFC’s glass ceiling by smashing the 49ers in Candlestick Park 27-17. The Packers dominated from the get-go and would become the only NFC team to win a road Divisional Round game in the 1990s. What set 1995 apart was the terrific Conference Championship Games. The Colts and Steelers play a thriller at Three Rivers Stadium that sees the game end with Jim Harbaugh throwing a Hail Mary that briefly rests on the abdomen of the prone Aaron Bailey before being knocked to the turf and giving Pittsburgh the 20-16 win. Down south, the Packers and Cowboys played a classic worthy of their historic playoff rivalry. The shootout saw six lead changes before Dallas took the lead for good with 10 minutes left and holding on to win 38-27. I’ve grown to appreciate this game over the years. At the time, the 8-year-old me was devastated the Packers lost and spent the postgame show crying on my grandpa’s lap as he assured me Green Bay would win the Super Bowl next year. If only he had made an official wager on that prediction. The Super Bowl we got this year was also excellent. Pittsburgh duked it out in a well-played balanced game that turned in the 4th quarter when Neil O’Donnell threw a gift interception to Cowboys CB Larry Brown. Dallas won 27-17, but this game was far closer. Part of my affinity for 1995 might be due to nostalgia, as it was the first playoffs where I watched every game in its entirety. But I’d argue it’s also a very entertaining year. While the start was rocky, the finish was spectacular, and there were enough upsets and well-played games to make this one of the best seasons of the decade.


12. 2001
Super Bowl: New England 20 St. Louis 17
Avg Margin of Victory: 12.73
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 4
Best Game: New England 20 St. Louis 17 – Super Bowl XXXVI
Worst Game: Baltimore 20 Miami 3 – AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: The Tuck Rule and Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yard field goal in a blizzard (OAK at NE– AFC Divisional Round)

It’s hard to believe that the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady New England Patriots were once plucky underdogs that were nearly universally loved by the sports fan public. What a difference five championships (and about as many scandals) can make. The 2001 playoffs are all about the Pats’ rages to riches run. All three of their playoff games were tightly contested, but the two that went down in NFL history are the Tuck Rule and the Super Bowl. Their Divisional Round win over the Raiders provided some of the best images I’ve ever seen. I remember being in awe of each team’s ability to do anything at all in the blizzard conditions. It looked like there was a foot of snow of the ground throughout the game. As far as the Tuck Rule? Hell, I still don’t know. At the time, I thought it was a fumble. I believed that Brady had completed the pump fake and his arm was now still and waiting to throw again. I was shocked when it was overturned, but I had been on the Pats bandwagon all year, so I was happy. The Super Bowl was amazing. Not only did the Pats pull off the giant upset against the mighty St. Louis Rams juggernaut (that whole sentence looks like it came out of an alternate universe with all that has transpired in the years since), but it was also a great cultural moment for America. I’m not one to get hung up on the rah-rah Patriotism the NFL forces upon us these days, but in the wake of 9/11, all of these moments felt right and helped in the nation’s healing. Seeing the Superdome decked out in red, white, and blue while U2 played tribute to the victims of the attacks remains one of the best Super Bowl moments. The fact that the game turned out to be a classic was a bonus. The rest of 2001 is pretty average. The Eagles go on a nice run from the Wildcard round and notch what would be their first of four straight NFC Championship Game appearances. They play the Rams tough too in the NFC Title Game. I also can’t think of this year without imagining a blurry montage of Brett Favre throwing interceptions superimposed over Rams defenders running for touchdowns. Can’t win them all I guess. 2001 was a special year, given the cultural environment. New England distracted us from everything going on and gave us a magical run to a championship. I hope someday when their reign is over, 2001 will be my lasting memory of their dynasty. It was the one time we all wanted the Patriots to be champions.


11. 2006
Super Bowl: Indianapolis 29 Chicago 17
Avg Margin of Victory: 9.00
Close Games: 6
Blowouts: 2
Upsets: 2
Best Game: Indianapolis 38 New England 34 – AFC Championship Game
Worst Game: Indianapolis 23 Kansas City 8 – AFC Wildcard Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Marlin Jackson picks off Tom Brady - Peyton finally beats Tom (NE at IND – AFC Championship Game)

If I was listing great playoff seasons off the top of my head, I would never mention 2006. All I can think of is Rex Grossman and the Colts repeatedly kicking field goals. But when you dig a little deeper, this year is a hidden gem. The 9.0 point average margin of victory is tied for the narrowest of any playoff year on this 31-year list. 6 of the 11 contests are decided by 4 points or less. Two games ended with walkoff field goals. A third would have if Tony Romo could have fielded a snap on a field goal attempt. It’s just a damn good playoff year. The best game was the greatest ever matchup in the league’s greatest quarterback rivalry. In the AFC Championship Game, Peyton Manning brings his Colts back from 18 points down to beat Tom Brady’s Patriots 38-34 and go to his first Super Bowl. There are a couple of things that knock 2006 down a peg for me. One is the lousy NFC. Much like the AFC in 1989, it seemed like the NFC produced so many close games because none of the teams were very good. The Bears appeared like they might be the real deal, but the Super Bowl and subsequent seasons showed them to be pretenders. The other reason this year isn’t higher is due to the lackluster play of the Colts on their way to the Super Bowl. Despite possessing an array of offensive talent that would be envied by most teams in NFL history, they never clicked. They turned the ball over 9 times and kicked 14 field goals in their four playoff games. Yuck. Also, the Super Bowl is just ok. However, it still had some positives. The Bears lost, it was the first game I ever watched on an HD TV, and Prince’s halftime performance, including Purple Rain in the pouring rain, is a legendary moment in music history. Not much more to say about 2006. It’s a weird season and a weird playoffs, but it's chock full of outstanding, yet forgotten, games.


Next time, we look at the Top 10 Playoff Years!

Check out the rest of the series:

No. 31-26

No. 25-21

No. 20-16

No. 10-6 


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 

This is Part 3 of an ongoing series ranking every NFL playoffs I've ever seen. Check out yesterday's installment here. Here is Part 1 from Monday

Also, don't forget to vote for this year's Goldie Awards! Was beating the Browns the best moment? That's for you to decide!


20. 2005
Super Bowl: Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10
Avg Margin of Victory: 13.82
Close Games: 3
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 5
Best Game: Pittsburgh 21 Indianapolis 18 – AFC Divisional Playoff
Worst Game: Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10 – Super Bowl XL
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Jerome Bettis' fumble at the 1, Big Ben's tackle, Vanderjagt's missed FG (PIT at IND – AFC Divisional Round)

Looking back on 2005, I remember it more fondly than it probably deserves. There are two great storylines that I associate with this season: the Steelers run from the sixth seed to the championship, and Steve Smith’s invincibility. Everyone knows Pittsburgh’s story. After squandering a 15-1 record and Homefield Advantage in 2004, they come back and embark on an amazing run to the Super Bowl. The highlight of that journey is their 21-18 win at the top-seeded 14-2 Colts. It includes the wild ending where Jerome Bettis fumbles a yard away from what would have been the game icing score allowing the Colts to recover and subsequently drive for a game-winning field goal attempt, which Colts Kicker Mike Vanderjagt would epically shank as time expired. On the NFC side, nearly everyone but Panthers WR Steve Smith played uninspired. As a big Smith fan, I love 2005. In the Panthers Wildcard and Divisional Round victories, Smith hauled in a combined 22 receptions for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also ran four times for 38 yards and a another touchdown. He was a one-man wrecking crew. He was unable to will the flawed Panthers to the Super Bowl, however. In the NFC Championship Game, the Seattle Seahawks decided they would essentially triple-team Smith on offensive plays and take their chances with everyone else. It worked. Seattle won 34-14, but not before Steve Smith took his only punt return back 59 yards for a touchdown. Someday, I believe Steve Smith will get into the Hall of Fame, and the 2005 postseason should be one of the key reasons why. 2005 ends with Super Bowl XL. I say without exaggeration that this is one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever seen. I was rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the Seahawks, but the preponderance of penalties in critical moments made this such an unenjoyable experience that I was not even that happy for the Steelers. Their win felt tainted. It also didn’t help that two quarterbacks put on perhaps the worst combined showing by Super Bowl passers ever. This season was fun for the runs of the Steelers and Panthers, but Super Bowl XL was so bad, it nearly soiled the entire season.


19. 1990
Super Bowl: NY Giants 20 Buffalo 19
Avg Margin of Victory: 15.33
Close Games: 3
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 3
Best Game: NY Giants 20 Buffalo 19 – Super Bowl XXV
Worst Game: NY Giants 31 Chicago 3
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Scott Norwood’s Game-Winning Field Goal Attempt Sails Wide Left (BUF vs. NYG)

I don’t have a ton to say about the 1990 playoffs. It’s the first year of the six-team per conference format that is still in use today. The expanded playoffs did not provide expanded excitement, as just one of the four wildcard games produce much action. The Divisional Round is not much better, but we do get a classic Jim Kelly vs. Dan Marino shootout in the snow. Buffalo would outrun Miami 44-34, before demolishing the Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 the following week. Over in the NFC Divisional Round, it ended up being a mini-tournament of the four best teams of the 80s: Redskins at 49ers and Bears at Giants. Unfortunately, both of these are lopsided blowouts. The Giants went out to Candlestick Park the following week and beat San Francisco 15-13 in one of the hardest hitting games you’ll ever see. But 1990 is forever known for Super Bowl XXV. The Giants and Bills conflicting styles complemented each other beautifully and created an awesome Super Bowl. Bill Belichick’s gameplan to allow Buffalo free reign to run so they can stifle the pass is famous among football fanatics. While it slowed the Bills down, it nearly backfired as the Bills rushed into field goal range with :07 left. Of course, Scott Norwood would miss his 47-yard field goal attempt by a few feet and kickoff the Bills’ four years of Super Bowl misery. Super Bowl XXV is one of my favorite games ever, but the rest of the 1990 playoffs is pretty unremarkable.


18. 1996
Super Bowl: Green Bay 35 New England 21
Avg Margin of Victory: 15.73
Close Games: 2
Blowouts: 5
Upsets: 3
Best Game: Jacksonville 30 Denver 27 – AFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: New England 28 Pittsburgh 3 – AFC Divisional Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Desmond Howard's 99 yd KO Return clinches the title for Pack (NE vs. GB)

Since this is a Packers site, you might be surprised that this isn’t higher. If this were a list of my favorite playoffs, this would easily be no lower than two, because it’s one of the pair of Packers championships I experienced firsthand. From a more objective standpoint, the 1996 playoffs didn’t feature many classic games. They did have the memorable Jaguars win at Mile High Stadium over the Broncos in Jacksonville’s second season. It is one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history. However, the magnitude of that upset has grown larger over the years than it felt in the moment. We didn’t know at the time that Denver was going to win the next two Super Bowls. In 1996, the Broncos had only been in the playoffs once in the previous five years, and they felt much more like a fluke 13-3 team that had dominated a bad AFC than a true NFL power. What made this year more fun than some others in the 90s was how different it felt. Just once in the previous eight seasons had there been an NFC Title game without the Cowboys or 49ers or an AFC Championship game without the Steelers or Bills. And those teams occupied all but a couple of the Super Bowls spots in the decade. In 1996, we got the Packers, hosting their first title game at Lambeau Field in 29 years, and the Patriots, hosting their first conference title game ever. Their respective opponents would be the 1995 expansion teams: the Panthers and Jaguars. After seeing so little parity in the 80s and 90s, it was surreal that this was the NFL’s final four, and it gave the playoffs it’s most vibrant feel in years (especially considering the teams all had bright, well-contrasting uniform colors). 1996 also culminated in a pretty darn good Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXXI might not seem that great to the casual fan in the present day due to the ridiculous number of amazing Super Bowls we’ve had in the last twenty years, but at the time, this was very exciting. In 2001, Sports Illustrated ranked Green Bay’s back and forth 35-21 victory over New England as the tenth best game in Super Bowl history. Plus, the Packers won the Super Bowl with one of the most dominant teams ever. How could that not skew my opinion? The only thing I wish had been different was for Dallas to have come to Lambeau in the NFC Championship Game instead of Carolina. While the Packers finally stomped them in Green Bay in the 1997 regular season, this would have made this Super Bowl run the perfect capstone for Packers fans. As it is, it’s still pretty great, and 1996 holds some of my fondest NFL memories.


17. 1987
Super Bowl: Washington 42 Denver 10
Avg Margin of Victory: 15.33
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 5
Best Game: Denver 38 Cleveland 33 – AFC Championship Game
Worst Game: Minnesota 44 New Orleans 10 – NFC Wildcard Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Redskins 35 point 2nd Quarter (WAS vs. DEN – Super Bowl XXII)

While I was less than a year old when the 1987 playoffs occurred, I know this season better than most I actually experienced. As a young football fan in the mid-1990s, I wanted to get my hands on any football-related media I could. I read any old football book I could find, and, since I could not afford the new ones, I would hunt bargain bins at video stores looking for old NFL VHS tapes. The first I ever bought was NFL ’87 - the one-hour cinematic recap of the 1987 season. I think I watched that tape every Saturday morning for at least a year. When I was bored at school, I would recite the entire narration of the program in my head to pass the time (yes I had friends and yes I got good grades). When I finally acquired the broadcast copies of these games, it was surreal to see them as they were. Most of it still held up. Sure Vikings receiver Anthony Carter’s acrobatic catches that propelled Minnesota to an all-time great upset over the 49ers at Candlestick Park looked cooler in slow motion. And Ernest Byner’s fumble at the end of the classic 38-33 Broncos win over Cleveland in the AFC Championship Game is more dramatic with the NFL Films music. But the one thing that looked even more impressive on the original broadcast than on NFL Films was the Washington Redskins 2nd quarter explosion in Super Bowl XXII. In the game, the Broncos take a 10-0 lead to the 2nd period while looking unstoppable through the opening quarter. Their offense is humming, and their defense is completely suffocating the Redskins attack. Then, for reasons I don’t understand, the Redskins immediately become a juggernaut. I don’t think I have ever seen an offense as good as Washington was in that second quarter. The Redskins gain 356 yards (228 passing and 128 rushing) and score 35 points on only 19 plays! It’s one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen in sports. Every time I see that first quarter, I just can’t fathom that what is about to transpire will actually happen. 1987 is a very nostalgic year for me, but it’s also a pretty good year by 1980s standards. There are five upsets. Both title games are fantastic. The Vikings are as fun a team to watch as the Vikings are capable of being for a Packers fan. Two of my childhood favorites, Bernie Kosar’s Browns and Joe Gibbs’ Redskins, are at their absolute best. And the Super Bowl produced some of the most incredible action you’ll ever see in a 42-10 blowout. I’ll always have a soft spot for these playoffs.


16. 2015
Super Bowl: Denver 24 Carolina 10
Avg Margin of Victory: 11.55
Close Games: 7
Blowouts: 3
Upsets: 3
Best Game: Arizona 23 Green Bay 20– NFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: Kansas City 30 Houston 0 – AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Aaron Rodgers hits Jeff Janis on a Hail Mary with :00 left in Regulation to Force Overtime. Then I don’t remember what happened (GB at ARZ – NFC Divisional Round)

Despite beginning with a Chiefs 30-0 win over the hapless Houston Texans, the first two weekends of the 2015 playoffs were some of the most memorable in NFL History. In addition to having 7 of 8 games be competitive affairs, it produced three of the most memorable finishes of all-time. On Wildcard Saturday, the Bengals and Steelers had one of the ugliest, most controversial games in memory. I don’t think I have to recap that game for anyone reading this, but it’s one of the strangest series of events you’ll ever see as the Steelers win 18-16 on a walk-off field goal. The following day, the Vikings hosted the Seahawks for one of the coldest games on record in perhaps the final outdoor game ever to be played in Minnesota (provided their new roof doesn’t cave in like the old one). Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal with seconds left delivering Seattle a 10-9 win. Then, of course, we have the Packers vs. Cardinals Divisional Round matchup. Packers WR Jeff Janis manages to record 101 receiving yards on a single drive. Memorably, Janis caught a 41 yard Hail Mary from an unbelievable Aaron Rodgers pass that saw him escape a blitz and throw the ball 50 yards without setting his feet. Of course, as they do, the Packers lost anyways in overtime 26-20. Following the drama of the Divisional Round, the conference title games gave us matchups of the teams that had dominated the 2015 regular season: New England vs. Denver and Arizona vs. Carolina. From this point on, the playoffs took a total nose dive. The Patriots and Broncos came down to the wire, but we had seen Brady vs. Manning so many times, it didn’t feel special. Not helping matters, Peyton Manning was clearly on borrowed time. I wanted it to be a shootout, but it ended up being close because Peyton couldn’t do it anymore and Brady couldn’t crack the vicious Broncos defense. It’s a good game, but it was quickly forgotten. In the NFC, the Panthers obliterated the Cardinals 49-15 in a game that saw Carson Palmer turn in one of the worst performances in championship game history. The Super Bowl was great on paper, with Carolina’s number one offense against the Broncos number one defense. As these matchups tend to go, the elite defense completely stymied the elite offense, and Denver was able to win a lackluster 24-10 affair that saw them register some of the worst offensive totals for a winning team. The 2015 playoff started with a bang, but fizzled out at the end, making this postseason less enjoyable than it could have been.


In part 4, we begin the top half of the list. Has your favorite year appeared yet? What are your thoughts on these five seasons discussed today?


No. 31-26

No. 25-21

No. 15-11

No. 10-6


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series ranking every NFL playoffs I've ever seen. Check out yesterday's installment here.

Also, vote for this year's Goldie Award's! You don't want to just stand there and watch the action unfold without you, like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix playing safety in 2017, do you?


25. 2004
Super Bowl: New England 24 Philadelphia 21
Avg Margin of Victory: 13.27
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 3
Best Game: NY Jets 20 San Diego 17 – AFC Wildcard Round
Worst Game: Philadelphia 27 Atlanta 10 – NFC Championship Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Randy Moss mock moons the Lambeau crowd and Joe Buck loses his mind (MIN at GB – NFC Wildcard Round)

After the spectacular 2003 playoffs, I decided to start recording all NFL playoff games for my collection the following year. As luck would have it, the 2004 playoffs was one of the worst in recent memory. It was clear from the middle of the season that the Steelers (15-1), Patriots (14-2), and Eagles (13-3) were head and shoulders above all other teams in the NFL and would decide the Super Bowl. That was mostly how it played out. The Eagles easily reached the Super Bowl notching two comfortable but unimpressive wins. Things were slightly more interesting in the AFC. In the Divisional Round, Peyton Manning and the Colts traveled to play Tom Brady and the Patriots for the 2nd year in a row. Peyton was coming off his record-setting 49 touchdown season and was having maybe the best quarterback season in NFL history. As fate would have it, a snowstorm settled over Foxboro that day, and our Brady vs. Manning dual became a punchless 20-3 Patriots win where neither quarterback played very well. The Steelers struggled in their initial playoff outing but still beat the Jets 20-17 in overtime in a messy game that both teams continuously tried to give away (Steelers with interceptions and the Jets with missed field goals). In the AFC Title game, rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger showed himself to be not quite ready for prime time. Big Ben turned in a disastrous performance, and the Patriots prevailed 41-27. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles and Patriots both played below their lofty standards. The game was a close one, but not a particularly good one. The Patriots won 24-21 in their least memorable Super Bowl game in the Belichick/Brady era and secured their 3rd title in 4 years. While the rest of the playoffs produced a few good games on Wildcard weekend, they were between heavily flawed teams that had no hope of winning a championship (plus it didn’t help that the two teams I was rooting for, San Diego and Green Bay, were knocked out in the first round). The 2004 playoffs were about those three power teams. The Patriots made the fewest mistakes and took home the Lombardi Trophy, but it was far less interesting than it could have been.


24. 1989
Super Bowl: San Francisco 55 Denver 10
Avg Margin of Victory: 16.00
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 3
Best Game: Cleveland 34 Buffalo 30 – AFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: San Francisco 30 LA Rams 3 – NFC Championship Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Joe Montana can’t be stopped (SF vs. DEN – Super Bowl XXIV)

The AFC lost every Super Bowl from 1984-1996. In the middle of that streak of futility, the AFC produced possibly their worst season. The Denver Broncos were the only AFC team to win more than nine games in 1989. However, the conference’s relative mediocrity actually led to some excellent playoff games. All four AFC playoff games were close or competitive. The best game was a wild shootout at Cleveland Municipal Stadium between the Browns and Bills in the Divisional Round. Cleveland won 34-30 by preserving the game when Clay Matthews intercepted Jim Kelly's pass at the one-yard line with just seconds remaining. Denver would win the AFC for the 3rd time in four years and meet the 49ers, who had steamrolled through the NFC field. Outside of the Rams 19-13 overtime win in New York, the other NFC games were all decided by 14 points or more. Famously, the Denver/San Francisco Super Bowl is a blowout, but it’s one of the most entertaining blowouts you’ll ever see. The 49ers offense is so good against the number one Denver defense, that it looks like a practice nine on seven drill. San Francisco’s defense was equally as dominant against John Elway and company. Super Bowl XXIV is not a good game, but there was a beauty and elegance to the 49ers destruction that’s rarely seen in a game that lopsided. Plus, Bud Bowl II is on during the commercial breaks to keep your interest.

The 1989 playoffs did not have any all-time great games, but it had enough of what made the 80s great that I can’t hate on it too much. It’s far from one of the better playoff years, but I enjoyed it. Granted, this was one year I didn’t experience in real-time. Fans of the day that didn’t know that this would be the Super Bowl swan song for Joe Montana’s 49ers and many 80s NFL staples (Cleveland, LA Rams, Reeves’ Broncos last Super Bowl) might have found it more frustrating. If only the 1989 Cardiac Packers had won that tiebreaker over the Vikings. They probably would’ve won three one-point games on their way to a Super Bowl title, vaulting this year into the top five. Surely they would’ve beaten the 49ers for a second time that year and not lost 42-3 or something. I’m sure.


23. 1993
Super Bowl: Dallas 30 Buffalo 13
Avg Margin of Victory: 13.45
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 5
Upsets: 2
Best Game: Green Bay 28 Detroit 24 – NFC Wildcard Round
Worst Game: San Francisco 44 NY Giants 3 – NFC Divisional Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Favre to Sharpe for a 40-yard game-winning TD with :55 Left (GB at DET – NFC Wildcard Round)

The 1993 Wildcard Round is one of the best weekends in NFL playoff history. It’s got a bit of everything – one of Montana’s last comebacks, one of Favre’s first comebacks, a defensive slugfest in New York, and an offensive shootout in LA. The Divisional Round is where things start getting bad. Both AFC games are good, but both NFC games are your typical 90s one-sided destructions. The Conference Title matchups pit Montana’s Chiefs at Buffalo and a rematch of the 1992 championship game - 49ers at Cowboys. While fans started to dream of a Super Bowl matching Steve Young’s 49ers against Joe Montana’s Chiefs, both teams were underdogs, and if everything went as expected, we’d have a rematch of the previous year’s awful Super Bowl. That’s precisely what happened. The Bills knocked Montana out of the game in the 3rd quarter and cruised to a dominating 30-13 win. The Cowboys rolled the 49ers 38-21 and set up the Super Bowl no one wanted to see. Bills vs. Cowboys II started off looking like it might flip the script. Dallas was uncharacteristically sloppy and Buffalo was playing well. The Bills led 13-6 at halftime and received the second half kickoff. Then disaster struck when Buffalo's Thurman Thomas fumbled on the Bills' first drive. James Washington of the Cowboys scooped it up and ran it for the game-tying touchdown. After that mistake, the Bills completely crumble under the pressure and Dallas dominates from that moment forward. The Cowboys win 30-13 and seals Buffalo’s sad fate as the ultimate big game loser. The 1993 playoffs feel like a missed opportunity. Many new, exciting playoff teams were available to create some fresh matchups in the later rounds, but we got stuck with rematches in the two biggest games of the year (NFC Championship and Super Bowl). Neither was good, and Dallas won them both for the second year in a row. That ending leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It may have been exciting for Cowboys fans, but it’s a chore for the average football fan.


22. 1991
Super Bowl: Washington 37  Buffalo 24
Avg Margin of Victory: 13.00
Close Games: 6
Blowouts: 4
Upsets: 2
Best Game: Denver 26  Houston 24 – AFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: Washington 37  Buffalo 24 – Super Bowl XXVI
Eric’s Strongest Memory: John Elway Drives the Broncos to a Last-Second Victory (HOU at DEN - AFC Divisional Round)

Because I wasn’t watching at the time, I still am not quite sure the 1991 playoffs ever happened. It’s just such a weird lineup of teams. Missing are some of the most dominant teams of the era: the 49ers, Giants, and Dolphins. Instead, we have teams like the Falcons, Jets, and Raiders – teams that made few appearances in the late 80s and would mostly be absent for the rest of the 90s. Plus, since I didn’t see this first hand, there are several odd clashing of eras type games like Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys vs. Mike Ditka’s Bears and Dan Reeves Broncos vs. Marv Levy’s Bills in a championship game. It just has a strange vibe. The playoffs themselves aren’t terrible. Typical of the decade, the 1991 playoffs start with four competitive Wildcard Round games. Also, typical of the decade, most of the Divisional Round sees the home teams dominate – including the eye-popping result of Wayne Fontes’ Lions pulverizing Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys 38-6. There is a gem in Denver’s 26-24 win over Houston. In one of Elway’s lesser-known classics, he rallies the Broncos from 21-6 down and drives them into field goal range in the final seconds despite starting at their own 2 with less than 2 minutes remaining and having to convert two fourth downs. The rest of the playoff is a disappointment. Buffalo sneaks past Denver 10-7 in the title game despite Elway missing the entire second half. Washington spends its final two games making its case as the best team ever by crushing Detroit 41-10 and then steamrolling Buffalo in the Super Bowl. While the 37-24 score doesn’t look bad enough to make this the worst game of the playoffs, the score was 37-10 before Joe Gibbs called off the hogs. For a Super Bowl matchup that looked amazing on paper, it was very disappointing that it didn’t result in a better game. 1991 feels so out of place in the late 80s and early 90s period in many ways, but fits nicely in one aspect: it features a dominant NFC power smashing the competition and little drama following Wildcard weekend.


21. 1998
Super Bowl: Denver 34  Atlanta 19
Avg Margin of Victory: 12.36
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 2
Upsets: 2
Best Game: Atlanta 30  Minnesota 27 – AFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: Denver 34  Atlanta 19 – Super Bowl XXXIII
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Gary Anderson misses his kick, Morten Anderson makes his (ATL at MIN - NFC Championship Game)

1998 felt like a changing of the guard. For most of the 90s, the Cowboys, 49ers, Packers, Bills, and Steelers featured prominently in the playoffs. This year, all but the 49ers were gone after the first weekend. That led to some surreal Divisional Round games. Cardinals vs. Vikings? Jaguars vs. Jets? While it felt at the time like these new teams were here to stay, the only standard that was set by 1998 was that chaos and high turnover of playoff teams would become the norm for the next several years. There aren’t many blowouts this year, but there are many one-sided games where one team led handily from bell to bell. There were, however, several very memorable moments. The upstart Arizona Cardinals beat the Cowboys in Dallas 20-7. This was the most shocking upset I have ever seen in the playoffs. The Cardinals hadn’t won a game in Dallas in the 90s and lost most of the games by several touchdowns. This would be like Buffalo destroying New England in a playoff game in Foxboro. It was a result that seemed impossible. 1998 also produced two bonafide classics. The first was the Catch II when Jerry Rice fumbled late in the game and the Packers beat San Francisco for the fourth consecutive season Terrell Owens caught a pass in heavy traffic with three seconds left to win 30-27 over the Packers and end the Mike Holmgren era in Green Bay. The second was the Atlanta Falcons iconic win over the 15-1 Vikings at the Metrodome in the NFC Championship Game. After Gary Anderson missed a field goal that would’ve put the Vikings up 10 with just over 2 minutes to play, the Falcons drove the field and tied the game with :57 seconds left. After a back and forth overtime period, Atlanta won 30-27 on a 38 yard Morten Anderson field goal and sent the Falcons to their first Super Bowl. The reason 1998 is lower is that the Falcons Super Bowl opponent, the Denver Broncos, was nearly unstoppable throughout the playoffs. They crushed the Dolphins 38-3, in a game that was more lopsided than the score suggests, before topping the Jets at home 23-10. In the Super Bowl, Denver didn’t even play that well but easily trounced Atlanta 34-19. 1998 was a year of change and had quite a few memorable moments, but the Super Bowl was a bore and produced a repeat champion without sufficiently testing them. That can’t help but make the year feel disappointing.


Tomorrow we finish up the bottom half of playoff years. What are your thoughts of the playoff years discussed today? Any rankings you would change?

No. 31-26

No. 20-16

No. 15-11

No. 10-6


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 

Don’t Forget to Vote in this Year’s GOLDIE AWARDS!!! With your help, they promise to be at least as good as the Packers were with Brett Hundley at quarterback.

The 2017 NFL season is in the books. During the regular season, controversy, injuries, and an overall lack of quality play made it one of the most maligned seasons in recent memory. Ratings were down, and fan interest seemed to be waning. The NFL needed to get a home run out of the playoffs to save the season in the eyes of many…and boy did they get it. Despite a field lacking many traditional power teams and stars, the 2017 Playoffs were as enjoyable as any I’ve ever seen. Many new teams and faces made a name for themselves and combined to produce classic after classic. In the end, it was castoff backup quarterback Nick Foles outdueling the legendary Tom Brady in a Super Bowl shootout for the ages and delivering the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the NFL’s classic franchises, their first championship in nearly six decades. This postseason won’t soon be forgotten.


I began to wonder where I would rank the 2017 playoffs among the postseasons I’ve seen. I was born in 1987 and have seen every playoff game that occurred in my lifetime, including the last 23 seasons as they happened. Which was the best? Throughout this week, I’ll rank each of the past 31 playoff seasons by their general excitement and their enjoyability to watch for football fans. I tried my best to remove my obvious Packers’ bias and assessed each year on things like the number of close games (decided by one score or less) vs. blowouts (decided by three or more scores), the number of upsets, and my memories. In the event I found two years to be very similar, I gave the higher ranking to whichever year had the better Super Bowl. After all, how something ends usually determines how we feel about it in the long run. Obviously, this is very subjective, but it should create the opportunity for some fun discussion.

I’ll be counting down five years each day, but since we have an odd number, today, you’ll get an extra year. I’m sure you are very excited. Please share any comments you have below. On to the list!!


31. 2000
Super Bowl: Baltimore 34 NY Giants 7
Avg Margin of Victory: 17.73 pts
Close Games: 2
Blowouts: 6
Upsets: 6
Best Game: New Orleans 31 St. Louis 28 – NFC Wildcard
Worst Game: Baltimore 34 NY Giants 7 – Super Bowl XXXV
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Ravens and Giants score three Touchdowns in 36 Seconds (BAL vs. NYG – Super Bowl XXXV)

The 2000 playoffs are remembered for the sheer dominance of the Baltimore Ravens defense. In four games, they gave up just one offensive touchdown. Their opponents scored 23 total points (5.75 per game). Once you get past how damn impressive that is, all you are left with are some terrible football games. The Ravens offense didn’t help matters. In their run to a Super Bowl Championship, Baltimore’s offense failed to top 300 total yards a single time. QB Trent Dilfer never topped 200 yards passing and never completed more than 12 passes in a game (Remember that next time someone tells you that quarterbacks should be judged by championships). The rest of the playoffs were equally as dull. Five of 11 games saw the loser score three or fewer points. The only exciting day of the entire playoffs was the first Saturday. The Dolphins opened the playoffs by beating the Colts 23-17 in overtime after a 17 yard Lamar Smith TD run. In the late game, the Saints were on their way to crushing the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams before the Greatest Show on Turf came alive. The Rams rallied from 24 points down and closed to within 31-28 with about two minutes left. With the offense ready to embark on a game-winning drive, Rams WR Az Hakim fumbled the Saints punt. New Orleans’ recovered and escaped with the franchise’s first playoff win. Those are the only highlights. If you are a crazy fan that likes to see touchdowns and close games, 2000 has almost nothing for you. I initially had this ranked higher due to enjoying Baltimore’s shocking run from the Wildcard Round as a teenager watching it live. As I was making this list, I kept pushing 2000 lower and lower. There literally aren’t any good games after the first day of the playoffs. I doubt even Ravens fans spend much time rewatching their snoozers from 2000. This year is terrible.


30. 1994
Super Bowl: San Francisco 49 San Diego 26
Avg Margin of Victory: 13.73 pts
Close Games: 4
Blowouts: 5
Upsets: 2
Best Game: San Diego 22 Miami 21 – AFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: San Francisco 49 San Diego 26 – Super Bowl XXIX
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Dennis Gibson breaks up Neil O’Donnell’s 4th down pass at the goalline (SD at PIT- AFC Championship)

In 1994, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers were head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL and were really the only two teams with a serious chance to win a title that season. However, this was the first year that I saw live, so I was excited, nonetheless. As expected, both steamrolled to the NFC Title Game. Once there, they played a largely forgettable game, as the 49ers raced out in front 21-0 in the 1st quarter and held on to a two-score lead throughout the game before winning 38-28. The Chargers had an exciting run in the AFC by winning two last-second heart-stoppers over Miami and Pittsburgh. Of course, that led to them getting squashed like a bug by the 49ers on Super Bowl Sunday in probably the most one-sided game I’ve ever seen. The rest of the playoffs offered little in the way of excitement. Lions/Packers and Chiefs/Dolphins were competitive games, but the Detroit and Green Bay matchup was very disappointing compared to their regular season shootouts and the Dan Marino vs. Joe Montana classic dual fizzled after halftime. The rest of the playoffs were either blowouts or poorly played games. 1994 was about as uneventful as the NFL playoffs can be, and it ended with a Super Bowl were Goliath effortlessly crushes David. As a kid who had made a custom Chargers jersey and banner in preparation for my very first Super Bowl experience, it was an early reminder that sports are not like movies or cartoons: your heroes usually lose in the end.


29. 2002
Super Bowl: Tampa Bay 48 Oakland 21
Avg Margin of Victory: 17.09 pts
Close Games: 3
Blowouts: 7
Upsets: 3
Best Game: San Francisco 39 NY Giants 38 – NFC Wildcard Round
Worst Game: Tampa Bay 31 San Francisco 6 - NFC Divisional Playoff
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Rich Gannon keeps throwing pick-sixes in the Super Bowl (OAK vs. TB – Super Bowl XXXVII)

There isn’t much remarkable about the 2002 playoffs – just a lot of one-sided games. This was the only year in the first decade of the new millennium that the teams with first round byes played like the best teams in the league. Tennessee got a scare from the Steelers (and got a second chance on their game-winning field goal due to a dubious roughing the kicker penalty), but the other three teams coasted to convincing blowout wins over the Wildcard winners. Neither conference title games were all that memorable either. The Super Bowl matched the Raiders' number one offense vs. Tampa’s number one defense. The Bucs defense was the best offense AND defense that day, scoring as many points as the Raiders by themselves and cruised to the franchise’s first and only championship with a 48-21 win. Much like 2000, these playoffs only featured one solid day of action. The Steelers kicked off a wild Wildcard Sunday by fighting back from a 17 point deficit in the 2nd half to beat the Browns 36-33 in the snow and mud (yes, the new Browns almost won a playoff game once). This game is mostly forgotten because that evening, the 49ers one-upped the Steelers. After falling behind the New York Giants 38-14 in the 3rd quarter, San Francisco scored on four straight possessions to take a 39-38 lead with a minute remaining. Then the game entered NFL folklore for its crazy ending. When attempting a game-winning field goal, a poor snap by the Giants led to a wild scramble to get off a pass attempt. There were lineman downfield, and a blatant tackle of a Giants “receiver” went uncalled by the referees. The Niners won and provided some of the only excitement for football fans in the 2002 playoffs. Ultimately, I prefer this year over 2000 because the Raiders’ blowouts had a lot of scoring, and the Bucs defense is more interesting to watch than the Ravens due to all the touchdowns they score. Still, both years left you feeling empty.


28. 1992
Super Bowl: Dallas 52 Buffalo 17
Avg Margin of Victory: 18.18 pts
Close Games: 2
Blowouts: 8
Upsets: 4
Best Game: Buffalo 41 Houston 38 – AFC Wildcard Round
Worst Game: Buffalo 29 Miami 10 – AFC Championship Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Frank Reich throwing TDs to Andre Reed to power Buffalo’s comeback over the Oilers (HOU at BUF – AFC Wildcard Round)

If 1994 is the culmination of Dallas and San Francisco’s dominance, 1992 is the beginning. However, the matchup still felt fresh here, as these Cowboys were still new to the playoff scene, and the teams hadn't played since Steve Young took the 49ers' quarterback reins from Joe Montana. This game is slightly better too, with the upstart Cowboys winning 30-20 at rainy Candlestick Park. The rest of the playoffs are mostly one-sided affairs. The eight blowouts are the most in any playoff year on this countdown. However, there were a few highlights. Washington’s last stand under Joe Gibbs sees them take the 49ers to the limit in the Divisional Round before losing 20-13. The Eagles win their only playoff game of the Randall Cunningham/Reggie White era by coming from 13 points down in the 4th quarter and running away from the Saints 36-20. But this playoff year is forever defined by the Buffalo Bills and Frank Reich. Filling in for injured starter Jim Kelly, Reich led the Bills from 35-3 down in the second half to stun the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime. This game is a classic that everyone should see. The remainder of the Bills run is largely terrible. They beat Pittsburgh and Miami by a combined 49-13 and then get demolished by Dallas 52-17 in the Super Bowl. Despite the awful Super Bowl capstone, I went with the AFC Championship as the worst game of the 1992 playoffs. Buffalo and Miami had many classic matchups in the 1990s, but their meeting in the conference finals was a sloppy, mistake-filled, bore of a game. It was apparent to even the most casual football fans that the winner was going to be nothing but a mere speed bump for the NFC winner on their road to a championship in Super Bowl XXVII. When I think of the lopsided AFC/NFC balance in the 1980s and 1990s, my first thought is always Championship Sunday in January 1993. The drastic difference in the quality of play was never more apparent than it was that afternoon.


27. 1988
Super Bowl: San Francisco 20 Cincinnati 16
Avg Margin of Victory: 11.11
Close Games: 3
Blowouts: 2
Upsets: 1
Best Game: San Francisco 20 Cincinnati 16 – Super Bowl XXIII
Worst Game: San Francisco 28 Chicago 3 – NFC Championship Game
Eric’s Strongest Memory: Montana to Taylor clinches a Super Bowl win with :34 left (CIN vs. SF – Super Bowl XXIII)

1988 is the lowest-ranked year that has a good Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXIII is a classic game, and Joe Montana’s game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor provided perhaps the defining image of the legendary quarterback’s career (with the possible exception of the ‘The Catch’ in the 1981 NFC Championship Game). The rest of the 1988 playoffs were not very good. Some of the games that appear close actually aren’t do to the lack of a two-point conversion option. The Bears 20-12 win over the Eagles and the Bengals 21-13 win over the Seahawks are actually two-score games in that era. This year is disappointing for several reasons. It contains few blowouts, but few competitive games either. Most games saw one team consistently outpacing another without ever putting them away convincingly. Also, few unexpected things happened. Houston beating Cleveland in the AFC Wildcard game was the only upset of the playoffs - the fewest number of upsets in the last 30 years. The Bears/Eagles famous Fog Bowl is an interesting spectacle for about 5 minutes, but it really sucks as an overall viewing experience. I found myself getting a headache trying to decipher what was going on in the second half despite watching a good copy on a modern TV. I can’t imagine trying to watch it through antenna static on an old console TV. It’s also disappointing that the high flying Bengals offense failed to show up in the playoffs. Despite coming within a fingertip of winning it all, Cincinnati was past its peak by the postseason. League MVP Boomer Esiason turned in one of the all-time worst postseason runs for a quarterback. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were superb, but with the Redskins and Giants failing to make the playoffs, it feels slightly hallow against shallower competition. As a Packers’ fan, it’s sort of fun to watch the Niners stomp out the myth of Ditka’s Bears on a below-zero night at Soldier Field, but I doubt they had much legend by then anyways. By 1988, the Bears and their defense had proven themselves to be a paper tiger in all years but 1985. Perhaps I would view this year better had the Bengals won the title. They had championship-level stories and personalities and remain one of my favorite teams to go back and watch. If you want to see Montana and Rice at their peak or experience the atmosphere at “The Jungle” in Riverfront Stadium, check this year out. Otherwise, there are better years from the 1980s.


26. 2016
Super Bowl: New England 34 Atlanta 28
Avg Margin of Victory: 14.82
Close Games: 3
Blowouts: 6
Upsets: 2
Best Game: Green Bay 34 Dallas 31 – NFC Divisional Round
Worst Game: Houston 27 Oakland 14 – AFC Wildcard Round
Eric’s Strongest Memory: The Falcons wilt and die with a Super Bowl within their grasp and annoyingly give lazy people the final bit of evidence they need to elevate Tom Brady to Michael Jordan status (NE vs. ATL – Super Bowl LII)

Yes, part of this ranking is due to my saltiness over the result of the Super Bowl. And while it might seem strange to rank a year with arguably a top 10 Super Bowl this low, you have to remember how god awful the rest of the 2016 playoffs were. The AFC playoffs were a forgone conclusion with teams led by Connor Cook, Brock Osweiler, and Matt Moore trying to unseat Tom Brady’s top-seeded Patriots. The only good game in the AFC Playoffs, the Steelers 18-16 win over the Chiefs, saw the winning team fail to score a touchdown and the final margin coming due to a penalty wiping out the game-tying two point conversion. The NFC playoffs were nearly as bad. Only one game was decided by fewer than 16 points. That lone exception was a classic. Green Bay beat the Cowboys 34-31 in Dallas by kicking a game-winning field goal and capping one of the best 4th quarters in playoff history. Outside of that, the 2016 playoffs were very uninteresting. It featured blowouts with the favorites almost always winning. These games were played just 13 months ago and how many do you remember?


Check back tomorrow for a continuation of the list. What are your memories of the playoff years discussed today? Do you remember any of these seasons more fondly than I do?


No. 25-21

No. 20-16

No. 15-11

No. 10-6


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 

Due to scheduling, we are not going to have our traditional day-after-Super Bowl Podcast. I wanted to share some of my thoughts in writing while they’re fresh and hope we can get another podcast posted soon. In no order, here are my biggest takeaways from yesterday’s game.


Despite the NFL’s Issues in this Modern Era, They Can Always Count on the Super Bowl to Deliver.
In January 1997, the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI to win their first championship in 29 years. While exciting for Packers fans, it marked the sixth straight Super Bowl decided by at least 10 points. Blowouts had been the norm throughout the first 31 Super Bowls. The average margin of victory had been 16.6 points with just seven games decided by one score or less. Commercials and halftime performances became defining features of the Super Bowl in large part because the one-sided games themselves rarely provided entertainment to anyone but hardcore football fans. Then, in 1998, the Broncos shocked the world and won a 31-24 classic to beat the heavily favored Packers. This game ushered in the modern era of the Super Bowl, where nearly every year, we’re treated to one of the greatest games of all time. After last night’s gem, 13 of the 22 Super Bowls since 1997 have been decided by one score or less. Two others were within one score with under 4 minutes remaining. There is a generation of young football fans that have never known the Super Bowl be anything but a classic. Today’s NFL has many issues, but the Super Bowl almost always delivers four hours of entertainment that is unequaled anywhere else.


The Loss Did Not Harm Tom Brady's Legacy. 
I was rooting for the Patriots to lose. Hard. I have grown so tired of seeing the Patriots and watching the media fawn over their joyless pursuit of winning. I also believe championships are a poor way to judge the greatness of a quarterback, and Tom Brady’s recent inexplicably lucky Super Bowl wins have added to roar of the unbearable “COUNT TEH RINGZ” crowd. Then yesterday happened. Tom Brady’s performance was mostly outstanding. He broke his own record for passing yards in a Super Bowl, while also becoming the first player to surpass 500 passing yards in a playoff game (breaking my childhood favorite Bernie Kosar’s 31-year-old record for most passing yards in a playoff game). It made me gain a new appreciation for what Tom Brady has accomplished. Sure, they’ve been incredibly fortunate through the years with frequent lucky bounces and early playoff exits by their would-be biggest competitors. Still, yesterday made me finally see the Patriots Dynasty 2.0 for what it really is – Tom Brady and his backup band. He looked like Aaron Rodgers last night – a guy on a defective team that needs him to play perfectly to win. Tom Brady was 90% perfect last night, and it wasn’t enough.


Now I have enough self-awareness to realize I only achieved this perspective because the Patriots lost last night. Had they won, I would be doubling down on my belief that arguing Tom Brady is the greatest because of his rings is simplistic at best and wrong at worst. But seeing Brady get treated like a failure for losing by fans on Social Media almost compels me to overcompensate the other way. Make no mistake, I’m taking glee in the misery of the Patriots today. As Tom Brady said in his press conference, “No one is going to feel sorry for us.” Nor should they. But last night Tom Brady was as good as anyone has ever been in a Super Bowl. If you thought he was the GOAT yesterday morning, you should be just as convinced today.


If You Want to Be a Champion, Don’t Become an MVP
Tom Brady became the 3rd straight NFL Most Valuable Player Award winner to lose the Super Bowl. Kurt Warner, 19 seasons ago, remains the last MVP to win the Super Bowl in the same season. However, most strange is that losing the Super Bowl/ Championship game is overwhelmingly the most common fate for an NFL MVP since the award’s inception in 1961. Of the 59 recipients of the award, 21 of them have lost the League Championship Game or Super Bowl, while just 12 have won it. Many argue that the MVP Award too often goes to a top player on one of the best teams rather than an award going to a player that is genuinely the league’s most valuable. But this shows that maybe the voters are getting it right – the league MVPs are carrying their flawed teams to heights that would be unachievable without them. That indeed appeared to be the case of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last night.


The Eagles have the Most Unique Quarterback Situation in NFL History
Nick Foles completed his magical run last night by notching his 3rd straight game with 100.0+ quarterback rating and earning Super Bowl MVP honors. It’s easy to contrast the Eagles season with the Packers season and wonder what Green Bay could have done with a more experienced, competent backup quarterback. But while the Eagles defense was fabulous in the two NFC playoff games, last night was all Foles. The defense was helpless against that Patriot attack, but Foles played like a franchise quarterback and was able to win a shootout of record-breaking proportions. I cannot imagine Carson Wentz playing better than Foles did last night. He outperformed Tom Brady on one of the best nights of his legendary career. Philadelphia will enter the 2018 offseason with the most unique quarterback situation in NFL History. Their backup quarterback is the reigning Super Bowl MVP. Their incumbent starter was well on his way to becoming NFL MVP before he injured his knee and is just five weeks past his 25th birthday. This situation is not like Jeff Hostetler and Phil Simms for the 1991 Giants. Hostetler was a game manager for a great Super Bowl-winning team, and Phil Simms was a career game manager in his mid-30s. The Eagles have a very tough choice, and I’m not sure what they should do. It seems obvious to go with Carson Wentz. He was fantastic this year and has his entire future ahead of him. But after seeing the regression of Derek Carr this year from MVP candidate to average following his injury, I’d be somewhat wary that Wentz will immediately be back to form. And as we’ve seen, a team’s window for being a legitimate Super Bowl contender is very narrow. Wentz might have a long productive career, but when (or if) he regains his MVP form, the Eagles championship window may have closed. It’s tempting to stick with Foles and hope that the player you saw in January is who he really is, rather than the lost player he was in December. And it’s not like Foles’ success came entirely out of the blue – his 2013 season remains one of the greatest single-season QB years in history. Is Foles in a better position to lead the Eagles to a championship in 2018 than Wentz? Hard to say. The Eagles have an interesting dilemma this offseason. One thing I am sure of – after their respective performances in 2017, neither of those players are likely willing to spend any of 2018 on the bench.


Jerry Kramer is a Hall of Famer
Not much to add other than one of my legitimate happiest moments as a Packer fan was watching Jerry Kramer answer the door and seeing Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker waiting to inform him that he, at long last, had been voted into Canton. I’m not too proud to say that it brought tears to my eyes. The look of joy on his face was that of a man who has been waiting for a half-century to receive validation for all he accomplished as a young man. It was a nice reminder that someday, all the heroes of yesterday's game will grow into old men, and as much as they wanted to win, it may be equally as important that we remember they played the game. This weekend was a great one for this football fan. It’s one I won’t soon forget.


Rapid Fire

  • I am not seriously concerned that Aaron Rodgers will actually leave the Packers after he acknowledged the possibility over the weekend. He was being honest. If it can happen to Brett Favre or Aaron’s childhood hero Joe Montana, it can happen to anyone. That being said, the Packers should give him whatever it takes to sign him through his 40th birthday. After what we went through with Favre, I’m willing to pay Rodgers handsomely even if/when his skills decline. I want him to be a Packer for life. As long as he isn’t holding the team hostage each offseason by being wishy-washy about retirement or consistently losing playoff games with untimely turnovers, he should be able to play as long as he wants.
  • Super Bowl commercials have jumped the shark. They all are either trying to be funny or trying to be profound. Both attempts come off as lame. They need to stop trying so hard. And why did so many alcohol companies want us to drink so much water?
  • Eli Manning and Odell Beckham definitely had my favorite ad. I want to know if Eli really hoisted him up or if that was camera tricks. It would make me see Eli in a whole new light if I knew he had the guns to Gorilla Press Slam people like the Ultimate Warrior.
  • There were numerous Super Bowl records broken last night, but the one that stuck out to me was most combined total yards, as the Eagles and Patriots had a whopping 1151 total yards between the two of them. Not only is that a Super Bowl record, but it's also a record for any NFL game ever played. It would’ve taken me four or five guesses to correctly answer the game that had the Super Bowl record previously - Washington vs. Denver in Super Bowl XXII. Washington did most of the heavy lifting and until yesterday, was the only team in Super Bowl history to record over 600 yards of total offense (602). New England’s 613 yards of offense was undoubtedly impressive, but I love what Washington did in their game. The Redskins’ 602 yards were almost perfectly balanced – 280 rushing yards and 322 passing yards. That was with backups playing both quarterback and running back. It was Joe Gibbs’ offense at its finest. That guy needs more recognition as a candidate for being the greatest coach of all time.
  • The NFL needs to do two things this offseason – A) fix their catch rule, and B) tell their broadcast partners to stop obsessing with rules, replay, and penalties. Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth tainted several all-time great moments by obsessing over the rules instead of getting caught up in the magic. They were even talking about the two reviewed Eagles touchdowns in the postgame show during the Eagles celebration. I understand this is mostly the NFL’s own doing because of their dumb rule(s), but at some point, it’s time to move on. This rules obsession during broadcasts is hurting their product. Watching the NFL in recent years has felt less like a sport and more like a courtroom drama. If I never hear 'survive the ground' again, it will be too soon.
  • I'm happy to see Wisconsin running backs be Super Bowl heroes for the second year in a row - James White last year and Corey Clement this year. With the success of Paul Chryst's squad and the success of Badgers alumni in the NFL, the Wisconsin Football Program is in as good of shape as it's ever been.
  • The 2017 Playoffs were fantastic. From Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry at Arrowhead to the Jaguars putting the league on notice to the Minneapolis Miracle to Tom Brady’s greatness to Super Bowl MVP Nick friggin Foles, these playoffs were some of the best in recent memory and rescued a pretty lousy NFL season. It reminded me why I love football.


Well, there’s only one thing left in the 2017 NFL Season – The GOLDIE AWARDS!! The ballot is now available. Look for that episode by the end of the month. Our Board of Directors is looking for a host. The search promises to be wide and vast.


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 

It’s been a little quiet around Green and Gold Forever lately. While it was disappointing not to have the Packers in the playoffs for the first time in the history of the show, it was nice to take a little break, and it was even kind of fun to experience the playoffs as a more casual observer. But don’t worry, we’ll be back with new stuff soon. The 6th Annual Goldie Awards are coming up and, even if I am beyond tired of the Patriots, I still can’t help but get excited as the Super Bowl approaches. And since this season was in an odd-numbered year, it’s time to write some weird Super Bowl blog about alternative Super Bowl history. After the 2013 season, I imagined what the Super Bowl fields would have looked like if some Conference Championship game results through history were changed. After the 2015 season, I did my best to fix ten bad Super Bowls by removing a team that got blown out with a more worthy team and imagined how those new matchups would have played out. This time we’re not changing Super Bowl matchups. We’re going to Vegas!


The Super Bowl is popular for many reasons. It’s the biggest game in America’s biggest sport. It’s the most-watched television program of the year, thus transforming it into the most ubiquitous cultural event in America each year. But it’s also popular because of all of the gambling options. The Super Bowl and gambling are intertwined. In addition to the hilarious prop bets you can make each year (I would take the over on Peyton Manning being in 2.5 commercials), the Super Bowl spread tends to go down in NFL history. Whenever you hear about the greatest upsets in the game’s history, it’s often referencing the point spread. “The Packers blew Super Bowl XXXII after being 11-point favorites”, “Joe Namath guaranteed a win as an 18-point underdog”. There are two well-known betting lines that are familiar to most fans. One is Point Spread, which indicates who is favored to win and by how many points. While I’m sure gamblers could explain this in far more detail, betters commonly bet on the favored team to cover (the favored team wins by as many or more points than the spread) or to not cover (the favored team wins by fewer points than the spread or loses outright). The other frequently referenced betting line is Over/Under. Oddsmakers set an expected number of total points they think will be scored between both teams. Gamblers can wager whether they think the total will be higher or lower than that number (as a side note, I can’t imagine a more tortuous ‘entertainment’ experience than to watch a sporting event in which I’ve bet the Under. Every time ANYTHING happens, including the clock stopping, your anxiety level would go up). These two lines are not meant to predict what will happen in the game. They are intended to entice an equal number of bets on each side of the line so that Vegas can maximize gains and protect against losses. In order to do that, these lines have to match an average fan's expectations for the game. It provides a good barometer for what sports fans and gamblers EXPECTED would happen in a game. As I was thinking about all this, I wondered: What would Super Bowl history look like if Vegas was always right?


I looked at every Point Spread and Over/Under in Super Bowl history and used them together to see what the scores of each Super Bowl would be if both betting lines were accurate. This makes the false assumption that Point Spread and Over/Under influence one another, but this is just for entertainment purposes only. I tried to match them perfectly, but sometimes an exact match of both the spread and O/U was impossible. The "Extra Points" Column is the number of points I had leftover while making the closes match for each game. For the math nerds out there, this is the formula:

 (Absolute Value of (Hypothetical Total Points - Over/Under)) + (Absolute Value of (Hypothetical Point Spread – Vegas Point Spread)

Example: Super Bowl V – the Colts were a 2.5 point favorite, and the teams were expected to combine for 36 total points. The closest you can get to total accuracy is a Colts 19-17 victory. In this formula it would look like this:

    (19+17) = 36 - 36(Over/Under) = 0
+ (19-17)= 2 – 2.5 (point spread) = -0.5 -> Absolute Value of -0.5 is 0.5.

0+0.5=0.5 Extra Points

In layman’s terms, 0 means that the hypothetical score matches both the Points Spread and Over/Under perfectly. 0.5 or 1 Extra Points means the hypothetical score is off by a half a point or point from either the Spread, Over/Under, or a combo of both. As I said, some spreads and Over/Under were incompatible, making it mathematically impossible to apply both to a real score at the same time. In those cases, I got as close as I could. That's enough math for now. Let’s take a look at the scores.



 *Super Bowl XLIX was a 'Push" - meaning there was no favorite


To see an enlarged image file of the table in a new tab, click here.


There is a lot to digest there. Here are some highlights:

  • The most obvious thing is that Vegas predicted very few blowouts in Super Bowl history outside of the mid-1990s at the height of the NFC’s supremacy over the AFC. In the 1980s, when most Super Bowls were blowouts, they only picked two double-digit spreads– Chicago over New England and San Francisco over Denver. Since Vegas rarely picks a blowout and they picked blowouts for the two most lopsided Super Bowls in history, I’ll give them credit for that.
  • One thing I immediately noticed was how strange some of the scores look if you try to make both the point spread and over/under accurate. The most bizarre is Super Bowl III. For the game to match both marks, the Colts would’ve had to beat the Jets 29-11. There has never been a game with that final score in NFL history. Also, 29 and 11 are two of the rarest scores ever. From 1940 through the last season without the 2 point conversion in 1993, only 96 of the 16654 teams to play a game scored 29 points (0.5%). Just 11 teams in that time frame scored 11 points in a game (0.06%). Statistically, the Vegas spread, and O/U called for a nearly impossible outcome.
  • I also had to use a score of 25 seven different times to make the spread and O/U work. Had those all happened, those games would’ve accounted for 4% of all final scores of 25 in NFL History. 
  • The oddsmakers couldn’t peg a San Diego Super Bowl for anything. Buccaneers vs. Raiders was their biggest miss of all time, as the expected Oakland low scoring victory turned into an epic Buccaneers route that saw them cover the O/U all by themselves. Same for Super Bowl XXII when the 3-point favorite Broncos lost by 32. And of course, the 1997 Packers because they were one of the biggest favorites to ever lose – though Vegas was only off by four on the O/U.
  • It’s funny how plausible an 18-15 Ravens/Giants Super Bowl seems. Remember, the Ravens went a month without scoring a touchdown that year. Interesting enough, had it happened, that would’ve been the first 18-15 game in NFL history, but there have been 7 in the 17 seasons since then.


Since I didn’t have a lot to say about the hypothetical results, I included an Accuracy Score for the actual Super Bowls played to check how accurate the Oddsmakers were each year. To reiterate, 0 means Vegas hit it perfectly. Anything less than 10 is very good. Anything over 20 is not as good. 30+ is way off. I calculated the average Accuracy Score by decade. I omitted the 1960s due to a small sample size:

Decade Vegas Avg Accuracy Score
1970s 16.35
1980s 27.15
1990s 17.55
2000s 25.45
2010s 21.14


It kind of makes sense that the 1970s were the most accurate. Scoring was very low throughout the decade, so Vegas set the O/U low, and due to the games being low scoring, the spread never got too out of hand like it did in the 1980s. It’s amazing how badly the 80s performed. It took almost the entire decade for Vegas and wagerers to notice how much more powerful NFC teams were than AFC teams – and even then, they underestimated the scope. Even when they set the 49ers as 13 point favorites over Denver, they failed to conceive San Francisco blowing past the O/U all by themselves and beating the Broncos by 45 in the process. By the 1990s, Vegas and gamblers got savvier. Betters placed their money on NFC teams no matter the spread and pushed some spreads to the widest ever seen. The 91 Redskins and 93 Cowboys blowout wins over the Bills were accurately set. The 49ers were 19-point favorites over the Chargers and STILL covered despite late garbage touchdowns. The last half of the 1990s saw some of the most accurate lines ever. Then things got screwy again in the 2000s, with bad misses in Super Bowls 35 thru 37 and the big miss of the Giants win over the Patriots in 2007. Granted, not many people saw that one coming. Even if their close regular season battle gave you hope the Giants could win, I’m sure no one expected a 17-14 final score.


And just for fun, here are Vegas’ 15 most accurate and 15 least accurate Super Bowl lines by combined Spread and O/U.

15 Games with the Most Accurate Vegas Lines

Super Bowl Year Spread Favorite Over/Under Actual Score Vegas Accuracy Score
XXXI 1996 -14 Packers 52 Packers 35  Patriots 21 4
X 1975 -7 Steelers 36 Steelers 21  Cowboys 17 5
XVI 1981 -1 49ers 48 49ers 26  Bengals 21 5
XXXIX 2004 -7 Patriots 47 Patriots 24  Eagles 21 6
XLIII 2008 -6.5 Steelers 46.5 Steelers 27  Cardinals 23 6
XLI 2006 -6.5 Colts 47 Colts 29  Bears 17 6.5
V 1970 -2.5 Colts 36 Colts 16  Cowboys 13 7.5
LI 2016 -3 Patriots 57 Patriots 34  Falcons 28 8
XXV 1990 -6.5 Bills 40 Giants 20  Bills 19 8.5
XXXIII 1998 -7.5 Broncos 52 Broncos 34  Falcons 19 8.5
XXXIV 1999 -7 Rams 48 Rams 23  Titans 16 9
XLIX 2014 0 Push 47 Patriots 28  Seahawks 24 9
II 1967 -13.5 Packers 43 Packers 33  Raiders 14 9.5
XXX 1995 -13.5 Cowboys 51 Cowboys 27  Steelers 17 10.5
XXIII 1988 -6 49ers 46 49ers 20  Bengals 16 12


15 Games with the Least Accurate Vegas Lines

Super Bowl Year Spread Favorite Over/Under Actual Score Vegas Accuracy Score
XXXVIII 2002 -3.5 Raiders 44 Buccaneers 48 Raiders 21 55.5
XXVII 1992 -6.5 Cowboys 45 Cowboys 52  Bills 17 52.5
XXIV 1989 -13 49ers 48 49ers 55  Broncos 10 49
XX 1985 -10 Bears 37.5 Bears 46  Patriots 10 44.5
III 1968 -18 Colts 40 Jets 16  Colts 7 44
XLVIII 2013 -2.5 Broncos 47.5 Seahawks 43  Broncos 8 41
XXII 1987 -3.5 Broncos 47 Redskins 42  Broncos 10 40.5
XLII 2007 -12.5 Patriots 54.5 Giants 17  Patriots 14 39
IV 1969 -12 Vikings 39 Chiefs 23  Vikings 7 37
XXXVI 2001 -14 Rams 52.5 Patriots 20  Rams 17 32.5
XVIII 1983 -2 Redskins 48 Raiders 38  Redskins 9 32
XXXV 2000 -3 Ravens 33 Ravens 34  Giants 7 32
XIII 1978 -3.5 Steelers 37 Steelers 35  Cowboys 31 29.5
50 2015 -5 Panthers 44 Broncos 24  Panthers 10 29
XXI 1986 -9 Giants 41 Giants 39  Broncos 20 28


It’s crazy to see how, despite Vegas seeing the ‘85 Bears and ‘89 49ers as solid favorites, each team was so overwhelmingly dominant that it makes those look like huge misses. Also, the oddsmakers were not prepared for the scoring explosion that would come in Super Bowl XIII following the 1978 rules changes. I always wondered why older sportswriters unanimously consider that one of the best Super Bowls ever when it is far less dramatic than many later Super Bowls, as the Steelers led by two scores for much of the 4th quarter. I guess after some of the dull, low-scoring 70s Super Bowls, a game with a lot of points must've stood out as something special. Some other strange quirks - Vegas can rarely figure out what the Broncos are going to do in the Super Bowl, but if the Super Bowl is played in Florida (X, XXXIX, XLIII, XLI, V, XXXIII, XXV, II), they have a pretty good idea.


Finally, what does Vegas say about this year? As of this writing, they have the Patriots installed as a 4 point favorite with an Over/Under of 48.5. So that would translate to a Patriots 26-22 victory. 26 and 22 are both quite rare scores, and there have only been five 26-22 games in NFL history. So it’s safe to say both lines will not be accurate. But a game filled with a bunch of field goals, missed extra points, safeties, 2 point conversions, or whatever mess is needed to get to 26-22 would fit right in with this incredibly strange 2017 NFL Season.


So that's it. I’ll be honest, this idea was far more interesting in my head than it is in writing, but if you’re reading this blog, a chance to look at some fun data might be enough. If not, thanks for reading anyways. Let me know in the comments if anything interesting stands out to you and enjoy the Super Bowl.


Eric Drews 
Green and Gold Forever 


All data for this blog was obtained at Pro-Football-Reference.com. It's the best site on the Internet if you love NFL history.

Minnesota Vikings 16  Green Bay Packers 0

Detroit Lions 35  Green Bay Packers 11

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