The NFL playoffs are held on a regular basis. On January 4, 2003, the National Football League (NFL) playoffs for the 2002 season started. The playoff tournament finished on January 26 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeating the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.
The current format of the NFL playoffs was introduced in 1994 when it replaced what had been called "the championship game" during the previous three seasons. The switch was made because fans and media members were growing tired of this annual matchup that often featured two very similar teams that would then have to meet again in the next year's game. The new format was designed by league commissioner Paul Tagliabue who wanted to provide his 32 teams with more of a fair chance at winning it all. Under the new system, the four lowest ranked teams in each division will make up one group while the other eight clubs compete for the remaining spots in the bracket. The top team in each division will advance to the next round while the others will play in some form of a wild card tournament. Teams are assigned their sites for the playoffs based on their records within their divisions. In 2002, the New England Patriots became the first team to qualify for the playoffs after finishing 11-5. They were joined by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, and Denver Broncos who also earned their spots through the divisional rounds.
The 2020 NFL playoffs were the season's postseason tournament. It began on January 9, 2021 and ended on February 7, 2021, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Kansas City Chiefs became the first team to lose a playoff game after leading by double digits in time of possession during the regular season.
The New England Patriots became the first team to reach the NFL Championship Game after losing their first two games since the 1990 Baltimore Colts. This was also the first time that the Patriots reached the title game without winning the division or conference.
New England defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 13-3 in the AFC Championship Game before defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-23 in overtime of the Super Bowl LIV.
Tampa Bay went into the game as 11-point underdogs but came out victorious over Kansas City, making them the first wild card team to win a championship game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill played well in relief of Tom Brady, who missed the game with a heel injury.
Brady announced his retirement from football following the season.
Tannehill will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. He signed a one-year contract worth $25 million with the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2020 season.
The 1970 National Football League playoffs began on December 26, 1970. The playoff tournament finished on January 17, 1971, when the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, 16-13, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. This was the first postseason tournament held following the merger of the AFL and the NFL. The New York Giants were the only team to make the playoffs as a wild card entry, but they were eliminated by the eventual champion Colts.
The first ever playoff game was played between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. It took place on December 29, 1970, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Vikings won this game 21-7.
There were only eight teams in the NFL in 1970, so the first round of the playoffs consisted of two games where each team got one home game during the week of their selection. The winners of these games went on to play for the championship.
The Oakland Raiders were the first team to qualify for the playoffs. They did so by winning the California Division Championship with 10-4 record. Their opponent was the second-place San Diego Chargers, who had also qualified with a 10-4 record. The Raiders beat the Chargers 27-14 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
In the American Football Conference, the top seed Houston Oilers lost to the third-seed Kansas City Chiefs 24-3 at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.
2006-07 NFL Playoffs
|Dates||January 6–February 4, 2007|
|Defending champions||Pittsburgh Steelers (did not qualify)|
|Conference runners-up||New England Patriots New Orleans Saints|
Tampa Bay Buccaneers/NFL titles 202131-9-Kansas City Chiefs 200348-21-Las Vegas Raiders
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an American professional gridiron football club based in Tampa, Florida, that competes in the National Football League's National Football Conference (NFC). The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2003 and again in 2021.
For the first time since the division's inception in 2002, two NFC South clubs (the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints) played in the NFL playoffs on January 7, 2018. Prior to then, they were the only division in the NFL that had never had teams compete in the postseason. The Atlanta Falcons also missed out due to being tied with another team with the same record during the final week of the season.
In addition to these three teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have qualified for the playoffs in each of their first seven seasons (2002 through 2008). However, due to ongoing issues with ownership and management, they have not yet reached the postseason tournament.
The five teams in the NFC South have a combined 108 playoff appearances, which is the most of any division in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most overall appearances with 231, while the Jacksonville Jaguars have the fewest with just four.
The division has produced 10 first-team All-Pro selections and one second-team selection. The Panthers' Luke Kuechly is the only player from any of the five teams to have his name placed on the All-NFL Team during his career.
Overall, the NFC South is still very much a powerful division that produces many great players and many successful seasons. It isn't too late for the other teams to start winning more games so that they can make it to the postseason too.