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What Was Number 1 When Your NFL Team Last Won A Playoff Game?

Charlie Mullan for Bookies.com

Charlie Mullan  | 13 mins

What Was Number 1 When Your NFL Team Last Won A Playoff Game?

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The NFL prides itself on parity which is why the worst team one season gets the first choice in the draft the following season. It's to prevent teams from dominating year after year, and it's why the league dynasties are so rare. The last NFL dynasty, where a team wins back-to-back Super Bowls, occurred when the New England Patriots were crowned champions at the end of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Last season's champions, the Los Angeles Rams were one of the favorites to run it back with many of the NFL betting sites, but they failed to make the playoffs.

For the 33rd successive season, at least four teams have reached the playoffs after having losing records the previous season. We take a look at the 14 teams still in with a shout of hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Arizona on Sunday, 12 February, and revisit the time they last won a playoff game. And in particular, what song was number one in the Billboard Hot 100. Of the 14 teams to make the playoffs, seven were involved in last year’s postseason while the Miami Dolphins have waited the longest for a playoff win.

Dolphins' Date With Destiny

The Miami Dolphins left it late to clinch their place in this season's playoffs. It wasn't until Jason Sanders kicked a 50-yard field goal and forced a safety in the 1,020th minute of their regular season to beat the Jets 11-6. New England's loss in Buffalo meant Miami extended their season for the first time since 2016, and for only the second time in the last 14 seasons. Making the playoffs is one thing, winning a playoff game is another. 

The last time Miami won a playoff game was at the start of the century. On 30 December, 2000, the Dolphins beat the Colts 23-17 in south Florida. It's the second-longest wait for a playoff win, behind the Detroit Lions, who last won a playoff game in 1992. 

To put Miami's drought into context, that Colts win came in the season after Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino retired. Since then, the Dolphins have started 24 different quarterbacks, but none of them have managed to lead the team to a win in the playoffs. 

Destiny's Child were number one at the end of December 2000 with Independent Women, which spent 11 weeks at the top from November 2000 to February 2001. The hit from the Charlie's Angels movie, set a new record as the longest-running number one song by a female group. 

The Dolphins face a massive challenge against the Bills in Buffalo this weekend in their quest to win their first playoff game in 8,052 days. They will hope to have starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa back under center, otherwise their wait for a playoff win could continue. Tagovailoa hasn't been seen on a field since suffering another head injury against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day. 

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Pederson's The Perfect Choice For Jaguars 

Landing the number one overall pick in back-to-back years sums up how bad the Jacksonville Jaguars have been in recent seasons. A 1-15 season was followed by a 3-14 campaign last season, but the addition of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and then defensive linesman Travon Walker, were the positives to come from those disappointing campaigns.

Everyone associated with the Jaguars will hope they don't get first pick in the draft for a number of years to come, and if this season is anything to go by, that should be the case. Jacksonville turned to Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson to turn their fortunes around, and it didn't take long for the former Eagles coach to do just that. A 20-16 win over the Titans on Saturday, sealed a 9-8 record which was good enough to land the Jaguars the AFC South title and a return to the playoffs after a four-year absence.

It's been a difficult time since Jacksonville last made the playoffs, when they actually reached the AFC Championship game. They missed out on a place in Super Bowl LII when the Patriots beat them 24-20. Before that, Jacksonville beat the Steelers 45-42 in the divisional round in Pittsburgh. Top of the Billboard charts that day, was Ed Sheeran and Beyonce and their song 'Perfect'. Pederson's partnership with the Jaguars has got off to the perfect start, and it can get even better if they beat the Chargers this weekend.

Chargers Thankful For Playoff Return 

The Los Angeles Chargers have waited four seasons to book their return to the postseason with quarterback Justin Herbert leading their offense this season. The last time they extended their season was when Philip Rivers was still the quarterback. Ariana Grande was top of the charts with 'Thank U, Next' when the Chargers, operating from LA Galaxy's Dignity Health Sports Park, last won a playoff game. That was in Baltimore when they beat the Ravens 23-17 thanks to five field goals from Michael Badgley. 

However, the following week, the Chargers season was over when they were beaten 41-28 by the Patriots in New England. The Chargers missed a glorious opportunity to make the playoffs last season, but they were masters of their own downfall in their final regular season game against the Raiders in Las Vegas. 

A tie would have seen both teams qualify for the postseason, and with less than a minute left of overtime, that looked the most likely outcome. However, a timeout called by Los Angeles with 38 seconds remaining, when the Raiders looked content to run the clock down and settle for the tie, changed things. Las Vegas decided to run the ball, got a first down and kicked a 47-yard field goal which eliminated the Chargers. 

This season, Brandon Staley's side made sure they kept their fate in their own hands and secured their place in the playoffs with two games to spare. This will be Herbert's first time in the playoffs and that is something to look forward to. The more playoff appearances Staley can make, the less chance he'll hear the words 'Thank U, Next' from his owner regarding his tenure. 

Elsewhere in the AFC, the top three seeds all featured in last season's playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up the number one seed, while the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals go into the postseason seeded two and three respectively. The Baltimore Ravens return to the playoffs after a one-season absence and they travel to the Bengals this weekend. NFL betting apps will have the Chargers near the top of their outright Super Bowl market next season.

Can Giants Set Fire To The Playoffs?

The New York Giants booked their playoff spot when they beat the Indianapolis Colts 38-10 in Week 17. It's been six seasons since the G-Men last made it to the postseason, but their last playoff win was a special one. Eli Manning was still in charge of the Giants offense, and with a 9-7 record in the regular season, New York were heavy underdogs in Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots, who went into the playoffs with a 13-3 record. 

The Super Bowl in Indianapolis was going according to plan with the Patriots leading 17-15 with less than four minutes to play. A miraculous pass from Manning to Mario Manningham for 38 yards, not only kept a drive alive for the Giants, but it was also a huge momentum swing for Big Blue. It's believed New England 'allowed' Ahmad Bradshaw to score a touchdown to give the Patriots 57 seconds to march downfield and score the winning touchdown. 

The Giants defense stepped up and defended a last-gasp Hail Mary pass from Tom Brady into the end zone to give Manning his second Super Bowl win in five seasons. While the Giants were top of the NFL, Adele was top of the charts with Set Fire To The Rain. Since that dramatic win, the Giants made the playoffs just once in the following 10 seasons, losing 38-13 to the Packers in the wild card weekend in the 2016 season. 

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All Minnesota Wants Is A Super Bowl Win

The Minnesota Vikings are hoping this season proves to be fifth time lucky. The Vikings are one of two teams to have lost four Super Bowls. Unlike the Buffalo Bills, who lost four in a row, Minnesota’s misfortune has been spread over eight seasons, with the last disappointment coming when they were beaten 32-14 by the Raiders in Super Bowl XI. 

After missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, the Vikings are a re-entry in this year’s postseason and they’ll be hoping to do as well as the song that was number one when they last won a playoff game. That was Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, which has been top of the charts on Christmas Day in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. Carey starts this week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 once again, and the Vikings will hope she can stay there to complete the deja vu moment. 

Minnesota’s last postseason victory came in New Orleans when Kirk Cousins led the Vikings to a 26-20 overtime win over the Saints on 5 January, 2020, when Carey was still reaching the high notes in her most successful single. In keeping with the festive theme, Kyle Rudolph caught the game-winning touchdown in somewhat controversial circumstances. 

Saints expected a pass interference call on Rudolph, but it never came and the Vikings advanced to the divisional where they were beaten 27-10 by the 49ers in San Francisco. That Saints win remains Cousins’ only playoff win in his career, but with home advantage against the Giants this weekend, Cousins should get his second win.

Longest Drought Continues For Gutsy Lions

There hasn't been much to cheer for the Detroit Lions over the last three decades. Playoff appearances have been few and far between. In the last 30 seasons, the Lions have made the playoffs eight times. On all eight occasions, Detroit were eliminated at the first hurdle. The last time Detroit won a playoff game was on 5 January, 1992, when they beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 thanks to three touchdown passes from Erik Kramer. 

Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders also found the end zone for the Lions that day, which turned out to be his only postseason touchdown during his illustrious career. George H Bush was the President that day, and since then, there have been five more Commander-in-Chiefs. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers is the only member of the current Lions roster who was alive the last time Detroit celebrated a playoff win.

Top of the Billboard Top 100 was Michael Jackson's Black Or White. One of the lines in the song is: 'Now I believe in miracles, and a miracle has happened tonight'. It's understandable for Lions fans to think that playoff win over the Cowboys was a miracle, because they just don't happen very often. That win over Dallas remains their one and only postseason win since the 1957 Championship game. 

A Detroit playoff win is long overdue, and Dan Campbell has certainly restored some pride in this Lions team with Jared Goff under center, even if they missed out on the playoffs this season. It’s 11,328 days and counting since their last playoff win, but the Lions are on the up and perhaps next season will be the year they finally end their playoff drought.

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Jets Need A Firework To Make The Playoffs

In the AFC, the New York Jets now possess the longest run without a playoff appearance. You have to go back to January 2011, when quarterback Mark Sanchez led Gang Green to the Championship decider. They were beaten 24-19 by the Steelers in Pittsburgh, after the home side raced into a 24-0 lead in the second quarter.

Katy Perry was top of the charts that day with her hit Firework. The Jets have lacked that spark on offense in the 12 seasons since their last postseason win. More often than not, their seasons have ended with a whimper rather than a bang. And uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position does not bode well for next season. 

Do they ditch Zach Wilson, stick with Mike White or look to find a new play caller in the offseason either in the draft or free agency? Whatever they decide, the Jets hope they're 'gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe.'

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About the Author

Charlie Mullan for Bookies.com
Charlie Mullan
UK-based stats man Charlie Mullan brings previous expertise from the Press Association, Betfair, SportPesa, Hull Daily Mail and more where he has crunched soccer data for many seasons, creating content to support odds providers and market makers in the European betting industry. Charlie has more than a decade of experience using in-depth stats to make informed picks across the biggest games in the EPL and European soccer leagues.