NFL history shows momentum isn’t everything heading into playoffs

Jan 5, 2016, 5:04 PM | Updated: Jan 6, 2016, 8:14 am
Minnesota has won three straight games entering the postseason, but that might not mean much. (AP)...
Minnesota has won three straight games entering the postseason, but that might not mean much. (AP)

Momentum is a big subject in the NFL this time of year.

Specifically, who’s got it going into the playoffs. No team in the NFC has built more over the past month than the Washington Epithets, who have won four in a row. Seattle’s first-round opponent, Minnesota, is right behind with three straight wins. Kansas City has the longest streak of any team in either conference with 10 consecutive victories.

How Super Bowl champions have played entering the postseason: 2002-2014
Season Champion Streak Dec. W/L
2014 Patriots Lost 1 3-1
2013 Seahawks Won 1 3-2
2012 Ravens Lost 1 1-4
2011 Giants Won 2 3-2
2010 Packers Won 2 3-2
2009 Saints Lost 3 2-3
2008 Steelers Won 1 3-1
2007 Giants Lost 1 3-2
2006 Colts Won 1 2-3
2005 Steelers Won 4 4-1
2004 Patriots Won 2 4-1
2003 Patriots Won 12 4-0
2002 Bucs Won 1 3-2

Except it’s not about racking up wins heading into the playoffs, it’s about racking up wins in the playoffs. History provides a pretty good lesson in that regard.

Over the previous 11 seasons, there have been 17 teams that entered the playoffs having won five or more games in a row. That includes last year’s Seahawks, who won their final six regular-season games. Not one of those 17 teams won the Super Bowl.

In fact, take it a step further and you can say it’s more likely for a team riding a significant win streak to lose its first playoff game than to reach the Super Bowl.

Of those 17 teams that had won five or more games entering the postseason, seven lost their first game in the playoffs while just three reached the Super Bowl.

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NFL history shows momentum isn’t everything heading into playoffs