The challenge of consecutive playoff seasons in the NFL

Every new NFL season means a few teams no one expected much from will make the playoffs after not making it the prior season or even many years. And there will also be a few teams everyone expected to make the playoffs that won’t.

And, the difficulty of making the playoffs in consecutive seasons has become more and more difficult. Last year, our Cowboys made the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time in 15 years. That creates some “organizational momentum” which is rare in today’s NFL. (The Cowboys record for consecutive playoff seasons is 9- from 1975-83)

Here are some interesting facts about NFL playoff teams and how fluid things are year to year:

  • Over the last 10 years, an average of 5.8 NFL teams per year make the playoffs that didn’t qualify for the playoffs the prior season.
  • Every year during that time, at least 4 teams made the jump from non-playoff team to playoff team. In years like 2017-18, it was as many as 8 teams.
  • The expanded playoffs implemented 3 seasons ago haven’t changed this trend much either. We have seen up to 7 teams make the playoffs after missing the season prior.
  • In 2020, the Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs but did in 2021 and ‘22. The rams won the SB in the 2021 season yet didn’t even make the playoffs last year.

It’s even more difficult to make the playoffs 3 years in a row as evidenced by this info showing current NFL teams playoff streaks:

  • Kansas City- 8 consecutive seasons (since 2015)
  • Buffalo- 4 consecutive seasons
  • Dallas, SF, Filly and Cincy- 2 consecutive seasons each

The Cowboys have shown they can build some organizational momentum by making the playoffs the last 2 seasons. Can they make it 3 consecutive playoff seasons for the first time in almost 3 decades? Can the Cowboys join teams like KC and Buffalo and show they are built to compete for several consecutive seasons? We will learn the answer to that question in the next 6 months.

Discuss this on CowboysZone (80 comments)

Site Footer