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Three Fluke Teams That Made The Playoffs In 2020…But Shouldn’t Have

2020 was one of the wildest NFL seasons for a variety of reasons. For one, COVID-19 took over the league and the entire world last year and forced many players and teams to suffer as a result. Many notable players either opted out or missed games because of the virus. Secondly, the NFL implemented a new playoff format in 2020 which allowed for one extra playoff spot in each conference in a seven-team format. Inevitably, this led to some fluke playoff teams.

I liked the idea when it was originally proposed because it allows for more underdog upsets and gives teams on the brink of success a chance to thrive and increase parity in the NFL for smaller markets. The new playoff format with the combination of unfair advantages for teams that did not get hit from COVID as hard is two of the biggest reasons why last season stood out in history. With that being said, the new format allowed room for teams to make the playoffs that weren’t necessarily deserving of a spot. So without further adieu, here are my three biggest fluke playoff teams of the 2020 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Do I even need to say anything here? Let’s all be big boys about this one. Yes, the Steelers finished 12-4. But can I sit here and say that is a legitimate 12-4? Absolutely not. The first four wins on Pittsburgh’s schedule last year might as well have been pre-season games. In order, they played against the Giants, Broncos, Texans, and Eagles. None of those teams were even a light-year within being a playoff team. The best record of those four teams? The Denver Broncos at 5-11. Joke. Not to mention, when the Ravens lost to Pittsburgh in their second matchup, literally half of Baltimore’s team was out because of COVID.

The Steelers had the 31st hardest schedule in the league in 2020. In other words, that’s the second easiest. This was primarily because the Steelers had the privilege of playing against the worst division in all of football, the NFC East…with no Dak Prescott when they played against Dallas. Joe Burrow, the AFC North’s best quarterback, got hurt after his first matchup with the Steelers and yet Pittsburgh still lost to Cincinnati in their second matchup without Burrow.

And I know, there’s going to be many of you that say “gotta beat who’s in front of you” in defense to the weak schedule. But the Patriots got shit on every year for that when Brady was in New England, so why should the Steelers have that excuse. Then to prove my point, the Steelers got SMOKED by the Browns in the first round after TikTok influencer JuJu himself tried to troll them. Checkmate.

Chicago Bears

Ahh yes, the dumpster fire that is the Chicago Bears. We must never forget the asinine decision as a franchise to draft Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft, and it will haunt Chicago fans forever. This looks even worse now that Chicago has called Andy Dalton to come in to replace that same pick in Trubisky in 2021. But I digress. 

The Bears literally beat one team that ended up with a winning record last year. Ironically enough, that team was the future Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Other than that, the Bears can’t really hang their hats on a real feel-good win. They lived in mediocrity in both stats and the standings. And like I previously mentioned, the new seven-team playoff format allows for teams like the fluke 8-8 Bears to make the playoffs. However, that does not necessarily make them deserving of it. The Cowboys would have 100% had that spot if Dak Prescott did not lose his season to injury in week five.

Allen Robinson’s performance in 2020 was about the only bright spot for Chicago in 2020, but he’s just another example of how talent goes to waste in a system that will forever be in football purgatory. The Bears started off 5-1, then went on to lose six in a row during the heat of the season, and still made the playoffs. Now that’s what I call crusty.

Washington Football Team

Think about this for a moment. An NFL team literally named “Football Team” made the playoffs in 2020. How about this? I’ll do you one better. That same Football Team made the playoffs at 7-9. Here’s the kicker: they won the division with a negative record, in a division where no team had a winning record. Is there anything in NFL history that is more of a fluke than that? And yes, I’ll keep going back to the fact that Dak got injured in week five because it’s relevant since Dallas is in the same division as Washington.

Compared to fluke Pittsburgh and Chicago, I actually think the Football Team was the most deserving of a playoff spot. As shocking as that sounds, Washington unquestionably had a better defense than both of those teams, and their offense got better as the season went on. They have a couple of real playmakers like Chase Young and Terry McLaurin down in D.C., and they’re on the come-up for sure.

Nevertheless, a team that finishes 7-9 should never make the playoffs. They just need to make some solid offseason moves. But watching Taylor Heinecke run around like a madman in that first round versus Brady’s Bucs was fun to watch, so I gotta give it up to Washington in that regard.