The only teams in NFL history to finish 11-5 and miss the playoffs were the 1985 Broncos and 2008 Patriots.
Although unlikely, it could happen again this season thanks to an incredibly wide open NFC.
There are currently four teams – Vikings, Saints, Rams and Panthers – with seven wins, and one team – Eagles – with eight wins. Not far back are the 6-3 Seahawks and the Falcons, Lions, Packers and Cowboys, all at 5-4.
If the playoffs started today, the Eagles and Vikings would have first-round byes and division championships. The Saints would be the 3-seed and the NFC South winner, and the Rams would win the West and get the 4-seed.
The Panthers (7-3) and the Seahawks would get the wild cards.
In 2008, the Chargers won the AFC West with a record of 8-8, meaning the Patriots were the sixth AFC team with 11 wins, but on the outside looking in.
For it to happen in the NFC this season, it's probably going to take seven teams reaching 11 victories because every division winner is on track to win at least 11 games, according to ESPN's win projections:
- Eagles - 12.4
- Saints - 11.6
- Vikings - 11.1
- Rams - 11.0
- Panthers - 10.4
- Seahawks - 10.3
As we pointed out last week, the Lions have a very soft schedule, with only two games against teams that currently have a winning record (Vikings, Packers), and both are at home. That's why they appear more likely to get to 11 than the Falcons, Packers or Cowboys.
Detroit's chances to reach 11 wins go much higher if they beat the Vikings at home on Thanksgiving. A win over Minnesota would also give them a shot in the NFC North.
Again, it's probably not going to be the third year ever with an 11-win team missing the playoffs, but the odds are certainly higher than they are most seasons.
It's much more likely that this is another season with a 10-win team, or two, missing the playoffs. That's happened 21 times in NFL history, including six times since 2010.
- 2015 Jets
- 2014 Eagles
- 2013 Cardinals
- 2012 Bears
- 2010 Giants
- 2010 Buccaneers