The NFL playoffs were a long time coming, to say the least. For the first 11 seasons, the league operated like college football. At the end of each season, the team owners would get together and cast ballots as to who they viewed to be league champions. And they were in no hurry to do it. After the 1920 American Professional Football Association’s inaugural season concluded on Dec. 19, it wasn’t until April 30, 1921 that the owners finally gathered and elected the 6-0-3 Akron Pros as the league’s first championship club. [-]
In 1922 the APFA was renamed the National Football League but an official NFL championship playoff game was still more than a decade away from reality.
At the conclusion of the 1932 NFL regular season, both the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans finished with indentical 6-1 records (ties were not included when determining a team’s standing).
On top of that, they’d played to ties in both of their head-to-head meetings, so with no tiebreaker to employ, league officials opted to pit the two squads against each other in a sudden-death game. Chicago was to play host, but when the weather turned miserable in Chicago thanks to a combination of blizzards and sub-zero temperatures it was decided to move the game indoors to Chicago Stadium, the arena that was home to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
Sloshing around on a condensed 80-yard field comprised mainly of dirt, the game was scoreless until Bronko Nagurski found Red Grange for a touchdown on a halfback option play, the only TD in Chicago’s 9-0 victory.
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Here’s where you will find the NFL playoff matchups and today, there is more postseason football than ever before. Up until 1966, only two teams qualified for the NFL playoffs. [-]
Since 1990, there have been 12 playoff teams each season. Currently the four division winners in each conference, the AFC and NFC, and the two non-division winning teams in each conference qualify for postseason play.
Two teams with losing records, the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in 2010 and the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers in 2014, qualified for the playoffs as division winners and both won their opening games, taking advantage of home field to defeat wildcard teams that posted better overall records during the regular season.
The wildcard entries should never be discounted when betting on the NFL playoffs. Six NFL wildcard playoff teams have gone on to win the Super Bowl, seven if you count the 1969 AFL Kansas City Chiefs. The most recent were the 2010 Green Bay Packers, who reached the playoffs as the sixth seed in the NFC but won three straight road games to reach Super Bowl XLV and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to win the big game.
Seeing the excitement generated within the general public by the 1932 sudden-death game for the NFL title between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans, George Preston Marshall, owner of the Boston (today Washington) Redskins and one of the newer owners in the league, proposed some radical changes to the NFL.
He suggested that the league realign into east and west divisions and the two division winners clash in an annual league championship game. Marshall felt that by having an official title game it would separate the pros from the college ranks in the eyes of the football betting public.
The proposal was adopted and in 1933, the Bears met the New York Giants in front of 26,000 at Wrigley Field in the first official NFL title game. In a thrilling game that saw six lead changes, the Bears finally emerged victorious 23-21. For their efforts, each Chicago player received a check for $210.23 as NFL champions.
As his team prepared for the 1940 NFL Championship Game on the road against the Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears coach/owner George Halas scoffed at oddsmakers who’d installed his Bears as three-point favorites, pointing out that Washington had dropped the Bears 7-3 just a few weeks earlier and insisting the matchup was so close that neither team should be given any pointspread.
That’s why when betting on the NFL you should never believe a word that comes out of a coach’s mouth. The Bears covered and then some, whipping the Redskins 73-0 in what was not only the most lopsided playoff score in NFL history, but the highest winning margin in any game in the league’s existence.
The carnage began less than a minute into the contest when Bill Osmanski went around end for a 68-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game. It was 21-0 after the first quarter and 28-0 at the half but the Bears were only warming up, scoring four TDs in the third quarter and three more in the final quarter.
Nine different Bears scored touchdowns and the Chicago defense snared a trio of pick sixes at the expense of Washington quarterback Sammy Baugh. But as happy as the Bears were, the sportsbooks weren’t since almost all the money wagered on the game played the Bears to win and cover.
Maybe you won’t get a 73-0 victory in the game you choose to wager on but you the time comes to bet on the NFL playoffs, all the information you’ll need is right here at your fingertips.