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Wild-card weekend teams' success rate at reaching the Super Bowl

Vince Lombardi Trophy at the NFL Experience Times

Vince Lombardi Trophy at the NFL Experience Times Square on April 11, 2018. Credit: Charles Eckert

Unlike other pro sports leagues, the allure of the NFL's postseason is its unpredictability. While MLB, NHL and the NBA all have best-of-five or best-of-seven game series, the NFL's postseason is more like best-of-60-minutes. That means even a wild-card team can get hot and win three straight games to make it to the Super Bowl.

But how likely is that to actually happen? Based on recent history, not so much.

Since the NFL expanded to eight divisions in 2002 – creating four wild-card teams in the process – 128 different teams have played on the first weekend of the playoffs. Of those 128 teams, only six won three straight victories to reach the Super Bowl, with the last one happening in 2012. For your percentage-type folks, that's 4.7 percent.

All six of those teams won the Super Bowl. That's 100 percent.

Here’s a closer look at the six Super Bowl teams that played on wild-card weekend, including their road to the Super Bowl.

2005: Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 6 seed, 11-5 record)

Beat Cincinnati Bengals in wild-card round, 31-17 (line: Steelers -3)

Beat Indianapolis Colts in divisional round, 21-18 (line: Colts -8.5)

Beat Denver Broncos in AFC Championship, 34-17 (line: Broncos -3.5)

Beat Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, 21-10 (line: Steelers -4)

2006: Indianapolis Colts (No. 3 seed, 12-4 record)

Beat Kansas City Chiefs in wild-card round, 23-8 (line: Colts -6.5)

Beat Baltimore Ravens in divisional round, 15-6 (line: Ravens -4)

Beat New England Patriots in AFC Championship, 38-34 (line: Colts -3)

Beat Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17 (line: Colts -6.5)

2007: New York Giants (No. 5 seed, 10-6 record)

Beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers in wild-card round, 24-14 (line: Buccaneers -3)

Beat Dallas Cowboys in divisional round, 21-17 (line: Cowboys -7)

Beat Green Bay Packers in NFC Championship, 23-20, in overtime (line: Packers -7.5)

Beat New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14 (line: Patriots -12.5)

2010: Green Bay Packers (No. 6 seed, 10-6 record)

Beat Philadelphia Eagles in wild-card round, 21-16 (line: Eagles -2.5)

Beat Atlanta Falcons in divisional round, 48-21 (line: Falcons -1.5)

Beat Chicago Bears in NFC Championship, 21-14 (line: Packers -3.5)

Beat Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25 (line: Packers -3)

2011: New York Giants (No. 4 seed, 9-7 record)

Beat Atlanta Falcons in wild-card round, 24-2 (line: Giants -3)

Beat Green Bay Packers in divisional round, 37-20 (line: Packers -8)

Beat San Francisco 49ers in NFC Championship in OT, 20-17, (line: 49ers -2)

Beat New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17 (line: Patriots -3)

2012: Baltimore Ravens (No. 4 seed, 10-6 record)

Beat Indianapolis Colts in wild-card round, 24-9 (line: Ravens -7)

Beat Denver Broncos in divisional round, 38-35 (line: Broncos -9)

Beat New England Patriots in NFC Championship, 28-13 (line: Patriots -7.5)

Beat San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31 (line: 49ers -4.5)

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