They actually have less impact now than they used to
by ShermanOaksND (2018-12-11 12:51:31)
Edited on 2018-12-11 12:53:17

In reply to: First Place Schedules  posted by HTownND

when the NFL had 3 divisions in each conference. Finishing in 1st impacted 4 games per year from 1978-2001. Now it impacts 2 per year.

The biggest windfall used to be the "fifth place schedule." From 1978-1994, when only 4 of the 6 divisions had 5 teams, the 5th place teams all played one another, including home-and-home against the other 5th place team in the same conference. They also played all teams in the 4-team divisions in their conference. This meant a 5th place team from the previous season would play 5 games against other last-place teams.

The 1979 Bucs parlayed a 5th place schedule to a shocking division title (winning a tiebreaker with the wild card Bears). The same was true of the 1987 Colts (who got an extra nudge from the strike and games with replacement players), the 1991 Broncos, the 1992 Chargers, and the 1993 Lions. Others used 5th place schedules to gain wild card berths, including the 1981 and 1984 Giants, 1981 Jets, and 1983 Broncos.