The NFL playoffs are here. When your team makes the playoffs, there are seven possible outcomes. Only one of them is awesome and the rest have some degree of bummer to them. Let’s break them down from best to worst.
Winning the Super Bowl: It's pretty great.
Losing the Super Bowl: It’s a bummer, but not that bad if you can keep the proper perspective. Your team is the second best in football, so that is actually pretty good. As a Broncos fan, I have experienced four Super Bowl losses, every single one a blowout. That does not include the Super Bowl beatdown when I was four years old. I am getting pretty good at handling this outcome.
Winning in the Wild Card round, winning in the Divisional round, and losing the Conference Championship: In this scenario, your team won two playoff games, including a road win in the Divisional Round, one of the hardest wins to achieve in football. If your team played in the Wild Card round, expectations were probably fairly low so falling one game short of the Super Bowl is pretty good.
Winning in the Divisional Round, losing the Conference Championship: In this scenario, your team got a first round bye and then won a home playoff game. Expectations are high and the Super Bowl is one game away but the teams falls short. The 2005 Broncos fell into this category, and after the game, I just kept thinking about what could have been. For Vikings fans in 1998 and 2010, this scenario still haunts them. The reason it is not lower on the list is that your team at least won a playoff game before heading home for the rest of the playoffs.
Winning in the Wild Card round, lose in the Divisional round: Most likely the expectations were low but your team did win a playoff game. At least your team made the playoffs and won a game. The 2011 Broncos season felt like a success since the team had failed to make the playoffs for the previous five seasons and then scored a victory when they did. On the other side, the 2005 Patriots were defending Super Bowl Champs and getting bounced in the Divisional round was pretty crushing to them. Perspective is everything with this one.
Losing in the Wild Card round: Chances are that your team was not very good but you still held out hope that they would make a run. Instead, your team rewarded your hope by failing to win a playoff game. Bengals fans just keep experiencing the scenario and it crushes their souls. The 2008 Colts won twelve games but lost in this round and their fans probably never recovered.
Losing in the Divisional Round: This one is the worst. Your team was good enough for a first round bye and is playing at home against a team that had to play a week before. Home teams win 75% of the time in this round. The Divisional round loses in 1996, 2012, and 2014 haunt me way more than the Super Bowl loses. The 2012 loss against Baltimore still makes me want to throw up. The Broncos will need to win multiple Super Bowls before I get over that game. Now that I write it out, that sounds kind of pathetic.
The Broncos have the #1 seed for the playoff so I am hoping for an outcome on the higher end of this list.