For whatever reasons, fans tend to remember the best NFL playoff games as opposed to the best NFL playoffs ever.

But there have been plenty of years when the top playoff performances and games have come within the span of a few weeks. That’s why we thought it was pertinent to look at some of the greatest NFL postseasons of all time. 

Best NFL Playoffs ever

Of course, picking out the best NFL playoffs ever wasn’t easy. We considered some of the best NFL playoff runs with a surprise team winning the Super Bowl trophy. But we also looked at years that had multiple occurrences of the top playoff performances or the best playoff games ever played.

That approach helped us pick out what years gave fans the best NFL playoffs ever.

10. 2016 Season

The only thing anybody remembers from the playoffs this year was Atlanta’s collapse in the Super Bowl.

 
 
 
 

Of course, the comeback by the Patriots did eventually lead to a great Super Bowl, which isn’t always the case. The Divisional Round of the playoffs this year also included entertaining affairs between the Packers and Cowboys, as well as the Steelers and Chiefs. However, it’s the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl that makes this one of the greatest NFL playoffs ever.

9. 2003 Season

The fourth quarter of the Super Bowl between the Patriots and Panthers definitely helped to put this postseason into the top-10.

There were 37 points scored in that quarter with the Patriots winning 32-29. Prior to that, the playoffs featured three overtime games, including Carolina winning a double-overtime game against the Rams in the Divisional Round that allowed the Panthers to get to the Super Bowl.

8. 2006 Season

This year loses some points because the Super Bowl wasn’t that great. However, the AFC Championship Game between the Colts and Patriots was a classic. Peyton Manning and the Colts trailed Tom Brady and the Patriots going into the fourth quarter.

But the Colts came from behind to win 38-34 on their way to winning the Super Bowl.

The previous rounds also provided some fireworks, as five of the eight games played during the first two weekends were decided by a field goal or less. That includes a memorable overtime game between the Bears and Seahawks during Chicago’s path to the Super Bowl.

7. 1997 Season

The Broncos helped to make this year’s playoffs special after winning the Super Bowl as double-digit underdogs.

But Denver’s run to the Super Bowl was also one of the best we’ve ever seen, as the Broncos had to win road games in Kansas City and Pittsburgh just to get to the Super Bowl.

The early rounds of the playoffs this year also included a 23-22 game between the Vikings and Giants, as well as a 7-6 game between the Steelers and Patriots. Each round provided something special, which is why this is one of the best postseasons in NFL history.

6. 2001 Season

This was Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl with the Pats and the 20-17 win over the Rams was one of the classic Super Bowls of all time.

Plus, both teams had a tricky game in the conference championship game. Of course, we also can’t forget the memorable “tuck rule” game the Patriots played against the Raiders during the Divisional Round.

That game was played in a snowstorm and ended in overtime. Between that controversial game and a memorable Super Bowl matchup, this season surely qualifies as one of the best NFL postseasons ever played.

5. 2011 Season

This year’s playoffs started with a bang during Wild Card Weekend thanks to Tim Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in overtime.

Say what you will about Tebow, but that was an incredible moment in NFL playoff history.

From there, the Giants made this a memorable postseason with three great wins. First, they dominated the Packers at Lambeau Field, which is a rare occurrence. Next, they won a controversial NFC Championship Game in overtime against the 49ers. Of course, the postseason ended with the G-Men knocking off Tom Brady and the Patriots for the second time in the last five years (more on that later).

4. 2014 Season

As with most of the postseasons on our list, the playoffs were capped off with an incredible Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Patriots. The Seahawks were just a yard away from winning their second straight Super Bowl but decided to throw the ball instead of giving it to Marshawn Lynch.

That allowed Malcolm Butler to come up with arguably the best interception in Super Bowl history.

In the lead-up to that Super Bowl, the Seahawks overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, ultimately winning in overtime. The Patriots also had an epic game with the Ravens in the Divisional Round, as both Super Bowl participants survived tough games to get to the Super Bowl.

3. 2012 Season

Remember when the lights went out in the middle of the Super Bowl?

It’s obviously easy to remember that, but this was also an entertaining Super Bowl between the Ravens and 49ers that ended with a 34-31 Baltimore win.

Earlier in the playoffs, the Ravens barely survived a double-overtime game against the Broncos thanks to one of the worst defensive miscues we’ve ever seen that allowed the Ravens to force overtime on a 70-yard Hail Mary.

That same weekend, the Falcons and Seahawks played a great game that saw Atlanta escape 30-28 before pushing the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, so there was a lot to like in the lead-up to this Super Bowl.

2. 2007 Season

A lot of what made this one of the best NFL playoffs ever was the Super Bowl between the Giants and the Patriots.

This was the year that the Patriots had a chance to cap off their perfect season with a Super Bowl win, only for the G-Men to shock them with the help of David Tyree’s famous helmet catch, which is one of the all-time greatest plays in playoff history.

But that game was just the tip of the iceberg for the 2007 playoffs. After all, the Giants had to win three road games just to get to the playoffs in one of the best NFL playoff runs we’ve ever seen.

The overtime win over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game was also one for the ages. There were also some entertaining games earlier in the playoffs, as five of the 11 postseason games this year were decided by less than a touchdown, including the epic Super Bowl.

1. 1981 Season

If you consider the games the 49ers played in the postseason this year, this would be among the greatest NFL postseasons of all time.

We’re talking about “The Catch” from Dwight Clark in the NFC Championship Game, which is one of the NFL’s most iconic moments. Joe Montana and the 49ers came close to topping that moment with their late drive in the Super Bowl to beat the Bengals 26-21.

Those two games alone make this a memorable year for the NFL playoffs.

But the 1981 playoffs also included arguably the best playoff game ever played between the Chargers and Dolphins. Kellen Winslow had an unbelievable game in helping the Chargers beat the Dolphins 41-38. In addition to those the three games mentioned, there were three other games that were decided by less than a touchdown, putting the 1981 playoffs ahead of all other NFL postseasons.

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