The Dallas Cowboys or New Orleans Saints will become the first wild-card playoff team in NFL history without a winning record, and Dallas could have the worst record of any postseason team in league history.
Dallas and New Orleans enter the final weekend of the season tied at 7-8 for the third NFC wild card spot. The NFL expanded the playoffs this year, adding a wild-card team in each conference.The Cowboys will clinch the playoffs if they defeat Atlanta Sunday to finish 8-8. If they lose, the Saints clinch with a Monday night victory over the Los Angeles Rams. If Dallas and New Orleans lose, the Cowboys qualify for the playoffs with a 7-9 mark. That would make them the first losing team to make the playoffs in a non-strike season.
A .500 team could also qualify in the AFC. If Seattle, Houston and Cincinnati all lose Sunday, the Seahawks will gain a wild-card spot at 8-8.
The only time losing teams made the NFL playoffs was in 1982, when the season was shortened to nine games because of a players' strike and the expanded playoffs included eight clubs from each conference. Buffalo and Detroit qualified that year with 4-5 records, and were eliminated in the first round.
The Minnesota Vikings' 8-7 mark in the 1987 strike year was the worst of any NFL wild-card team. The Houston Oilers made the American Football League playfoffs as a wild-card team with a 6-6-2 record in 1969.
The only other team to enter the playoffs without a winning record was the 1985 Cleveland Browns, who won the AFC Central with an 8-8 mark.