The six most under-qualified playoff teams from the last 10 seasons
1) 2014 Panthers: 7-8-1 (Won NFC South)
The Redskins don't have to look too far back to find the latest case of a team with a less-than-stellar record making it into the postseason: Last year's Panthers won the NFC South despite losing more games than they won. While Carolina is one of the league's most dominant teams in 2015, Cam Newton and Co. were just 16th in yards per game and 19th in scoring a season ago. In fact, they lost six straight contests at one point, but finished the schedule with a four-game winning streak and even beat a Ryan Lindley-led Cardinals squad in the Wild Card game before dropping out the following week in Seattle. Capping a mediocre campaign with a playoff berth that sparked a much better record in the next regular season? 'Skins fans would definitely take a repeat of that path recently laid out by the Panthers.
2) 2011 Broncos: 8-8 (Won AFC West)
Sorry, Tebow lovers: The 2011 Broncos weren't exactly a powerhouse, but in a weak AFC West, they didn't need to be. Kyle Orton opened under center in Week 1, but after a sloppy start, he was eventually benched in favor of everyone's favorite lefty, Tim Tebow. Denver responded to the change, as the former Heisman winner went 8-5 in his time as the primary passer and even helped the team rip off a six-game winning streak. They almost collapsed at the end by falling three times in a row, but thanks to tiebreakers, snuck into the postseason as division champions. Of course, #15 then beat the Steelers in overtime in an epic Wild Card bout before ultimately having their Cinderella run ended by the Patriots (they ruin everything, don't they?). Tebow would never reach that level of success again, but boy, 2011 was a memorable year, even though his group's record wasn't.
3) 2010 Seahawks: 7-9 (Won NFC West)
The Seattle Seahawks own the distinction of having the worst record ever for a team that qualified for the playoffs. The 1982 Browns and 1982 Lions were both 4-5 yet moved on in a strike-shortened season, but when it comes to a full 16-game slate, no one's been as bad but still advanced as the 2010 'Hawks. That didn't bother them, however, as they defeated the defending champion Saints in the Wild Card game and gave us one of the most classic plays in NFL history: Marshawn Lynch's "Beast Mode" run. They came up short the following week in a visit to Chicago, but for a bunch that was just 7-9, making it to the Divisional Round of the postseason is something to be proud of.
4) 2008 Chargers: 8-8 (Won AFC West)
Three years before almost blowing a division lead in the AFC West thanks to a three-game skid, the Broncos did actually blow a division lead in the AFC West thanks to a three-game skid, and the 8-8 Chargers were the beneficiary of Denver's awful finish. Mike Shanahan (remember him, 'Skins fans?) was fired after losing a win-or-go-home finale to San Diego, who followed up their Week 17 blowout by upsetting the Colts at home in the Wild Card contest. The Steelers toppled the Chargers next time out, but for a franchise that wasn't supposed to really be there in the first place, it was a solid overall conclusion to the 2008 season.
5) 2004 Vikings: 8-8 (Won NFC Wild Card)
Minnesota finished the year in a 3-7 slide, but because they started fast at 5-1, they did just enough to make the NFC playoffs as a wild card. Behind a miraculous season from Daunte Culpepper, who threw for 4,700+ yards and almost 40 TDs, the Vikes and their explosive offense were able to carry a below-average defense into January, where they handled the rival Packers by 14 in Green Bay (Randy Moss mooning the crowd, anybody?). Like the other teams on this list, though, they couldn't string together consecutive wins in the postseason, and wouldn't be relevant again until 2008.
6) 2004 Rams: 8-8 (Won NFC Wild Card)
2004 was quite a time to be alive for underperforming NFC teams that wanted to still make the playoffs. 8-8 St. Louis joined 8-8 Minnesota as the conference's two wild card representatives, and like the Vikings, the Rams stole a road postseason game when they beat the Seahawks 27-20 in round one. Next week's 30-point blowout in Atlanta was a wake-up call for the underdog Rams, however, and the franchise hasn't been back to the playoffs since.