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Are the Colts the Greatest Underachievers Ever?

Yesterday marked the fifth time in the last ten years that the Colts have lost a playoff game in which they were favored.  As far as I can tell, that is the greatest run of postseason underachieving in NFL history.   We have game lines going back to the 1983 season and only the Bears have pulled off the five failure feat.  The difference is that the Bears did it over a span of 20 years, with different coaches, players, etc.  The Colts have achieved playoff futility with many of the same players and coaches. 

Under Peyton Manning the Colts have enjoyed almost more success than any other team in the NFL.  Only the Patriots, with 119 wins, have more than the Colts 117 wins since 1988.  The playoffs, though, have been a different story.  Here are the ugly playoff numbers:

157-810 Times5-5

As a comparison, the favored team wins an NFL playoff game about 70|PERCENT| of the time. The Colts would need to win seven favored playoff games in a row to match that win percentage. Only one team comes close to the Colts futility. The Green Bay Packers lost four playoff games in which they were favored between 1993 and 2007, the Favre years. The difference is that they also won 10 times when they were favored, a .714 win pct or above average. Still, there are some similarities between the two teams. Both teams had QBs who never missed a game and both won more or as many games as any other team while that QB was there (the Packers won more games than any other team during the time Favre was QB).

Is it possible that having a very good, durable, long lasting QB is a recipe for multiple playoff failures? One of the reasons the Colts and Packers were able to lose that many playoff games was because they played in more playoff games than most teams. Having a QB who never got hurt certainly played a part in that. Here are the records as favorites for all other teams who have played in at least six playoff games as a favorite since 1993:


I heard one person compare the Colts to the 1990 Braves in regard to postseason underachieving. I think the Colts are actually much worse than the Braves. The Braves played in the World Series five times during that stretch, winning one. The Colts have failed to reach the Super Bowl in all but one season. Their overall playoff win pct under Manning is .467 even though they've had a .750 win pct during the regular season in those playoff years. I may have to run some numbers and see if that's the biggest disparity ever for one era.