Playoff Success, When the Competition is the Strongest

By Stephen Juza

June 15th, 2020

Bill Belichick’s accolades as the best coach in league history do not stop with the regular season, and his postseason successes further differentiates him from other greats.

He has coached in the most playoff games in NFL history, forty three games, despite frequently having a bye week in the first round of the playoffs. Recently, the Patriots had a string of first round byes that extended from 2010 until 2018, nine seasons. This is a streak so remarkable, it is tied for the longest streak of simply making the playoffs at all of any other team in NFL history.

Belichick’s success stems from not only his ability to coach his team into the playoffs, but also winning games when it counts. His thirty one playoff wins are the most in NFL history and his record will continue to stand for a very long time. His record is eleven wins ahead of the next coach (Tom Landry), and sixteen wins ahead of the next currently active coach (Andy Reid).

Coach Head Coaching Years Playoff Wins Playoff Win Percentage
Bill Belichick 1991-2019 31 72%
Tom Landry 1960-1988 20 56%
Don Shula 1963-1995 19 53%
Chuck Noll 1969-1991 16 67%
Andy Reid 1999-2019 15 52%

In fact, Belichick continues to win these crucial games at a better rate than almost any coach in league history. Among his peers who have coached in at least ten playoff games, his win percentage, 72%, ranks third of all time. This translates into almost a twelve win season against the best teams in the league when the stakes are at their highest, and no one is better than Belichick at getting his team to games with the highest stakes.

Belichick has coached his teams to the championship nine times, which is twice more than the next coach, Paul Brown. Also, when Paul Brown coached, four of the championships were in the All-America Football Conference against only three other teams to make the championship. Belichick and the Patriots had to compete against fifteen other teams to make each championship.

If championships are the barometer of success for a coach, Bill Belichick has no peer in the NFL. Not only has Belichick excelled at getting his teams to the Super Bowl, but also at winning them. Since the NFL merger, thirteen coaches have won multiple Super Bowls. Belichick has won the most in the league with six victories. Chuck Noll, the hall of fame coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has the second most with just four.

Belichick has been able to maintain constant playoff success through the years, creating a dynasty that has remained longer than any other in NFL history. By elevating his already stellar regular season success in the playoffs, he has been able to ensure that his records will not soon be broken.

Part 1: Bill Belichick: Greatest NFL Coach

Part 2: Regular season: Consistent Success for Two Decades

Part 3: Playoff Success, When the Competition is the Strongest

Part 4: Succeeding in the Most Challenging Era

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