Jones 1970s: Bert Jones in the NFL Playoffs: Baltimore Colts vs Oakland Raiders Raiders def. Colts Baltimore, MD. 12/24/77 Credit: Neil Leifer SetNumber: X22010 TK1

The WhatIfSports simulation of the 1975 NFL season ran very much like its real-life counterpart, seven of the eight actual playoff teams replicated their performances in the sim season, along with five of the six division winners.

  • Although they did not win the division in the simulation, the Baltimore Colts repeated their actual 10-4 record and earned the AFC Wild Card.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers won the AFC Central in the sim at 11-3, compared to 12-2. The Steelers defeated the hapless Kansas City Chiefs 61-0 in one game.
  • The Oakland Raiders went 9-5 as AFC West champs, compared to 11-3
  • As in the real word, the St. Louis Cardinals won the NFC East at 11-3
  • The Minnesota Vikings repeated their 12-2 season as NFC Central champs.
  • The Los Angeles Rams had the sim’s best record at 13-1, besting their actual 12-2 season
  • In what was thought to be a ‘rebuilding year’, the Dallas Cowboys claimed the NFC Wild Card at 9-5 v. their actual 10-4 record.
  • 8-6 in real life, the Buffalo Bills won the AFC East and replaced the Cincinnati Bengals (7-7 in sim) in the playoffs. O.J. Simpson broke his own single-season record with a 2,069 yard campaign, including a league single-game record of 279 yards against the Denver Broncos.

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The playoffs would play much differently to its real-life version. In the AFC, the Colts pulled off a shocking upset at Three Rivers Stadium while the Bills defeated Oakland at home. In the NFC, angry fans tossed oranges and whiskey bottles from the Metropolitan Stadium bleachers after a controversial pass interference call led to Jim Bakken’s overtime field goal to eliminate the Vikings. The Cowboys avenged two recent home playoff losses to the Rams, as well as a regular season home loss, with a playoff win in LA.

Third-year quarterback Bert Jones threw a TD pass with 1:18 remaining to win the AFC Championship in Buffalo, putting the Colts in the Super Bowl after just 11 regular season wins over the previous three seasons. The Cowboys annual playoff frustration continued with a 19-11 NFC Championship Game loss in St. Louis.

Co-Coaches Of The Year Don Coryall and Ted Marchibroda, along with their teams met in Miami, with Baltimore winning its first Super Bowl in the franchises second attempt.

One would just imagine how those bicentennial patches would have looked on the Cardinals and Colts.

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Chuck Foreman leaves field after home playoff disappointment.


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