1978 represented a huge year for the National Football League. The schedule expanded to 16 games, from Labor Day weekend through Christmas. An additional wild card team was also added in each conference along with an additional tier of playoffs. New rules also ushered in a new era of offensive-minded football.
In the KACSPORTS sim version of the season, the Dallas Cowboys stood poised to make history after a 16-0 regular season to go along with the Cowboys 14-0 season in 1971.
In the postseason however, Dallas would be doomed on its own turf by the same familiar nemesis.
Highlights of the 1978 included…
- The NFC East’s dominance of the AFC East and the AFC West over the NFC Central were both reflected in the final standings. 1978 marked the first year of rotational inter-conference play.
- Doug Williams joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and immediately led the third-year expansion club to respectability, winning the NFC Central with a 9-7 record. A closer look at the real-life point differentials explains the parity of the division Chris Berman would soon re-name the ‘NFC Norris’ – Buccaneers -18, Bears -21, Vikings -12, Lions -10, Packers -20. Another 16-game sample size would produce a different result.
- In real-life, the Houston Oilers burst onto the scene behind rookie running back Earl Campbell. But the sim was not nearly as kind to Luv’ Ya Blue as Houston finished 7-9.
- The San Diego Chargers stumbled out of the gate in the actual season thanks in part to the ‘Holy Roller’ loss to the Raiders. Although they also lost to the Raiders in Week 2 of the sim, the Chargers still finished 10-6 and earned a wild card spot.
All signs pointed towards a reprise of the actual classic Steelers/Cowboys Super Bowl in Miami. It would not happen.
The Chargers won the Wild Card Game in Cleveland and then shocked Pittsburgh at Three Rivers, as the Steelers season would end with a home playoff loss for a fourth consecutive year. San Diego’s run ended with a loss to Oakland in the AFC Championship, sending the Raiders to their first Super Bowl in 11 years.
Dallas had the fortune to draw and easily dispatch the upstart Buccaneers in the divisional round. Unfortunately, the Rams arrived for the NFC Championship Game and for the fifth time in seven season ended the Cowboys season at Texas Stadium with a 14-13 win, giving the Rams their sixth Super Bowl trip while Dallas has not won a single NFC title despite a 99-15 regular season record over eight years.
So Steelers lose four years in a row at home and the Cowboys to the Rams at home five times. Still think Hillary Clinton winning six coin tosses in a row is not a coincidence?
It must be noted the Cowboys did win at Los Angeles in a faux-regular season game.
The Raiders and Rams made the cross-country trek to the Orange Bowl in Miami. New coach Ray Malavasi picked up where Chuck Knox left off, and the Rams completed the unprecedented three-peat and fourth Super Bowl title overall with a 10-7 win. The Raiders would be doomed because of four missed field goals by Errol Mann.
He had to be sickest man in America.
John Madden made a Super Bowl appearance in his final season as Raiders coach.