The 1982 NFL season was a complete fustercluck.
The short story, owners and players thought the 1981 MLB strike was such a good idea that they tried it in the NFL. The work stoppage lasted 57 days and resulted in a nine-game regular season. The playoff field for that season would be expanded with 16 of the 28 teams participating.
Television and players tried to make up by playing a couple of ‘All-Star Games’, to zero interest. NBC aired Canadian Football League games to minuscule ratings. As the labor stoppage went on, teams that continued to work out together fared best once the season resumed.
This simulation is done through an entire-16 game slate with a normal playoff format, with all cancelled games played. With limited data available, some of the results provided anomalies.
- The Jets participated in the AFC Championship Game, so their 13-3 has some reason. The Buffalo Bills had the league’s best rushing game with Joe Cribbs (before he left for the USFL) and Roosevelt Leaks, but 13-3 does not make as much sense.
- The Steelers entered the AFC playoffs as the number four seed while the Bengals earned the number three seed, so their respective records jive.
- At 8-1, the Raiders earned the AFC’s top seed, they win the AFC West in the simulation, but their 10-6 record is a little surprising.
- The NFC East race could have been epic. Washington earned the top seed as they did in real life, with the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys in a tie-breaker for the NFC’s two wild card slots.
- Green Bay stumbled post-strike but still earned the NFC’s third seed with a 5-3-1 record. Likewise, the Packers outlasted their divisional foes to finish first at 9-7.
- The Los Angeles Rams did not even make the expanded playoffs in the real word, but easily win the NFC West here. The 49ers also missed the playoffs that year at 3-6, and do even worse in the sim at 4-12.
As the AFC’s top seed, the Bills won both their home games to advance to their second faux-Super Bowl in franchise history. Chuck Knox joined George Allen and Don Coryall as the lone coaches to take two different teams to sim Super Bowls.
The Eagles won the Wild Card game, defeated the Rams in the divisional round and then beat Washington in an epic NFC Championship game. Joe Gibbs squad forced overtime with a late 64-yard TD catch by Charlie Brown followed by a two-point conversion.
So the Super Bowl would be decided by two teams who did not participate in the actual 16-team playoff. The Eagles would win their second consecutive championship 23-20 on a walk-off Tony Franklin field goal, the second time in three years the Super Bowl would be decided in such fashion.
After the 1982 season a burnt out Dick Vermeil resigned from the Eagles job while Knox resigned to accept the Seattle Seahawks head post.
Wilbert Montgomery helps lead his team to a second straight Super Bowl title.