1986 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 7, 1986-December 22, 1986
Start date December 28, 1986
AFC Champions Denver Broncos
NFC Champions New York Giants
Super Bowl XXI
Date January 25, 1987
Site Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Champions New York Giants
Pro Bowl
Date February 1, 1987
Site Aloha Stadium
National Football League seasons
 < 1985 1987 > 

The 1986 NFL season was the 67th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XXI when the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos to win their first league title in 30 years.

Major rule changesEdit

  • Players are prohibited from wearing apparel, equipment, or other items that carry commercial names, names of organizations, or any type of personal message unless they get specific permission from the league.
  • If the offensive team commits a dead ball foul during the last two minutes of a half, the clock will start at the snap.
  • If an offensive player fumbles the ball and it goes forward and out of bounds, the ball is returned to that team at the spot of the fumble.
  • If an offensive player fumbles the ball in the field of play and it goes out of bounds in the opponent's end zone, the ball is given to the defensive team at the spot of the fumble (this rule would be changed in 1991 to result in a touchback).
  • A limited system of instant replay was adopted to aid officiating. A replay official in a booth would decide what plays to review and make the final ruling, regardless of the current score or the amount of time left in the game. The replay official communicated with the game officials via radio transmitters. However, there was no time limit on how long the replay official could review a play and this led to long game delays (this was a major reason why the system was eventually repealed in 1992 and not brought back until time limits for replays were established).

Final standingsEdit

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

  x  - clinched wild card berth,   y  - clinched division title

AFC East
y-New England Patriots 1150.688412307
x-New York Jets 1060.625364386
Miami Dolphins 880.500430405
Buffalo Bills 4120.250287348
Indianapolis Colts 3130.188229400
AFC Central
y-Cleveland Browns 1240.750391310
Cincinnati Bengals 1060.625409394
Pittsburgh Steelers 6100.375307336
Houston Oilers 5110.313274329
AFC West
y-Denver Broncos 1150.688378327
x-Kansas City Chiefs 1060.625358326
Seattle Seahawks 1060.625366293
Los Angeles Raiders 880.500323346
San Diego Chargers 4120.250335396
NFC East
y-New York Giants 1420.875371236
x-Washington Redskins 1240.750368296
Dallas Cowboys 790.438346337
Philadelphia Eagles 5101.344256312
St. Louis Cardinals 4111.281218351
NFC Central
y-Chicago Bears 1420.875352187
Minnesota Vikings 970.563398273
Detroit Lions 5110.313277326
Green Bay Packers 4120.250254418
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2140.125239473
NFC West
y-San Francisco 49ers 1051.656374247
x-Los Angeles Rams 1060.625309267
Atlanta Falcons 781.469280280
New Orleans Saints 790.438288287


  • Denver was second AFC playoff seed ahead of New England based on head-to-head victory (1-0).
  • N.Y. Jets was the first AFC Wild Card based on better conference record (8-4) than Kansas City (9-5), Seattle (7-5), and Cincinnati (7-5).
  • Kansas City was the second AFC Wild Card based on better conference record (9-5) than Seattle (7-5) and Cincinnati (7-5).
  • N.Y. Giants was the top NFC playoff seed based on better conference record than Chicago (11-1 to Bears' 10-2).


Home team in capitals


  • Wild-Card playoff: N.Y. JETS 35, Kansas City 15
  • Divisional playoffs: CLEVELAND 23, N.Y. Jets 20 (2OT); DENVER 22, New England 17
  • AFC Championship: Denver 23, CLEVELAND 20 (OT) at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio, January 11, 1987 (This game is best remembered for "The Drive".)


  • Wild-Card playoff: WASHINGTON 19, L.A. Rams 7
  • Divisional playoffs: Washington 27, CHICAGO 13; N.Y. GIANTS 49, San Francisco 3
  • NFC Championship: N.Y. GIANTS 17, Washington 0 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, January 11, 1987

Super BowlEdit


Most Valuable Player Lawrence Taylor, Linebacker, New York Giants
Coach of the YearBill Parcells, New York Giants
Offensive Player of the Year Eric Dickerson, Running back, Los Angeles Rams
Defensive Player of the Year Lawrence Taylor, Linebacker, New York Giants
Offensive Rookie of the Year Rueben Mayes, Running back, New Orleans Saints
Defensive Rookie of the Year Leslie O'Neal, Defensive end, San Diego Chargers
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Joe Montana, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers, Tommy Kramer, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings (co-winners)


1986 NFL seasonv · d · e
AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Buffalo Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Indianapolis Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit LA Rams
Miami Houston LA Raiders Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego St. Louis Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Seattle Washington Tampa Bay
1986 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXI
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