American Football Database

A one-game playoff, sometimes known as a pennant playoff or play-in game, is a tiebreaker in certain sports—usually but not always professional—to determine which of two teams, tied in the final standings, will qualify for a post-season tournament. Such a playoff is either a single game or a short series of games (such as best-2-of-3).

This is distinguished from the more general usage of the term "playoff", which refers to the post-season tournament itself.

NFL one game playoffs

Home teams in bold.

Year Division* Winning Team Losing Team Score Championship Game
1941 West Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers 33-14 Bears defeated the New York Giants, 37-9
1943 East Washington Redskins New York Giants 28-0 Redskins lost to the Chicago Bears, 41-21
1947 East Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh Steelers 21-0 Eagles lost to the Chicago Cardinals, 28-21
1950 American Cleveland Browns New York Giants 8-3 Browns defeated the Rams, 30-28
National Los Angeles Rams Chicago Bears 24-14
1952 National Detroit Lions Los Angeles Rams 31-21 Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns, 17-7
1957 West Detroit Lions San Francisco 49ers 31-27 Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns, 59-14
1958 East New York Giants Cleveland Browns 10-0 Giants lost to the Baltimore Colts, 23-17 (OT)
1965 West Green Bay Packers Baltimore Colts 13-10 (OT) Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns, 23-12

*During the time that tie-breaker games were in use, NFL teams were grouped into both "Divisions" (from 1933-1949), and "Conferences" (1950 and later).

AFL one game playoffs

Home team in bold.

Year Division Winning Team Losing Team Score Championship Game
1963 East Boston Patriots Buffalo Bills 26-8 Patriots lost to the San Diego Chargers, 51-10
1968 West Oakland Raiders Kansas City Chiefs 41-6 Raiders lost to the New York Jets, 27-23

AAFC one game playoff

Home team in bold.

Year Division Winning Team Losing Team Score Championship Game
1948 East Buffalo Bills* Baltimore Colts* 28-17 Bills lost to the Cleveland Browns, 49-7

*Not to be confused with the modern day Buffalo Bills. The modern-day Indianapolis Colts joined the NFL after the AAFC team folded.