Atlanta Falcons: 1978
The franchise had existed for 12 years by the time the 1978 season began. Yet the Atlanta Falcons had never made the playoffs and posted a winning record just once. They had a great defense led by the infamous “Gritz Blitz” that allowed a mere 129 points the year before, but even so optimism was not high on this team going into this season.
It lowered even further when they began the year 1-3 which included a loss to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Things seemed ready to go off the rails, but somehow they started to string together some good games. A big part of why was their willingness to switch to young Steve Bartkowski at quarterback. Though his numbers weren’t good, he made some big plays for them when needed.
A win over Washington in the second-to-last game was enough to assure them nine wins and a playoff berth. They then announced their newfound presence in the NFC picture by beating the Philadelphia Eagles in their first ever playoff game.