1986 NFL season

1986 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 7 – 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

The 1986 NFL season was the 67th regular season of the National Football League. The defending Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears shared the league's best record with the Giants at 14-2, with the Giants claiming the spot in the NFC by tiebreakers. In the AFC, the Cleveland Browns earned home-field advantage with a record of 12-4, and they hosted the New York Jets in round one of the AFC playoffs. The Jets had started the season at 10-1 before losing their final five contests. The game went to double OT, with the Browns finally prevailing 23-20. The following Sunday, John Elway and the Denver Broncos defeated the Browns by an identical score in the game known as The Drive, where Elway drove his team 98 yards to send the game to overtime to win. The Giants would defeat their rival Washington Redskins in the NFC title game, blanking them 17-0 to advance to their first Super Bowl. The season ended with Super Bowl XXI when the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 at the Rose Bowl to win their first league title in 30 years.

Major rule changes

Final standings

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

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



NOTE: The New York Giants (the NFC one seed) did not play the Washington Redskins (the four seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.
Divisional Playoffs
    Jan. 4 – Mile High Stadium        
AFC Wild Card Game AFC Championship
 3  New England  17
Dec. 28 – Giants Stadium     Jan. 11 – Cleveland Stadium
 2  Denver  22  
 5  Kansas City  15  2  Denver  23*
Jan. 3 – Cleveland Stadium
 4  NY Jets  35      1  Cleveland  20   Super Bowl XXI
 4  NY Jets  20
    Jan. 25 – Rose Bowl
 1  Cleveland  23**  
 A2  Denver  20
Jan. 3 – Soldier Field
NFC Wild Card Game NFC Championship    N1  NY Giants  39
 4  Washington  27
Dec. 28 – RFK Stadium     Jan. 11 – Giants Stadium
 2*  Chicago  13  
 5  LA Rams  7  4  Washington  0
Jan. 4 – Giants Stadium
 4  Washington  19      1  NY Giants  17  
 3  San Francisco  3
 1*  NY Giants  49  
* Indicates overtime victory
** Indicates double-overtime victory

Statistical leaders


Points scoredMiami Dolphins (430)
Total yards gainedCincinnati Bengals (6,490)
Yards rushingChicago Bears (2,700)
Yards passingMiami Dolphins (4,779)
Fewest points allowedChicago Bears (187)
Fewest total yards allowedChicago Bears (4,130)
Fewest rushing yards allowedNew York Giants (1,284)
Fewest passing yards allowedSt. Louis Cardinals (2,637)


The following players set all-time records during the season:

Most Passes Completed, Season Dan Marino, Miami (378)
Most Pass Attempts, Season Dan Marino, Miami (623)


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)


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