The Packers have won 12 NFL titles since they came into the league in 1921, the most of any team. The Pack has also played in 40 postseason games, compiling a 25-15 record. But the Packers also missed the playoffs by the slimmest of margins some years. Let's take a look back at some of those years.
The Packers won three of their championships before the playoff era began in 1933. The team won three straight championships from 1929-1931 under coach Curly Lambeau. The Packers came very close to winning a fourth title in a row in 1932. In fact, by current rules they would have.
Until 1972, the champions were crowned by having the best winning percentage. However, ties were NOT recognized at that time. A tie is now considered a half of a win. In 1932 the Packers finished 10-3-1, while the Chicago Bears were 6-1-6 and the Portsmouth Spartans were 6-1-4. The Bears ended up winning a playoff game later because of the "tie" with the Spartans. Under current rules, the Packers would have had a .750 winning percentage, while the Spartans would have had a .727 winning percentage and the Bears would have had a .692 winning percentage.
After the playoff era started, the Packers have also missed out on the postseason several times by the slimmest of margins. Most Packer historians will say that the 1950s were probably the darkest period in Packer history. The Packers had a .333 winning percentage in that decade. Believe it or not, there were three decent teams from that decade.
Of course there was the inaugural team of Vince Lombardi that finished 7-5 in 1959, setting up the magnificent decade of the 1960's for the Pack. The 1952 and 1955 teams both were 6-6, and did not lose their divisions by much. In fact, a win here or there might have put them at the top of those divisions. Still, the Packers were mediocre even in those years, and the division winners far outclassed them.
That was not the case in 1963. The Packers had won two straight NFL titles heading into that season. However 1963 would be different for a VERY big reason ... Paul Hornung would be suspended for the 1963 season for gambling. Still, the Packers had a great year, even with a Bart Starr hand injury that forced him to miss four games. The team finished 11-2-1. Unfortunately, those two losses came from the eventual NFL champion Chicago Bears, who finished 11-1-2.
The 1964 Packers also finished second in the NFL's Western Conference with a 8-5-1 record, which put them behind the Baltimore Colts, who finished 12-2. However, two of the Packer losses came from the Colts, by razor thin margins. Hornung was back for the 1964 season, but his kicking betrayed him, especially in the Colt games. For the year Hornung was 12-38 kicking field goals and also missed two extra points, including one in a one point loss to the Colts. If the Packers would have won those two Colt games, then they would have been the divisional champions, not the Colts.
In 1968, the Packers finished 6-7-1 as the team tried to win a fourth straight NFL title under new coach Phil Bengsten, as Lombardi moved upstairs as GM. The Packers suffered through a lot of injuries that year, especially at quarterback and the team lost at least a couple of close games because of that. The Minnesota Vikings won the NFC Central with a 8-6 record, including a hard fought 14-10 win over the Packers at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis when Starr was knocked out of the game.
The Vikings became sort of a curse in terms of winning the division title, as they twice tied with the Packers for the NFC Central crown, in both 1978 and 1989, but won the division both years because of a tiebreaker. The Packers also missed the playoffs both years as a wild card team, including the 1989 Lindy Infante coached team that had 10 wins behind QB Don Majkowski. The loss of the divisional crown in 1978 was especially painful, as the Bart Starr coached team got off to a 7-2 record, but stumbled badly down the stretch, as the Vikings eked out a divisional crown.
The 2006 Packers behind head coach Mike McCarthy also narrowly missed the playoffs. Four teams were in the hunt for the final playoff spot with 8-8 records. They were the Packers, Giants, Panthers and Rams. The Panthers and Rams were eliminated because of their 6-6 conference record compared to the Packers and Giants who were both 7-5. The Packers and Giants then finished even in the next tiebreaker, which was common games, as both teams were 1-3.
The Giants than edged the Packers in the next tiebreaker, strength of victory. The Giants had a .422 margin in that category compared to the Packers, who had a .383 percentage. McCarthy and the Packers then utilized that experience by having a 13-3 record in 2007, which included the NFC North crown and an appearance in the NFC Championship game, ironically against the Giants.
No team in NFL history has had the tradition of the Packers with all the championships, and the mystique of both Lambeau and Lombardi. But even with the rich history, with a few breaks, more glory would have smiled on Green Bay.
It's always tough to lose in the playoffs or in championship games, as the Packers certainly remember with their 13-10 loss in the 1960 championship game against the Eagles (Lombardi's ONLY playoff loss), or the 31-24 loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII, or the 30-27 loss to the 49ers with the last second Terrell Owens TD catch, or the 20-17 overtime loss to the Eagles in the 4th and 26th game and the 23-20 overtime loss to the Giants last year in the NFC Championship game. All of those losses were very close, and very painful.
But sometimes it's even tougher to not have had that opportunity to try and win a championship. The Packers have narrowly missed those opportunities several times. It's better to have played and lost with championship asperations in the NFL postseason, than never to have played at all.