There’s only one realistic scenario in which Bill Belichick will not set an NFL record for coaching the most playoff games in NFL history:
A freak snowstorm on the weekend of the AFC Divisional Round drops a 2015 Boston-Snowpocalypse-level of peanut-butter-thick snow on Massachusetts, and while Belichick arrives at the stadium well before game time, he is late. As we all learned in 2009, getting to the stadium late, even in whiteout Hoth-like conditions, means you’ll be sent home. Therefore, Bill is required by team rule to send himself home for arriving late, because no man is more important the team, and his playoff coaching record has to wait one more week to be broken.
Them’s the rules, just ask Adalius Thomas.
That possibility notwithstanding, when Bill Belichick takes the field for the AFC Divisional Round game on January 13th at 8:15pm (a kickoff time that a younger Tom Brady might describe as plenty of time to “start drinking early”, referring to hydration, of course), Belichick will break a current three-way tie for most playoff games coached.
The other two coaches that Bill’s deadlocked with at the moment? Ask your dad about these guys: Don Shula and Tom Landry.
Shula, Landry, and Belichick all have coached in 36 playoff games as head coaches. Obviously, only one of those guys is still adding to that list.
Of course, as a Patriots news source, we just wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t respectfully remind everyone that Bill is also the only coach that’s accomplished all but two of those playoff appearances while contending in the NFL’s salary cap era. Tom Landry’s last season coaching the Dallas Cowboys was 1988, and Don Shula’s tenure as a head coach overlapped with the league’s 1994 salary cap ($34.6 million!) by two seasons before Shula retired after the 1995 season.
Those two Belichick playoff appearances that wasn’t in the era of the cap that we mentioned earlier, though? Why, that’d be in the 1994 season, when Bill coached the Cleveland Browns to a playoff victory (!!!) against his former boss, Bill Parcells, and his future powerhouse team, the New England Patriots.
Fresh off his first playoff win as a head coach, Belichick promptly got knocked out in the AFC Divisional Round the next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-9.
And since the Patriots have looked at the wild-card round and said “Nah, we’re good” and skipped straight through Wild Card weekend with a bye for the past seven seasons, when Bill coaches against the Titans/Jags/Bills next weekend, he’ll also pass another one of Don Shula’s records - coaching his 15th divisional playoff game.
Not too shabby for a failed head coach of those Cleveland Browns, right?