Predict who'll make the NFL playoffs? It's almost impossible.
Last season, seven teams –- Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia and San Diego –- made the playoffs that were not in the playoffs the year before. That marked the 11th consecutive season in which at least five teams (out of 12) accomplished the feat.
The NFL is so unpredictbale that in 2006...
• For the first time in history, three teams in a season – the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles – went from "worst to first" in their divisions, winning their division after finishing last in 2005. It was the fifth time since 2000 that two teams performed such a turnaround.
• Sixteen percent of games were decided in the final two minutes or overtime.
• Almost half the games (49 percent) were decided by one score (eight points or less), and almost a quarter (24 percent) were decided by three points or less.
Getting off to a good start
Since 1978, when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule, and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, teams that are victorious on Kickoff Weekend are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game:
Of the 410 teams which won openers…216 went to the playoffs (123 won division titles).
Of the 410 teams which lost openers…96 went to the playoffs (54 won division titles).
In 2006, nine of the 12 playoff teams – Baltimore, Chicago, Indianapolis, New Orleans, New England, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.
"At the beginning of the year, there's tremendous optimism in every city, even if you've had a rough year the year before," says Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren.