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NFL 2013 (A First Look, Part 1)

   by Larry Ness - 08/08/2013

NFL 2013 (A First Look-Part 1)

The NFL expanded its playoff field to include 12 teams beginning in the 1990 season. Heading into the 2013 season, there have been 137 teams from 1991 through 2012 to follow a playoff appearance with another one the very next season. That’s an average of 6.2 per season, which leaves an average of 5.8 “new” playoff teams each year. As most know, the NFL expanded to an even 32 teams with the addition of the Houston Texans for the 2002 season, so we have a full decade of results to look at.

Not much has changed. There have been 59 “playoff repeaters” the last 10 years, meaning we’ve had 61 “newbies.” Parity is alive and well in the NFL, as despite eight playoff repeaters from 2011 to 2012 (tying the most in any season since the playoffs were expanded to 12 teams), we’ve actually seen a slight decrease this last decade of teams posting consecutive playoff appearances (5.9 per year these last 10 seasons, compared to the 6.2 per year we’ve seen going back to the 1991 season). Last year’s eight repeaters tied for the most in any one year with the 1995 season. For the record, the fewest "repeaters" in any one season has been four, which happened in 2003.

Returning from 2011’s postseason in 2012 were Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, New England and San Francisco. Failing to make it back in 2012 were Detroit, New Orleans, New York (Giants) and Pittsburgh, with Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington taking their spots. The Giants were the defending champs heading into the 2012 season but didn’t get a chance to defend that title, by missing the playoffs entirely. That’s not exactly news these days, as the Pats are the only team that’s repeated its Super Bowl win (won after the 2003 and ‘04 seasons) over the last 14 years.

Things have had a tendency to change quickly in the NFL since the league expanded to its current format of 32 teams, comprised of four, four-team divisions in each the AFC and NFC. Over the first four years (from 2003-06), we saw two teams each season go from last to first in their respective divisions. However, that kind of volatility has slowed recently, as only four teams have made the jump from last-to-first over the last six years, one team each in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 (no teams did so in 2010 and 2012).

With the above scenario as a backdrop, in parts 2 and 3 of NFL 2013 (A First look), I'll make some “fearless” predictions for the upcoming season. Part 2 will be posted Tuesday (Aug 13) and Part 3 on Friday (Aug 16).

Good luck...Larry

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