The NFL regular season ended last weekend with 11 teams finishing with at least 11 wins, the most in any year since the league adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978. The 10-6 KC Chiefs became in the fourth 10-win team to make the playoffs since 1990, the year the NFL expanded to its current 12-team postseason format.
The Philadelphia Eagles became the fifth consecutive Super Bowl loser to finish the following season with a losing record (6-10) and the team’s failure to reach the postseason in 2005 ended the current longest playoff streak in the NFL (five) of any franchise. Green Bay finished just 4-12, ending the league’s second-longest streak (four). That leaves the Colts, who finished 14-2, the best in the league, with the league’s longest current postseason run in four consecutive years.
The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North with an 11-5 record, ending the current league’s longest playoff drought in 14 consecutive playoff-free seasons. The new ‘leader’ in that department is the Arizona Cardinals, who have failed to make the playoffs for seven consecutive years.
My free game on Friday is at the Tor Raptors over the Hou Rockets at 7:05 ET. It’s a great 13-game card in the NBA tonight, but I only see one HIGHLIGHT play. It’s the ESPN showdown tonight between Miami / Phoenix. Get it now with my full review. Please check back for my NFL wild card round picks around 6:00 ET.
The Bengals were the only new division winner in the AFC this year. Denver (West), Indianapolis (South) and New England (East) also won their respective divisions last year. Pittsburgh (won the North in 2004) is back as a wild-card team in 2005, leaving Jacksonville 12-4 (first playoff appearance since 1999) as the only playoff newcomer from last year’s group.
In NFC it is a very different picture. Seattle (West) is the division’s only repeat winner, as Chicago (North), New York (East) and Tampa Bay (South) failed to make last year’s postseason. This year’s two NFC wild-card teams (Carolina and Washington) missed the playoffs last season, meaning FIVE of the six NFC playoff teams in 2005 were absent from last year’s postseason.
Overall, SEVEN of the 12 playoff games this year did NOT participate in last year’s postseason!
Looking ahead, it’s important to note that NONE of the last 30 Super Bowl slots (since the playoffs expanded to a 12-team playoff in 1990) have been for teams ranked fifth or sixth. In fact, only two No. 5 seeds (Indy in ’95 and Jax in ’96) have made the conference championship.
Of the 30 Super Bowl entrants, 25 spots have been filled by a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but interestingly enough, the Super Bowl hasn’t featured a No. 1 seed showdown from both conferences in 12 years (Dallas / Buffalo in SB XXVIII)!
As of Friday morning, here are the playoff lines and totals. In Saturday’s games, Tampa Bay is favored by 2 1/2 points over Washington at home with a total of 37 and New England is a 7 1/2 point home favorite over Jacksonville with a total of 37. The New York Giants They have 2 1/2 point favorites at Meadowlands against Carolina on Sunday (total is 43 1/2), while Pittsburgh is a three-point favorite on the road in Cincinnati (total is 46 1/2). An interesting note from the point difference this weekend is that since 1978, domestic ‘dogs’ are 8-1 ATS in the wild card round, but as we all know, domestic dogs were a lousy 29-48-4! in 2005!
Final NFL Notes
Interestingly, the Miami Dolphins 9-7 (a team that does not participate in the playoffs) ended the regular season with the longest winning streak in the league (six games). The Washington Redskins’ five-game winning streak is the best among playoff entrants. Minnesota’s 34-10 Week 17 win over Chicago gave them a 9-7 record. The Vikings ended the year as the only winning NFL team to allow more points (344) than they scored (306). In contrast, no losing team was able to score more points than it allowed.
Indy finished with the best record in the league (14-2) and Houston finished with the worst (2-14). Seattle was the league’s highest-scoring team (28.3 PPG) and KC its best offensive team, averaging 387.0 YPG. Cleveland was the league’s lowest-scoring team (14.5 PPG) and San Francisco the least productive by yards gained (224.2 YPG). Chicago was the league’s stingiest team allowing 12.6 PPG and Tampa Bay allowed the fewest yards (277.8 YPG). Houston allowed the most points (26.9 PPP) and San Francisco the most yards (391.2 YPG).
Seattle and Denver were the only teams to go undefeated at home, with Seattle posting a 6-2 ATS record and Denver 5-2-1. The worst home record was Houston with 2-6 SU and ATS. Indy was the league’s best road team at 7-1, going 6-1-1 or 6-2 ATS (depending on how the team’s 26-18 win at Jax is rated in Week 14). The Jets (1-7 ATS), Ravens (2-6 ATS) and Texans (5-3 ATS) finished 0-8 SU on the road.
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