NFL Calendar | Forecasting the 2012 Playoff Qualifiers
By Hub Arkush, Pro Football Weekly
Among my favorite NFL factoids and extremely high on the list of what makes the NFL so far and away the most popular sport in America is this little tidbit. Over the past 16 seasons at least 5 of the 12 playoff teams from the previous year have failed to repeat. In five of those seasons, including 2011, six clubs have failed to repeat, four times seven clubs have failed to repeat and in 2003 only four ’02 playoff teams made it back to the postseason.
On average over those 16 seasons half the prior year’s playoff clubs have failed to get back to the playoffs the following year, so it is more than just reasonable to assume there will be six new playoff teams in 2012 — it is extremely likely. But with division winners automatically qualifying and looking at how the divisions break up — the Browns won’t win the AFC North, will they — this will be a year only five of last year’s playoff teams drop out. So the question is: who among the Packers, 49ers, Saints, Giants, Falcons, Lions, Patriots, Ravens, Texans, Broncos, Steelers and Bengals are likely to drop out, and which teams will take their spots?