Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Our 2015 Version of "Annual Playoff Reminders"

http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2015/09/sturm-our-annual-playoff-reminders-post.html/

With just 9 days until the first game of the 2015 NFL season, perhaps we should take a minute to identify some things to consider when putting your NFC playoff field together.

Here is a fancy grid below which keeps a rolling 10-year grid on NFC playoff participation.  Below, you can see that 7 years in the last 10 is the high total for playoff appearances for Seattle and Green Bay, while a sad squad hasn't been in the post-season in the last decade - those St Louis Rams.  

Dallas, strutting around with new-found confidence is at 4, which is out paced by 5 NFC organizations (Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, New York Giants, and Philadelphia), but finally broke its 5 year drought with its berth last winter.  You can see by looking at the grid how it seems everyone gets a turn in the playoffs every few years.  Only 3 teams have not been in the playoffs since 2011 in the entire NFC - Chicago, Tampa Bay, and those Rams.  Parity!  

Green Bay has been to the playoffs 6 consecutive years which is the highest for any NFC team.  Seattle has now been to 3 straight playoff years - and 2 Super Bowls in a row - and then the only other team that has put consecutive years together would be Carolina.  San Francisco's streak was stopped last season.  


Team 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 Total
Sea X X X X X X X 7
GB X X X X X X
X 7
NO X X X X X 5
NYG

X X X X X 5
Phil
X X  X X X 5
Dallas X X X X 4
Atl
X X X X 4
Car X X



X

X 4
SF
X X X
3
Chi
X X X 3
Minn X X X 3
Arz X X X 3
Wash
X X
2
TB
X X 2
Det X X 2
St L
0

(a Bold "X" denotes a Super Bowl appearance)

So, now you know who has made it and how many times.

Here is the AFC -

Team 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 Total
NE X X X X X X X X X 9
Ind X X X
X X X X X X 9
Bal X
X X X X X X 7
Pit X
X X X X
X 6
Cin X X X X
 X

X 6
Den X X X X


X 5
SD
X


X X X X 5
NYJ



X X

X
3
KC
X

X X 3
Tenn

X X

2
Jax


X X 2
Hou
X X

2
Mia

X

1
Oak


0
Cle

0
Buf
0

The AFC is actually way more top-heavy.  New England and Indianapolis have 9 berths each in the last decade?  So, yeah, having a franchise QB definitely seems to help.  Meanwhile, 7 AFC teams have gone 2 or less times, so the bottom of the conference is quite awful.

But, what about this annual game where we try to project who the participants in the 2015 Playoffs will be? We all enjoy it every August, but most of my research seems to show that most of us just pick the same 6 teams who made the playoffs last year. They just look too good to reel in.
But, if you are planning on picking the Seahawks, Panthers, Packers, and Cowboys to all win their divisions and then the Lions and Cardinals to grab the Wildcards, then you need to know about this number -

"5.7"

What does the number 5.7 represent? Well, that is the average number of new teams that make the playoffs each year since the playoffs expanded in 1991.  Now, if only 12 teams make the playoffs each year and 5.7 (or pretty much half) are going to be teams that were NOT there last year, as history tells us, then who is going out of these 12 teams?

NFC: Seattle, Green Bay, Dallas, Carolina, Arizona, Detroit
AFC: Denver, New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore

So, at this point last year, most of us had Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans returning to the playoffs.  None of them made it.  Same with the Chiefs and Chargers on the other side.

By the way, although we do believe this to be a truth that will stand the test of time, obviously if 5.7 is the average, there are years where we go to the high end and the low end of this. In 2003, we actually had 8 new teams enter the playoffs in a year that seemed completely upside down and random. Then, in 1995 and last year, only 4 new teams made the tournament - just 1 new team in the AFC - making some believe that this thing is determined before the season even begins.

Here is the chart for your examination of the year-by-year progression:


Year# NewNew Teams making Playoffs
20145Dal, Arz, Det, Pit, Bal
20135NO, Phi, Car, KC, SD
20124Was, Sea, Min, Indy
20116NYG, SF, Det, Cin, Hou, Den
20105Sea, Atl, Chi, Pitt, KC
20096Dal, GB, NO, Cin, NE, NYJ
20087Phi, Atl, Car, Min, Arz, Mia, Bal
20076Was, TB, GB, Pit, Ten, Jac
20067Phi. Dal, NO, SD, Bal, NYJ, KC
20057Was, Car, TB, NYG, Chi, Cin, Jac
20045Min, Atl, SD, Pit, NYJ
20038Stl, Car, Dal, Sea, NE, KC, Bal, Den
20025NYG, Atl, Ten, Cle, Ind
20016SF, GB, Chi, Pit, NE, NYJ
20006Phi, NYG, NO, Den, Bal, Oak
19997Det, TB, StL, Was, Sea, Ten, Ind
19985Arz, Dal, Atl, NYJ, Buf
19975NYG, Det, TB, KC, Mia
19965Min, Car, Jac, Den, NE
19954Phi, Atl, Ind, Buf
19945Chi, Mia, Clev, NE, SD
19935Det, GB, NYG, Oak, Den
19926Min, SF, Phi, Mia, Pit, KC


Last year when I did this study, I wrote, "Is that your greatest case for Dallas getting into the 2014 playoffs?  The fact that every year the NFC seems to put 3 new teams in the tournament?"

I am still working on my picks.  But, the annual reminder of 5.7 certainly makes this exercise more complicated than we are willing to admit.

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