We’ll kick off the 2010 season with a trivia question: Since the divisions were realigned in 2002, what are three teams that have NOT made the playoffs? (See below for answer.)
In 2009, six teams – the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets -- made the playoffs after missing the postseason the year before. That marked the 14th consecutive season at least five teams (out of 12 playoff teams) accomplished the feat.
The Saints rebounded to win the NFC South (and Super Bowl) after a last-place finish in 2008, marking an NFL-record seventh consecutive season that a team went from worst-to-first in its division. Of the 32 teams to go from worst-to-first in NFL history, 15 of them have done so in the past 10 years (2000-2009).
What’s the preseason meant in terms of win-loss to the AFC Champion champion Indianapolis Colts? Not much. They went 0-4 this preseason and are 2-11 in the preseason since 2008. Again, that means very little since the Colts, who have the best regular-season record over the last two seasons, 26-6. (Conversely, the Detroit Lions are 10-2 in the preseason since 2008, but 2-30 in the regular season.)
The Matt Leinart era ended somewhat abruptly when he was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week. While he’s landed with the Houston Texans, Leinart’s just the fourth QB drafted in the top 10 since 1990 to throw for fewer than 4,000 yards and have 20 interceptions in his first four seasons. The other three quarterbacks: David Klingler, Heath Shuler and Ryan Leaf.
The AFC West is the only division that will start this season without a 1,000-yard wide receiver from 2009 on the field in Week 1. (The San Diego Chargers Vincent Jackson, who had 1,167 yards in 2009, is refusing to sign his tender and will start the season by serving a three-game suspension.)
Perhaps one motivating factor for the Minnesota Vikings Brett Favre to return for a 20th season? He needs just three touchdown passes to be the first QB in NFL history to reach 500.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won their last seven season openers, the longest active streak in the NFL. The team with the longest active Week 1 losing streak? The Oakland Raiders at seven straight.
The San Francisco 49ers will log the most frequent flier miles in 2010 (35,219). That’s more than six times the amount of miles the Cincinnati Bengals will log in 2010. Cincy’s 6,688 miles will be the fewest traveled by a team in 2010.
For the fourth consecutive season, NFC West teams have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions (101,264).
Answer: The three teams that have NOT made the playoffs since the divisions realigned in 2002 are the Buffalo Bills, Lions and Texans.