Phil Steele's Daily Blog - Tuesday June 30th

The NFL is a league of parity but there is a remarkable statistic that happens EVERY year in the NFL. Since 1997 (11 years) teams that win their division have just a 30% chance of repeating as division champs the next year! That means for every ten teams that win their division only 3 repeat the next year and making that even more amazing is that New England and Indianapolis won their division 5 straight years and Seattle had a run of 4 straight. Taking out those mini "dynasties" the division champ has repeated 13 out of 63 times or just 20% of the time.

At the start of the decade I could easily attribute that to the fact the NFL made the first place teams play a first place schedule or take on the division winners and runner ups from the previous year while the last place teams did the opposite. That scheduling philosophy changed a few years back but the trends have continued.

My research goes back to 1997. Let's take a look at the division champs from 1997 which were New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City from the AFC and the NY Giants, Green Bay and San Francisco from the NFC. The next year (1998) ZERO of those teams managed to win their own division with the new champs being the Jets, Jacksonville, Denver, Dallas, Minnesota and Atlanta. Listed below is a chart with all the division champs for each year from 1997 through 2008 with the teams in bold being the teams that managed to repeat. I find this chart amazing. In 2002 the league went from 3 to 4 divisions which made repeating as a division champ easier as the divisions were watered down. Only 3 of the 6 champs from 2001 managed to repeat. Since the league has gone to the 8 division format the division champ has managed to repeat 19 out of 48 tries of 39.5%. In both 2006 and 2007, 4 teams managed to repeat but that number dropped to 2 last year with only Pittsburgh and San Diego managing to repeat and the Chargers were 5-8 with 3 games to go while Denver was 8-5 but SD won their last 3 and Denver amazingly dropped their last 3 and SD won the tie-breaker.

We are finishing the NFL magazine this week and I have been typing up my division forecasts. Last years division champs were Miami, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, San Diego, the NY Giants, Minnesota, Carolina and Arizona. Of those 8 I have picked 4 to repeat which would be similar to both 2006 and 2007.

Most of my competition has already released their magazines. In my mind there are 4 major preseason magazines in the NFL in Lindy's, Athlon, The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly. By adding the 4 magazines predictions together here is the consensus predictions for the 4 magazines.

AFC East 1. New England 2. Miami 3. Buffalo 4. NY Jets
AFC North 1. Pittsburgh 2. Baltimore 3. Cincinnati 4. Cleveland
AFC South 1. Indianapolis 2. Tennessee 3. Houston 4. Jacksonville
AFC West 1. San Diego 2. (3 way tie with KC, Denver, Oakland)
NFC East 1. NY Giants 2. Philadelphia 3. Dallas 4. Washington
NFC North 1. Chicago 2. Minnesota 3. Green Bay 4. Detroit
NFC South 1. Atlanta 2. Carolina 3. New Orleans 4. Tampa Bay
NFC West 1. Arizona 2. San Francisco 3. Seattle 4. St Louis

Of the team listed above there are consensus teams that all 4 magazines picked for the exact same spot.
AFC East - New England 1st
AFC North - ALL 4 pick same order as above
AFC South - Houston, Jacksonville 3rd and 4th
AFC West - San Diego 1st
NFC East - Dallas, Washington 3rd and 4th
NFC North - Detroit 4th
NFC South - Tampa Bay 4th
NFC West - Arizona 1st

Last year Atlanta was picked dead last in the NFC south by everyone (including myself) and they made the playoffs.

One last thing which is common knowledge but often forgotten this time of year is the Super Bowl loser jinx. Here are the last 11 Super Bowl losers listed the year they lost the Super bowl and after their team name is how they fared the next season

1998 Atlanta - In 1999 the Falcons went 5-11 (no playoffs)
1999 Tennessee - In 2000 the Titans went 13-3 but lost their 1st playoff game
2000 NY Giants - In 2001 the Giants went 7-9
2001 St Louis - In 2002 the Rams went 7-9
2002 Oakland - In 2003 the Raiders went 4-12
2003 Carolina - In 2004 the Panthers went 7-9
2004 Philadelphia - In 2005 the Eagles went 6-10
2005 Seattle - In 2006 the Seahawks went 9-7 and WON a playoff game when
Tony Romo fumbled the snap on the game winning FG. (lost next week).
2006 Chicago - In 2007 the Bears went 7-9
2007 New England - In 2008 the Patriots went 11-5 but missed the playoffs.
2008 Arizona - In 2009 the Cards will ????????

The last 10 Super Bowl losers have combined for 1 playoff win with EIGHT of them missing the playoffs and there were a combined 7 losing records.