Each year on average, five teams that made the playoffs fail to do so the following year. Thus, five teams that didn't make the playoffs show up in the postseason. The NFL has touted its parity with such statistics, and this "5 In, 5 Out" average has held true since 2000. Therefore, it's only natural to speculate on five teams that will fail to repeat their regular season success and five teams that will surpass expectations. Who's out?
Quarterback Matthew Stafford had an impressive season in 2011, passing for over 5,000 yards. The addition of offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round of the Draft will give Stafford more time in the pocket to play pitch and catch with Calvin Johnson. However, with other teams improving and Stafford's issues staying healthy, this won't be the Lions' year. They have no running game, and to say that their secondary is suspect is an understatement. Defensive stand-out Ndamakong Suh is potentially more of a liability than a boost. Amidst penalties, much-improved and healthy Bears roster plus a down year for Stafford, the Lions are out.
Third rounder Lamar Holmes won't ease the Falcons' woes at left tackle and Roddy White has lost a step. Without a running game, QB Matt Ryan and talented receiver Julius Jones aren't going to get it done. The Falcons schedule is reasonably tough. Without a pass rush and with the loss of Curtis Lofton, the team's leading tackler, neither offense nor defense will be able to compete adequately to win the South or even notch a wild card berth.
Peyton Manning won't be 100 percent or even 80 percent. He won't be good enough to make up for a team with no offensive line, an anemic running game, and no No. 2 wide receiver. Demaryius Thomas will be a fun target for Manning, but after four neck surgeries and a year off, Manning won't be able to work his magic on the other receivers vying for glory. Without the threat of Tebow running the ball, aging RB Willis McGahee will have his hands full, making Manning's job all the harder and the defense will be unable to replicate last season's magic to salvage the 2012 season.
New York Giants
Without much need for analysis of strengths and weaknesses, it is safe to say that last season's success is a recipe for disaster this season. The Giants limped into the playoffs and like so many Super Bowl winning teams, got hot at the right time. However, in the NFC East, every week will be a dogfight, even against the cellar dwelling Washington Redskins who beat the Giants twice last season and will have Robert Griffin III leading their offense.
Since 1982, the Bengals have failed to put together consecutive seasons that earned them a spot in the playoffs. Andy Dalton's impressive rookie season may not have been a fluke, but he's not dominant enough to beat this team's history. Even if Dalton doesn't fall into a sophomore slump (he did regress towards the end of the season,) Dalton and his talented receiver, A.J. Green, won't be able to make up for the total lack of a running game. Perhaps most significantly, the Bengals play in an AFC North stacked with traditional powerhouses Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Their schedule last season was a gift. They failed to beat any team that reached the 2011 playoffs, and this year, they won't have the luxury of playing lackluster competition out of their division. The Bengals will be out of the 2013 NFL playoffs.
Stay tuned for the five lucky teams that will become playoff replacements. And if this all seems horribly wrong, who are your five out?