The 2012 season was full of excitement, but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today's NFL.
Scoring at a 47-year high … comebacks galore … new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions … consistent teams excelling once again … records falling … rookies making their mark … and so much more!
"One year to the next, anything is possible," says Kansas City Chiefs quarterback ALEX SMITH.
"That is the great thing about the NFL."
The NFL is never short on surprises, and the 2012 season was no different:
A record 11,651 points were scored, with games averaging 45.5 points, the highest average in 47 seasons (46.1 in 1965).
Scoring came in all forms in 2012. An NFL-record 139 total return touchdowns were scored (kickoffs, punts, interceptions, fumbles and blocked kicks).
Nine teams scored at least 400 points last season -- New England (557), Denver (481), New Orleans (461), Washington (436), Green Bay (433), New York Giants (429), Atlanta Falcons (419), Houston (416) and Seattle (412) -- equaling the previous record set in 2008. Those nine teams combined for a .681 winning percentage and seven qualified for the playoffs.
There were four new playoff teams in 2012: Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:
|Season||Playoff Teams Not in Previous Season's Playoffs|
|Source: National Football League|
|1990||7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)|
|1991||5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)|
|1992||6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)|
|1993||5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)|
|1994||5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)|
|1995||4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)|
|1996||5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)|
|1997||5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)|
|1998||5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)|
|1999||7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)|
|2000||6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)|
|2001||6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)|
|2002||5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)|
|2003||8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)|
|2004||5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)|
|2005||7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)|
|2006||7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)|
|2007||6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)|
|2008||7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)|
|2009||6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)|
|2010||5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)|
|2011||6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)|
|2012||4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)|
The 2013 season promises more of the same. Every team enters the new year with hope.
Washington rebounded to win the NFC East after finishing in last place in 2011. This marked the NFL-record 10th consecutive season that at least one team went from "worst-to-first" in its division.