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- iHaveNet.com: NFL Football
Every team enters the NFL 2023 season with a trip to Las Vegas and Super Bowl LVIII in mind.
New teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and young players making their mark all combined to help shape the story of the 2022 season.
The final week of the 2022 season once again came right down to the wire as three playoff spots were decided on the last day of the season. There were 19 teams still in Super Bowl contention with one week to play last season, the most teams still in Super Bowl contention with one week to play since there were 20 in 2006. The season-ending excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final weekend, a tradition instituted in 2010.
Every team enters the 2023 NFL season with a trip to Las Vegas and Super Bowl LVIII in mind, and below are a few reasons why.
The JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (AFC South) and MINNESOTA VIKINGS (NFC North) won their division after missing the postseason in 2021 and at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 19 of the past 20 years.
Jacksonville clinched the AFC South after finishing in last place in the division in 2021. In 18 of the past 20 seasons, at least one team finished in first place the season after finishing in last or tied for last.
Since 1990 -- a streak of 33 consecutive seasons -- at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Seven teams that missed the postseason in 2021 -- BALTIMORE, JACKSONVILLE, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, MIAMI, MINNESOTA, the NEW YORK GIANTS and SEATTLE -- accomplished the feat in 2022.
The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS won their third Super Bowl title in 2022 and begin their quest to repeat as champions as the race to Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium for Super Bowl LVIII kicks off. Only eight teams have repeated as champions since the first Super Bowl in 1967, with the 2004 Patriots (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX) being the last team to accomplish the feat.
Five teams enter the 2022 season with a new head coach -- JONATHAN GANNON in Arizona, SEAN PAYTON in Denver, FRANK REICH in Carolina, DEMECO RYANS in Houston and SHANE STEICHEN in Indianapolis.
Thirteen head coaches in their first year with a new club have led their teams to the playoffs over the last six seasons (2017-22): TODD BOWLES (Tampa Bay), BRIAN DABOLL (New York Giants), MIKE MCDANIEL (Miami), KEVIN O’CONNELL (Minnesota) and DOUG PEDERSON (Jacksonville) in 2022, NICK SIRIANNI (Philadelphia) in 2021, RON RIVERA (Washington) and KEVIN STEFANSKI (Cleveland) in 2020, MATT LAFLEUR (Green Bay) in 2019, MATT NAGY (Chicago) and FRANK REICH (Indianapolis) in 2018, and SEAN MCVAY (L.A. Rams) and SEAN MCDERMOTT (Buffalo) in 2017.
Three quarterbacks -- Alabama’s BRYCE YOUNG (No. 1 overall, Carolina), Ohio State’s C.J. STROUD (No. 2, Houston) and Florida’s ANTHONY RICHARDSON (No. 4, Indianapolis) -- were selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. At least one rookie quarterback has started in Week 1 in 14 of the past 15 seasons.
From Worst to First
Competitive balance, one of the hallmarks of the NFL, gives fans hope entering each season.
In 18 of the past 20 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.
In fact, of the 51 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 28 of them have done so in the past 20 years (2003-22), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.
Two teams during that span, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, won the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in their division the season before.
Last year, the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS advanced to the AFC Divisional playoffs after finishing in last place in the AFC South in 2021.
They became the third team ever to earn a postseason berth after winning no more than two of their first eight games of a season, joining the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals and 2020 Washington Football Team.
Since 2003, the NFL’s 28 teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their division are the most among the four major professional sports leagues in the United States.
Division Titles Up For Grabs
In the 21 seasons since realignment in 2002, 30 different teams have won division titles. In 2022, four divisions -- AFC South (Jacksonville), NFC East (Philadelphia), NFC North (Minnesota) and NFC West (San Francisco) -- saw a new team finish in first place. Both the Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC South) and Minnesota Vikings (NFC North) won their division after missing the postseason in 2021 and at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 19 of the past 20 years.
Jacksonville completed the “worst-to-first” turnaround, winning the AFC South the season after finishing in last place in the division. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 18 of the past 20 seasons. Kansas City has won seven consecutive AFC West division titles, tied with the 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams for the second-longest streak of division titles in NFL history. Only the 2009-19 New England Patriots (11 consecutive seasons) have a longer streak.
NFL 2023 - Hope Springs Eternal in the NFL this Season