The Importance of Week 1 in the NFL

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By Damian Reynolds

Playoffs? Discussing the playoffs may be premature seeing as how the National Football League (NFL) finished their first week of play. Every year, the experts mention half of the playoff teams from the previous season miss the playoffs the following season.

That sounds strange considering they had successful seasons a year ago. All those teams need to do is duplicate the success, right? However, in a league of professionals, anything is possible on any given Sunday. Or Monday. Or Thursday.

The cliché goes, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first” which stresses the first game’s importance, especially for playoff teams from the previous season. ESPN’s statistics show this fun fact about the importance of winning in week 1:

“Since 1990, 54 percent of teams to start 1-0 reached the postseason, while just 25 percent of teams starting 0-1 made the playoffs.”

Remember how the experts suggest every year, half of the teams from the previous season’s playoffs fail to make the playoffs the following year?

Twelve teams make the playoffs every year, six from each conference. After week 1 concluded, exactly half of last year’s playoff teams ended with a loss (New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers).

The other six teams from last year’s playoffs (Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, and Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks) won their season openers and must feel good about their chances returning to the postseason party.

Maybe the week 1 results seem too farfetched and coincidental. Well, five of the 2012 playoff teams failed to make the 2013 playoffs (Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, and Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens).

All five of those teams won their first regular season game in 2012, and four of those five teams lost their regular season opener the following year (Houston won their first two games in 2013 and ended the season on a 14-game losing streak).

Rightfully so, all five franchises missed the 2013 playoffs.​Of course, no one wants to look too much into winning just one game.

However, if history repeats itself, half of the teams from last year’s playoffs may find themselves watching the postseason from their couches.

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