The Jaguars looked like they were primed for another run, but the wheels fell off in short order though.
The Packers were a popular pick for a Super Bowl run. They've had some awful losses.
The Eagles have been up and down, but they've been ravaged by injuries, especially in the secondary.
The NFL has done an amazing job of creating this parity each year
(and yes, I think it makes the Patriots success that much more impressive).
The Eagles had to play the Vikings and Rams this year outside of the Division and other predetermined games
The Giants had to play the Bears and 49ers in the same setup.
Yes, it's only two games, but the NFL does a good job with home and away as well, to make sure that teams who win the previous year, have a harder road the next year.
when the NFL had 3 divisions in each conference. Finishing in 1st impacted 4 games per year from 1978-2001. Now it impacts 2 per year.
The biggest windfall used to be the "fifth place schedule." From 1978-1994, when only 4 of the 6 divisions had 5 teams, the 5th place teams all played one another, including home-and-home against the other 5th place team in the same conference. They also played all teams in the 4-team divisions in their conference. This meant a 5th place team from the previous season would play 5 games against other last-place teams.
The 1979 Bucs parlayed a 5th place schedule to a shocking division title (winning a tiebreaker with the wild card Bears). The same was true of the 1987 Colts (who got an extra nudge from the strike and games with replacement players), the 1991 Broncos, the 1992 Chargers, and the 1993 Lions. Others used 5th place schedules to gain wild card berths, including the 1981 and 1984 Giants, 1981 Jets, and 1983 Broncos.
Which teams have played each other the most based on the parity scheduling? I wonder, not counting playoffs, if the teams that have played each other (same conference different division) the most are either annually good teams (Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Falcons?) or annually shitty teams (Browns, Bills, 9ers, Bucs)
Or maybe the sample size is small enough that the highest pairs on this list wouldn't be annually anything (good, bad, mediocre) but rather they've timed their parity to sync up well with another team and only diverge on 1 in 3 years that they play each other annually.
I still have a hard time believing that 1/8 of the schedule is the cause of all the parity in the NFL. I think the draft might have more to do with it than the scheduling...but it certainly looks like scheduling is a big piece. I'd be interested to know how the road/home parity works.
That never would've happened in decades past. A game like that this late in the season usually would've been aired only in Detroit, or perhaps also Phoenix in the unlikely event it was sold out. There were even late-season Bears games that weren't shown in South Bend if both the Bears and their opponent were out of the playoff race.
I guess they really want to force some people to get NFL Sunday Ticket.
As for most disappointing team, it has to be the Jaguars. They started 3-1 and played the then-undefeated Chiefs in what was viewed as a huge showdown. They lost 30-14, then got blown out at Dallas, and are now in a 1-8 tailspin. They'll probably finish 4-12 or 5-11 -- they might beat also-disappointing Washington this week.
Jags looked like one of the teams to beat in the AFC after their victory over the Pats really this year. Then they Bortled the rest of their season away.
Vikings looked like they were just a piece away from the Superbowl last year. They "upgraded" at QB this year and returned Cook from injury. I think most of their team was otherwise interact from last year. Not really sure what happened there, but I haven't paid enough attention.
I think Philly could've gone 0-16 and their fans wouldn't have cared after their Superbowl last year. Injuries and a much tougher schedule have taken their toll this year.
And they suck - just hid it better last year
It wasn't very good last season either.