The 2011 season was full of excitement, but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL.
Scoring at a 46-year high… comebacks galore…new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions… consistent teams excelling once again…passing records falling…rookies making their mark…and so much more!
“One year to the next, anything is possible,” says San Francisco 49ers quarterback ALEX SMITH. “That is the great thing about the NFL.”
The NFL is never short on surprises, and the 2011 season was no different:
A record 11,356 points were scored, with games averaging 44.4 points, the highest average in 46 seasons (46.1 in 1965).
2011 marked the first season in NFL history in which three different teams scored at least 500 points –
Green Bay (560), New Orleans (547) and New England (513). Those three clubs finished with a combined record of 41-7 (.854).
A record-tying six teams won 12+ games – Green Bay (15), New England (13), New Orleans (13), San
Francisco (13), Baltimore (12) and Pittsburgh (12). Six teams also won at least 12 games in 2003.
Last season, six teams – Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, the New York Giants and San Francisco –
made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. It marked the 16th consecutive season
in which at least five teams (out of 12) accomplished the feat.
SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
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)
The 2012 season promises more of the same. Every team enters the new year with hope!
Houston (AFC South) and Denver (AFC West) both rebounded to win their respective divisions after
finishing in last place or tied for last in 2010. This marked the NFL-record ninth consecutive season that at least one team went from “worst-to-first” in its division.
THE NFL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE THAT IN 2011…
Nothing exhibits the unpredictability of the NFL more than the tightness of NFL games:
• “A lot of real close, competitive games come down to the last possession, the last play or one key
play right at the end of the game,” says New England Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK. “The league is very competitive all the way across the board.”
Games continued to be thisclose. Nearly 67% were within one score in the fourth quarter.
• Seven of eight divisions were won by new teams in 2011 – Baltimore, Denver, Green Bay, Houston,
New Orleans, the New York Giants and San Francisco – the most such clubs since realignment in
• Comebacks were another 2011 theme, with teams erasing large deficits seemingly every week.
There were 18 games in which a team overcame a deficit of at least 14 points to win, the most of any
season in NFL history. The previous high was 17 (1979, 1983, 1987 and 1996).
• There were six games in which a team trailing by at least 20 points rallied to win, the most such
games in any season in NFL history.
With comeback wins of 20 points in Week 3 and 24 points in Week 4, the Detroit Lions became the
first team in NFL history to win consecutive games in which it trailed by at least 20 points in each