* Though it may seem like this year’s field of NFL playoff teams is less than stellar, it’s worth noting that 2011 marks just the second year ever that at least six teams enter the playoffs with 12 or more wins (New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, San Francisco, New Orleans). The only other time as many 12+ win teams qualified for the postseason was in 2003.
* Perhaps being in the wild card round isn’t such a bad thing for the Steelers. After all, winners in the opening round of the playoffs have gone on to win it all seven times. And in five of the past six seasons, at least one of the two teams participating in the SB has been forced to win three games beginning in the wild card round to punch their ticket to SB Sunday.
* With the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions both qualifying for the postseason this year, Buffalo now becomes the lone team in the NFL not to have made the playoffs since realignment in 2002. Yes, even Cleveland has been invited to the postseason party. Just once though back in the very first year of realignment (’02).
* Speaking of realignment, the Steelers have made seven playoff berths in the past 10 years since 2002. Those seven playoff appearances are tied with the Green Bay Packers for second most among playoff teams in 2011, trailing only New England who’s been playoff bound eight times in the past ten seasons. Interestingly and impressively enough, the Patriots won the AFC in each of those eight seasons. This will be the second time the Steelers have entered the postseason as a wild card rather than the AFC North champion. The last time, of course, was in 2005, and we all remember how they fared that year.
* And to round out the realignment related tidbits…for the first time since 2002, there were seven new divisional winners. Only the Patriots were repeat winners of their division.
* Exactly one half of this year’s field has won a Super Bowl since 2000. They are? The Steelers (’05, ’08), the Patriots (’01, ’03, ’04), the Ravens (’00), the Giants (’07), the Saints (’08), and the Packers (’10). With the Steelers and Pats winning multiple Lombardis, a total of nine of the past 11 Super Bowls have been won by teams in this year’s playoff field.
* The Steelers qualified for their 27th playoffs, tied for third most with Green Bay, and trailing only the Cowboys (30) and the Giants (31) for most in league history.
* The Steelers may not have been able to gain any ground on the Packers in the previous category, but they can inch closer to the all-time winningest playoff record if they can fare better than the defending champion Packers. Entering this year’s playoffs, the Steelers sport a 33-20 record (.623) compared to Green Bay’s record of 29-16 (.644).
* There’s only one team that can catch the Steelers in all-time SB wins this year. That team is the San Francisco 49ers, who, along with the Cowboys, have captured five SB titles. Green Bay, who seeks to become the ninth repeat champion in NFL history, has four SBs. Their remaining nine league titles came in the pre-SB era.
* I’m not sure this will make for a quality football game, but Saturday’s matchup between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati will be the first time in NFL history that two rookie quarterbacks will face off. T.J. Yates aims to return to lead Houston to a victory at home against the Andy Dalton led Bengals in what will be the first playoff game in franchise history for the Texans.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
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