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Every year the NFL is full of excitement and surprise. Take the 2009 season, for example.

Passing records broken…historic rushing milestones reached… the Colts and Saints flirting with perfection…new teams making the playoffs… impact rookies… and it all came down to Week 17 with 17 teams still in Super Bowl XLIV contention!

The 2010 season should be no different.  Every team enters the new year with hope!

"Any time you get a win in this league, it's big," says Indianapolis Colts head coach JIM CALDWELL, whose club opened the 2009 season with a 14-game winning streak.

Last season, six teams – Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans and the New York Jets– made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before.  That marked the 14th 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)

New Orleans rebounded to win the NFC South after a last-place finish in 2008. This marked the NFL-record seventh consecutive season that a team went from "worst-to-first" in its division. Of the 32 teams to go from "worst-to-first" in NFL annals, 15 of them have done so in the past 10 years (2000-2009).

THE NFL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE THAT IN 2009…

Nothing exhibits the unpredictability of the NFL more than the tightness of NFL games: 

  • "You only get 16 games and you never know what can happen in the National Football League," says *Monday Night Football *analyst JON GRUDEN.  In 2009, 34 percent were decided in the last two minutes or overtime.  In 14 percent of the games, a potential game-winning/tying drive or actual game-winning drive reached the red zone with two minutes to go.  
  •  

Games continued to be thiscloseNearly 65% were within one score in the fourth quarter:

  • There were five new division winners – Cincinnati, Dallas, Indianapolis, New England, and New Orleans – on the heels of the recording-tying six from 2008 (since realignment in 2002). 

"It's so funny how things can change in a week in this league," says running back THOMAS JONES of the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • The outstanding competition on the field kept fans tuning in on TV.  ESPN, FOX, NBC and NFL Network each had its most-viewed NFL season ever, while CBS had its most-watched season ever with the AFC package. 
  • Super Bowl XLIV reached a total audience of 153.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched show in U.S. television history according to Nielsen Media Research.
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