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NFL Parity: Who Will Be In the 'Gang Of Six'?

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Every season, the NFL has at least one team that comes out of nowhere to secure a playoff spot. The NFL has become known as a league of parity and it is proven year in and year out. This past season, the 49ers and Bengals surprised folks in reaching the playoffs. The previous season, the Kansas City Chiefs stunned everybody as they claimed the AFC West title.

Jason LaCanfora decided to take a look at NFL parity in order to make predictions for 2012. According to LaCanfora, over the past ten years, on average, six playoff teams from the year before do not make the playoffs the year after. That means half the teams in the playoffs could find themselves replaced by new teams.

LaCanfora made a fairly bold declaration as he projected the Rams making the playoffs and the 49ers ending up sitting at home in January. He picked the six teams he thought might fall short, and included our 49ers in that group. His six out next year were the 49ers, Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Detroit and Cincinnati. It is an average, so that does not guarantee six out of the field.

In removing the 49ers, LaCanfora decided to roll the dice and project the Rams into the playoffs. He thinks Sam Bradford can put it all together and the injuries will not be as devastating for the Rams as they were in 2010. While it is hard to predict injuries, after last year's ridiculous rash of injuries, I'd have to think the Rams are due for some good luck on the injury front.

If I had to pick six teams from last year's playoffs to not return, I'd probably go with the Giants, Lions, Falcons, Bengals, Broncos and Texans. The Broncos are a tough call because nobody really knows what to expect from Peyton Manning. And again, this has been an average, and not a hard and fast number year in and year out. If you had to pick six teams, who would they be?

For purposes of his article, last year's playoff teams included:

NFC
1. Green Bay Packers
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New York Giants
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Detroit Lions

AFC

1. New England Patriots
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Houston Texans
4. Denver Broncos
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Cincinnati Bengals