Locks for the postseason? Yes. That’s what the title says.
And the realization is that it’s still June in the year of 2013 and the NFL’s 94th season doesn’t start for another two-plus months.
But that’s the question and as usual, the attempt will be made to answer it as accurately as possible. And we’ll use some somewhat recent history to make a point…maybe?
From 1996-2011, a span of 16 seasons, there were at least five teams that reached the playoffs that failed to get to the postseason the previous year. That streak was snapped a year ago, when eight of the 12 clubs that reached the playoffs in 2011 returned to the postseason in 2012.
All told, six of the eight reigning division champions repeated last season, including all four winners in the AFC (New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos). As for the other conference, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers held serve in the NFC North and NFC West, respectively.
Using the theory that until last season, there were at least five new playoff teams the following years, we are going to cut to the chase and just put a half-dozen clubs in right now (for those of you who love that “if the season ended today?” thing, this should make you very happy).
So with just under 11 weeks remaining before the start of NFL 2013, there are six available postseason invitations. As for the current playoff field, here goes everything.