NFL: 5 best bets to be new playoff teams in 2014

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Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers back to the NFL Playoffs in 2013, the team’s first postseason appearance since 2008. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There are three certainties in life: Death, Taxes and at least five new teams making the NFL Playoffs each season.

OK, that last one isn’t quite a certainty, but it’s pretty close. Since the NFL expanded its playoff field to 12 teams in 1990, there have been at least four new playoff teams every year.

In the 23 seasons since the switch, there have only been two years during which there were fewer than five new playoff teams—1995 and 2012, when just four teams qualified for the postseason that weren’t there the year before.

The most new playoff teams in a single season since the format change came in 2003, when eight of the 12 teams were not in the tournament in 2002.

Of course, that kind of turnover gets easier to achieve when there is one division—the NFC South—that has never had a repeat champion since it was formed as part of the NFL’s realignment in 2002.

In fact, since realignment only two NFC South teams has made the playoffs even three years in a row—the New Orleans Saints (2009-11) and the Atlanta Falcons (2010-12).

The average in those 23 years is 5.4 new playoff teams per season.

Since it’s hard to get four-tenths of a team into the postseason, let’s look at the five teams that did not join the postseason party in 2013 that are most likely to be there in 2014.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Baltimore Ravens Detroit Lions NFL NFL PLayoffs Oakland Raiders Pittsburgh Steelers

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