History shows the Cleveland Browns are almost guaranteed to bounce back from last year's 6-10 season.
During the 10-season span from 1997 through 1999 to 2006 through 2008, 26 teams lost five more games immediately following a season in which they posted double-digits victories.
In 22 of 26 cases, the team bounced back to win more games. On 17 occasions, the team rebounded to win at least four more games or finish over .500. And 11 times, the team sprung back and landed in the playoffs.
The trend has been even stronger over the three most-recent three-season spans, with all eight teams rebounding and five of them reaching the postseason.
Team / 2004 / 2005/ 2006 / Playoffs?
Jets / 10-6 / 4-12/ 10-6 / Yes
Eagles / 13-3 / 6-10 / 10-6 / Yes
Packers / 10-6 / 4-12 / 8-8 / No
Team / 2005 / 2006/ 2007 / Playoffs?
Redskins / 10-6 / 5-11 / 9-7 / Yes
Buccaneers / 11-5 / 4-12 / 9-7 / Yes
Team / 2006 / 2007/ 2008 / Playoffs?
Jets / 10-6 / 4-12 / 9-7 / No
Ravens / 13-3 / 5-11 / 11-5 / Yes
Bears / 13-3 / 7-9 / 9-7 / No
In all, the 26 teams combined to win 77 more games. More impressively, of the 17 teams that bounced back to win at least four more games or finish over .500, they won 73 more games — an average of 4.3 victories. If the Packers follow suit, they would win 10 or 11 games in the upcoming season.
In the last 10 three-year comparisons, 11 teams dropped at least seven games in the standings, like the Packers did in going from 13 wins to six. Five of those 11 rebounded to qualify for the playoffs, including Baltimore in 2008, Tampa Bay in 2007 and Philadelphia in 2006.
There's no real secret to posting a bounce-back season. Sometimes, it's better players and coaching. Sometimes, it's better health and luck. Losing teams are rewarded with easier schedules, too.
Last year's Jets, for instance, were the most active team in free agency and acquired Brett Favre. Last year's Ravens struck gold with a rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco, and a new coach, John Harbaugh.
The 2007 Buccaneers soared up the standings with the signing of quarterback Jeff Garcia. The 2005 Eagles, torpedoed by a petulant Terrell Owens and a rash of injuries — including a sports hernia to quarterback Donovan McNabb — bounced back in 2006 with T.O. taking his antics to Dallas.
The 2004 Steelers went from 6-10 to 15-1 by hitting the jackpot with first-round pick Ben Roethlisberger and undrafted running back Willie Parker. The 2003 Rams played seven games against teams that lost at least 10 games and had a healthy Marshall Faulk.
But can the Browns bounce back to meet or exceed their 10-6 success of 2007? History says no. Of the 26 teams mentioned before, only the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers actually improved — going from 10-5-1 in 2002 to 15-1 after their 6-10 stub of the toe. The 2004 and 2006 Jets sandwiched identical 10-6 records around a 4-12 disappointment.
Still, the potential is in place and history is on the Browns' side to at least break even, but in the tough AFC North, history says the playoffs will continue to be elusive.