Indicator of future success

Some believe so – that teams on the verge of success or decline show signs of that in prior years – signs that can determine how good these teams can be in the following years.

Let's look at some AFC teams to see how much of this holds true:

Teams that lose few close games tend to decline in performance the following year.

Examples of this include Cincinnati, which lost only one one-score game in 2005 and subsequently lost three more games in 2006 than it did in 2005; Indianapolis lost only one one-score game in 2005 and declined by two games in 2006; Jacksonville had two one-score losses in 2005 and lost four more games in 2006 than 2005; Denver lost two one-score games in 2005 and lost four more games in 2006 than 2005.

Pittsburgh, by the way, lost three one-score games in 2005 and was three games worse in 2006.

Teams that lose four or more games in a season by one-score or less are teams that tend to improve drastically the following year.

Examples of this include Baltimore, which lost six games by one-score in 2005 and improved by seven games in 2006; Tennessee, which lost four games by one score in 2005 and won four more in 2006; the Jets, which had four one-score losses in 2005 and improved by six games in 2006; Houston had six one-score losses in 2005 and won two more games in 2006; and of course San Diego, which lost five one-score games in 2005 and improved by five in 2006.

What team does this affect in 2007?

AFC:

Jacksonville, with seven one-score losses in 2006 and Buffalo with five one-score losses are two teams to watch out for. Teams with four one-score losses in 2006: Tennessee, Cincinnati, Oakland, Cleveland and Miami.

Conversely, Baltimore lost just one game by one score, and New England and San Diego lost just two. These would be candidates for decline in 2007.

NFC

With six one-score losses in 2006, Arizona and Washington are teams to watch – as is Detroit, certainly, with eight (the most in the NFL in 2006).

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