From the NFL....
Through the first five weeks of the 2011 NFL season, all eight divisions have at least one new team either in first place or tied for the top spot. If that holds, it will be the most new division winners in a single season.
“It’s all about football around here,” says quarterback Alex Smith of the NFC West leading 49ers. “The focus is on details. The focus is on football. The focus is on teaching. Players are executing and we’re getting better every day. There’s no secret. We just want to continue to take steps every single day and so far we’ve done that.”
Entering Week 6, there are 18 teams with a .500 or better record. That’s two behind the most such teams (20) through the first five weeks of a season in NFL history (2001, 2010).
“We’re giving ourselves a tremendous opportunity,” says Bills running back Fred Jackson about the team’s 4-1 start. “But that’s all it is. It’s still early. We still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be. We’re happy where we are right now, but we’re not going to settle. We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of teams left to play.”
Nine teams – Detroit (5-0), Green Bay (5-0), Buffalo (4-1), New England (4-1), New Orleans (4-1), San Diego (4-1), San Francisco (4-1), Baltimore (3-1) and Washington (3-1) – lead the way with one loss or none.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” says Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji. “We think of it as a one-game season every week. We just want to go out there and handle our business. And it’s worked for us so far.”
There is still a lot of season left to be played. And in the NFL, the only thing predictable is the unpredictability.
Of the 18 teams with a .500 or better record, half of them (nine) won six games or fewer a year ago. Those nine clubs, who have a combined 29-13 (.690) record this season, finished 2010 with a 49-95 (.340) mark.
“What we went through last year, nobody wanted to go through again,” says Bills head coach Chan Gailey, whose team has already matched last season’s win total (four). “We learned we could play in the big ball games and we were right there last year. We’ve learned this year how to find ways to win games in the clutch.”
Comebacks continue to be a trend in 2011. Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 24-7 deficit to defeat Indianapolis 28-24. It marked the seventh time this season that a team trailed by at least 17 points and came back to win the game. That is the most through the first five weeks of any season in NFL history.
In addition to the Chiefs’ victory, the Packers (14 points) erased a double-digit deficit to win at Atlanta. A total of 18 teams have come back from a deficit of at least 10 points to win a game this year, the most ever through the first five weeks.