Streak shows non-playoff teams have hope

The only streak in football every bit as impressive as Brett Favre’s streak of 253 consecutive regular-season starts is that the NFL now has gone 12 straight seasons with at least five teams qualifying for the playoffs that didn’t make it the previous season.

In other words, it might not always be worst to first. But it could be worst to wild card. Or worst to January.

There’s now hope in Houston, faith in Philadelphia, momentum in Minnesota, determination in Denver, confidence in Carolina, anxiousness in Arizona and even optimism in Oakland. Every non-playoff team from Buffalo to San Francisco should have it.

Other teams that failed to make the playoffs last season have a new sense of purpose this season. It can be done. Others have proven it.

Just because a team is down one year doesn’t mean it will be out the next. In this league, it’s just the opposite. Frustration in one season should lead to anticipation in the next.

Football is about confidence, momentum, health and luck. No one can predict any of those factors, and how they will play out along with this year’s storylines.

All we can say for sure is that a new season kicks off tonight — yes! — as does the pursuit of a 13th straight season with at least five surprise guests at the NFL’s postseason party.

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