- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

Five playoff teams started the season with new quarterbacks or changed during the season.

Four coaches already have at least one Super Bowl title on their resumes.

Three coaches who are new to their teams are making surprising playoff appearances.

Two teams went from worst to first in their divisions.

And only one of last year’s conference championship game finalists is back in the postseason.

After a wacky regular season, the playoff field is a hodgepodge of expected participants, mild surprises and only-in-the-NFL turnarounds, showing again that parity reigns in the salary cap era.

The playoffs start today with two games — Kansas City at Indianapolis and Dallas at Seattle. Tomorrow’s games are the Jets at New England and the Giants at Philadelphia.

Some teams — like San Diego, with 10 consecutive wins and Baltimore, 9-1 in its last 10 — roll into the postseason. Other teams — like the entire NFC, except for Philadelphia — have stumbled throughout December.

“All teams that get into the playoffs think they’re starting over and it’s a different season and a much different opportunity,” Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. “Having an opportunity always gives you hope.”

Both the Cowboys and Seahawks lost three of their last four regular season games. The game could turn into a shootout because of secondary issues for both teams.

Today’s early game also could be high scoring. Kansas City features running back Larry Johnson, and the Colts’ defense is ranked last in the league against the run.

Both of tomorrow’s games are division rubber matches, so there won’t be many secrets.

“It’s Game 17 for everybody, and you are what you are,” Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia said. “Teams don’t change their colors just because it’s a playoff game. It’s about intensity, emotion, execution and feeling good about what you’re doing. Teams will come in with a comfort zone and let it fly.”

The Giants went 2-6 in the second half but sneaked into the playoffs with a .500 record.

New England enters the playoffs as a sleeper. The Patriots have won six of their last seven games and boast quarterback Tom Brady, who is 10-1 all time in the postseason.

“It’s my favorite time of the year,” he said. “You come to this week and you’re so fatigued from 16 games, but you definitely get a second wind. We’ve been in a bunch of these games, and we’ve been pretty successful.”

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