Record through Week 6: 5-1 Final record: 9-7 What happened? Philip Rivers -- who became the first NFL quarterback to ever post a passer rating of 120 or better in five straight games -- couldn’t keep his hot play going behind an injury-riddled offensive line that started five different centers. San Diego squandered the chance for a second consecutive playoff berth with a Week 17 loss at Kansas City.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
2014 Philadelphia Eagles
Record through Week 6: 5-1 Final record: 10-6. What happened? With Detroit and Arizona en route to becoming 11-win wild-card teams, the Eagles needed to capture the NFC East to qualify for the postseason. Those hopes were dashed following three consecutive December losses, including one to eventual division-winner Dallas (12-4). A shoddy secondary was the main culprit although the offense was beginning to sputter under QB Mark Sanchez, who replaced the injured Nick Foles (broken collarbone) in Week 9.
Getty ImagesAlex Goodlett
2011 San Diego Chargers
Record through Week 6: 5-1 Final record: 8-8. What happened? San Diego’s strong start was wasted by five straight losses, four by seven points or fewer. Particularly damaging was a 16-13 defeat against the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos that ended on a field goal with just 29 seconds left in overtime. San Diego and Oakland finished tied with the Broncos atop the AFC West but Denver won the division based upon tiebreakers.
Getty ImagesRick Stewart
2009 Denver Broncos
Record through Week 6: 6-0 Final record: 8-8 What happened? The highlight of Josh McDaniels’ head-coaching tenure in Denver came when he defeated his mentor Bill Belichick with a 20-17 OT win over New England in Week 5. It was almost all downhill for McDaniels from there as the 2009 Broncos went on two separate four-game losing streaks. McDaniels proved overmatched the following season as well. He was fired following Denver’s 3-9 start.
Denver Post via Getty ImagesJoe Amon
2009 New York Giants
Record through Week 6: 5-1 Final record: 8-8 What happened? New York’s defense allowed at least 21 points in each of the final 11 games as the Giants failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in five seasons under head coach Tom Coughlin. The collapse led to the firing of coordinator Bill Sheridan after just one season as the Giants went 3-8 during that stretch.
MCT via Getty ImagesDavid T. Foster III
2009 Atlanta Falcons
Record through Week 6: 4-1 Final record: 9-7 What happened? Defensive struggles and two losses in the absence of injured QB Matt Ryan (toe) resulted in a 2-6 skid that knocked the Falcons out of playoff contention by the end of Week 15. While serving as little consolation, Atlanta did finish with a second straight winning season for the first time in franchise history.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
2008 Buffalo Bills
Record through Week 6: 4-1 Final record: 7-9. What happened? Remember when the Bills thought they may have found their franchise QB in Trent Edwards -- a promising 2007 third-round pick from Stanford? The Bills started 4-0 but the bottom quickly fell out when Edwards threw eight interceptions during a four-game losing streak. Buffalo also lost two other contests in which J.P. Losman – another failed Bills draft pick – replaced an injured Edwards (groin). Edwards was ultimately waived one month into the 2010 season and is now out of the league.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
2006 Denver Broncos
Record through Week 6: 4-1 Final record: 8-8 What happened? After winning two Super Bowl rings in the 1990s, head coach Mike Shanahan didn’t care as much about making the playoffs as he did winning another title. So when he lost confidence in struggling QB Jake Plummer, Shanahan made rookie Jay Cutler the starter even though Denver was 7-4 at the time. Cutler didn’t fare badly but Denver’s offense let the team down when it was needed most in Week 17. Denver couldn’t score TDs on three trips inside San Francisco’s 5-yard line and ultimate suffered a 26-23 overtime loss that kept the Broncos from the playoffs.
Getty ImagesRich Gabrielson
2004 New York Giants
Record through Week 6: 4-1 Final record: 6-10 What happened? The Giants got caught between the decline of a veteran QB and growing pains experienced by a rookie when Eli Manning replaced the foundering Kurt Warner in Week 11 with New York at 5-4. Manning committed nine turnovers (eight interceptions and one fumble) while losing his first six NFL starts. Manning did learn from the experience as he led the Giants to the playoffs the following season and ultimately won two Super Bowls. Warner later reinvented himself by leading Arizona to Super Bowl 43.
ZUMA PressRobert Seale / Sporting News
2003 Minnesota Vikings
Record through Week 6: 5-0 Final record: 9-7 What happened? This Vikings squad will be remembered for playing up and down to the level of competition it faced. Minnesota had a 4-2 record against eventual playoff qualifiers but lost to four teams that finished with 4-12 records. That includes a memorable Week 17 loss to Arizona in which Cardinals WR Nate Poole caught the game-winning TD pass from QB Josh McCown on a fourth-and-25 as time expired.
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
2003 Miami Dolphins
Record through Week 6: 4-1 Final record: 10-6 What happened? Miami’s infamous penchant for December swoons continued with another late-season collapse. The Dolphins began the month with losses to New England and Philadelphia. Even though the Dolphins beat Buffalo on the road in Week 16, Miami was eliminated from the playoffs for a second straight year. As disappointing as that season was considered at the time, the Dolphins have posted double-digit wins only once (2008) since then.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
2002 Miami Dolphins
Record through Week Six: 5-1 Final record: 9-7 What happened?: Miami’s fifth victory of the season proved costly as the Dolphins lost quarterback Jay Fiedler for five games with a broken thumb suffered against Denver. Miami still had the chance to make the playoffs but squandered a late lead in a Week 17 loss at New England. Thus, an 1,853-yard rushing season by running back Ricky Williams went to waste.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
2002 New Orleans Saints
Record through Week 6: 5-1 Final record: 9-7 What happened? The Saints’ season ended with three straight losses to teams that would finish at the bottom of their respective divisions. The most painful came at home in Week 17 against Carolina as the Panthers snapped a 13-game NFC South losing streak with CB Terry Cousin registering two interceptions and a fumble recovery in a 10-6 win. Before that defeat, New Orleans had surrendered at least 20 points in every game that season.
Getty ImagesMatthew Stockman
2002 San Diego Chargers
Record through Week 6: 5-1 Final record: 8-8 What happened? Marty Schottenheimer started strong in his first year as head coach before the Chargers bottomed out with a 2-6 record in the final eight games. That included four straight December losses as San Diego failed to post a winning record or make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. A 31-28 loss to Seattle in Week 17 also marked future Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau’s final game with the Chargers.