by Jerry Tapp
Let me preface what I’m about to say with this one statement: I am not a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan.
With that out of the way, something has to be done about the ridiculous overtime rule in the NFL. We saw it firsthand this past weekend when the Chiefs and New England went into OT in their AFC Championship Game. By winning the coin toss, the Patriots got the ball first and drove down for a TD, thus ending the game. The Chiefs did not get a chance to even touch the ball on offense.
This has been the rule for some time now. And it’s now time to change it. It’s time to make sure that each team, especially in the playoffs, get at least one time to have possession.
Think about it: In what other sport does a team that wins a coin toss get to have possession and then can win a game without their opponents even having a chance? Baseball? Nope. If the game goes into extra innings, both teams get to bat. Think of the outrage if MLB changed the rule and the first team that scored in extra innings would win (that would have to be the road team in this case). Stupid, right? You bet. At least in baseball each team gets an at-bat in extra innings. If the road team scores a run in the top of the 10th, the home team must either score one or two runs or the game is over.
Basketball? No, again. There is a five-minute overtime period in the NBA. Both teams get multiple chances to handle the ball. How about we change the rule and the first team that scores wins the game? Absurd, right? You bet.
Even in the NHL, there is sudden death. But I think it’s pretty rare that a team would win an OT face-off and would immediately score a goal without the other team handling the puck.
Winning a coin toss should never be the factor in a team winning a game in OT, again, especially in the playoffs. Why the NFL would think that this is okay is beyond me. I know in biblical times they would cast lots if an important decision had to be made, but I don’t think the NFL based their OT rule on Old Testament biblical principles. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.
As it states right now, the team that wins the coin toss in an NFL overtime game wins if they score a TD. If that team has to punt or commits a turnover, or if they kick a field goal, the other team has a chance to have possession. I say that even if that team that wins the toss scores a TD, let the other team have a possession. If they don’t score a TD, then the game is over. If they do score a TD, then, and only then, do you make the game sudden death. At least each team had one possession. If you want to reward the team for winning the coin toss, at least let the other team get one possession. What happens after that is fair game.
For Patrick Mahomes not to get a chance to match Tom Brady’s overtime drive just seemed wrong. Both teams need to get a fair shot. If the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball can make sure that their overtime (or extra inning format) is fair for both teams, the NFL has to figure out a way to get on par with its fellow professional sports.
Other people are advocating the NFL go to the overtime system used by college football. I’m okay with that as well. At least both teams have the same chance to win.
But the way things are now in the NFL, the way this year’s AFC Championship Game ended (and the way other OT games have ended in past where only one team had possession) has to be changed. There are people a lot smarter than me that should be able to figure out a plausible way to play overtime.
If, however, the NFL comes out and says its overtime policy is based on Old Testament principles and the coin toss must remain in its current form, well, then I guess divine intervention has spoken. I highly doubt that is the case.
We lost out on a possible terrific scenario when Mahomes and the Chiefs did not get a chance to match the Pats. Heck, I would’ve watched another hour of the game if both teams marched up and down the field matching TD in OT. Must-see TV? You betcha.
It may not have lessened the outcry from fans who thought the officiating in both title games was sub-par, but at least we wouldn’t be listening to the ever-present outrage because of a stupid overtime policy.
NFL… The ball is in your court. Or should I say, you have possession. Let’s end this discussion about how unfair the overtime format is once and for all.
How many points will a team need to score to win the AFC or NFC title game?
We’re down to the final three games of the NFL season: In the AFC, the New England Patriots will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs; in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams. The winners will square off in the Super Bowl.
Since the NFC-AFC merger back in 1970, it appears that if a team scored 20 or more points in a conference championship game, they had a pretty good chance of winning the game and advancing to the Super Bowl. Since 1970, teams that scored 20 or more points were 82-25 (.766 winning percentage) in the conference title game. In the AFC Championship Games since ’70, teams that scored 20 or more were 43-11 (.796) while NFC teams playing in the title game were 39-14 (.736) when they scored 20+ points in the title contest.
Here’s a breakdown of record of teams in each conference championship game based on the number of points they scored in the contest.
Points scored AFC NFC Total
0-9 0-10 1-16 1-26 .037
10-19 5-27 8-18 13-45 .224
20-29 26-9 21-14 47-23 .671
30-39 12-2 14-0 26-2 .929
40 or more points 5-0 4-0 9-0 1.000
As you can see, only two teams that scored 30 or more points in a championship game since 1970 lost the title game: Indianapolis defeated the New England Patriots 38-34 in 2006 and the Denver beat Cleveland in a 1987 season title game, 38-33. The only team to win a conference title game by scoring fewer than 10 points were the Rams in 1979; they defeated Tampa Bay 9-0.
Following are 10 stats you may not know concerning the AFC and NFC Championship Games since the 1970 merger:
Most appearances: AFC (Pittsburgh, 16), NFC (San Francisco, 15)
Most wins: AFC (New England, 10), NFC (Dallas, 8)
Most losses: AFC (Pittsburgh, 8), NFC (San Francisco, 9)Last title: AFC (NY Jets, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Kansas City have never won an AFC Championship Game; Miami has the longest drought of teams that have previously won a title since 1970… they last won in 1984/ NFC (Detroit has never won an NFC Championship Game since 1970; Minnesota has the longest drought of teams that have previously won a title since 1970… they last won in 1976.
Most home games: AFC (Pittsburgh, 11), NFC (San Francisco, 9)
Most home wins: AFC (New England, 7), NFC (Washington, 5)
Most home losses: AFC (Pittsburgh, 5), NFC (San Francisco, 5)
Most away games: AFC (New England & the Raiders, 6 each), NFC (Dallas, 9)
Most away wins: AFC (New Englland, 3), NFC (Dallas, 4)
Most away losses: AFC (Raiders, 5), NFC (Dallas and Minnesota, 5 each)
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Luka Doncic: Have we seen him before?
Back in 1986, there was a very popular song by Suzanne Vega titled “Luka.” The first few lines of the song went like this: “My name is Luka. I live on the second floor. I live upstairs from you. Yes I think you’ve seen me before.”
I mention this because one of the compelling stories from this NBA season has been the play of Dallas Mavericks rookie “wunderkid,” Luka Doncic. The 19-year-old (he won’t turn 20 until February 28) from Slovania, was the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Through the first half of this season, Doncic has been putting up some really impressive numbers for a rookie and seems to be the front-runner for this year’s Rookie of the Year Award. With his impressive skill set and overall game, in some circles, it might be said (unlike the song, “Luka,”) that we have not seen someone like him before.
Doncic leads the Mavs (through games of January 13) in points per game (20.2), and is second on the team in minutes played, rebounds per game (6.7) and assists per game (5.0). What makes these numbers all the more impressive is that if Doncic should finish the season with 20 points per game and five rebounds and five assists per game, he would join a very short list of rookies that have achieved these numbers.
Here’s a look at the four rookies in NBA history who averaged 20 points per game and had five rebounds and five assist per game in their rookie campaigns in the league:
Oscar Robertson, 1961, Cincinnati (30.5 points per game, 10.1 rebounds per game, 9.7 assists per game)
Michael Jordan, 1985, Chicago (28.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game)
LeBron James, 2004, Cleveland (20.9 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game)
Tyreke Evans, 2010, Sacramento (20.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game)
Robertson and Jordan are already in the Hall of Fame and James will certainly join them when he hangs up his sneakers. Evans? His name on the list might have surprised more than a few NBA fans.
In addition, Doncic is on pace to total more than 1,600 points in his rookie season. That has happened 39 times in league history. Since 2000, we have seen the following rookies top the 1,600-point mark in their first season: Elton Brand (Chicago-2010), LeBron James (Cleveland-2004), Carmelo Anthony (Denver-2004), Kevin Durant (Seattle-2008), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers-2011) and Donovan Mitchell (Utah-2018). Of the 39 rookies who had 1,600 or more points in their rookie campaigns, 21 are currently in the Hall of Fame, with others like James, Anthony, Griffin, Durant and Tim Duncan likely joining that group in the future.
Wilt Chamberlain tops the list of most points scored in a rookie season with 2,707. He is followed by Walt Bellamy (2,495). The Dallas Mavs team record for most points by a rookie is 1,732 held by Jay Vincent in 1982.
It’s still early in Luka Doncic’s career, but he appears headed to that upper echelon of NBA players
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
The Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 had three relief pitchers with 12 or more saves: Corey Knebel (16), Jeremy Jeffress (15) and Josh Hader (12). The 2018 Houston Astros also had three relievers with 12 or more saves, the second time they have achieved this milestone in the last three seasons.
The Brewers and Astros became the sixth and seventh teams in MLB history to have three relief pitchers with 12 or more saves in the same season. Here is a look at those seven teams.
1992 White Sox (Hernandez, Radinsky, Thigpen)
2000 Braves (Ligtenberg, Remlinger, Rocker)
2005 Diamondbacks (Bruney, Lyon, Valverde)
2015 Mariners (Rodney, Smith, Wilhelmsen)
2016 Astros (Giles, Gregerson, Harris)
2018 Astros (Giles, Osuna, Rondon)
2018 Brewers (Knebel, Jeffress, Hader)
For the Brewers, it was the eighth time in their history that they had two or more relievers finish the season with 12 or more saves in the same season. Following are those eight seasons.
1972: Frank Linzy (12), Ken Sanders (17)
1986: Mark Clear (16), Dan Plesac (14)
1987: Dan Plesac (23), Chuck Crim (12)
1998: Bob Wickman (25), Doug Jones (12)
2000: Bob Wickman (16), Curtis Leskanic (12)
2003: Mike DeJean (18), Dan Kolb (21)
2006: Derrick Turnbow (24), Francisco Cordero (16)
2016: Jeremy Jeffress (27), Tyler Thornburg (13)
2018: Corey Knebel (16), Jeremy Jeffress (15), Josh Hader (12)
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
NFL 2018 regular season leftovers: 1,000-yard rushers, young receivers, ARod record
While we are in the midst of the NFL playoffs, here is a trio of interesting stats that you may not know…
Up until the 2018 regular season, 31 of the 32 NFL teams had at least one runner who had amassed 1,000 or more yards rushing in a season this decade (2010-17). The only team without a 1,000-yard rusher this decade was the Carolina Panthers.
That changed after this past season; all-purpose running back Christian McCaffrey had 1,098 yards rushing for the Panthers in 2018. All total, there were eight teams that had a 1,000-yard rusher this past season: Saquon Barkley (N.Y. Giants), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas), Todd Gurley (L.A. Rams), Joe Mixon (Cincinnati), Chris Carson (Seattle), Christian McCaffrey (Carolina), Derrick Henry (Tennessee), Adrian Peterson (Washington), Phillip Lindsay (Denver).
Cincinnati and Denver have had the most different players reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season from 2010-18 with four each. Here is a look at how many different 1,000-yard rushers each team has had since 2010 (a player who has had multiple 1,000-yard seasons this decade is counted only once; this is the number of individual players).
Four different 1,000-yard rushers: Cincinnati, Denver
Three different 1,000-yard rushers: Dallas, Miami, New England, Tennessee
Two different 1,000-yard rushers: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, L.A. Chargers, L.A. Rams, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Washington
One 1,000-yard rusher: Carolina, Cleveland, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco
Does it seem to you that the elite receivers in the NFL are becoming younger and younger? Well, there are some numbers to back that up.
There were 74 players who had 50 or more receptions during the 2018 regular season. Of those, 41 (55%) were age 25-29. Twenty-one of the 74 (28%) were age 20-24; and 12 of the 74 (16%) were age 30 and older.
Of the 74, 33 (almost half… 45%) were between the ages of 24-26. Fifteen of the 74 players with 50 or more receptions in 2018 were age 25, the most of any age group.
If we bump the stat to players who caught 80 or more passes in 2018, 15 of the 21 players (71%) who caught 80 or more passes were age 25-29; five (24%) were age 20-24, and only one was over the age of 30.
Finally, if we just look at the 11 players who caught 100 or more passes in 2018, there were eight (73%) who were age 25-29, two age 20-24 and only one that was in his thirties.
Just in case you were wondering, here are the 12 players in their 30’s who caught 50 or more passes in 2018: Larry Fitzgerald (age 35), Jordy Nelson (33), Danny Amendola (33), Julian Edelman (32), Jimmy Graham (32), Emmanuel Sanders (31), Jared Cook (31), Demaryius Thomas (31), Michael Crabtree (31), Antonio Brown (30), Golden Tate (30), Doug Baldwin (30).
Aaron Rodgers sets interesting mark
If you are a Packers fan, you know that QB Aaron Rodgers had only two interceptions in the 2018 regular season. You may also know that Rodgers was sacked a total of 49 times last season.
Here’s the stat: Of all QBs who have been sacked 40 or more times in a season, Rodgers becomes the first in NFL history to have less than three interceptions in the same season.
Following are the five QBs with 40 or more sacks and five or fewer interceptions in the same season.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 2018: 49 sacks, 2 INT
Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis, 1997: 41 sacks, 4 INT
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo, 2017: 46 sacks, 4 INT
Steve Bartkowski, Atlanta, 1983: 51 sacks, 5 INT
Alex Smith, San Francisco, 2011: 44 sacks, 5 INT.
Rodgers also becomes the first QB in NFL history to have 25 or more TD passes, less than five interceptions and 40 or more sacks in a season.
If we adjust the numbers a bit and look at how many QBs were sacked 40 or more times and had fewer than 10 interceptions in a season, that has happened 38 times in league history by 27 different QBs… six of them have reached these two numbers in a season multiple times. The six who reached these numbers multiple times: Aaron Rodgers (four seasons), Russell Wilson (four seasons), Alex Smith (three seasons), Ken O’Brien, Neil O’Donnell and Tyrod Taylor (two seasons each).
Six QBs in 2018 were sacked 40 or more times and had fewer than 10 interceptions: Rodgers, Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott and Marcus Mariota.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp