With the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine going on this weekend, there has been a lot of discussion about who might be the overall first pick in the draft, a pick currently held by the Cleveland Browns.
Experts are wondering if the Browns will use the pick on a quarterback, a position where they could use an upgrade. Is there a franchise QB that could turn around the Browns fortunes?
Since 1970, the merger between the AFL and NFL, there have been 22 quarterbacks who were the first overall pick in the draft. In 1970 it was Terry Bradshaw; the last time a QB was the first overall pick was two years ago when the L.A. Rams selected Jared Goff.
Among those 22 QBs chosen as the first pick, there have been many hits, some misses, and a few “wait-and-see” choices. Of the 22 QBs chosen first since 1970, 13 of them are no longer active in the league. If we use career TD passes as a yardstick, it’s safe to say that Peyton Manning has been the most successful of these 13 QBs; he had 539 career TD passes, exactly 200 TD passes ahead of his nearest first-choice QB, brother Eli Manning, who has 339 career TD passes.
Here is the career TD passes of the 22 QBs who were the first overall pick in the NFL Draft since 1970. (The year each of these QBs was drafted is listed after their names; the nine QBs chosen first overall since 1970 who are still active in the NFL are noted.)
539-Peyton Manning, 1998
339-Eli Manning, 2004 (active)
300-John Elway, 1983
294-Carson Palmer, 2003 (active)
275-Vinny Testaverde, 1987
251-Drew Bledsoe, 1993
216-Matthew Stafford, 2009 (active)
212-Terry Bradshaw, 1970
183-Alex Smith, 2005 (active)
165-Troy Aikman, 1989
164-Jim Plunkett, 1971
158-Cam Newton, 2011 (active)
156-Steve Bartkowski, 1975
154-Jeff George, 1990
133-Michael Vick, 2001
132-Andrew Luck, 2012 (active)
101-Sam Bradford, 2010 (active)
69-Jameis Winston, 2015 (active)
65-David Carr, 2002
64-Tim Couch, 1999
18-JaMarcus Russell, 2007
14-Jared Goff, 2016 (active)
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The Cleveland Browns last Sunday became the 18th team since 1970 (when the NFL merger took place) to lose their first 10 games of a season. They are the first team to do so since 2014 when the Oakland Raiders started that campaign 0-10.
NFL fans will remember that two teams went winless in an NFL season since ’70: the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs who were 0-14, and the 2008 Detroit Lions who finished their winless season 0-16. Could the Browns become the third team to join this hapless duo?
Of the 19 teams that started 0-10, six franchises have done it two or more times: Indianapolis (three times), and Buffalo, Detroit, the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans), San Diego and Tampa Bay.
Here’s a look at the 18 teams that started a season 0-10.
1975: San Diego
1976: Tampa Bay
1977: Tampa Bay
1980: New Orleans
1983: Houston Oilers
1984: Houston Oilers
2000: San Diego
As mentioned above, two teams that started 0-10 ended the season without a win. Of the other 15 teams prior to this season, the most wins in a season by a team that started 0-10 is three. The 1984 Oilers, 1986 Colts, 1993 Bengals , 1997 Colts and the 2014 Raiders each went 3-3 after losing their first 10 games in those seasons. The ’86 Colts actually won their last three games of that season.
Also, of the 15 teams that won at least one game after starting 0-10, six won their first game of the year in their 11th game of the season, three won their first game in the 12th game of the season, two won their first game in the 13th game; three won in their 14th game, and one won in their 15th game of the season.
The 2016 Browns had four games decided by a eight points or less in their 10 losses to start the season. The 2001 Detroit Lions, however, top the list of these 0-10 teams when it comes to most losses by eight points or loss in their 0-10 start. The Lions lost seven of their 10 games by eight points or less that campaign.
At the unofficial midpoint of the 2014 NFL season, the AFC North Division has all four teams sporting winning records: Cincinnati (5-2-1), Pittsburgh (6-3), Cleveland (5-3) and Baltimore (5-4). If all four remain above .500 at the end of the season, it would be the first time in NFL history that all of the teams from one division finished with a winning record.
Since 2002 when the NFL went to the current four-team, four-division format in each conference, there have been six times when all of the four teams in the division finished the year at .500 or above. The last time was in 2008 when each of the four teams in both the NFC East and NFC South finished the year at .500 or above.
Here’s a look at the six times since 2002 when all the teams in the division finished the season at .500 or above.
2002: AFC East (New England 9-7; Miami 9-7; N.Y. Jets 9-7, Buffalo 8-8)
2002: AFC West (Oakland 11-5; Denver 9-7; Kansas City 8-8; San Diego 8-8)
2007: AFC South (Indianapolis 13-3; Jacksonville 11-5; Tennessee 10-6; Houston 8-8)
2007: NFC East (Dallas 13-3; N.Y. Giants 10-6; Washington 9-7; Philadelphia 8-8)
2008: NFC East (N.Y. Giants 12-4; Philadelphia 9-6-1; Dallas 9-7, Washington 8-8)
2008: NFC South: (Carolina 12-4; Atlanta 11-5; Tampa Bay 9-7; New Orleans 8-8)
Interesting to note that when four teams from a division finished a season at .500 or better that it happened twice in the same year. If the AFC North finishes with all four at .500 or above, is there another division that could also have the same finish? Looking at the standings we see that both the NFC Central and NFC West have their fourth place teams with records of 3-5.
Prior to 2002, there were three times when all the teams in a division finished at .500 or better. Two of those times it happened with five teams in the division. Here are those three times.
1989: AFC Central (Cleveland 9-6-1; Houston 9-7; Pittsburgh 9-7; Cincinnati 8-8)
1995: AFC West (Kansas City 13-3; San Diego 9-7; Oakland 8-8; Denver 8-8; Seattle 8-8)
1999: AFC East (Indianapolis 13-3; Buffalo 11-5; Miami 9-7; N.Y. Jets 8-8; New England 8-8)
Only twice in NFL history has a team that made the Super Bowl from a division that had all of its teams at .500 or above: Oakland in 2002 and the New York Giants in 2007. The Raiders lost in the championship game; the Giants won the Super Bowl that year.
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The Kansas City Chiefs are the only undefeated team in the NFL at 9-0. Not only is that a surprise to many NFL experts and fans, but the Chiefs seem to be winning games with a less-than-powerful offense and an opportunistic defense that is not only shutting teams down, but their “D” is putting points on the board.
Last Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills was a perfect example. The Chiefs offense had nine possessions; they scored three times, but each score was a field goal. They did not have an offensive TD in the game. They did, however, have two defensive TDs; one an interception return, the other a fumble return for six points.
Kansas City’s win without an offensive TD was only the second time that has happened this season. The New York Giants on October 27 defeated the Eagles 15-7 behind five field goals. Since 2000, teams that did not score an offensive TD in a game have won only 93 games and lost 590, a dismal .136 winning percentage. This season, it has happened 22 times with the Giants and Chiefs gaining the only wins. Last season there were 49 times when a team did not have an offensive TD; those teams won seven and lost 42.
Here’s a look at the numbers of times NFL teams have
won a game since 2000 when they did not score an offensive TD.
6: Detroit, Tampa Bay
5: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
4: Chicago, Cleveland, Green Bay, Tennessee
2: Buffalo, Carolina, Dallas, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, NY Jets, Seattle
1: Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia
0: New Orleans, San Diego
The Cleveland Browns had the most games since 2000 with no offensive TDs with 51. The closest team to them were the Bills with 35. The Indianapolis Colts have had the fewest games with no offensive touchdowns since 2000 with seven. They are followed by San Diego with eight, New Orleans with nine and the Packers with 10.
Here’s another interesting tidbit about Kansas City’s win over Buffalo on Sunday: The Chiefs defensive unit scored on an interception and fumble return. It was the fourth time this season that has happened in the NFL (the Cowboys, Rams and Bears each scored on an interception and fumble return in a game this year) and the 109th time since 1970 that a team had at least one interception return and a fumble return in a game. Teams that have scored in this manner in a game were 97-12 in those games, an .890 winning percentage. The last time a team has lost when they scored defensive TDs via an interception and fumble return in a game was in 2003 when Tampa Bay lost to Indianapolis 38-35 in overtime despite those two defensive scores.
If you would have told Seattle head coach Pete Carroll that his Seahawks would only collect 135 yards in total offense in their October 28 game against the St. Louis Rams, he might have responded, “How bad did we get beat?”
Fortunately for Carroll and the Seahawks, Seattle was still able to come away with a 14-9 win despite the dismal offensive display. Consider this: Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had almost two-and-half-times more yards in his record-setting game on Sunday than the Seattle offense had on Monday night. Johnson, in his 329-yards receiving game against the Cowboys had more yards last Sunday than 16 NFL teams in Week 8! But let’s get back to Seattle.
You would think that having less than 135 yards in total offense would not be a good omen. The Seahawks’ win was only the 28th time since 1970 (AFL-NFL merger) that a team with 135 or fewer total yards of offense won a game. The last time it happened was in 2010 when the Miami Dolphins amassed only 131 total yards of offense in a 10-6 win over the New York Jets. Since 2000, teams with 135 or fewer yards of offense in a game have won 13 and lost 60 (a .178 winning percentage).
Let’s expand the parameters a little. Let’s take a look at how well teams have done when they have gained less than 200 total yards in a game since 2000. There have been 468 times since 2000 that an NFL team had less than 200 yards of offense in a contest; in those games, that team won only 67 times, a .143 winning percentage. The Cleveland Browns had the most games with less than 200 yards of offense since 2000 with 37. They won only one of those games.
Here are the number of games each team had less than 200 yards of total offense in a game since 2000. Their record in those games is listed in parenthesis.
Cleveland: 37 games with less than 200 yards of offense (1-36 record in those games)
San Francisco: 28 games (4-24)
Buffalo: 25 games (3-22)
Chicago: 24 games (5-19)
Arizona: 22 games (5-17)
Oakland: 21 games (2-19)
Carolina: 19 games (2-17)
Cincinnati: 19 games (1-18)
Seattle: 19 games (4-15)
Baltimore: 18 games (7-11)
New York Jets: 17 games (1-16)
St. Louis: 17 games (2-15)
Detroit: 15 games (2-13)
Houston: 15 games (3-12)
Miami: 15 games (5-10)
Tennessee: 15 games (6-9)
Washington: 15 games (1-14)
Tampa Bay: 14 games (3-11)
Dallas: 13 games (1-12)
Kansas City: 12 games (1-11)
Philadelphia: 12 games (1-11)
Atlanta: 11 games (0-11)
Jacksonville: 10 games (1-9)
Minnesota: 9 games (2-7)
San Diego: 9 games (1-8)
New York Giants: 8 games (0-8)
Pittsburgh: 8 games (2-6)
New England: 7 games (1-6)
Indianapolis: 6 games (0-6)
Denver: 3 games (0-3)
Green Bay: 3 games (0-3)
New Orleans: 2 games (0-2)
There have been five games since 1970 where a team gained less than 100 yards of offense and still won the game. The five games:
* Tennessee over Jacksonville, 24-17 in 2006. Titans had 98 offensive yards.
* Oakland over Pittsburgh, 20-13 in 2006. Raiders had 98 offensive yards.
* Houston over Pittsburgh, 24-6 in 2002. Texans had 47 offensive yards.
* San Francisco over Atlanta, 10-3 in 1977. Forty-Niners had 97 offensive yards.
* Minnesota over Green Bay, 3-0 in 1971. Vikings had 87 offensive yards.
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