All four NFC North teams above .500 after three games
If you haven’t done so already, take a look at the standings in the NFL after Week #3. The thing that might pop out at you immediately is that all four teams in the NFC North, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, are all above .500 after three games, the only division with all four teams above .500 after Week #3.
The Packers top the division with a 3-0 record; the Lions are undefeated, but have a tie game on their 2-0-1 record, and the Bears and Vikings are “bringing” up the rear with very respectable 2-1 records.
Yes, we are only three weeks into the season, I know. But it got me thinking about whether or not there has been a season where all four teams in a division ended the year with records above .500.
Back in 2002, the NFL went to the current set-up with four four-team divisions in each conference. Since that year, there has not been any division where all four teams were above .500 at the conclusion of the season. There has been, however, six times when all four teams ended the season at .500 or better. The last time it happened was in 2008 when both the NFC East and the NFC South had all four of the teams in their division end the year with an 8-8 record or better.
(Ironically, the six times it happened were in three years; in 2002, 2007 and 2008 there were two divisions each season that had all four teams at .500 or better.)
Here is a look at the six times all four teams in a division ended the season at .500 or better.
2002 AFC West (Oakland 11-5, Denver 9-7, San Diego 8-8, Kansas City 8-8)
2002 AFC East (New York Jets 9-7, New England 9-7, Miami 9-7, Buffalo 8-8)
2007 NFC East (Dallas 13-3, New York Giants 10-6, Washington 9-7, Philadelphia 8-8)
2007 AFC South (Indianapolis 13-3, Jacksonville 11-5, Tennessee 10-6, Houston 8-8)
2008 NFC South (Carolina 12-4, Atlanta 11-5, Tampa Bay 9-7, New Orleans 8-8)
2008 NFC East (New York Giants 12-4, Philadelphia 9-6-1, Dallas, 9-7, Washington 8-8)
Will the NFC North join this list? Or, could the NFC North become the first division in league history to have each team above .500 at the end of the year?
We’ve got 13 more games (14 weeks with a bye for each team) to see.
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With their loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football, the Philadelphia Eagles had the NFL’s longest winning streak snapped… the Eagles had won nine straight. It tied the franchise record for consecutive wins of nine in a row from 2003.
With wins on Sunday, the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings now hold the current longest win streaks with eight straight wins each. The Vikings had a 13-game winning streak in 1974-75, the longest of their franchise; the Patriots hold two of the four longest winning streaks in NFL history… they won 21 straight from Dec. 17, 2006 to September 14, 2008, the second longest in league history and longest in team history.
The other eight-game winning streak this season was the New Orleans Saints; that streak was snapped two weeks ago. That fell short of the franchise record of 13 wins in a row.
The Indianapolis Colts hold the league’s longest regular season winning streak at 23, which ran from November 2, 2008 to Dec. 17, 2009. The Patriots are second with their 21-game streak noted above. The Carolina Panthers and Patriots each had 18-game win streaks for the third spot on the longest win streaks. The Panthers did it in the 2014-15 seasons, while the Pats 18-game streak was from October 2003 to October 2004.
Stats on Tapp
Here are some of the numbers that helped define the Packers 17-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on September 18.
- This is the first season in the history of the Packers that they played their first two games of the season on the road. They went 1-1. Of the 53 teams that played their first two games of a season (since 2000) on the road, only seven went 2-0. The last team to go 2-0 starting on the road was the Miami Dolphins in 2013.
- The Vikings have defeated the Packers 12 times since 2000. Yesterday’s loss was the second in September. Three of those losses came in October, four in November, one in December, and two in January.
- Green Bay scored a touchdown in the first quarter (an Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson pass). The team is now 52-19-1 (.729 winning percentage) since 2010 when they score in the first quarter, but they have won only three of their last eight when they score in the first quarter.
- Jordy has scored two TDs this season, one on a six-yard pass and the other on a one-yard. While you would assume that Jordy is the Pack’s big long ball threat, 17 of his 52 career TDs have been on pass plays under 10 yards.
- The Packers had a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. They had won seven straight when they had a lead of seven points or more at the end of the first quarter.
- Green Bay was behind 10-7 at halftime. They are now 8-16-1 in games since 2012 when they are trailing at halftime, and have won only four of their last 15 games on the road when they trail at half.
- Dom Capers “D” had four sacks in the game, which is normally a good sign. The Pack is now 18-6-1 since 2010 when they get four or more sacks in a contest.
- Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs continued an unfortunate pattern for the Packers secondary. Diggs had nine catches for 182 yards in the game. It was the sixth straight season that the Packers allowed an opposing receiver to gain 150 or more yards in a game. He is the 17th receiver since 2000 to have 150 or more yards receiving versus the Packers; the Pack is 8-9 in those games.
- Green Bay entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point deficit (they were behind 17-7). Since 2000, Green Bay is now 2-40-1 when they trail by 10 or more points going into the final quarter. They have now lost eight straight in that scenario.
- Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times. Since 2000, the Packers are 4-19 when they allow the QB to be sacked five or more times, and have lost 10 of their last 11. The team is 6-8 since 2014 in games when the QB is sacked three or more times in a game.
- Rodgers had a rushing TD in back-to-back games for the third time in his career. The 10-yard TD run against the Vikes gives him eight TD runs of 10 yards or more (of the 23 rushing TDs he has scored).
- The Pack had three turnovers in the game. Since 2000, they are now 13-41 (.241 winning percentage) in games when they commit three or more turnovers. They are 3-10 in those games since 2008.
- Rodgers’ Quarterback Rating (QBR) was 70.1 for the game. When his QBR is under 75, the Packers are 3-11 in games he has started.
- Green Bay scored only 14 points in the game. They are now 5-36 since 2000 in games when they score under 15 points, and are 1-26 since 2000 when they score under 15 points in a game on the road.
- Holding their opponent under 20 points had been a good sign for the Pack. Since the 2011 season, the Packers are 25-6 when they keep their opponents under 20 points in a game. They had won 10 of their last 12 games when the opposition scored under 20 in a contest.
Down 21-10 to Atlanta at halftime, things did not look good for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Fortunately, the defense held the Falcons scoreless in the second half and the Pack came away with a 22-21 win.
With the win on Sunday, the Packers are now 54-1 since 1990 in games when they hold their opponents scoreless in the second half. The last time the Pack lost a game where they held their opponents to zero points in the second half was September 25, 2005. The Tampa Bay Bucs won that game 17-16. Since that contest, Green Bay has won 18 straight games when they pitch a shutout in the second half.
If we look at the numbers of all NFL teams when they hold opponents scoreless in the second half since 2000, teams are 681-100 (a .872 winning percentage). The Minnesota Vikings have played in only six of those games, but they have won all of them, giving them a 1.000 winning percentage. The Packers are 31-1 (.969 winning percentage) in games when they hold opponents scoreless in the second half since 2000, the second best winning percentage in the league. Going back to 1966, the start of the Super Bowl era, the Packers are 88-14-3 in such games (a .852 winning percentage).
Let’s take it a step further… the Packers surrendered 21 points to the Falcons in the first half of last Sunday’s game. It was only the sixth time since 1966 that the Packers have won a game where they gave up 20 or more points in the first half and then allowed zero in the second half. Their other win was in 1982 against the Rams. The Rams on September 12, 1982 were leading 23-0 at halftime of that contest; the Packers scored 35 unanswered points in the second half in route to a 35-23 win.
Here’s a look at the six games (since 1966) where the Pack allowed 20-plus points in the first half and allowed zero in the second half.
December 8, 2013 vs. Atlanta: Pack losing 21-10 at halftime; they won the game 22-21.
December 10, 1989 vs. Kansas City: Pack losing 21-3 at halftime; they lost the game 21-3.
September 18, 1988 vs. Miami: Pack losing 24-14 at halftime; they lost game 24-17.
September 14, 1986 vs. New Orleans: Pack losing 24-3 at halftime; they lost game 24-10.
September 12, 1984 vs. Los Angeles Rams: Pack losing 23-0 at halftime; they won game 35-23.
December 7, 1975 vs. Minnesota: Pack losing 24-3 at halftime; they lost game 24-3.
Note: The two games above that they won were both played in Green bay; the other four games were played on the road.
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With a 5-5 record, there’s a distinct symmetry that can be applied when trying to determine what’s been good and what’s been bad for the Green Bay Packers this season. As you watch the game tomorrow against the Vikings, here’s a statistical look back at some of the numbers that might help determine whether or not the Packers will win this contest.
This stats breakdown will look at some of the offensive numbers, specifically the offensive drives in each game. Green Bay has had 48 offensive drives in its five wins and 56 offensive drives in the five losses.
Scoring drives. In the five wins, the Packers offense scored on 29 of the 48 drives (60.4%). In the five losses, the Pack scored on only 19 of the 56 drives (33.9%). They scored touchdowns in 15 of the 48 drives in wins (31.3%) and only 10 TDs in the 54 drives in losses (18.5%).
Average drives. The average starting field position on the drives in wins was the 29.3 yard line; in losses it was the 27.2 yard line. The average number of plays in drives in wins was 6.6; in losses it was 5.6 plays. The average number of yards gained in drives in wins was 41.4; in losses it was 33.8. The average drives in wins lasted 3:09; in losses it lasted 2:21.
Long drives. The Packers offense had 10 10-play drives in their five wins this season. In their five losses, they had seven 10-play drives. In their five wins they had 11 drives that lasted 5:00 or longer; in their five losses they had only four drives that lasted 5:00 or longer.
Quick-score TDs. The Packers have been one of the best teams in the league the past couple of years in quick scores. In their wins this season they had nine quick scores (TDs on drives of five plays or less). In their losses, they had only four quick scores.
Three and out. In the five wins in 2013, the Packers offense has had only seven three-and-outs. In the five losses, they had 14 three-and-outs.
Starting field position. In their five wins, the Packers scored 16 times (TD or FG) in 29 drives when they started at their own 29 yard line or worse. In the five losses, they scored only 11 times in 39 drives that started at their own 29 yard line or worse. When the Packers had a starting field position of their own 40 yard line or better, they scored five TDs in 11 drives in their five wins. When they had a starting field position of their own 40 yard line or better in their five losses, they scored TDs on only two of 11 drives.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Packers defense needs to step it up in these last six weeks of the season if the team is going to make the playoffs. But as you watch the game tomorrow, keep an eye on the Pack’s offensive drives. In fact, you may want to ask yourself the following questions as the game progresses:
What kind of starting field position are they getting?
Are they scoring when they get the ball, or are they always punting or losing possession due to a turnover?
Are they having sustainable drives, or are there too many “three-and-outs”?
Are they keeping the ball for long drives and then scoring?
Are they getting some of those signature “quick-scores”?
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp