Who will be the best NFC team in the 2010s?
With 113 wins since 2010, the New England Patriots could go 0-16 this season and still end up with the most wins of any NFL team in the 2010s. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently second on the list for most wins since 2010 with 94, so passing the Pats this season will not happen… the Patriots will be the NFL’s winningest team (and the winningest team in the AFC) of the 2010s when the 2019 NFL season concludes.
Over in the NFC, however, there are three teams (maybe four) that could still claim the best record in the conference for this decade. The Green Bay Packers are 89-53-2 (.625 winning percentage) this decade to hold first place with the Seattle Seahawks just percentage points behind at .622 and a record of 89-54-1. The New Orleans Saints are just a few games behind in third place for NFC teams with an 87-57 record (.604).
Who will be the worst NFL team of the 2010s? It looks like the Cleveland Browns have that title wrapped up barring a total collapse of the Jacksonville Jags and a great season for the Browns. The Jags have an 8 ½-game lead over Cleveland for the 31st spot on the list.
Here are the records of each NFL team this decade (2010-18).
New England 113-31
Kansas City 84-60
San Diego/L.A. Chargers 72-72
New York Jets 61-83
Green Bay 89-53-2
New Orleans 87-57
San Francisco 67-76-1
New York Giants 66-78
St. Louis/L.A. Rams 64-79-1
Tampa Bay 52-92
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This year’s World Series features a pair of teams, the L.A. Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, who are making their second Fall Classic appearances in the last 10 years. The Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros in last year’s World Series; the Red Sox won the championship in 2013.
With that being said, would you say that baseball has been a model of parity in the World Series over the past 10 years? How about the parity of the other professional sports… the NBA, NHL and NFL?
Let’s take a look at how many different teams have played for their sport’s championship in the last 10 seasons.
In the past 10 seasons, the professional league with the “best” parity in their title game/series is a tie between the NFL and NHL. Both of those leagues have seen 14 different teams play for the title in the last 10 seasons. Major League Baseball follows with 13 different teams playing in the World Series in the last 10 years. Not surprisingly, the league with the “least” parity is the NBA; in the last 10 seasons, only nine teams have played for the title in the NBA.
Only four franchises have played in four or more title games/series in the past 10 years: New England Patriots (NFL), Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA), Golden State Warriors (NBA) and the Miami Heat (NBA). All played in four title series games/series in the last 10 years.
If we look at how many teams have played in more than one championship title game/series in the last 10 years in the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB, baseball has the most teams with six. They are followed by the NBA with five and both the NFL and NHL with four.
The teams that have played in two or more championship series/games in the last 10 seasons:
MLB (6): Boston, Kansas City, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco, St. Louis, Texas
NBA (5): Cleveland, Golden State, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami, San Antonio
NFL (4): Denver, New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle
NHL (4): Boston, Chicago, L.A. Kings, Pittsburgh
One final question: Which pro league has gone the longest without back-to-back title winners? If you answered baseball, you win the prize. The last back-to-back World Series champs are the New York Yankees in 1999 and 2000. The last back-to-back Super Bowl champs are the New England Patriots from 2004 and 2005. The NHL had back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA had back-to-back champions with the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018.
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- The Patriots allowed 27 points to their opponents in four games this season… they lost three of those games.
- New England as a team rushed for less than 81 yards in five games… they lost two of those games.
- The Pats allowed the opposition to gain over 430 total yards in two games… they lost both of those games.
- The Patriots allowed 300 or more passing yards to their opponents in five games this season… they lost two of those games.
- New England allowed their opponents to rush for over 120 yards in eight games… they lost three of those contests.
- Tom Brady had a Passer Rating under 80.0 in a pair of games this year… the Patriots lost both games. (FYI: Brady has never lost a playoff game when he had a Passer Rating of 100 or better; he is 14-0.)
- Only three opposing QBs had a Passer Rating over 100 in a game versus the Patriots this season: Alex Smith (148.6), Cam Newton (130.8) and Jay Cutler (112.1). New England lost each of those three games.
- Four opposing running backs had 100-yard games versus the Pats in 2017. New England was 2-2 in those games.
- Five opposing receivers had 100-yard games versus the Pats in ’17. New England was 3-2 in those games.
- New England converted on less than 34% of their third-down attempts in five games this season… they lost two of those games.
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Here’s a quick trivia question: The New England Patriots on Sunday January 21 will appear in their seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game. That means they have appeared in seven championship games since 2011. Which NFL team has appeared in the second most championship games since 2011? (Answer at the end of this column.)
Following are a few “leftover” stats from last week’s NFL playoff games.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers last week became seventh team to lose two playoff games in their history when they scored 30 or more points (the Steelers lost to Jacksonville 45-42 last Sunday). The other teams on this list: Cleveland, Dallas, Green Bay, Kansas City, Miami and New Orleans.
- The Steelers also have now lost 10 home playoff games in their history (since the start of the Super Bowl era in 1966), most in the NFL. Dallas is second with nine home playoff losses followed by Minnesota and San Francisco with eight.
- Teams that are scoreless at halftime in a playoff game have not had much success. Teams that are scoreless at half in a playoff game are 17-88 (.162 winning percentage) since 1966.
- Turnovers are another important part of the NFL’s post-season. Since the 2010 post-season, NFL teams that do not commit a turnover in a playoff game are 29-12 (.707 winning percentage). Teams that have turned the ball over three or more times in a playoff game since 2010 are 5-28 (.152).
- Tom Brady had another playoff game (in the Pats win over Tennessee) where he had three or more TD passes and more than 300 yards passing. That was the seventh time Brady reached those stats in a playoff game in his career, most in league history. Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have had three or more TD passes and 300 or more yards passing in five different playoff games, tied for second on this list.
- Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette had three TDs in his team’s big win over Pittsburgh, making him only the fourth rookie in history to score three or more TDs in a playoff game. The others: Craig Baynham (Dallas, 12-24-1967), William Floyd (San Francisco, 1-7-1995) and Ryan Grant (Green Bay, 1-12-2008).
- Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski had a TD reception in New England’s win last week over the Titans. That was his 10th playoff TD in his career. Those 10 playoff TDs since 2010 are the most of any player; Gronkowski also became the 18th player in NFL history to score 10 or more TDs in the post-season. Jerry Rice tops the list with 22 playoff TDs.
- With their 10-3 win over Buffalo in the Wild Card Game and their 45-42 win over Pittsburgh in the divisional round, the Jacksonville Jaguars became the first team in NFL history to win two playoff games in one season…one with 10 or fewer points scored and one with 40 or more points scored.
- With their game tomorrow against the Jacksonville Jags, the Patriots will have appeared in seven championship games since 2011. They are followed by the San Francisco 49ers with three title game appearances since 2011. The Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks have each appeared in two conference title games since 2011. Eight teams will have appeared in one conference championship game from 2011-17 (Arizona, Carolina, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh). Did you get the San Francisco 49ers right in the answer to the trivia question?
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Is it possible that the reason the New England Patriots have been so successful over the past several years is because opposing team kickers have found Gillett Stadium tough to kick in? Before you answer that, consider this:
From the 2010 NFL season until Week #13 of this year, opposing field goal kickers have made 76.1 percent of field goal attempts at the Patriots’ Gillett Stadium, lowest percentage of any opposing field goal kickers in an NFL stadium.
Here’s a look at the opposing team field goal percentages at each NFL team’s home field from 2010 until Week #13 of this season.
New England 76.1
San Francisco 80.2
Tampa Bay 80.3
Green Bay 81.5
Kansas City 83.9
New Orleans 85.7
New York Jets 86.3
New York Giants 90.5
There could be a lot of factors involved in why the Patriots’ opponents have the worst field goal percentage on New England’s home field… it could be the weather conditions, it could be the way the Pats’ special teams defend the attempted field goals of the opposition. It could be that Patriot opponents attempts more “longer” field goals.
In any case, I’ll just let the numbers speak for themselves. Any thoughts?
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