League on pace for record-set­ting scor­ing

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Rob Maaddi

It’s never been eas­ier to score in the NFL.

At the mid­point of the sea­son, the league is on pace to set records for most points, touch­downs and touch­down passes in a sin­gle sea­son. Teams have scored 6,440 points, 736 touch­downs and 473 TDs in the air through Week 9.

The in­crease in of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion fol­lows the low­est-scor­ing sea­son this decade. Teams av­er­aged 21.7 points per game in 2017. That’s up to 24 points this sea­son. A to­tal of 12 teams are av­er­ag­ing at least 27.5 points per game led by the Chiefs (36.3), Saints (34.9) and Rams (33.2).

There are sev­eral rea­sons scor­ing has soared. A com­bi­na­tion of new rules and rule ad­just­ments over the past few years fa­vor of­fenses. The league has banned hel­met-to-hel­met con­tact, im­ple­mented a de­fense­less re­ceiver rule and a body-weight rule against play­ers mak­ing sacks, out­lawed low hits on quar­ter­backs and em­pha­sized il­le­gal con­tact penal­ties.

There’s also been an in­flux of in­no­va­tive, of­fen­sive­minded coaches — Sean McVay, Doug Ped­er­son, Kyle Shanahan — and tal­ented young quar­ter­backs — Patrick Ma­homes, Car­son Wentz, Jared Goff, among oth­ers.

Five quar­ter­backs — Ma­homes, Goff, Matt Ryan, Ben Roeth­lis­berger and Aaron Rodgers — are on pace to throw for 5,000 yards. That only hap­pened nine times pre­vi­ously in league his­tory. Ten QBs have a passer rat­ing over 100, dou­ble the to­tal last sea­son.

Games are not only fea­tur­ing more scor­ing but there’s been plenty of close, down-to-the-wire ac­tion. Sev­enty-one games were de­cided by one score, eight points or less. That’s the fifth-most through nine weeks. Thirty-seven games have been de­cided by a field goal, which was fourth­most at this point. Ten games have reached over­time and 36 teams have ral­lied to win or tie af­ter trail­ing in the fourth quar­ter or over­time.

Close, high-scor­ing games are ex­cit­ing for fans, es­pe­cially the mil­lions who spend bil­lions of dol­lars to play fan­tasy foot­ball.

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