At sea­son’s mid­way point, NFL on pace for record-set­ting scor­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - 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 body­weight rule against play­ers mak­ing sacks, out­lawed low hits on quar­ter­backs and em­pha­sized il­le­gal con­tact penal­ties.

There’s also been an in­flux of in­no­va­tive, of­fen­sive-minded 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 fourth-most 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. All of it is good for the league’s tele­vi­sion rat­ings, which are up af­ter de­clin­ing in 2016 and 2017.

More folks are also watch­ing by live stream­ing. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study from Con­viva, a real-time mea­sure­ment plat­form, NFL live view­ing was up 72 per­cent in plays and 83 per­cent in view­ing hours over the same time frame last year.

Con­viva’s data shows mo­bile NFL plays were up 95 per­cent and prime-time NFL saw 109 per­cent growth in plays and 97 per­cent growth in view­ing hours.

Here’s a look in­side the num­bers from the first half:

● Pass­ing king: Drew Brees broke Pey­ton Man­ning’s record for ca­reer pass­ing yards last month. Brees has 72,781 yards pass­ing and count­ing. Man­ning had 71,940.

● Kick­ing king: Adam Vi­natieri broke Morten An­der­son’s record for most points and most field goals. Vi­natieri has 2,550 points and 573 field goals. An­der­son had 2,544 points and 565 field goals.

● The 500 club: Brees and Tom Brady joined Man­ning and Brett Favre as the only play­ers to throw 500 TD passes. Brees has 506, one more than Brady. Man­ning had 539 and Favre had 508.

● Patrick the great: Ma­homes has 29 TD passes and 3,185 yards pass­ing yards, the most in both cat­e­gories through the first 10 games of a player’s ca­reer. He also has thrown for at least 300 yards in eight straight games, one away from set­ting the record he cur­rently shares with An­drew Luck.

● Thie­len’s case: Adam Thie­len be­came the first player to have eight 100yard re­ceiv­ing games to start a sea­son, ty­ing Calvin John­son for the longest streak of such games. The for­mer un­drafted wide re­ceiver has 78 catches for the Vikings. He’s on pace to chal­lenge Marvin Har­ri­son’s sin­gle-sea­son record of 143.

● Gur­ley gets in: Todd Gur­ley has 16 touch­downs — 12 rush­ing and four re­ceiv­ing — for the Rams. He’s on pace for 28. The record is 31 by Hall of Famer LaDainian Tom­lin­son.

● Kirk com­ple­tions: Kirk Cousins be­came the first player to com­plete at least 30 passes in four con­sec­u­tive games. Be­fore the sea­son, Cousins be­came the first player to sign a fully guar­an­teed con­tract when the Vikings gave him $84 mil­lion for three sea­sons.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Min­nesota Vikings quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins be­came the first player to com­plete at least 30 passes in four con­sec­u­tive games in the first half of the sea­son.

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