SIX-AND-WHOA!: Tied atop the NFC North with 5-0 records, the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers are the last remaining undefeated NFL teams this season. If both win this Sunday, it would mark the second time since the divisional structure was implemented in 1933 that two teams in the same division started 6-0.
In 1934, Detroit and the Chicago Bears, then members of the NFL’s Western Division, each started 10-0. Chicago finished 13-0 before losing the 1934 NFL Championship game by a score of 30-13 to the New York Giants. The Lions (10-3) finished second in the Western Division.
SCORING IN BUNCHES: NFL teams have combined for 3,566 points in 2011, the most points through five weeks in NFL history.
That record total equates to 46.31 points per game. If the current average stays at this pace, it would rank as the second-highest of any season in history (1948, 46.48 points per game).
The seasons with the highest scoring average in NFL history:
|YEAR||POINTS PER GAME|
|* Through Week 5|
CLIMBING BACK: Teams off to a slow start are justified in believing that they can turn it around.
Since the current playoff system (12 teams) was instituted in 1990, 12 teams have rebounded from being at least three games under .500 after the season’s first five weeks or later to qualify for the postseason. That includes five 1-4 teams that ultimately won their divisions.
Since 1990, teams that were three or more games below .500 after Week 5 or later and made the playoffs:
|YEAR||TEAM||RECORD||ADVANCED TO||ADDITIONAL NOTES|
|1990||New Orleans Saints||2-5||Wild Card||Finished second in NFC West|
|1992||San Diego Chargers||1-4||Divisional||Won AFC West|
|1993||Houston Oilers||1-4||Divisional||Won AFC Central|
|1994||New England Patriots||3-6||Wild Card||Finished 10-6 (tied for best in division)|
|1995||Detroit Lions||2-5, 3-6||Wild Card||Finished 10-6|
|1995||San Diego Chargers||4-7||Wild Card||Finished 9-7|
|1996||Jacksonville Jaguars||3-6, 4-7||Championship Game||Won two playoff games|
|2002||Tennessee Titans||1-4||Championship Game||Won AFC South|
|2002||New York Jets||1-4, 2-5||Divisional||Won AFC East|
|2004||Green Bay Packers||1-4||Wild Card||Won NFC North|
|2008||San Diego Chargers||4-7, 4-8, 5-8||Divisional||Won AFC West|
|2010||Seattle Seahawks||6-9||Divisional||Won one playoff game|
TURNAROUND TEAMS: Hope springs eternal in the NFL. Through the first five weeks of the 2011 season, all eight divisions have at least one new team either in first place or tied for the top spot. If that holds, it will be the most new division winners in a single season.
Three teams that started 1-5 or worse in 2010, Buffalo (0-6 in 2010, 4-1 in 2011), Detroit (1-5, 5-0) and San Francisco (1-5, 4-1), are in first place or tied for their division lead. If the Bills and 49ers both win this Sunday, this season would be the first in NFL history featuring three teams with 5-1 or better records that started 1-5 or worse the previous year.
Nine teams since 1990, including this year’s Lions, have rebounded from a 1-5 or worse start to a 5-1 or better record the following season. All eight teams to previously accomplish this feat since 1990 finished 9-7 or better:
|TEAM||1-5 OR WORSE START THROUGH
|NEXT SEASON THROUGH
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1-5 in 1996||5-1 in 1997||10-6|
|Atlanta Falcons||1-5 in 1997||5-1 in 1998||14-2|
|New York Jets||1-5 in 1999||5-1 in 2000||9-7|
|Chicago Bears||1-5 in 2000||5-1 in 2001||13-3|
|Minnesota Vikings||1-5 in 2002||6-0 in 2003||9-7|
|Seattle Seahawks||1-5 in 2002||5-1 in 2003||10-6|
|Atlanta Falcons||1-5 in 2003||5-1 in 2004||11-5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1-5 in 2004||5-1 in 2005||11-5|
|Detroit Lions||1-5 in 2010||5-0 in 2011*||??|
|Buffalo Bills||0-6 in 2010||4-1 in 2011*||??|
|San Francisco||1-5 in 2010||4-1 in 2011*||??|
|* Through five games|
POWER PAIR: With a win against Dallas on Sunday, New England’s TOM BRADY and BILL BELICHICK can tie Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO and DON SHULA of Miami for the most wins (116) by a quarterback-head coach duo in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
Marino and Shula combined for 116 wins from 1983-1995 with the Dolphins, while Brady and Belichick have combined for 115 victories with the Patriots since 2000.
The most wins by a quarterback-head coach combo (since 1966):
|Dan Marino||Don Shula||Miami Dolphins||1983-1995||116|
|Tom Brady||Bill Belichick||New England Patriots||2000-Present||115|
|Terry Bradshaw||Chuck Noll||Pittsburgh Steelers||1970-1983||107|
|Jim Kelly||Marv Levy||Buffalo Bills||1986-1996||99|
|Donovan McNabb||Andy Reid||Philadelphia Eagles||1999-2009||92|
PASSING FANCY: Green Bay Packers quarterback AARON RODGERS is the first player in NFL history with a 110+ passer rating in each of his first five games to start a season. He had six such games in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
If Rodgers posts his sixth game with a 110+ passer rating this weekend against St. Louis, he would become the second quarterback since 1970 with at least six such games in three consecutive seasons (STEVE YOUNG, 1992-94).
CAM-TASTIC: Carolina’s CAM NEWTON, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, leads all quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns (no other QB has more than two).
Through just five games, Newton’s five rushing touchdowns already tie for the fourth-most by a rookie QB in a season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He will look to move up the list this Sunday against Atlanta and needs two rushing touchdowns to tie VINCE YOUNG (seven in 2006) for the most by a rookie QB during that span.
The most rushing touchdowns in a season by a rookie quarterback (since 1970):
|2006||Vince Young||Tennessee Titans||7|
|2001||Chris Weinke||Carolina Panthers||6|
|2010||Tim Tebow||Denver Broncos||6|
|1979||Jack Thompson||Cincinnati Bengals||5|
|2011||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||5*|
|* Through 5 games|
COOL BREES: New Orleans Saints quarterback DREW BREES needs to pass for at least 350 yards against Tampa Bay in Week 6 to become the first player in NFL history with 350+ passing yards in four consecutive games.
Brees is one of eight players in NFL history with 350+ passing yards in three consecutive games, and he’s the only player to do it twice.
The players with three consecutive games with 350+ passing yards:
|Dan Fouts||San Diego Chargers||10/12/80-10/26/80||3|
|Lynn Dickey||Green Bay Packers||10/7/84-10/21/84||3|
|Drew Bledsoe||New England Patriots||9/4/94-9/18/94||3|
|Kurt Warner||St. Louis Rams||9/4/00-09/17/00||3|
|Rich Gannon||Oakland Raiders||9/15/02-10/06/02||3|
|Daunte Culpepper||Minnesota Vikings||9/26/04-10/17/04||3|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||12/21/08-9/13/09||3|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots||9/12/11-9/25/11||3|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||9/25/11-10/9/11||3*|