Sports Minute: Offensive numbers off the charts 3 weeks into NFL season

Sports Minute: Offensive numbers off the charts 3 weeks into NFL season
3 years 8 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, September 30 2020 Sep 30, 2020 September 30, 2020 1:45 AM September 30, 2020 in Sports - AP - Texas

By JOSH DUBOWAP Pro Football Writer

The NFL has never had a start to a season like this one when it comes to offensive production.

Through three weeks, teams have combined for 51 points per game, 738.2 yards per game and a 96.3 passer rating, the most ever at this juncture of an NFL season.

Only the 1961 AFL, when teams combined to average 53.1 points per game, has been more conducive to scoring.

The offensive explosion has come after a virtual offseason and no exhibition games because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which appears to have had a bigger impact on defenses than offenses.

One other factor leading to the high scoring is a lack of penalties on offense. Teams have been penalized 283 times on offense so far this season, down from 443 at the same point last year.

There have also been some impressive performances with Seattle’s Russell Wilson becoming the fifth player with back-to-back games with at least five TD passes and setting a record with 14 through three games.

Dallas’ Dak Prescott became the second quarterback with back-to-back games with at least 450 yards passing, and the Green Bay Packers have scored at least 35 points with no turnovers in each game. Only the Patriots have done that for a three-game stretch previously, accomplishing it in 2010 and ’12.

The Packers and Seahawks have started with three straight wins despite struggling to stop anyone. Seattle has allowed 86 points through three games and Green Bay has given up 85. Only the 2000 Rams (94 points) and 2018 Chiefs (92 points) gave up more while winning the first three games.

NFC LEAST: The teams in the NFC East have produced more Super Bowl titles than any other division with 13 and it is the only division in which all four teams have won the Super Bowl. That success has been lacking early this season. Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia and the Giants have combined for a 1-8-1 record outside of the division with the Cowboys' Week 2 comeback at Atlanta and the Eagles' Week 3 tie against Cincinnati the only non-losses.

The only divisions to have a worse record in non-division games after three weeks since the start of the eight-division format in 2002 are the 2005 NFC North (1-6), 2002 AFC North (1-7) and 2013 NFC East (1-7).

COMEBACK KIDS: Three teams overcame double-digit deficits to win last week, with Chicago rallying from 16 points down to beat Atlanta, Pittsburgh coming back from 11 points down to beat Houston and Tennessee overcoming a 12-point deficit against Minnesota.

There have now been 10 teams this season to win games they trailed by at least 10 points, tied for the second-most double-digit comebacks through three weeks. There were 11 in 2011.

The Falcons have been a big reason why. They became the first team in NFL history to blow back-to-back games in which they led by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter with losses to Dallas and Chicago the past two weeks.

JUST FOR KICKS: After starting the season by missing three field goals and one extra point in the opener, Tennessee’s Stephen Gostkowski has turned into the NFL’s most clutch kicker. He is the first kicker since the merger to kick a game-winning field goal in the final two minutes of regulation in each of his team’s first three games of a season.

He also hit three field goals of at least 50 yards for the first time in his career in Sunday’s win over Minnesota, the first in the NFL to do that since Justin Tucker of Baltimore on Nov. 27, 2016. His field goals Sunday totaled 260 yards, the seventh most in NFL history, according to Football Perspective.

TWOS ARE WILD: Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans had an efficient game against Denver last week. His only two receptions came on 1-yard TDs from Tom Brady. Evans became the third player to post the line of two catches for 2 yards and two touchdowns. Howard Cross did it for the Giants against Arizona in 1994 ,and Lee Folkins for Dallas against Washington in 1963.

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