Why are you in love with NFL? The rivalries, the tailgating, the colorful traditions, the regional pride, the excitement over Super Bowl, or the simple fact that the players need to be insanely talented to be any good; all these factors come together to create a beautiful game. And there is no better way to witness this gorgeousness that in the NFL. Here is a collection of NFL data and little-known facts that will inform, educate and excite every true fan of American football. Let’s get down to the numbers!
In the past 17 NFL seasons, the only preseason favorites that have managed to win the Lombardi Trophy were the 2006 Indianapolis Colts and the 2016 Patriots. However, this does not mean that they have not done well for themselves either. Since 2001, only 4 preseason favorites have not made it to the playoffs. Furthermore, most favorites or co-favorites have consistently made the Super Bowl in most seasons. This is evident from the Super Bowl XXXVI when the preseason favorites, Rams, were beaten by New England, with a 60-to-1 longshot in the 2001 season. Similarly, preseason favorites, Patriots, were defeated by the Giants after the 2007 and 2011 seasons. Oddly enough, when the Patriots were not favored to win before the season, they managed to snag four of their five Super Bowls, despite being preseason favorites regularly since 2001.
The record for the most defensive takeaways in a single season is held by the 1984 Seahawks, achieving 63 takeaways. In 2018, the record for the fewest takeaways was broken by the 49ers, who managed only seven, which included 2 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. In 1982, the Colts forced only 11 turnovers, a record they would maintain for 36 years.
The 1978 49ers achieved the most giveaways (turnovers) in a season, with a record high of 63. The 2010 Patriots, on the other hand, managed to turn the ball over only 10 times, thus setting the current record.
When it comes to productive pass catchers, the NFL player who was the most prolific was Jerry Rice of the 49ers, who achieved 1500 receptions in his 20-year career. The record for the most single-season touchdown reception, on the other hand, is held by Randy Moss who achieved 23 in 2007.
Passing yards single season record is held by Peyton Manning, who had 5,477 in 2013. Manning is followed by Drew Brees 5,476 in 2011, and Tom Brady 5,235 also in 2011. It is interesting to note that spots 4,5,6 and 10 are also occupied with Drew Brees’s name. The highest record for rushing yards in the season was achieved by Sony Michel of New England Patriots with 242 yards, while Marion Mack of Indianapolis Colts achieved a relatively mere 194 yards. In defense, Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts managed 27 tackles, the highest of the 2018 postseason, with Demario Davis of New Orleans Saints closing in at 22 tackles. Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints achieved 2 interceptions, the highest in the 2018 postseason.
Passing attempts have occurred more times than rushing attempts every year since 1984. Furthermore, pass completion rates have been on a continuous rise, with a record high of 65% in 2018. On the other hand, the rate of interceptions has fallen to less than half what they were in the 1960s (from 5.3% to 2.4%). For every run in 2018, 1.4 passes were made in the NFL, in contrast to the 0.8 passes for every run made in NCAA FBS football.
The NFL in the 2010s has experienced a big gap between passing yards per game compared to rushing yards per game. In 2018, there were average pass attempts rounded up to 6.9 yards, whereas the average rush attempts were lower at 4.4 yards.