Midseason report, by the numbers
Chris Johnson's 2.8-yard average is half of what it was in his monster 2009 season
Despite trading up for Julio Jones, the Falcons are worse in downfield offense
The Colts' defensive passer rating is on pace to set the mark for worst of all-time
The NFL season hits the halfway pole defined by big gaudy passing numbers from the game's elite passers, a historic streak of huge comebacks, the stunning implosion of the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts and the sad loss of pro football icon Al Davis.
Here's a look at 32 numbers, stats, trends and Cold, Hard Football Facts that define the best and worst of the 2011 season as we enter the halfway mark of the campaign.
0 -- Wins by the Miami Dolphins (0-7) and Indianapolis Colts (0-8). The Colts last started a season 0-8 back in 1997 -- the year before they drafted Peyton Manning. Those 1997 Colts went 0-10 before winning three of their final six games. Miami began the 2007 season 0-13 before winning its only game of the season.
2 -- Number of 13-plus point fourth-quarter comebacks by Tim Tebow in his first four NFL starts. Denver Broncos legend-turned-executive John Elway produced two fourth-quarter comebacks of 13-plus points in his 16 Hall of Fame seasons.
2.8 -- Average per carry by Tennessee running back Chris Johnson (107 attempts, 302 yards). That's exactly half the 5.6 yard-per-attempt average that the big-moneyed ball-carrier produced in 2009 (358 attempts, 2,006 yards). Put another way, CJ "NO" K would need to carry the ball 717 times here in 2011 to match his 2009 production.
3 -- Number of quarterbacks on pace to shatter Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 passing yards set in 1984: Drew Brees (5,492), Aaron Rodgers (5,422) and Tom Brady (5,397). Alex Smith of the 6-1 49ers is on pace to pass for 2,896 yards.
4 -- Fourth-quarter comebacks by Eli Manning and the Giants this year, including three in October alone. New York has outscored its five victims 49-14 in the fourth quarter this year.
5 -- Number of times NFL teams have overcome deficits of 20-plus-points this year to win a game, already a single-season record just halfway through the 2011 campaign. The most recent comeback was executed by the Baltimore Ravens, who trailed Arizona 24-3 on Sunday but won 30-27.
5 -- League-leading interceptions by defensive backs Eric Weddle of San Diego and Charles Woodson of Green Bay through seven games, putting each on pace to snag 11 picks for the season. The last player to record 11 interceptions in a season was Everson Walls of the Cowboys back in 1981 -- yes, the same year in which Walls is best remembered for reaching out helplessly to stop Dwight Clark from making "The Catch" in the NFC title game.
5-2 -- Record of the Buffalo Bills through seven games. The 2008 Bills also began the season 5-2 -- then went 2-7 the rest of the way.
5.74 -- The lowly average per pass attempts this year by the Atlanta Falcons, adjusted for sacks (24th). The Falcons averaged 5.95 yards per pass attempt last year (19th), before mortgaging future drafts to obtain "downfield threat" wide receiver Julio Jones.
5.78 -- The incredible average per rush attempt of the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, putting them on pace to break the NFL record for rushing proficiency set by the 1963 Browns (5.74 YPA). Ten NFL teams this year have a lower average per attempt each time they drop back to pass.
6-2 -- Record of the Detroit Lions through eight games. The 2007 Lions also began the season 6-2 -- then went 1-7 the rest of the way.
7 -- Games this year in which the San Francisco offense has scored a rushing touchdown and its defense has not allowed a rushing touchdown. The 49ers are the first team to pull off this feat since the Buffalo All-Americans in 1920, the very first NFL season.
8.04 -- Career average per pass attempt by Ben Roethlisberger, the fifth-best average in history and second among contemporary quarterbacks. In other words, Big Ben is more prolific than anybody gives him credit for.
8.16 -- Career average per pass attempt by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the highest individual average of any quarterback in the last 56 years. The only passers in NFL history more productive were Sid Luckman (8.42 YPA), who last played in 1950, and Otto Graham (8.63), who last played in 1955.
11 -- Receiving touchdowns by Detroit's Calvin Johnson through eight games. Only one other player caught 11 TDs in his team's first eight games: Randy Moss with the Patriots in 2007.
12.5 -- League-leading sacks by Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen through eight games, putting him on pace for 25 QB takedowns. Dallas DE DeMarcus Ware has registered 12.0 sacks through seven games, which puts him on pace for 27 sacks. The current record of 22.5 sacks in a season was set by Michael Strahan of the Giants in 2001.
14th -- Rank of the 4-3 New York Jets among 32 teams in scoring defense (21.7 PPG), putting them behind historic defensive lightweights such as Houston, Detroit and Buffalo. The Jets finished No. 1 in scoring defense in 2009 (14.8 PPG), Rex Ryan's first year as head coach, and No. 6 in scoring defense (19.0 PPG) last year.
15.3 -- Points per game surrendered by the 6-1 San Francisco 49ers, stingiest in the NFL. The 49ers last led the NFL in scoring defense in 1984 -- the year they set a franchise record with a 15-1 record and concluded the season with a 38-16 destruction of Dan Marino's Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX.
23-5 -- Eli Manning's record as a starter in October, the best October record of any QB in the Super Bowl Era (min. 20 starts).
28 -- Number of winning seasons the Oakland Raiders enjoyed in the 40 years after the late Al Davis joined the organization as its head coach in 1963. The Raiders went 1-13 in the pre-Davis season of 1962. They did not suffer another losing season until 1981 (7-9).
43.6 -- Percentage of the Chicago Bears' offense this year produced by Matt Forte. The all-purpose running back is responsible for 1,091 of Chicago's 2,505 yards of offense.
+44.3 -- Green Bay's league-best-with-a-bullet Passer Rating Differential, the "mother of all football stats" because 60 percent of all NFL champions since 1940 finished No. 1 or No. 2 in the indicator. The Packers have finished No. 1 in PRD six times since 1960. They won an NFL championship all six years (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1996, 2010).
44.6 -- Points scored in the average NFL game here in the pass-happy season of 2011. The average team this year passes 35 times for 234 yards per game.
+46.3 -- The Passer Rating Differential of the 1989 San Francisco 49ers, the last team better than the 2011 Packers in PRD. Joe Montana & Co. went 14-2 and destroyed the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
46.5 -- Points scored in the average NFL game in 1948, the highest-scoring season in NFL history and one that's close to being replicated this season. The average team in 1948 passed 26 times for 174 yards per game, which pales in comparison to this year's numbers (35, 234).
50.8 -- Completion percentage by quarterbacks against Houston's defense this year under first-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, best in the NFL. Last year, opponents completed 64.7 percent of passes against the Houston defense.
93.0 -- New England's Defensive Passer Rating so far on 2011, putting this unit on pace for the worst pass defense in franchise history. The current mark for franchise futility was set by the 1972 Patriots, who posted a 92.2 Defensive Passer Rating and went 3-11.
99-17 -- Record of teams better in what the Cold, Hard Football Facts call Real Quarterback Rating, our measure of all aspects of QB play (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, etc.). No stat in football, other than final score, is more likely to identify winners and losers. It confirms what most football fans suspect: success in the NFL is all about superior play at quarterback.
111.2 -- The Defensive Passer Rating of the Indianapolis Colts, dead last in 2011 and putting the team on pace to field the worst pass defense in the history of football. The current record for futility (110.8 Defensive Passer Rating) was set by the 0-16 Lions of 2008. Put another way, the Colts make every quarterback look like 2010 unanimous MVP Tom Brady (111.0 passer rating).
135.4 -- Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy's league-best Rusher Rating, a formula created by Ken Crippen, a Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor and executive director of the Pro Football Researchers' Association. McCoy tops the list thanks to a historically impressive 5.6 yards per rush attempt and 8 touchdowns with zero fumbles.
165 -- Rush attempts by the Kansas City offense in the five games since star running back Jamaal Charles was lost to injury. The Chiefs have attempted just 144 passes in those same five games, a rare imbalance in favor of the rush in this day and age -- let alone by a team that lost its top ball carrier.
299.1 -- Passing yards per game by Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, putting him on pace to easily set the rookie record. Jacksonville rookie QB Blaine Gabbert averages 129.6 yards per game.
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