It's a fact that scoring has increased so far this season, but the reasons remain elusive. Yardage gained by rushing has been fairly constant since mid-decade, including this year, but passing is another story. For example, the rate of completions, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, has been less than 56% after five weeks in all of the last four nonstrike seasons; it is at 57.9% this year.
NFL insiders have some intriguing theories about this development. Defenses are taking more chances by sending more rushers, which creates more one-on-one matchups in the secondary. In response, quarterbacks are releasing the ball more quickly by taking shorter drops and by throwing out of the shotgun more often. In addition, say some, offenses have been sharper than usual because the new 80-man roster limit forced teams to give more playing time in the preseason to veterans and less time to rookies and to free agents. Here's how offenses have performed through five games (excluding Monday-night games) in each of the five most recent nonstrike seasons:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]