ANOTHER EXCITING NFL WEEKEND IN STORE;
TWO CLASHES OF DIVISION LEADERS ON TAP IN WEEK 6
There are times when numbers can say so much more than words. This is one of those times.
Through five weeks and 80 games, the 2021 NFL season has produced…
- 19 contests with a game-winning score in the final minute of regulation or in overtime, the most such games through the first five weeks all-time.
- Eight overtime games, tying the NFL record for most through five weeks (also 2018, 2002 and 1983). At least one game has gone to overtime in each of the first five weeks of the 2021 season, marking the second time ever (also 2018) that a season has featured at least one overtime game in each of its first five weeks.
- 21 games decided by three points or less, including four such games in Week 5. Those 21 are tied with 2007 (21) and 1988 (21) for the third-most such games through the first five weeks of a season in NFL history.
COMEBACKS EN VOGUE: In Week 5, 13 of 16 games (81.3 percent) were within one score in the fourth quarter while four teams overcame deficits of at least 12 points to win: the Los Angeles Chargers overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Cleveland, 47-42, New England overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat Houston, 25-22, Philadelphia overcame a 12-point deficit to defeat Carolina, 21-18, and Baltimore capped another thrilling weekend by overcoming a 19-point deficit to defeat Indianapolis in overtime, 31-25. The last time four teams won after trailing by at least 12 points in the same week was Week 5 of last season.
A REGULAR-SEASON TOURNAMENT: Every week matters in the NFL. In the AFC this week, two games feature battles of division-leading clubs: the Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS) and Buffalo at Tennessee on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
The last time in Week 6 or later that the schedule produced two games in the same conference matching division leaders was Week 7 of the 2016 season. That week, New England won at Pittsburgh, 27-16, and Denver defeated Houston, 27-9.
Foreshadowing what should be a thrilling ending to the regular season, NFL teams continue to play significant games that will determine each of the key playoff tiebreakers – head-to-head record, best winning percentage in common games, and top conference record.
MONDAY NIGHT WINNERS ON SUNDAYS: The games with likely playoff implications continue in Week 6 with the AFC West-leading LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-1) making the long trek to play the AFC North-leading BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
- In 2021, NFL teams that have won on Monday are 4-0 in their next games, playing on short rest. Over a longer stretch, dating to Week 14 of last season, clubs that won a Monday game are 9-0 in their next games.
- The Chargers are off to their best start in seven years, since opening 5-1 in 2014.
- Making his 20th career start last week, Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT passed for 398 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 122.0 rating, and also ran for a touchdown, in a 47-42 win. Down by 14 points in the third quarter, Herbert orchestrated five second-half touchdown drives, including the game-winning march that gave Los Angeles its winning points.
- Herbert now has 44 career touchdown passes, surpassing TONY ROMO (43) for the fourth-most by a quarterback in his first 20 career starts in NFL history. Only PATRICK MAHOMES (60) and Pro Football Hall of Famers KURT WARNER (51) and DAN MARINO (47) had more over their first 20 starts.
- Plus, Herbert now has 11 career games with at least 300 passing yards and surpassed PATRICK MAHOMES (10) and Pro Football of Famer DAN MARINO (10) for the most such games by a player in his first two seasons in NFL history.
- Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON last week completed 37 of 43 passes (86 percent) for a franchise-record 442 yards with four touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 140.5 passer rating. He also led his team with 62 rushing yards. With Baltimore trailing by 19 points, 22-3, late in the third quarter, Jackson engineered three consecutive touchdown drives to send the game to overtime, then led Baltimore on a 10-play, 68-yard march on the first series of the extra period to defeat the Colts, 31-25, on a 5-yard scoring pass to MARQUISE BROWN.
- Jackson’s 86.0 completion percentage established a single-game NFL record among quarterbacks who have attempted at least 40 passes. Previously, the highest completion percentage for a player that attempted 40-or-more passes was 83.3 (35 of 42 attempts) by PHILIP RIVERS on Sept. 29, 2013. Through this point in NFL history, a quarterback has attempted at least 40 passes on 4,017 occasions.
- Jackson also became the first player ever with a completion percentage of 85-or-better and at least 400 passing yards in a single NFL game.
- In the win, Ravens tight end MARK ANDREWS set career highs in both receptions (11) and receiving yards (147), while catching a pair of touchdown passes. Since the beginning of 2018, Andrews now has five games of multiple touchdown receptions, tied with TRAVIS KELCE for most in the NFL among tight ends.
- Meanwhile, Baltimore wide receiver MARQUISE BROWN posted a career-best nine receptions for 125 yards (the second-highest total of his career), and also caught two touchdowns.
- On offense, the Ravens lead the NFL with 440.6 total yards per game.
YOUNG QUARTERBACKS PROVING CONSISTENT WINNERS: Winning eight times over a nine-game stretch is extremely difficult in the NFL. The league enters Week 6 with five quarterbacks who have done just that.
- Three of those quarterbacks, Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN (25 years old), the Chargers’ JUSTIN HERBERT (23) and the Ravens’ LAMAR JACKSON (24) are under the age of 26. The other two are TOM BRADY and AARON RODGERS. Including postseason, Brady has won 12 of his last 13 starts.
FORMER NO. 1 OVERALL SELECTIONS ON DOCKET IN CLEVELAND: The CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-2) host the league’s only undefeated team, the ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-0), on Sunday at FirstEngergy Stadium (4:05 PM ET, FOX). The starting quarterbacks – the Browns’ BAKER MAYFIELD and the Cardinals’ KYLER MURRAY – were the respective No. 1 overall selections in the 2018 and 2019 drafts.
- The Browns haven’t lost consecutive games under head coach KEVIN STEFANSKI, and overall haven’t lost two straight since the end of the 2019 season. Cleveland’s two losses this season have been by a combined nine points.
- On the other sideline, Arizona has improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1974, when the St. Louis Cardinals began 7-0 under head coach DON CORYELL.
- In Week 5, Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY completed 22 of 31 pass attempts (71 percent) for 239 yards and one touchdown, while wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS totaled six receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ victory.
- Murray has completed 124 of 165 pass attempts (75.2 percent) and has 1,512 passing yards this season and joined DREW BREES (2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (2013) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 1,500 passing yards and a completion percentage of 75-or-higher through their teams’ first five games. Murray’s completion percentage leads the league entering Week 6.
- Hopkins, who will be 29 years and 133 days old on Sunday, has 770 career receptions and last week surpassed LARRY FITZGERALD (764) for the most receptions ever by a player prior to his 30th birthday.
- Cleveland’s offense, led by running backs NICK CHUBB and KAREEM HUNT, leads the NFL with 187.6 rushing yards per game. Chubb ranks second in the league with 523 rushing yards. Hunt ranks tied for second in the NFL with five rushing touchdowns.
SEVEN THREE-WIN TEAMS WEREN’T IN PLAYOFFS LAST YEAR: With byes beginning this week, and four teams – Atlanta, New Orleans, the New York Jets and San Francisco – getting a weekend off, 16 teams have at least three wins. And of those 16, seven were not in the playoffs last year: Arizona (5-0), Carolina (3-2), Cincinnati (3-2), Dallas (4-1), Denver (3-2), Las Vegas (3-2) and the Los Angeles Chargers (4-1).
- Two of those seven teams meet this week at Empower Field at Mile High, where the DENVER BRONCOS host the LAS VEGAS RAIDERS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). Denver ranks second in the NFL by allowing only 15.2 points per game on defense.
- Since 1990, 5.8 teams per year have qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason the previous season. Over that stretch – a streak of 31 consecutive years – at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before.
HENRY, ALLEN MAKING EYE-OPENING HISTORY: Monday Night Football this week features a pair of AFC division leaders, the BUFFALO BILLS (4-1) and the TENNESSEE TITANS (3-2) at Nissan Stadium (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
- Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY leads the league in rushing yards (640), rushing touchdowns (seven) and scrimmage yards (765). Last week, Henry rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ win. He now has five career games with at least 100 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, tied with JOE MORRIS (five games) and ADRIAN PETERSON (five) for the third-most by a player in his first six seasons in the Super Bowl era. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (nine) and SHAUN ALEXANDER (six) have more such games in that span.
- Also, over his last 40 regular-season games, since Week 14 of 2018, Henry has 40 rushing touchdowns and 4,792 rushing yards, the most rushing yards by any player ever over a stretch of 40 games.
- Buffalo leads the NFL in both points scored per game (34.4) and fewest points allowed per game (12.8). Buffalo also ranks first in takeaways (15) and turnover margin (plus-11).
- Buffalo can become first team since the 2012-13 Denver Broncos with 35-plus points in five consecutive games.
- The Bills enter the game with an NFL-record 14 consecutive wins when leading at halftime. The previous record was 12, established by four teams.
- Last week, Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN completed 15 of 26 passes for 315 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.1 rating, and ran 11 times for 59 yards with another touchdown. Over his career (2018-21), the Bills are 18-0 in games when Allen registers both a rushing and passing touchdown.
- Including the win at Kansas City, Allen has won eight road starts since the beginning of 2020, tied for second in the NFL. Only PATRICK MAHOMES (nine) has won more in that period.
PRIMETIME HAS PRODUCED PRIME DRAMA IN 2021: The NFL has played 15 games in primetime (Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights in each weekend), and the majority of those games have been must-see TV. Of those 15…
- 11 primetime games have been within eight points (one score) in the fourth quarter.
- Six have been decided by three points or fewer.
- Six have been decided in the final minute or overtime, including five decided on the last play. Two games have gone to overtime.
- Four have featured a comeback win of at least 10 points.
In primetime this week, quarterback GENO SMITH is expected to make his first Seahawks start when the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-3) travel to play the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (2-3) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Smith played college football 75 miles south of Heinz Field, just down the Monongahela River at West Virginia University. It’s the first start by a Seattle quarterback other than RUSSELL WILSON since Jan. 1, 2012, when TARVARIS JACKSON started the final game of the 2011 season, a 23-20 overtime loss at Arizona.
INTERNATIONAL SERIES CONTINUES: This week, the NFL will play its 99th international game, including preseason and regular-season games, when the MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-4) meet the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (0-5) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London (9:30 AM ET, CBS). It’s the 40th time the league has played a regular-season game outside of the United States. The Jaguars will be playing their eighth game in London. Jacksonville made the trip to Wembley Stadium for one game in seven consecutive seasons from 2013-19. Miami will be making its fifth appearance in London and first since 2017. This week, the league announced that it is in discussions with three cities in Germany to host future regular-season NFL games: Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.
COWBOYS BRING FOUR-GAME WINNING STREAK TO NEW ENGLAND: The DALLAS COWBOYS (4-1) head back on the road this week to face the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-3) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
- The Cowboys’ offense ranks second in the NFL in both total yards (439.6) and rushing yards (172.8) per game.
- Last week, Dallas cornerback TREVON DIGGS recorded his league-leading sixth interception of the season in the Cowboys’ win. Diggs is the third player in the Super Bowl era to record at least one interception in each of his team’s first five games of a season, joining BRIAN RUSSELL (first six games in 2003) and LEMAR PARRISH (first five games in 1979).
- Also last week, New England rookie quarterback MAC JONES led his team back from a 22-9 second-half deficit with four scoring drives in the final 23 minutes, including a 15-play, 84-yard game-winning march, as the Patriots registered a 25-22 victory.
PACKERS, BEARS RENEW LEAGUE’S RICHEST RIVALRY: The GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-1) and CHICAGO BEARS (3-2) are each riding winning streaks heading into the latest installment of their historic rivalry, which renews Sunday at Soldier Field (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The Packers lead the all-time regular-season series, 100-94-6, while the teams have split their two postseason meetings.
- Last week, Packers head coach MATT LAFLEUR registered his 30th career regular-season win in just his 37th game. Only three other coaches in NFL history have reached that milestone in 37-or-fewer games: Pro Football Hall of Famer GUY CHAMBERLIN (35 games), GEORGE SEIFERT (36) and Pro Football Hall of Famer PAUL BROWN (37).
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 344 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 25-22 overtime win at Cincinnati. Rodgers has 422 career touchdown passes and surpassed PHILIP RIVERS (421 touchdown passes) for the fifth-most in NFL history.
- Packers wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS leads the NFL with 42 receptions and 579 receiving yards. Since the beginning of 2020, Adams has seven games in which he posted 10-or-more catches and 100-or-more receiving yards, the most such games among NFL players in that span.
- Chicago’s defense ranks third among NFL teams in red-zone efficiency, allowing touchdowns on just 37.5 percent of opponent possessions inside the 20.
- The Bears’ defense also leads the league with 18 sacks.
- Chicago rookie quarterback JUSTIN FIELDS has won his last two starts and threw his first career touchdown pass in leading the Bears to a win last week in Las Vegas.
BENGALS, LIONS NO STRANGER TO CLOSE GAMES: The CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-2) head north this week to meet the DETROIT LIONS (0-5) at Ford Field on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The Bengals’ two losses have been by just six combined points. Detroit, meanwhile, has an average margin of defeat of only 8.0 points.
- Last week, Cincinnati rookie wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE had six receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown. He became the fifth rookie in NFL history with at least 50 receiving yards in each of his first five career games, joining EARL MCCULLOUCH (first seven games in 1968), CEEDEE LAMB (first six games in 2020), TERRY GLENN (first five games in 1996) and TERRY MCLAURIN (first five games in 2019).
- Chase, who has five touchdown receptions this season, is the third rookie since 1990 with at least five touchdown receptions in his team’s first five games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (1998) and CALVIN RIDLEY (2018).
- Detroit’s defense ranks second among NFL teams in third-down defense, allowing first-down conversions on just 30.6 percent of third-down plays.