Tight contests and late-game dramatics, high-scoring suspense and big comebacks – all fueled by budding superstar performers. Welcome to 2020 in the National Football League.
As the league flips the calendar to November and soars toward the season’s midpoint, what could possibly await?
Well, consider that since the league merger in 1970, this year is one of only three in which a team won after erasing a deficit of 13-or-more points in each of the first seven weeks of a season. It also happened in 2015 and 2003.
The latest comeback team, the ARIZONA CARDINALS, trailed by 13 points late in the first half and by 10 with under three minutes remaining in regulation before registering a 37-34 win over Seattle last week. Arizona did not hold a lead until winning with a field goal in the final minute of overtime. Quarterback KYLER MURRAY became the first player in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 50 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in a single game.
And while some careers are well on the way to cruising altitude, others are approaching the runway.
TUA JOINS FOLD OF ROOKIES ON RECORD PACE: When the MIAMI DOLPHINS host the LOS ANGELES RAMS on Sunday (1:00 PM, FOX), TUA TAGOVAILOA will become the third rookie quarterback this season to make his first career start, joining Cincinnati’s JOE BURROW and the Chargers’ JUSTIN HERBERT. The fifth-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa is the fourth quarterback selected in the first round by the Dolphins during the common-draft era (since 1967), joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (1983) and BOB GRIESE (1967), and RYAN TANNEHILL (2012).
- Tagovailoa bids to become the first rookie quarterback to win his initial NFL start since Denver’s DREW LOCK in Week 13 of last season. Lock and his Broncos host Herbert and the Chargers on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS).
- Herbert (1,542) and CAM NEWTON (1,610) are the only quarterbacks ever with at least 1,500 passing yards over their first five NFL games. The sixth-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Herbert can tie DESHAUN WATSON (four consecutive games in 2017) for the longest streak of games with at least three touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.
- Including Tagovailoa this week, quarterbacks under the age of 26 are expected to start their collective 100th NFL game in 2020. So far this season, that group has started a combined 91 games, tied for the second-most through Week 7 in NFL history.
- Of those 91 starts by a quarterback under the age of 26, 40 have resulted in wins, the fourth-most victories by quarterbacks under the age of 26 through Week 7 in NFL history.
Burrow’s CINCINNATI BENGALS, meanwhile, are home to Tannehill and the TENNESSEE TITANS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Burrow last week became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in a single game. With 300 passing yards against the Titans, Burrow would match ANDREW LUCK (six games in 2012) for the most games with 300-or-more passing yards by a rookie in NFL history.
HALFWAY MARK SPOTLIGHTS RECORD-SETTING PACE: This week, 14 teams will reach the halfway points of their regular-season schedules. As the league nears the halfway point of its season, the NFL is on pace to shatter three significant league scoring records: Total points scored, total touchdowns and offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined).
- NFL teams this season have combined for 5,329 points, 613 touchdowns and 588 offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined), all the highest marks through seven weeks in NFL history.
- Over a full season, those figures are on pace for 12,993 points, 1,495 touchdowns and 1,434 offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined), which all would easily establish NFL scoring records.
The seasons with the most points, touchdowns and offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined) in NFL history:
*pace through seven weeks
*pace through seven weeks
- Two of those 613 touchdowns were produced by the Tampa Bay combination of TOM BRADY and ROB GRONKOWSKI. Including postseason, Brady has completed 92 touchdowns to Gronkowski, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers STEVE YOUNG and JERRY RICE for the second-most touchdowns by a pairing in NFL history. Only PEYTON MANNING and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (114) had more.
BRADY, BREES ENGAGE IN UNIQUE CHASE: In one of the more exciting convergences in sports history, Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY (559) and New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES (558) rank 1-2 in all-time career touchdown passes. The quarterbacks are expected to battle for the mark over the season’s final 10 weeks. Last week, Brady threw four touchdown passes and took sole possession of the mark for the first time. They go head-to-head next week in an NFC South showdown at Raymond James Stadium.
- The Saints, who travel to Chicago for an intraconference battle Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX), have the league’s No. 1 third-down offense (55.0 percent). The Bears, meanwhile, have the NFL’s No. 2-ranked third-down defense (31.7 percent).
- New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA (2,528 career receiving yards) last week became the fourth running back in NFL history with at least 2,500 receiving yards in his first four seasons, joining ROGER CRAIG (2,742), CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (2,590) and Pro Football Hall of Famer LENNY MOORE (2,573).
LAST MAN STANDING: The PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-0), who travel to play the BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), are the NFL’s last remaining undefeated team. In each of the last two seasons, and in three of the last five, the league’s last undefeated team has advanced to the Super Bowl. The 2019 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS and the 2018 LOS ANGELES RAMS both opened 8-0, while the 2015 CAROLINA PANTHERS started 14-0 before advancing to respective Super Bowls. However, those kinds of starts don’t always equate to a Super Bowl finish, shining a light of hope for several teams.
- Including the 2000 Ravens, who won the Super Bowl after a 5-3 start, 24 teams over the last 20 seasons have advanced to the Super Bowl with at least two losses after their first eight games. Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs were 5-3 after eight games, as were the 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2014 Seattle Seahawks, 2011 New England Patriots, 2010 Green Bay Packers and the 2008 Arizona Cardinals. Earlier, the 2002 Oakland Raiders and the 2001 Patriots each started 4-4 before advancing to the Super Bowl.
- This season, the NFL adopted a 14-team playoff format, with two additional Wild Card teams – one each in the American and National Football Conferences – qualifying for the postseason. Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before.
- Seven teams that missed the 2019 playoffs have started this season with no more than two losses: The ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-2), CHICAGO BEARS (5-2), CLEVELAND BROWNS (5-2), INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-2), LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-2), PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-0) and TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-2)
The Steelers-Ravens showdown matches the head coaches with the NFL’s top two records in games following a bye since 2010, Baltimore’s JOHN HARBAUGH (8-2) and Pittsburgh’s MIKE TOMLIN (8-3). The Ravens were off last week. The Steelers won their Week 5 contest after their bye.
Baltimore has the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack (164.3 yards per game), while Pittsburgh features the league’s No. 2-ranked rushing defense (68.8 yards allowed per game).
UNPRECEDENTED MULTI-DIMENSIONAL QUARTERBACKS: Three quarterbacks – more than any season since at least 1950 through seven weeks — have at least five rushing touchdowns: Arizona’s KYLER MURRAY (7), New England’s CAM NEWTON (5) and Philadelphia’s CARSON WENTZ (5).
- Quarterbacks have run for 51 touchdowns, more than any other season in NFL history through a season’s first seven weeks.
- Newton and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS are on the road against the BUFFALO BILLS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN has 204 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns this season.
- Allen has 20 rushing touchdowns in 35 career games, trailing only Newton (23) for the most by a quarterback over his first 35 NFL contests.
NFC WEST AT HEAD OF NFL CLASS: The NFC West has another important divisional matchup on the schedule this week as the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS travel to play the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4:25 PM ET, FOX). The NFC West’s 19 wins this season are the most among NFL divisions. It remains the only division in which all four teams are .500 or better and all four teams have a positive point-differential entering Week 8.
- Since realignment in 2002, four teams in the same division have had at least four wins through Week 7 on only two other occasions: The NFC East in 2016 and the NFC East again in 2005.
- Since the 49ers (2012) and Seahawks (2013-14) went to three straight Super Bowls, no other division has produced more conference champions.
The divisions with the most Super Bowl appearances since 2012:
|DIVISION||SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES|
WEEK 8 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, NOVEMBER 1-2
(All times Eastern)
|Thursday, October 29|
|Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers||8:20 PM||FOX/NFLN/Amazon|
|Sunday, November 1|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS|
|New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos||4:05 PM||CBS|
|New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears||4:25 PM||FOX|
|San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks||4:25 PM||FOX|
|Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Monday, November 2|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants||8:15 PM||ESPN|
Week 8 Byes: Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Football Team