New teams making the playoffs, terrific turnarounds, consistent teams excelling again, records falling and young players making their mark. The 2018 season had it all.
Competitiveness highlighted the 2018 regular-season as 73 games were decided by three points or fewer, the most in a season in NFL history while 68% of all games played this season (175 of 256) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most in a season in NFL history. On 71 occasions, teams came back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime – an average of 4.2 teams per week – tied for second-most in a season in NFL history.
Week 17 came down to the wire, as three playoff spots and three divisions titles – the AFC West, AFC North and AFC South – were decided on the final day of the season. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.
Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: BALTIMORE, CHICAGO, DALLAS, HOUSTON, INDIANAPOLIS, theLOS ANGELES CHARGERS and SEATTLE. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
The seasons with at least seven new playoff teams since 1990:
|SEASON||PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS|
|1990||7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)|
|1999||7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)|
|2003||8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)|
|2005||7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)|
|2006||7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)|
|2008||7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)|
|2017||8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)|
|2018||7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)|
Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.
With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.
OFFENSIVE TRENDS: The 2018 season will go down as one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history.
Teams combined to score 1,371 total touchdowns, the most in a single season in NFL history, while the 11,952 total points scored are thesecond-most in league annals (11,985 in 2013).
|MOST TOUCHDOWNS, NFL HISTORY||MOST TOTAL POINTS, NFL HISTORY|
With three teams – KANSAS CITY (35.3 points per game), the LOS ANGELES RAMS (32.9) and NEW ORLEANS (31.5) – averaging at least 30 points per game, the 2018 season joined 1948, 1949 and 2011 as seasons with at least three teams averaging at least 30 points per game.
The Chiefs, with 565 points scored, finished as the third-highest scoring team in league annals, trailing only the 2013 DENVER BRONCOS(606 points scored) and 2007 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (589).
PROLIFIC PASSERS: In 2018, league-wide passing numbers trended at a record pace, as the marks for passer rating (92.9), completion percentage (64.9 percent) and touchdown passes (847) were all the highest for a single season in NFL history, while the total completions (11,462) were the third-highest in a single season in league annals.
|SEASON||RATING||SEASON||COMPLETION PCT.||SEASON||TD PASSES||SEASON||COMPLETIONS|
Twelve quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards, including five with at least 4,500 passing yards, in 2018: Pittsburgh’s BEN ROETHLISBERGER (5,129), Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (5,097), Atlanta’s MATT RYAN (4,924), Los Angeles Rams’ JARED GOFF (4,688) and Indianapolis’ ANDREW LUCK (4,593).
With 12 quarterbacks reaching 4,000 passing yards, the 2018 season tied the 2015 season for the second-most quarterbacks with at least 4,000 passing yards.
The seasons with the most players with at least 4,000 passing yards in NFL history:
|SEASON||PLAYERS WITH 4,000 PASSING YARDS|
Nine quarterbacks threw at least 30 touchdown passes this season, including four with at least 35 touchdown passes: Mahomes (50), Luck (39), Ryan (35) and Seattle’s RUSSELL WILSON (35).
Eight quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher, including three with a 110+ passer rating in 2018: New Orleans’ DREW BREES(115.7), Mahomes (113.8) and Wilson (110.9). The eight quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher were the most in a single season in NFL history, surpassing the previous record of six in the 2015 season.
TOP BACKS: Nine players rushed for at least 1,000 yards, including three players with at least 1,200 rushing yards, this season: Dallas’EZEKIEL ELLIOTT (1,434), New York Giants’ rookie SAQUON BARKLEY (1,307) and Los Angeles Rams’ TODD GURLEY (1,251).
The 2018 season saw players average 4.42 yards per rush attempt, the highest single-season total in league history.
The seasons with the highest average yards per rush attempt in NFL history:
|SEASON||AVERAGE YARDS PER RUSH ATTEMPT|
Six players recorded at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2018: Gurley (17), New Orleans’ ALVIN KAMARA (14), Pittsburgh’s JAMES CONNER (12), Tennessee’s DERRICK HENRY (12), Barkley (11) and Los Angeles Chargers’ MELVIN GORDON (10).
RIDICULOUS RECEIVERS: Twenty-one players had at least 1,000 receiving yards, including six with at least 1,400 receiving yards, this season: Atlanta’s JULIO JONES (1,677), Houston’s DE ANDRE HOPKINS (1,572), Tampa Bay’s MIKE EVANS (1,524), Kansas City’sTYREEK HILL (1,479), Pittsburgh’s JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER (1,426) and New Orleans’ MICHAEL THOMAS (1,405).
Eleven players had at least 100 receptions in 2018, including seven with at least 110 catches: Thomas (125), Philadelphia’s ZACH ERTZ(116), Hopkins (115), Minnesota’s ADAM THIELEN (113), Jones (113), Green Bay’s DAVANTE ADAMS (111) and Smith-Schuster (111).
With 11 players recording at least 100 catches this season, the 2018 season surpassed the 1995 season (nine) for the most players with at least 100 catches in a single season.
The seasons with the most players with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:
|SEASON||PLAYERS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS|
Nine players had at least 10 touchdown catches this season, including four with at least 12 touchdown receptions: Pittsburgh’s ANTONIO BROWN (15), Adams (13), Indianapolis’ ERIC EBRON (13) and Hill (12).
DOMINANT DEFENDERS: Twenty-two players recorded at least 10 sacks, including six with at least 14 sacks, in 2018: Los Angeles Rams’AARON DONALD (20.5), Houston’s J.J. WATT (16), Kansas City’s CHRIS JONES (15.5), Denver’s VON MILLER (14.5), Minnesota’sDANIELLE HUNTER (14.5) and Seattle’s FRANK CLARK (14).
With 16 players recording at least 12 sacks, the 2018 season tied the 1992 season (16 players) for the third-most players with at least 12 sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.
The seasons with the most players with at least 12 sacks since 1982:
|SEASON||PLAYERS WITH 12+ SACKS|
Six players recorded at least five interceptions in 2018: Chicago’s KYLE FULLER (seven), Miami’s XAVIEN HOWARD (seven), Atlanta’sDAMONTAE KAZEE (seven), Chicago’s EDDIE JACKSON (six), Cincinnati’s SHAWN WILLIAMS (five) and New York Giants’ ALEC OGLETREE (five).