As the NFL approaches the halfway marker of its 2021 regular season, teams are proving again and again that what matters most is not how you start.
It’s how you finish.
On 37 occasions this season, a team has trailed in the fourth quarter and come back to win, including eight of 15 games this past weekend. The eight teams – Dallas, Kansas City, New England, New Orleans, the New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Tennessee – to accomplish the feat in Week 8 mark the most in a single week since nine teams did it in Week 1 of 2016. Three teams – Baltimore, Tennessee and the Los Angeles Chargers – have three wins this season after trailing in the fourth quarter.
Through eight weeks of any previous NFL season, only the 2012 campaign (38) had more fourth-quarter comebacks.
The most victories by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter through Week 8 in NFL history:
This season, 31 games have been decided with a score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, tied with 2012 for the most such late-game thrillers in NFL history through Week 8.
Through eight weeks, 26 games have featured a game-winning score in the final minute of the fourth quarter or in overtime, tied with 2015 for the most ever at this point in a season.
- Also in Week 8, five games were decided by three-or-fewer points.
- Two teams overcame deficits of at least 10 points to win: Tennessee trailed by 14 points before defeating Indianapolis, 34-31, in overtime, while the New York Jets erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Cincinnati, 34-31.
- Including that Titans victory, there have been 12 overtime games this season, tied with the 2002 and 2003 seasons for the third-most overtime games at this point of a season all-time. Only 1995 (14 overtime games) and 1983 (13) had more.
INTERCONFERENCE MATCHUPS HIGHLIGHT WEEK 9: Week 9 features eight interconference matchups, the first time since Week 3 of the 2018 season (eight) that there have been at least eight games in a single week featuring both an AFC and NFC team.
Three of the interconference matchups feature two teams that were each in the postseason last year:
- GREEN BAY (7-1) at KANSAS CITY (4-4): Green Bay enters Week 9 on a seven-game winning streak while Kansas City is coming off a Monday Night Football victory over the New York Giants. Since 2018, when PATRICK MAHOMES took over as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Kansas City (42-14, .750) and Green Bay (39-16-1, .705) are two of the four teams with a winning percentage above .700.
Mahomes (2018 NFL MVP) and Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS (2020 NFL MVP) have been two of the best players in the NFL over the past four seasons.
|PLAYER||PASS YARDS||PASS TD||RATING|
|Patrick Mahomes||16,236 (1st)||133 (1st)||106.9 (3rd)|
|Aaron Rodgers||14,637 (5th)||116 (t-3rd)||104.5 (5th)|
|Totals and ranks among quarterbacks since 2018|
- TENNESSEE (6-2) at L.A. RAMS (7-1) on Sunday Night Football: Both Tennessee and Los Angeles enter Week 9 on four-game winning streaks. Both teams have scored at least 25 points in their combined 13 wins this season.
The Titans are looking to continue their success without the league’s leading rusher, DERRICK HENRY, who was placed on injured reserve this week. Quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL has a passer rating of 90-or-higher in three of his four road starts this season while wide receiver A.J. BROWN aims for his third game in a row with at least 125 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.
This week, the Rams acquired linebacker VON MILLER from Denver. Since 2014, defensive tackle AARON DONALD (90.5 sacks) and Miller (75.5) rank first and fourth, respectively, in sacks. Quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD ranks second in the league this season in passing yards (2,447), touchdown passes (22) and passer rating (118.0) while wide receiver COOPER KUPP became the first player in the Super Bowl era with at least 900 receiving yards (924) and 10 touchdown receptions (10) in his team’s first 10 games of a season.
- CHICAGO (3-5) at PITTSBURGH (4-3) on Monday Night Football: Last week, Chicago’s JUSTIN FIELDS became the third rookie quarterback in NFL history to record a passing touchdown, rushing touchdown and at least 100 rushing yards in a single game, joining ROBERT GRIFFIN III (Oct. 14, 2012) and MARCUS MARIOTA (Dec. 6, 2015).
Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER has a 16-6 record in 22 career starts on Monday and has at least two touchdown passes in six of his past seven games on Monday Night Football.
UNPRECEDENTED WEEKEND FOR QUARTERBACKS IN FIRST STARTS: This past weekend, both MIKE WHITE of the Jets and COOPER RUSH of the Cowboys led their teams to dramatic, fourth-quarter comeback wins. It marked the first NFL weekend since at least 1950 in which multiple quarterbacks making their first NFL starts won their games while each passing for 300-or-more yards.
- Rush is the only quarterback since the league merger in 1970 to pass for at least 300 yards and throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of his first career NFL start.
- White completed 37 of 45 pass attempts (82.2 percent) for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for a 107.9 rating in the Jets’ win. His 37 completions are the most by a quarterback all-time in his first career start. He also joined CAM NEWTON (422 yards on Sept. 11, 2011) as the only quarterbacks since 1950 to pass for at least 400 yards in their first career starts.
JUST CAN’T WAIT TO GET BACK OUT ON THAT ROAD AGAIN: NFL teams were 9-6 on the road last week and this season are 63-59 (.516) overall away from home. That’s the fourth-best road winning percentage at this point of any season since the league merger in 1970, trailing 1983 (.558), 2019 (.525) and 1972 (.519).
The ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-1), who are tied with the Rams for the league’s best road record (4-0), travel to meet the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-4) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX). Arizona has road victories this year over the Titans, Jaguars, Rams and Browns, and each of those road victories has been by at least 12 points.
- Arizona is the first team to win its first four road contests by 12-or-more points since the 2007 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. This week, the Cardinals are bidding to become the first team to win its first five road games with a margin of victory of at least 12 in each contest since the 2005 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS.
- Meanwhile, San Francisco wide receiver DEEBO SAMUEL ranks second in the league with 819 receiving yards, the most through seven games ever by a 49ers player. Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE established the previous mark, 781 through the team’s first seven games in 1986.
PACKERS WINNING TURNOVER MARGINS, TOO: The GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-1) face a road test against the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-4) on Sunday (4:25 ET, FOX). The Packers enter the game with a share of the league’s best record (7-1), the league’s longest active winning streak (seven) and a few other impressive feats.
- Green Bay has won the turnover margin in each of its seven consecutive wins, the longest such streak of victories with a positive turnover ratio since Seattle’s eight-game stretch from 2012-13.
The teams with the longest streaks of regular-season wins and positive turnover margins in NFL history:
Since MATT LAFLEUR took the reins as Packers head coach in 2019, Green Bay is 33-7 over his first 40 regular-season games. In NFL history, only Pro Football Hall of Famer GUY CHAMBERLIN (34) had more wins as a head coach over his first 40 regular-season games.
The head coaches with the most wins over their first 40 regular-season NFL games:
|Guy ChamberlinHOF||Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs, Frankford Yellow Jackets||1922-25||34|
|Matt LaFleur||Green Bay Packers||2019-21||33|
|Paul BrownHOF||Cleveland Browns||1950-53||33|
|George Seifert||San Francisco 49ers||1989-91||32|
|Chuck Knox||Los Angeles Rams||1973-75||32|
The Chiefs, meanwhile, are coming off a Monday night victory. NFL teams this season are 7-0 in games following a win on Monday. Over a longer stretch, dating to Week 14 of last season, clubs are 12-0 in games following a Monday win.
KUPP BIDS TO JOIN ELITE COMPANY: When the LOS ANGELES RAMS (7-1) host the TENNESSEE TITANS (6-2) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), keep your eyes on COOPER KUPP. The Rams’ wide receiver has an opportunity to join four Pro Football Hall of Famers (DON HUTSON in 1942, ELROY “CRAZY LEGS” HIRSCH in 1951, RAYMOND BERRY in 1960 and JERRY RICE in 1990) as the only players to reach 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches over the first nine games of a team’s season in NFL history.
- Last week, Kupp recorded seven receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown in the Rams’ win. Kupp, who has 63 receptions for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, is the first player in the Super Bowl era with at least 900 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions in his team’s first eight games of a season.
- Kupp is also the third player all-time with at least seven receptions in seven of his team’s first eight games of a season, joining ADAM THIELEN (2018) and MICHAEL THOMAS (2019).
- Los Angeles quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 305 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 127.7 rating last week. Stafford now has 28 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (27) for the fifth-most such games by a player in his first 13 seasons in NFL history.
- Since SEAN MCVAY became Rams head coach in 2017, the team is 43-0 when leading at halftime, including the postseason. That’s the second-longest such streak in NFL history, trailing only the GREEN BAY PACKERS, who won 49 consecutive games in which they led at halftime, from 1926-33 under Pro Football Hall of Famer CURLY LAMBEAU.
- The Titans have played three overtime games this season and are on pace to break the single-season NFL record held by the 1983 GREEN BAY PACKERS, who played five overtime contests.
- Tennessee is 3-1 (.750) in games decided by three points or fewer. With a minimum of three such games, only the Packers (3-0) have a better record in those situations this season.
BIG O IN BIG D: The DALLAS COWBOYS (6-1) return home to face the DENVER BRONCOS (4-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The last time the teams met in Dallas, Oct. 6, 2013, Cowboys quarterback TONY ROMO and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING combined to throw for 920 yards and nine touchdown passes. Each team erased a deficit of at least 14 points before Denver prevailed, 51-48, on a field goal by MATT PRATER as time expired.
- Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT leads the NFC with 571 rushing yards. He enters this week with 6,955 career rushing yards, needing 45 on Sunday to become the third player in franchise history to reach 7,000, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers EMMITT SMITH (17,162) and TONY DORSETT (12,036).
- This year, the Cowboys lead the NFL with 454.9 yards per game. Through eight weeks, that’s the fifth-best figure at this point of a season since the league merger in 1970.
|St. Louis Rams||2000||497.7||Advanced to Wild Card playoffs|
|Tampa Bay||2018||467.6||Missed postseason|
|Denver||2013||466.4||Advanced to Super Bowl|
|San Francisco||1998||455.1||Advanced to Divisional playoffs|
CHASING HISTORY: When the CINCINNATI BENGALS (5-3) host the CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), rookie wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE looks to continue his impressive start. Chase has 786 receiving yards, the second-highest total by a player in his first eight career games all-time, trailing HARLON HILL (802).
- On Sunday, Chase needs 84 receiving yards to surpass MARQUES COLSTON (869) for the most by a player ever over his first nine NFL games.
- Last week, Chase recorded his seventh touchdown reception to become the fifth player in the Super Bowl era with a touchdown catch in six of his first eight career games, joining CHARLIE BROWN (1982), MARQUES COLSTON (2006), WILLIE GREEN (1991) and DONTE’ STALLWORTH (2002).
VIVA LAS VEGAS: The LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (5-2), who share the AFC’s second-best record, come off their bye for a road game against the NEW YORK GIANTS (2-6) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
- In Week 7, Raiders quarterback DEREK CARR completed 31 of 34 pass attempts (91.2 percent) for 323 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a 113.6 rating in the team’s win. Carr’s 91.2 completion percentage ranks as the second-highest single-game mark all-time in games in which a quarterback attempted at least 30 passes. Only DREW BREES (96.7 percent on Dec. 16, 2019) had a higher single-game completion percentage.
- Among head coaches that took over their teams during a season, the Raiders’ RICH BISACCIA has an opportunity to become the first head coach to win his first three games since GARY MOELLER took over in midseason and led the Lions to three straight wins in 2000.
SAINTS HAVE FARED WELL AGAINST ALL-TIME LEADERS: Fresh off a win over Tampa Bay, the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-2) host another divisional game against MATT RYAN and the ATLANTA FALCONS (3-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Since SEAN PAYTON became head coach in 2006, including wins over reigning Super Bowl MVP TOM BRADY and reigning league MVP AARON RODGERS this season, the Saints have faced eight quarterbacks currently ranked among the top 10 all-time leaders in passing yards,
- Including the postseason, the Saints are 38-20 (.655) since 2006 in games against those eight quarterbacks. In that group, the only player against whom the Saints have a losing record is Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING. Their lone win against Manning was a victory over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
BILLS LEAD LEAGUE ON BOTH SIDES OF BALL: The BUFFALO BILLS (5-2) lead the NFL in both points scored per game (32.7) and fewest points allowed per game (15.6). Only two teams since the league merger in 1970 have finished a season leading the NFL in both categories: the 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS and 1996 GREEN BAY PACKERS.
- Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN leads his team into TIAA Bank Field against the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-6) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Last week, Allen made his 50th career start and passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns while adding 55 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the Bills’ win. Allen has 28 career rushing touchdowns, tied with CAM NEWTON (28) for the most by a quarterback in his first 50 career starts all-time.
SUPER BOWL REMATCH WEEKEND: Five games on the Week 9 slate pair franchises that met in Super Bowls:
|TEAMS, RESULT||SUPER BOWL||DATE||SITE||MVP|
|Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10||I||Jan. 15, 1967||Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles||Bart StarrHOF|
|N.Y. Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7||III||Jan. 12, 1969||Orange Bowl, Miami||Joe NamathHOF|
|Dallas 27, Denver 10||XII||Jan. 15, 1978||Superdome, New Orleans||Harvey Martin/ Randy WhiteHOF|
|St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee 16||XXXIV||Jan. 30, 2000||Georgia Dome, Atlanta||Kurt WarnerHOF|
|New England 32, Carolina 29||XXXVIII||Feb. 1, 2004||Reliant Stadium, Houston||Tom Brady|
WEEK 9 NFL SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern)
|Thursday, November 4||New York Jets at Indianapolis||FOX/NFLN/Amazon||8:20|
|Sunday, November 7||Minnesota at Baltimore||FOX||1:00|
|New England at Carolina||CBS||1:00|
|Cleveland at Cincinnati||CBS||1:00|
|Denver at Dallas||FOX||1:00|
|Buffalo at Jacksonville||CBS||1:00|
|Houston at Miami||FOX||1:00|
|Atlanta at New Orleans||FOX||1:00|
|Las Vegas at New York Giants||CBS||1:00|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia||CBS||4:05|
|Green Bay at Kansas City||FOX||4:25|
|Arizona at San Francisco||FOX||4:25|
|Tennessee at Los Angeles Rams||NBC*||8:20|
|Monday, November 8||Chicago at Pittsburgh||ESPN||8:15|
|Byes: Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Washington|