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NFL Week 8 Preview

YOUNG QBs, ROOKIES MAKING HEADLINES ENTERING WEEK 8

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL 100 Game of the Week. Each game is a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made . The NFL has designated Sunday night’s GREEN BAY PACKERSKANSAS CITY CHIEFS matchup (8:20 PM ET, NBC) as the NFL100 Game of the Week because the contest commemorates the teams that played in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, later called the Super Bowl thanks to a suggestion made by the late LAMAR HUNT, owner of the Chiefs and co-founder of the AFL. On January 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Packers clung to a 14-10 halftime lead before breaking open the contest in the second half. MAX McGEE caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 35-10 win over the AFL champion Chiefs. Two networks, CBS and NBC, televised the game, which was not sold out.

YOUNG QUARTERBACKS ILLUMINATING NFL’S PATH

One of the more remarkable storylines of the NFL’s 100th season is the league’s sterling crop of young quarterbacks, and the amount of wins that group has generated. All told, 87 of 106 games (82.1 percent) have featured at least one starting quarterback age 26 or younger, more than any season ever through Week 7. Quarterbacks age 26 or younger have won 63 of their 116 starts (54.3 percent), 14 more wins than any prior season in league annals through seven weeks.

 A look at some of the starting quarterbacks age 26 or younger this season:

  • Carolina quarterback KYLE ALLEN, 23, is 4-0 as a starter in 2019. He also is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to begin his career 5-0 without throwing an interception in his first five career starts.
  • New Orleans quarterback TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, 26, is 5-0 as a starter in 2019 with 1,370 pass yards and nine touchdowns for a 98.9 rating.
  • Indianapolis quarterback JACOBY BRISSETT, 26, has led the Colts to a 4-2 record and has thrown at least two touchdowns in five of his six starts.
  • Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON, 23, is the third quarterback in NFL history with at least three games of 100 rushing yards in a single season. He is also one of three quarterbacks with five touchdown passes in a single game in 2019.
  • Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT, 26, has paced the NFL’s top-ranked offense (437.9 yards per game) with 12 touchdown passes and three rushing touchdowns. He is one of four quarterbacks to average at least 300 passing yards per game in 2019.
  • Houston quarterback DESHAUN WATSON, 24, has 1,952 passing yards, 15 touchdown passes and three rushing touchdowns in 2019.

ROOKIES COMPETING AT HIGHEST LEVELS

The JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, who host the New York Jets on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS) are the first team in NFL history to have a rookie (GARDNER MINSHEW) with a passer rating of 95 or higher (minimum 100 attempts) and a rookie (JOSH ALLEN) with five-or-more sacks through their first seven games.

Minshew leads NFL rookies in both passer rating (95.7) and touchdown passes (10). It’s only the second time in NFL history in which a rookie quarterback has compiled a 95-or-better passer rating and 10-or-more touchdown passes through seven weeks (Houston’s DESHAUN WATSON had a 103 rating and 19 TDs through seven games in 2017).

In fact, rookies are prevalent all over the NFL landscape as the season approaches its midway point. The 100th season is the only campaign in NFL history in which a rookie through seven weeks of play:

  • Has a 95-or-better passer rating (GARDNER MINSHEW, Jacksonville, 95.7),
  • Has 10-or-more touchdown passes (GARDNER MINSHEW, Jacksonville, 10),
  • Has at least 550 rushing yards (JOSH JACOBS, Oakland, 554),
  • Has at least 400 receiving yards (TERRY McLAURIN, Washington, 419),
  • Has five-or-more overall touchdowns (TERRY McLAURIN, Washington, five),
  • Has at least two interceptions (DEVIN BUSH, Pittsburgh, and RYAN CONNELLY, N.Y. Giants, each with two) – AND – 
  • Has at least five sacks (JOSH ALLEN, Jacksonville, five).

A POINT ABOUT ONE-POINT GAMES

This past week, eight games were within one score (eight points or fewer) at some point in the fourth quarter. Through seven weeks, 69 of 106 games (65.1 percent) have seen a team come within one possession of tying or taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Only three previous seasons have had more one-point games through Week 7 since the 1970 merger. And, only three other seasons have seen more games decided by seven-or-fewer points in NFL history.

The seasons with the most games decided by one- and seven-or-fewer points through seven weeks:

BELICHICK HAS 300 IN SIGHT

New England head coach BILL BELICHICK can become just the third coach in NFL history to win 300 games, including the postseason. On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Belichick (299) can join Pro Football Hall of Famers DON SHULA (347) and GEORGE HALAS (324) as one of three coaches in NFL history to reach the milestone.

The head coaches with 200-or-more wins in NFL history, including the postseason:

Active coaches in bold; from 1920-71, tie games were not included in winning percentage.

Belichick meets the CLEVELAND BROWNS, where he served as head coach from 1991-95. Ironically, his best season in Cleveland was 1994, when he guided the 11-5 Browns to a Wild Card win over Pro Football Hall of Famer BILL PARCELLS and the Patriots. During his Cleveland tenure, Belichick’s Browns coaching staff and front office contained some of the NFL’s most talented minds.

A closer look at notable Cleveland Browns executives and assistant coaches during the Bill Belichick era:

BOOKEND NFL POINT-DIFFERENTIALS

New England owns a plus-175 point-differential (223 points scored, 48 points allowed), the second-highest mark in NFL history through seven games. Only one other club through seven games, the 1920 BUFFALO ALL-AMERICANS – in the first season of league competition, 1920 – had a higher point-differential, plus-218. The only other clubs with a point-differential of at least 163 through seven games were the 1941 CHICAGO BEARS (plus-173) and the 1921 BUFFALO ALL-AMERICANS (plus-163).

DOMINATING IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT FOR NEW ENGLAND DEFENSE

With road shutouts in Week 2 and Week 7, the Patriots have two road shutout wins of at least 30 points in 2019. New England is the second team in NFL history to blank an opponent on the road by at least 30 points on multiple occasions in a single season. Only the 1942 CHICAGO BEARS (two) can claim that distinction over a full year.

The Patriots also lead the NFL with 18 interceptions this season. Through seven games, only three clubs in NFL history have had more.

The most interceptions through seven games in NFL history:

WELCOME BACK AT WEMBLEY, OTHER REUNIONS ON THE SCHEDULE

In addition to Belichick playing his former team, London’s Wembley Stadium hosts its first 2019 NFL game. In a reunion, CINCINNATI BENGALS head coach ZAC TAYLOR meets his former club, the LOS ANGELES RAMS (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Taylor served as the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 and quarterbacks coach in 2018, when the team advanced to Super Bowl LIII. In Week 9, the HOUSTON TEXANS meet the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS at Wembley Stadium, and in Week 11 the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS meet the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS in Mexico City to close the NFL’s 2019 International Series.

Buffalo’s SEAN McDERMOTT hosts his former team, Philadelphia (1:00 PM ET, FOX). McDermott worked for the Eagles from 1999-2010. Meanwhile in Atlanta, Falcons head coach DAN QUINN hosts his former club, the Seahawks (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Quinn served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator from 2013-14.

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