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|New teams making the playoffs, terrific turnarounds, consistent teams excelling again, records falling and young players making their mark. The 2019 season had it all.
Youth and success at the quarterback position highlighted the 2019 regular season as 208 games featured at least one starting quarterback under the age of 27, the most in a single season in NFL history. In total, quarterbacks under the age of 27 started 287 games and recorded 144 wins in those starts this season, both the highest single-season totals since 1970. Three quarterbacks under the age of 25 – Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON (2018 NFL Draft), Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (2017 NFL Draft) and Houston’s DESHAUN WATSON (2017 NFL Draft) – have led their respective teams to division titles in each of the past two seasons.
Competitiveness was a constant theme throughout the regular season as 68 percent of games (174 of 256) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, tied for the fifth-most such games in a single season in NFL history, while 52.3 percent of games (134 of 256) were decided by eight-or-fewer points, also tied for the fifth-most such games in single season in league annals. Additionally, 57 games saw a team come back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter.
Week 17 came down to the wire, as two playoff spots and two divisions titles – the NFC East and NFC West – 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.
Five of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2019: BUFFALO, GREEN BAY, MINNESOTA, SAN FRANCISCO and TENNESSEE. Since 1990 – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
Both the Green Bay Packers (NFC North) and San Francisco 49ers (NFC West) won their division after missing the postseason in 2018 and at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.
Teams to win their division a season after missing the postseason since 2003:
OFFENSIVE TRENDS: The 2019 season will go down as one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history.
Teams combined to score 1,332 total touchdowns, the third-most in a single season in NFL history, while the 11,680 total points were tied for the third-most in league annals.
With five teams – BALTIMORE (33.2 points per game), SAN FRANCISCO (29.9), NEW ORLEANS (28.6), TAMPA BAY (28.6) and KANSAS CITY (28.2) – averaging at least 28 points per game, the 2019 season joined 2014 (six teams) as the only seasons with at least five teams averaging at least 28 points per game since 1970.
The Ravens, who scored at least 40 points in five different games this season, led the NFL with 3,296 rushing yards and surpassed the 1978 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3,165) for the most rushing yards by a team in a single season in NFL history.
PROLIFIC PASSERS: In 2019, league-wide passing numbers continued to trend at a historic pace, as the marks for passer rating (90.4 – second), completion percentage (63.5 percent – second), total completions (11,331 – fourth) and touchdown passes (797 – fifth) were all ranked in the top five for highest in a single season in NFL history.
Eleven quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards in 2019, including four with at least 4,500 passing yards: Tampa Bay’s JAMEIS WINSTON (5,109), Dallas’ DAK PRESCOTT (4,902), the Los Angeles Rams’ JARED GOFF (4,638) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ PHILIP RIVERS (4,615).
Twelve quarterbacks threw at least 25 touchdown passes this season, including four with at least 30 touchdown passes: Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON (36), Winston (33), Seattle’s RUSSELL WILSON (31) and Prescott (30).
Three rookie quarterbacks – New York Giants’ DANIEL JONES, Jacksonville’s GARDNER MINSHEW and Arizona’s KYLER MURRAY – each passed for at least 20 touchdowns this season, marking the second season in league annals in which at least three rookie quarterbacks each passed for at least 20 touchdowns (2012 – ROBERT GRIFFIN III, ANDREW LUCK and RUSSELL WILSON).
Nine quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher in 2019, including three with a passer rating of at least 110: Tennessee’s RYAN TANNEHILL (117.5), New Orleans’ DREW BREES (116.3) and Jackson (113.3). The nine quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher were tied with the 2018 season for the most in a single season in NFL history.
The seasons with the most quarterbacks having a passer rating of 100 or higher in NFL history:
Seven players recorded at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2019: Henry (16), Green Bay’s AARON JONES (16), McCaffrey (15), Minnesota’s DALVIN COOK (13), Elliott (12), the Los Angeles Rams’ TODD GURLEY (12) and Baltimore’s MARK INGRAM (10).
Twenty-six running backs totaled at least 1,000 scrimmage yards, including eight with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards, this season: McCaffrey (2,392), Elliott (1,777), Chubb (1,772), Henry (1,746), Jacksonville’s LEONARD FOURNETTE (1,674), Cook (1,654), Jones (1,558) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ AUSTIN EKELER (1,550).
Three running backs – Jones (19 scrimmage touchdowns), McCaffrey (19) and Henry (18) – each recorded at least 18 scrimmage touchdowns this season.
2019 was the third season in NFL history with three players totaling at least 18 scrimmage touchdowns each, joining 2005 (SHAUN ALEXANDER, LARRY JOHNSON and Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON) and 1962 (Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN and JIM TAYLOR, and ABNER HAYNES).
RIDICULOUS RECEIVERS: Twenty-nine players had at least 1,000 receiving yards, including five with at least 1,200 receiving yards this season: New Orleans’ MICHAEL THOMAS (1,725), Atlanta’s JULIO JONES (1,394), Tampa Bay’s CHRIS GODWIN (1,333), Kansas City’s TRAVIS KELCE (1,229) and Miami’s DEVANTE PARKER (1,202).
Five players had at least 100 receptions in 2019: Thomas (single-season NFL record 149), Carolina’s CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (116), the Los Angeles Chargers’ KEENAN ALLEN (104), Houston’s DEANDRE HOPKINS (104) and New England’s JULIAN EDELMAN (100).
Three players had at least 10 touchdown catches this season: Detroit’s KENNY GOLLADAY (11), Baltimore’s MARK ANDREWS (10) and the Los Angeles Rams’ COOPER KUPP (10).
Five rookies recorded at least seven touchdown receptions in 2019: Tennessee’s A.J. BROWN (eight), the New York Giants’ DARIUS SLAYTON (eight), Baltimore’s MARQUISE BROWN (seven), Washington’s TERRY MCLAURIN (seven) and Seattle’s DK METCALF (seven). In total, rookies combined for 110 touchdown receptions in 2019 and surpassed 2014 (109 touchdown catches) for the most combined touchdown receptions by rookies in a single season since 1970.
DOMINANT DEFENDERS: Eighteen players recorded at least 10 sacks, including five with at least 14 sacks, in 2019: Tampa Bay’s SHAQUIL BARRETT (19.5), Arizona’s CHANDLER JONES (19), New Orleans’ CAMERON JORDAN (15.5), Minnesota’s DANIELLE HUNTER (14.5) and Pittsburgh’s T.J. WATT (14.5).
Five players registered at least five forced fumbles this season: Jones (eight), Watt (eight), Barrett (six), Washington’s RYAN ANDERSON (five) and Chicago’s KHALIL MACK (five). 2019 was the first season since 2002 (DWIGHT FREENEY and LEONARD LITTLE) that two players had at least eight forced fumbles in the same season.
Ten players recorded at least five interceptions, including three with six interceptions, this season: New England’s STEPHON GILMORE (six), Minnesota’s ANTHONY HARRIS (six) and Buffalo’s TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE (six).