In a record-setting season for last-play wins, no team has sweated it out more than the Las Vegas Raiders.
After game-winning field goals on the final play this week by Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson and Las Vegas’ Daniel Carlson, there have been 32 games decided by a winning score on the final play, the most in NFL history.
Carlson has provided four of those wins himself, making overtime field goals to beat Miami in Week 3 and Dallas on Thanksgiving, along with kicks at the end of regulation against Cleveland in Week 15 and Indianapolis last week.
The Raiders also won on a walk-off overtime TD pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones in the opener against Baltimore, becoming the first team in NFL history to win five games in a season with a score on the final play, according to Sportradar.
There have been 46 games this season with the game-winning score coming in the final minute of regulation or in overtime, the fifth-most in NFL history. Only 2013 (49), 2015 (49), 2003 (48) and 2002 (47) had more.
Aaron Rodgers is on the verge of another near-perfect passing season against the NFC North.
Rodgers has thrown 16 TD passes without an interception this season for the Green Bay Packers against their division foes. This comes after Rodgers had 20 TD passes and no interceptions against Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota in 2020.
There have been only four seasons since the merger when a quarterback threw at least 15 touchdown passes without an interception. Rodgers has three of them, having also thrown 18 TD passes and no interceptions in the NFC North in 2014.
The only other quarterback to do it was Rodgers’ former teammate Brett Favre, who had 15 TD passes and no interceptions for Minnesota against the NFC North in 2009.
Rodgers’ play has helped the Packers win at least 13 games for the third time under third-year coach Matt LaFleur.
LaFleur is already tied for the fourth-most 13-win seasons for a coach in NFL history, trailing only Bill Belichick (seven), Sean Payton (four) and George Seifert (four).
Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin set another mark, as he is once again assured of not having a losing season. Tomlin has never had a losing season in 15 years with the Steelers, breaking Marty Schottenheimer’s record for the most consecutive years to start a coaching career without a losing mark.
The Cincinnati Bengals completed a worst-to-first turnaround.
The Bengals clinched the AFC North for the first since 2015 a year after finishing last in the division, marking the 17th time in the past 19 seasons that a team won the division a year after finishing last or tied for last.
Dallas also has won the division after the playoffs last season, marking the 18th time in the past 19 seasons that at least two teams won the division a year after missing the playoffs.
Arizona and New England have clinched the playoffs after missing out last season and can join Dallas and Cincinnati as division winners by winning in Week 18 and getting some help. Philadelphia has also clinched the playoffs after missing last season.
This is the 32nd straight season that at least four teams made the playoffs after missing out the previous season. San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Chargers can join them with wins this week.
GO FOR IT
The NFL set a record this season for fourth-down aggressiveness.
Teams have gone for it on 734 fourth downs this season, 76 more than the previous high set just last season. Teams converted on 386 of those attempts, breaking the record of 362 set in 2020.
There have already been more than twice as many successful fourth-down tries in the NFL as there were a decade ago, when teams had 186 in 2011.
The success rate of 52.6% will fall a bit shy of the previous high from the last 30 years of 55.7% in 2018 and the 55% last season. But this marks the third time in four seasons that teams converted on more than half of fourth-down tries.
The NFC got the edge from the extra 17th game added to the schedule this season, winning 10 of the 16 matchups despite all of them coming in AFC stadiums.
The league added the extra game for 2021, matching up teams that finished in the same place in their respective divisions.
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