No team has sweated it out more than the Las Vegas Raiders this season, which has established a new record for last-play victories.
There have now been 32 games decided by a winning score on the final play, the most in NFL history, after game-winning field goals on the final play by Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson and Las Vegas’ Daniel Carlson this week.
Carlson has contributed to four of those victories, including overtime field goals against Miami in Week 3 and Dallas on Thanksgiving, as well as late-game kicks against Cleveland in Week 15 and Indianapolis last week.
According to Sportradar, the Raiders also won their opener against Baltimore on a walk-off OT TD throw from Derek Carr to Zay Jones, making them the first team in NFL history to win five games in a season with a score on the final play.
This season, 46 games have ended in a game-winning score in the last minute of regular or overtime, which is the sixth highest in NFL history. Only the years 2013 (49), 2015 (49), 2003 (48), and 2002 (47) had a higher number.
Against the NFC North, Aaron Rodgers is on the verge of another near-perfect passing season.
Rodgers has thrown 16 touchdown passes without an interception against division opponents this season for the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has 20 touchdown passes and no interceptions in 2020 versus Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota.
Since the merger, only four quarterbacks have thrown at least 15 touchdown passes without throwing an interception. Rodgers has three of them, and in 2014, he threw 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the NFC North.
Only Rodgers’ old teammate Brett Favre, who had 15 touchdown passes and no interceptions for Minnesota versus the NFC North in 2009, had done it.
Under third-year coach Matt LaFleur, Rodgers has helped the Packers win at least 13 games for the third time.
LaFleur already has seven 13-win seasons under his belt, following just Bill Belichick (seven), Sean Payton (four), and George Seifert (three) (four).
Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers has established yet another record, as he is once again certain of not having a losing season. In 15 years with the Steelers, Tomlin has never had a losing season, beating Marty Schottenheimer’s record for the most straight years without a losing season.
The Bengals went from worst to first in their division.
The Bengals won the AFC North for the first time since 2015, a year after being last or tied for last in the division. This is the 17th time in 19 seasons that a club has won the division after finishing last or tied for last.
Dallas also won the division last season after missing the playoffs, marking the 18th time in the previous 19 seasons that at least two teams have won the division after missing the playoffs.
After missing the playoffs last season, Arizona and New England have sealed their spots and may join Dallas and Cincinnati as division champs if they win in Week 18 and get some help. After missing the playoffs last season, Philadelphia has clinched a postseason berth.
After missing out the previous season, at least four clubs made the playoffs for the 32nd consecutive season. With victories this week, the San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers might join them.
This season, the NFL established a new record for fourth-down aggression.
On 734 fourth downs this season, teams have gone for it, 76 more than the previous mark established only last season. 386 of the tries were converted, beating the previous high of 362 established in 2020.
In the NFL, there have already been more than twice as many successful fourth-down tries as there were ten years ago, when teams had 186.
The 52.6 percent success rate will fall short of the prior highs of 55.7 percent in 2018 and 55 percent last season in the last 30 years. However, this is the third season in a row that teams have converted on more than half of their fourth-down tries.
Despite all of the games being played in AFC venues, the NFC took advantage of the extra 17th game added to the schedule this season, winning 10 of the 16 contests.
For 2021, the league added an extra game to match clubs that finished in the same spot in their divisions.