The 2017 season is in the books. It’s on to the playoffs, but here’s a quick look back at some individual and team stats that stand out.
Rush Defense is the Key? Of the bottom 10 teams in yards per carry allowed, 7 are in the playoffs. Of the top 10 teams in yards per carry allowed, 3 are in the playoffs.
Usually First Downs are a Good Thing. Can you guess which team lead the NFL in passing first downs? Yes, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with 243. (New England was 2nd at 232).
Running Back might be a need in Seattle. Seattle had four rushing touchdowns, tying Miami for fewest in the league. But three were by Russell Wilson. That means they had only one rushing touchdown by a non-QB (J.D. McKissic). And McKissic was considered a wide receiver entering the season.
Fewer fumbles equals more fumble return TDs? The 276 fumbles lost in 2017 was the lowest ever in a 16-game season. Conversely, the 41 defensive fumble return touchdowns were the most ever in a 16-game season, and nearly double the amount from last season (22).
More signs of changing running back usage. Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,327. That is the lowest total to lead the league since 1990, when Barry Sanders had 1,304. It’s the 2nd-lowest total in a 16-game season.
More signs of changing running back usage, part 2. Five players had at least 50 rush attempts and 600 yards receiving: Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, Duke Johnson, and Christian McCaffrey. That’s the most in a season since 1986 (also 5).
Designed for everyone to finish 8-8, eh? Arizona is the only team that finished at 8-8, making it the least likely record between 5-11 and 11-5 (all other win totals in that span had at least two teams finishing with that record).
Rookie impacts. The Cleveland Browns had a whopping 72 starts from rookies in 2017. The Giants were 2nd at 55, and the 49ers 3rd at 52. But two playoff teams (New Orleans and Buffalo) also finished in the top five in rookie starts, with 51 each.
Breakout Teams Galore. Six teams finished with a point differential of +120 or better. The crazy thing is that five of them were not in the playoffs the previous season. The ever-present New England Patriots dynasty is the only thing keeping us from realizing the magnitude in the 2017 shift of power.
Drew Brees Under the Radar. Drew Brees set the all-time record for completion percentage for a season at 72.0%, surpassing … Sam Bradford from last year (71.6%). Brees also led the NFL in yards per attempt at 8.1, for the first time in his career, but will likely not win MVP, as he threw 23 touchdown passes this year, his fewest since 2003 as the Saints rushing touchdowns shot up with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.