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INTERCONFERENCE MATCHUPS HIGHLIGHT WEEK 9;

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FOURTH-QUARTER COMEBACKS, LATE-GAME DRAMA CONTINUE AS NFL APPROACHES THE HALFWAY POINT

As the NFL approaches the halfway marker of its 2021 regular season, teams are proving again and again that what matters most is not how you start.

It’s how you finish.

On 37 occasions this season, a team has trailed in the fourth quarter and come back to win, including eight of 15 games this past weekend. The eight teams – Dallas, Kansas City, New England, New Orleans, the New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Tennessee – to accomplish the feat in Week 8 mark the most in a single week since nine teams did it in Week 1 of 2016. Three teams – Baltimore, Tennessee and the Los Angeles Chargers – have three wins this season after trailing in the fourth quarter. 

Through eight weeks of any previous NFL season, only the 2012 campaign (38) had more fourth-quarter comebacks.

The most victories by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter through Week 8 in NFL history:

SEASONFOURTH-QUARTER COMEBACKS
201238
202137
198937
199936

This season, 31 games have been decided with a score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, tied with 2012 for the most such late-game thrillers in NFL history through Week 8. 

Through eight weeks, 26 games have featured a game-winning score in the final minute of the fourth quarter or in overtime, tied with 2015 for the most ever at this point in a season.

  • Also in Week 8, five games were decided by three-or-fewer points.
  • Two teams overcame deficits of at least 10 points to win: Tennessee trailed by 14 points before defeating Indianapolis, 34-31, in overtime, while the New York Jets erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Cincinnati, 34-31.
  • Including that Titans victory, there have been 12 overtime games this season, tied with the 2002 and 2003 seasons for the third-most overtime games at this point of a season all-time. Only 1995 (14 overtime games) and 1983 (13) had more.

INTERCONFERENCE MATCHUPS HIGHLIGHT WEEK 9: Week 9 features eight interconference matchups, the first time since Week 3 of the 2018 season (eight) that there have been at least eight games in a single week featuring both an AFC and NFC team.

Three of the interconference matchups feature two teams that were each in the postseason last year:

  • GREEN BAY (7-1) at KANSAS CITY (4-4): Green Bay enters Week 9 on a seven-game winning streak while Kansas City is coming off a Monday Night Football victory over the New York Giants. Since 2018, when PATRICK MAHOMEStook over as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Kansas City (42-14, .750) and Green Bay (39-16-1, .705) are two of the four teams with a winning percentage above .700.

    Mahomes (2018 NFL MVP) and Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS (2020 NFL MVP) have been two of the best players in the NFL over the past four seasons.
PLAYERPASS YARDSPASS TDRATING
Patrick Mahomes16,236 (1st)133 (1st)106.9 (3rd)
Aaron Rodgers14,637 (5th)116 (t-3rd)104.5 (5th)
Totals and ranks among quarterbacks since 2018
  • TENNESSEE (6-2) at L.A. RAMS (7-1) on Sunday Night Football: Both Tennessee and Los Angeles enter Week 9 on four-game winning streaks. Both teams have scored at least 25 points in their combined 13 wins this season.

    The Titans are looking to continue their success without the league’s leading rusher, DERRICK HENRY, who was placed on injured reserve this week. Quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL has a passer rating of 90-or-higher in three of his four road starts this season while wide receiver A.J. BROWN aims for his third game in a row with at least 125 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.

    This week, the Rams acquired linebacker VON MILLER from Denver. Since 2014, defensive tackle AARON DONALD(90.5 sacks) and Miller (75.5) rank first and fourth, respectively, in sacks. Quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD ranks second in the league this season in passing yards (2,447), touchdown passes (22) and passer rating (118.0) while wide receiver COOPER KUPP became the first player in the Super Bowl era with at least 900 receiving yards (924) and 10 touchdown receptions (10) in his team’s first 10 games of a season.
  • CHICAGO (3-5) at PITTSBURGH (4-3) on Monday Night Football: Last week, Chicago’s JUSTIN FIELDS became the third rookie quarterback in NFL history to record a passing touchdown, rushing touchdown and at least 100 rushing yards in a single game, joining ROBERT GRIFFIN III (Oct. 14, 2012) and MARCUS MARIOTA (Dec. 6, 2015).

    Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER has a 16-6 record in 22 career starts on Monday and has at least two touchdown passes in six of his past seven games on Monday Night Football

UNPRECEDENTED WEEKEND FOR QUARTERBACKS IN FIRST STARTS: This past weekend, both MIKE WHITE of the Jets and COOPER RUSH of the Cowboys led their teams to dramatic, fourth-quarter comeback wins. It marked the first NFL weekend since at least 1950 in which multiple quarterbacks making their first NFL starts won their games while each passing for 300-or-more yards.

  • Rush is the only quarterback since the league merger in 1970 to pass for at least 300 yards and throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of his first career NFL start.
  • White completed 37 of 45 pass attempts (82.2 percent) for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for a 107.9 rating in the Jets’ win. His 37 completions are the most by a quarterback all-time in his first career start. He also joined CAM NEWTON (422 yards on Sept. 11, 2011) as the only quarterbacks since 1950 to pass for at least 400 yards in their first career starts.

JUST CAN’T WAIT TO GET BACK OUT ON THAT ROAD AGAIN: NFL teams were 9-6 on the road last week and this season are 63-59 (.516) overall away from home. That’s the fourth-best road winning percentage at this point of any season since the league merger in 1970, trailing 1983 (.558), 2019 (.525) and 1972 (.519).

The ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-1), who are tied with the Rams for the league’s best road record (4-0), travel to meet the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-4) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX). Arizona has road victories this year over the Titans, Jaguars, Rams and Browns, and each of those road victories has been by at least 12 points.

  • Arizona is the first team to win its first four road contests by 12-or-more points since the 2007 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. This week, the Cardinals are bidding to become the first team to win its first five road games with a margin of victory of at least 12 in each contest since the 2005 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS.
  • Meanwhile, San Francisco wide receiver DEEBO SAMUEL ranks second in the league with 819 receiving yards, the most through seven games ever by a 49ers player. Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE established the previous mark, 781 through the team’s first seven games in 1986.

PACKERS WINNING TURNOVER MARGINS, TOO: The GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-1) face a road test against the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-4) on Sunday (4:25 ET, FOX). The Packers enter the game with a share of the league’s best record (7-1), the league’s longest active winning streak (seven) and a few other impressive feats.

  • Green Bay has won the turnover margin in each of its seven consecutive wins, the longest such streak of victories with a positive turnover ratio since Seattle’s eight-game stretch from 2012-13. 

The teams with the longest streaks of regular-season wins and positive turnover margins in NFL history:

TEAMSEASON(S)STREAK
New England2011-129
Seattle2012-138
New England20108
Denver19848
Washington19838
   
Green Bay20217*
*Active streak

Since MATT LAFLEUR took the reins as Packers head coach in 2019, Green Bay is 33-7 over his first 40 regular-season games. In NFL history, only Pro Football Hall of Famer GUY CHAMBERLIN (34) had more wins as a head coach over his first 40 regular-season games. 

The head coaches with the most wins over their first 40 regular-season NFL games:

COACHTEAM(S)YEARSWINS
Guy ChamberlinHOFCanton/Cleveland Bulldogs, Frankford Yellow Jackets1922-2534
Matt LaFleurGreen Bay Packers2019-2133
Paul BrownHOFCleveland Browns1950-5333
George SeifertSan Francisco 49ers1989-9132
Chuck KnoxLos Angeles Rams1973-7532

The Chiefs, meanwhile, are coming off a Monday night victory. NFL teams this season are 7-0 in games following a win on Monday. Over a longer stretch, dating to Week 14 of last season, clubs are 12-0 in games following a Monday win.

KUPP BIDS TO JOIN ELITE COMPANYWhen the LOS ANGELES RAMS (7-1) host the TENNESSEE TITANS (6-2) on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), keep your eyes on COOPER KUPPThe Rams’ wide receiver has an opportunity to join four Pro Football Hall of Famers (DON HUTSON in 1942, ELROY “CRAZY LEGS” HIRSCH in 1951, RAYMOND BERRY in 1960 and JERRY RICE in 1990) as the only players to reach 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches over the first nine games of a team’s season in NFL history.

BIG O IN BIG D: The DALLAS COWBOYS (6-1) return home to face the DENVER BRONCOS (4-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The last time the teams met in Dallas, Oct. 6, 2013, Cowboys quarterback TONY ROMO and Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING combined to throw for 920 yards and nine touchdown passes. Each team erased a deficit of at least 14 points before Denver prevailed, 51-48, on a field goal by MATT PRATER as time expired.

  • Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT leads the NFC with 571 rushing yards. He enters this week with 6,955 career rushing yards, needing 45 on Sunday to become the third player in franchise history to reach 7,000, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers EMMITT SMITH (17,162) and TONY DORSETT (12,036). 
  • This year, the Cowboys lead the NFL with 454.9 yards per game. Through eight weeks, that’s the fifth-best figure at this point of a season since the league merger in 1970.

The teams to average the most yards per game through Week 8 since 1970:

TEAMSEASONYARDS/GAMESEASON RESULT
St. Louis Rams2000497.7Advanced to Wild Card playoffs
Tampa Bay2018467.6Missed postseason
Denver2013466.4Advanced to Super Bowl
San Francisco1998455.1Advanced to Divisional playoffs
Dallas2021454.9???

CHASING HISTORY: When the CINCINNATI BENGALS (5-3) host the CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), rookie wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE looks to continue his impressive start. Chase has 786 receiving yards, the second-highest total by a player in his first eight career games all-time, trailing HARLON HILL (802).

  • On Sunday, Chase needs 84 receiving yards to surpass MARQUES COLSTON (869) for the most by a player ever over his first nine NFL games.
  • Last week, Chase recorded his seventh touchdown reception to become the fifth player in the Super Bowl era with a touchdown catch in six of his first eight career games, joining CHARLIE BROWN (1982), MARQUES COLSTON(2006), WILLIE GREEN (1991) and DONTE’ STALLWORTH (2002).

VIVA LAS VEGAS: The LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (5-2), who share the AFC’s second-best record, come off their bye for a road game against the NEW YORK GIANTS (2-6) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). 

SAINTS HAVE FARED WELL AGAINST ALL-TIME LEADERS: Fresh off a win over Tampa Bay, the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-2) host another divisional game against MATT RYAN and the ATLANTA FALCONS (3-4) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Since SEAN PAYTON became head coach in 2006, including wins over reigning Super Bowl MVP TOM BRADYand reigning league MVP AARON RODGERS this season, the Saints have faced eight quarterbacks currently ranked among the top 10 all-time leaders in passing yards, 

  • Including the postseason, the Saints are 38-20 (.655) since 2006 in games against those eight quarterbacks. In that group, the only player against whom the Saints have a losing record is Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING. Their lone win against Manning was a victory over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

The Saints’ record against quarterbacks currently ranked in the top 10 of the NFL’s all-time leaders in passing yards, including the postseason, since 2006:

 SAINTS RECORD
QUARTERBACKWLPCT
Brett FavreHOF301.000
Philip Rivers301.000
Ben Roethlisberger31.750
Eli Manning52.714
Matt Ryan169.640
Tom Brady43.571
Aaron Rodgers33.500
Peyton ManningHOF12.333
Totals3820.655

BILLS LEAD LEAGUE ON BOTH SIDES OF BALL: The BUFFALO BILLS (5-2) lead the NFL in both points scored per game (32.7) and fewest points allowed per game (15.6). Only two teams since the league merger in 1970 have finished a season leading the NFL in both categories: the 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS and 1996 GREEN BAY PACKERS

  • Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN leads his team into TIAA Bank Field against the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-6) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Last week, Allen made his 50th career start and passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns while adding 55 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the Bills’ win. Allen has 28 career rushing touchdowns, tied with CAM NEWTON (28) for the most by a quarterback in his first 50 career starts all-time.

SUPER BOWL REMATCH WEEKEND: Five games on the Week 9 slate pair franchises that met in Super Bowls:

TEAMS, RESULTSUPER BOWLDATESITEMVP
Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10IJan. 15, 1967Memorial Coliseum, Los AngelesBart StarrHOF
N.Y. Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7IIIJan. 12, 1969Orange Bowl, MiamiJoe NamathHOF
Dallas 27, Denver 10XIIJan. 15, 1978Superdome, New OrleansHarvey Martin/Randy WhiteHOF
St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee 16XXXIVJan. 30, 2000Georgia Dome, AtlantaKurt WarnerHOF
New England 32, Carolina 29XXXVIIIFeb. 1, 2004Reliant Stadium, HoustonTom Brady

WEEK 9 NFL SCHEDULE

(All times Eastern)

Thursday, November 4New York Jets at Indianapolis FOX/NFLN/Amazon8:20
    
Sunday, November 7Minnesota at Baltimore FOX1:00
New England at Carolina CBS1:00
Cleveland at Cincinnati CBS1:00
Denver at Dallas FOX1:00
Buffalo at Jacksonville CBS1:00
Houston at Miami FOX1:00
Atlanta at New Orleans FOX1:00
Las Vegas at New York Giants CBS1:00
Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia CBS4:05
Green Bay at Kansas City FOX4:25
Arizona at San Francisco FOX4:25
Tennessee at Los Angeles Rams NBC*8:20
    
Monday, November 8Chicago at Pittsburgh ESPN8:15
Byes: Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Washington
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