(RADIO.COM Sports) Though what you're about to read through is a list of team-specific statistics, here's a good one to kick this off regarding the NFL as a whole after a wild, unprecedented 2020 regular season.
In the 17 weeks that made up the 2020 regular season, more points were scored than in any other season in NFL history. We watched as 12,692 points were thrown up on scoreboards, which surpassed the previous record (11,987 points in 2013) by a wide margin. Defensive touchdowns were down, but that meant that offensive scoring was up, and the league annihilated past totals for rushing touchdowns (532) and receiving touchdowns (871) relative to past years.
And within those 1,473 total touchdowns, there were some pretty cool stats that each team could boast (or hang their heads in shame) about while looking back at the tumultuous 17-week journey.
Just as a heads up, we're not going to go over the fact that Titans star running back Derrick Henry ran for 2,000 yards. We know that, just as we know that attendance totals were a *little* bit lower than usual. Instead, these are interesting stats that go a little bit deeper. These are figures that cover everything from the lowlights for the teams at the bottom of the NFL barrel to the incredible accomplishments that various players pulled off over the past 256 games, putting them in exclusive clubs with some other greats throughout history. And where better to start than with a division that was almost the worst division of all time, just barely squeaking past the 2008 NFC West.
All stats were retrieved from Pro Football Reference and Stathead.
Dallas Cowboys: They were one of three teams in NFL history to give up 30 or more touchdowns at home.
The Cowboys led the NFL in attendance throughout the 2020 season, with an average of 27,377 fans at their eight contests in limited capacity. Thankfully, the stadiums weren't completely packed for the team's home contests or there would have been a lot more booing. These Cowboys -- along with the 2015 Saints and yet another team that will appear on this list -- are one of three teams in NFL history to surrender 30 touchdowns to their opponents in their eight home games. Some of these touchdowns came in thrashings at the hands of the Browns (49-39), the Cardinals (38-10) and the Washington Football Team (41-16).
New York Giants: Daniel Jones recorded one of 25 quarterback seasons in NFL history with 11 touchdowns or fewer in at least 400 pass attempts.
Not every quarterback can be like the Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilsons of the league, tossing touchdowns with high efficiency and on more than 7% of their attempts. But you don't have to do it quite as infrequently as Daniel Jones. Of all quarterbacks with at least 400 passes attempted, no one had a lower touchdown percentage than Jones at 2.5%. Teddy Bridgewater ranked second to last at 3.0%.
Philadelphia Eagles: They were the only team in the league with zero players reaching at least 600 receiving yards.
Last season's oft-repeated factoid was that Carson Wentz had a grand total of zero wide receivers who reached the 500-yard mark, though tight ends Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz both surpassed that total. But in 2020, of the 74 players in the NFL who recorded 600 receiving yards, the Eagles had none. Meanwhile, every other team in the league had at least one. The Jets had Jamison Crowder. Washington had Logan Thomas and Terry McLaurin. The Giants had three — Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. The Cowboys one-upped them there, with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz.
And the Eagles, as I triple- and quadruple-check the list, have exactly zero.
Washington Football Team: Terry McLaurin joined elite wide receiver territory with 2,000 yards in his first two seasons.
While the Eagles had to deal with receiver issues, watching recent draft picks at the position falter and convince no one that they're future stars, the Washington Football Team has experienced the exact opposite outcome. McLaurin, who somehow fell to the third round of the 2019 draft (and went 19 picks after the Eagles' JJ Arcega-Whiteside), has been a consistent bright spot for Washington despite frequent quarterback struggles.
With 2,037 yards in two seasons, McLaurin is one of 21 wide receivers since 2000 to surpass that 2,000-yard mark, giving him more yards than DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill and several others in his first pair of pro campaigns.
Buffalo Bills: Stefon Diggs challenged Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and others for the best debut season on a new team among wide receivers.
With 127 receptions thanks to instant chemistry with MVP candidate quarterback Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs totaled the sixth-most catches in a single season by a wide receiver in NFL history. That's more than double what he had in Minnesota in 2019, a campaign in which he still posted impressive numbers (63 catches for 1,130 yards). Along with his crazy league-high catch count, Diggs also led the NFL with 1,535 receiving yards in 2020. The Hopkins trade to Arizona may have been the biggest wide receiver news of the offseason, but No. 14's debut in Buffalo was the better of the two.
Here's how he compares to some other notable players in their first years with new teams:
Stefon Diggs (2020 Bills): 127 receptions, 1,535 yards, 8 TDs
DeAndre Hopkins (2020 Cardinals): 115 receptions, 1,407 yards, 6 TDs
Randy Moss (2007 Patriots): 98 receptions, 1,493 yards, 23 TDs
Terrell Owens (2004 Eagles): 77 receptions, 1,200 yards, 14 TDs
Terrell Owens (2006 Cowboys): 85 receptions, 1,180 yards, 13 TDs
Brandon Marshall (2012 Bears): 118 receptions, 1,508 yards, 11 TDs
Brandon Marshall (2015 Jets): 109 receptions, 1,502 yards, 14 TDs
Miami Dolphins: Their defense allowed 156 fewer points in 2020 than in 2019.
It was almost a worst-to-first scenario for Brian Flores' defensive unit in Miami, but a 56-point dismantling at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in Week 17 significantly weakened the ability to make that a reality. Still, it was a remarkable turnaround. The 2019 Dolphins' defense ranked dead last, allowing 494 points. Comparatively, the 2020 iteration allowed only 338 points, which was good for No. 6 in the NFL. A big part of that was Xavien Howard, whose 10 interceptions paced the NFL and led a defense that turned over its opponents a league-high 29 times.
New England Patriots: Cam Newton became only quarterback in past 50 years with eight or fewer passing touchdowns and 10 or more rushing scores.
Back in early November, I wrote a story regarding the unprecedented stat line that Newton was on pace for. Through eight games of the season, Newton had recorded a whopping eight rushing touchdowns while tallying only two scores through the air. And while he didn't quite stay on the track that would've yielded 16 rushing touchdowns to four passing touchdowns, he did record a stat line that has never before been replicated. Though it's certainly a unique accomplishment to finish with eight passing touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns, it's not one that guarantees his future as a starter for the Patriots — or for any team.
New York Jets: Frank Gore extended his lead over Emmitt Smith for the most seasons of at least 500 rushing yards to 16.
Sure, I could've chosen to look for a statistic regarding the Jets' historically awful minus-214 point differential. But that would've been a disservice to one of the game's greatest players of all time, and seeing as there has already been a decent amount of negativity on this list, let's look at a positive stat. Gore, who suffered a concussion for the then 0-12 Jets and played in an often anemic offense, still managed to collect 653 yards at age 37, giving him 16 (consecutive) seasons of 500 yards or more on the ground. That pushes his all-time record for an additional year of an incredible career.
Atlanta Falcons: Eight of the Falcons' 12 losses were by seven or fewer points.
This frustrating Falcons factoid — you can never have too much alliteration — makes them an extremely interesting team in the grand scheme of the league's history. With the Falcons' total point differential of minus-18, Pro Football Reference's expected win-loss formula pegged the Falcons for 7.6 wins and 8.4 losses -- instead of the 4-12 season they had. In fact, of all post-merger teams whose seasons ended with a point differential somewhere in between zero and minus-20 points, the Falcons are the only 4-12 team on the whole list. A handful of teams, including the 1990 Falcons and 2019 Chargers, went 5-11 with a similar point differential, but bad luck and questionable decisions ruined another quietly solid Matt Ryan season (4,581 yards, 26 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 93.3 passer rating) and provided them with the lowest win total of all teams in this point differential bracket.
Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey was one of 17 players with three multi-touchdown games this season ... and he only played in three games total.
Just because McCaffrey dealt with various injuries that derailed his 2020 campaign doesn't mean he was ineffective in the limited time he did play. His nose for the end zone remained second to none, as he scored six touchdowns in just three games. All of his games were two-score outings, meaning that he was one of 17 players with at least three such contests. McCaffrey tied James Conner, Leonard Fournette and Miles Sanders, among others, with six touchdowns -- and as a reminder, he played in just three games.
New Orleans Saints: They became the 12th team in NFL history with four straight seasons of 11-plus wins.
The Sean Payton-Drew Brees tandem may be coming to an end due to the latter's likely retirement, and if that's the case, it will have been on a strong note. Joining such esteemed franchises as the 2010s Patriots, the 2000s Colts and the late 1970s Cowboys, the late 2010s Saints joined an exclusive group of 11 other squads to pull off four seasons of 11 wins in a row.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady became the only age-38 or older quarterback to throw for 40 touchdowns in a season. He did so at 43 years old.
This one would make more sense if Brady did it at age 38, and there's a real possibility that Aaron Rodgers is able to join this club in 2021 -- but more on Rodgers later. For now, we'll focus on the fact that no quarterback in history had ever thrown for 40 touchdowns past his age-38 season until Brady did it in 2020. He's 43. I'm hoping I can still literally sit in a desk chair for an hour without too much back pain when I'm 43 years old. And here goes Brady recording his second 40-touchdown season to go along with 4,633 yards and just 12 interceptions. It's truly amazing.
Houston Texans: Every quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,800 yards and 30 touchdowns in a single season had at least seven wins. Deshaun Watson had four.
Poor Watson. He led the entire NFL in passing and had four wins to show for it. And he did that after losing arguably the best wide receiver in football in Hopkins. And he lost Will Fuller to a suspension, among other wide receiver changes. And it probably didn't help his win-loss record that his defense recorded just three interceptions on the season, becoming only the third unit in league history with so few turnovers.
Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor joined exclusive rookie company with 1,100-yard, 10-touchdown rookie campaign.
It wasn't a smooth first year in the NFL for Taylor, who was thrust into a starting role due to Marlon Mack's injury, lost his starting job to Jordan Wilkins after some poor performance and then re-emerged as a star down the stretch. It all culminated in an eruption in Week 17 in which Taylor broke Edgerrin James' franchise record for most rushing yards in a game, with Taylor's 253 completely burying James' 219. With this huge day, Taylor became the 25th rookie running back to record 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns in his debut season, joining the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Saquon Barkley and many others.
Jacksonville Jaguars: James Robinson recorded the most yards from scrimmage for any undrafted rookie in NFL history.
It only took Robinson 14 of the Jaguars' 16 games to do so, and this shining star in an otherwise forgettable offense completely exceeded expectations as he took over for Fournette. Considering Fournette was a fourth overall pick and Robinson wasn't even drafted, you could call this one of the unlikeliest successions we've witnessed. Robinson joined Philip Lindsay, LeGarrette Blount and Dominic Rhodes as the only undrafted free agent rookie 1,000-yard rushers that the game has ever seen.
Tennessee Titans: A.J. Brown joined elite wide receiver territory with 2,000 yards in his first two seasons.
You thought I was going to find a way to incorporate Derrick Henry here, no? Too easy.
McLaurin wasn't the only second-year receiver to post a brilliant follow-up to an impressive rookie campaign. Brown joined that same group of 21 wide receivers and made some truly exceptional catches along the way.
Chicago Bears: Cordarrelle Patterson became the fifth player in NFL history with 7,000 kick return yards and 3,000 yards from scrimmage in his career.
Of all the Swiss Army knives the NFL has had over the years, Cordarrelle Patterson has made his mark as one of the best. An eighth-year veteran out of Tennessee, Patterson had a lot of success against the Bears earlier in his career while playing for the Vikings, including two kick return touchdowns against them, but he's helped to repay for those moments in his two seasons in Chicago. In 2020, Patterson added a league-high 1,017 kick return yards to his career total in addition to 364 yards from scrimmage to put him over the 7,000-yard and 3,000-yard barriers in those respective stats. Only Darren Sproles, Devin Hester, Brian Mitchell and Leon Washington had achieved that feat before.
Detroit Lions: They were one of three teams in NFL history to give up 30 or more touchdowns at home.
The Cowboys weren't alone in this dreadful statistic. Luckily for the Lions, their 2020 home attendance policies meant that practically no Detroit locals had to witness their 1-7 home record, which was marked by a 41-21 loss to the Colts, a 47-7 thrashing by the Buccaneers and a no-defense-allowed 37-35 loss to the Vikings that ended their 5-11 season. The Lions finished last in the league in both points and yards allowed to their opponents, and while the offseason focus may be more about who's at quarterback than anything else, the defense is something that needs just a little bit of tinkering.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 40 touchdowns and at most five interceptions -- and that stat doesn't do his performance justice.
As stated above, Rodgers became the first ever 40-touchdown, 5-interception quarterback. He also became the first 45-touchdown, 5-interception quarterback and the first 48-touchdown, 5-interception quarterback.
Let's think about that again -- 48 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Packers punted the ball two fewer times than Rodgers threw for a touchdown on the season — that's another first in NFL history. And Rodgers' stat line could have been even stronger, too, given that the Packers were tied for fifth in the NFL with 31 dropped passes. Here's to the 2020 MVP.
Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook joined 16 other players in league history with 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns in a season.
Cook's incredible season was overshadowed by two factors, the first being that Henry rumbled for 2,000 yards and the second being that teammate Justin Jefferson broke the all-time record for receiving yards in a rookie season. But Cook warrants his own recognition, as the above statistic shows. This feat was even more impressive when you consider that Cook only played in 14 games this season, meaning he joins just three other running backs — O.J. Simpson, Jim Brown and Priest Holmes — to put up those monstrous numbers in 14 or fewer games. He has definitely earned his five-year, $63-million extension, so long as he can remain heathy.
Baltimore Ravens: They became the third team in NFL history to boast three 700-yard rushers.
Lamar Jackson led the way with his second straight season of 1,000 rushing yards, while rookie J.K. Dobbins picked up 805 yards on 6.0 yards per attempt (the league lead among running backs) and Gus Edwards plowed forward for 723 yards. Who did the Ravens join with this impressive feat? The 2011 Panthers (with Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) and ... the 2019 Ravens (with Jackson, Edwards and Mark Ingram).
Week 17 was a perfect way to cap off the 2020 season for the Ravens, seeing as they rushed for 404 yards, which was just the fifth 400-yard rushing game for an NFL team in history.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow totaled 2,688 passing yards in his first 10 games, a top-five figure of all time.
Though Burrow's rookie season ended prematurely in one of the worst ways imaginable, Bengals fans got to see a glimpse of what the next two decades (hopefully) will look like. All the pre-draft and preseason hype seemed to be worth it, as Burrow stepped in right away and impressed with his poise and talent. He won some hard-fought games, including a shocker over the Titans in Week 8, and with a better defense and improved offensive support system, the Bengals should be a winning football team sooner rather than later.
The four quarterbacks who threw for more yards in their first 10 games are Cam Newton, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and another rookie from this season -- who sits at No. 1. That's not bad company to be in.
Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt became the second running back duo since 2000 to each collect 1,100 yards from scrimmage and score 11 touchdowns.
Baker Mayfield deserves credit for a strong 2020 season that shushed a lot of critics — though not all of them — and helped lead his Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002. But without the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb (1,067 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns in 12 games) and Kareeem Hunt (841 rushing yards, 304 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns), this offense would've been a lot less successful.
The only other running back duo to achieve these numbers in the past 20 years was Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara for the 2017 Saints.
Pittsburgh Steelers: They were the first team in NFL history to start 11-0 and only finish 12-4 on the season.
This is a good and bad feat for Pittsburgh, which became just the ninth team since 1990 to start a season with an 11-0 record, before losing a shocking game at the hands of the Washington Football Team. The Steelers then dropped another one to the Bills and lost for a third straight time in an unimaginable defeat to the Bengals. They finished the season with a loss to the Browns in which they rested their starters.
The New Orleans Saints started 11-0 in 2009 and went 2-3 to finish out the season, but that 13-3 record was the worst finish we had seen before the Steelers went and changed that.
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray became the second quarterback in league history to record 25 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Murray's MVP trajectory skidded to a halt in the weeks following the Hail Murray — he went from 23-1 odds in early November to 13-2 odds following the Hail Murray and was no longer found in the top 10 by Week 16. Still, we shouldn't discount what a great year it was for the second-year Murray despite a less-than-stellar second half. His explosiveness on the ground and immediate chemistry with DeAndre Hopkins propelled him to a 37-touchdown season — 26 through the air and 11 on the ground. Only Cam Newton's 2015 MVP season has matched those numbers.
Los Angeles Rams: Their shutdown defense ranked first in points allowed, total yards allowed, first downs allowed, passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed and net yards per pass attempt allowed.
When a team goes 10-6 just as their former first overall quarterback is entering his prime, you'd probably expect that success to come on his shoulders above everyone else's. But while Jared Goff was merely average throughout the course of the season, the Rams defense became an impenetrable force, leading the league in all of the above categories and finishing in the top five for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and rushing yards per attempt allowed.
As the Rams enter the postseason, opposing team should be terrified of this vaunted defensive unit.
San Francisco 49ers: Despite injury, George Kittle did George Kittle things.
Though his overall stat line isn't the most impressive — Kittle finished with 48 catches for 634 yards and two scores — you have to factor in that he only played in eight games and was likely at less than 100% when he was playing. With shoddy quarterback play thanks to a revolving door of Nick Mullens, Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard, it should've been even harder for Kittle to perform. But he put up the second-most receiving yards for a tight end who played in half a season or less throughout league history, and his 79.3 yards per game is a top-15 figure at the position for any season.
Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf became first Seahawks duo to post 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns apiece.
It wasn't only their yardage exceeding 1,000 yards that makes this duo special. And besides, Brian Blades and Joey Galloway already did that in 1995. What Blades and Galloway didn't do in that stellar season was also each find the end zone double-digit times. Lockett and Metcalf, on the other hand, each scored exactly 10 times, with Lockett using a special 90-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 17 to push him over that boundary.
Denver Broncos: Brandon McManus tied record with 10 50-yard field goals.
A healthy combination of an offense that wasn't often able to finish drives, the Mile High altitude and a kicker with a heck of a leg allowed us to witness Brandon McManus boot 10 50-yard field goals in a whopping 15 attempts, including an insane 70-yard attempt to end the season. Justin Tucker and Blair Walsh are the other two kickers to boot 10 50-yarders in a single season. They both achieved the feat on a perfect 10 attempts.
Las Vegas Raiders: Darren Waller became the fifth tight end in NFL history with 100 catches for 1,100 yards.
Travis Kelce, Dallas Clark, Zach Ertz and Tony Gonzalez are the other four, but what makes this feat a little hard to stomach is that Waller was oh so close to reaching 1,200 yards. In fact, he was just four yards shy of that number, which would've narrowed the group to just him, Kelce and Gonzalez. Now that's a trio. It's been a great road back from rock bottom for Waller, and the Raiders are happy to have him in town at an affordable price for at least three more years.
Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert broke the rookie record for passing yards in the first 10 games.
While Joe Burrow ranked at No. 5 on this list, Herbert stands alone at the top. He ultimately ended just 38 yards short of Andrew Luck's rookie season record (4,374 yards) but also played in one fewer game. What other rookie records does Herbert now hold? Most passing touchdowns for a rookie, with 31; most passing yards per game for a rookie, with 289.1; youngest quarterback to throw for 30 touchdowns in a season, at 22 years and 299 days old. Etc., etc.
Kansas City Chiefs: Travis Kelce became the first tight end in league history with 1,400 receiving yards.
Kelce may not only be the best tight end in football — he might be the best pass-catcher, period. He's the only tight end ever to break the 1,400-yard mark, and had he played in all 16 games, there's a real chance he could've led the league in receiving yards. He finished second to Stefon Diggs by 119 yards, a figure that Kelce surpassed in four of his final seven games.