NFL Trends That No One Is Talking About
Photo Credit: USA Today
In the age of data and analytics, it’s very easy to spot trends in the NFL with both numbers and the naked eye. Teams are focusing more and more on the offensive side of the ball and scoring points, quarterbacks are becoming the highest paid position, kickers are struggling more and more since the extension of the PAT, etc.
There are however several trends developing in the league that seem to be flying under the radar despite some rather glaring statistics. These are the top three current trends in the National Football League that are no one seems to be talking about.
1. No bye…no chance?
Any team that reaches the postseason has a legitimate chance of hoisting the Lombardi trophy, but over the last five years, teams without a bye have become increasingly more and more irrelevant than in the past. From 2010-2012, all three Super Bowl champions played on wildcard weekend, but since then, not a single team without a bye has even reached the NFL’s championship game. What’s even worse is that road teams in the divisional round are a combined 6-21 since the 2012 season. This last week all four road teams suffered losses during the 2018 divisional round. All of these matchups (with the exceptions of the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints) were very one-sided affairs as well.
2. Paying the man…hurts the team?
Quarterback is the most important position in the league, but the current trend of massive contracts are crippling teams’ ability to improve their rosters. I might be jumping the gun on this trend, but the high cap hit quarterbacks haven’t had the success rate that many NFL teams would have hoped. In 2018, the top six highest-paid quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, and Matthew Stafford) all failed to make the playoffs. Looking long term, quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson among others have seen a significant dip in playoff success since receiving large extensions.
3. Defense wins championships…but it is it sustainable?
Year after year we see teams with fantastic defenses making deep playoff runs ….. but then immediately drop off the next year. The late 2000s Steelers had a slew of historically great defenses, but since their 2010 Super Bowl berth they’ve dropped off significantly. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2012, the Ravens have regularly had the league’s top defense…..but only have one combined playoff win. The 2013-2014 ‘Legion of Boom’ in Seattle saw great success, but the Seahawks have struggled to replicate it. The 2015 Denver Broncos were world champions, but they immediately fell into irrelevancy the next season. The 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars reached the AFC Championship…but then suffered the exact same fate as Denver.