AFC boasts record number of winning teams as NFC's filled with losing teams
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In a season when much of the NFL is clustered around break even, the AFC can boast a record number of winning teams headed into Week 15 while the NFC has the most teams ever on the losing side.
Led by four playoff contenders in the ultra-tough AFC North, the AFC has 11 teams with a winning record through 14 weeks. That's the most ever at this point of the season, topping the previous mark of 10 last reached by the AFC in 2021.
The NFC is on the other side of the equation thanks in part to the the lackluster South division, which is in danger of going a second straight season without a winning team. In all, 11 of the 16 teams in the NFC have losing records, topping the previous high entering Week 15 of nine last done by the NFC in 2020.
The way things stand right now, all four teams in the AFC North are in the thick of the playoff hunt with Baltimore (10-3) having the best record in the conference and Cleveland (8-5) and Pittsburgh (7-6) in wild-card position. Cincinnati (7-6) is just on the outside because of tiebreakers.
There has never been a season when every team in a division finished with a winning record. The last time a division got four teams into the playoffs came in 1998 when every AFC East team other than Indianapolis did it.
The NFC South is on the opposite side with Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans all tied at 6-7 and Carolina standing at an NFL-worst 1-12.
The Buccaneers won the division with an 8-9 record last season, marking the fourth time that every team in a division finished with a losing mark. It also happened in the 2020 NFC East, the 2014 NFC South and the 2010 NFC West.
Much of the league is clustered around six or seven wins, with six teams in the AFC tied at 7-6 and six teams in the NFC at 6-7. The Vikings are the lone 7-6 team in the NFC. The 13 teams with six or seven wins are the most through 13 games in NFL history, topping the previous mark of 10 last reached in 2018.
Tennessee pulled off a comeback for the ages on Monday night in Miami.
The Titans trailed 27-13 with less than three minutes to play before rallying for a 28-27 victory in regulation. Teams down by at least 14 points in the final three minutes of a game had lost 669 consecutive games in the regular season and playoffs since New Orleans rallied from 15 points down to beat Washington 34-31 in overtime in Nov. 19, 2017.
Tennessee was the first team ever to trail by at least 14 points with less than 2:55 remaining and win in regulation.
The Titans pulled it off by using a strategy embraced by the analytics community that has become more prevalent in recent years.
Coach Mike Vrabel opted to go for a 2-point conversion after scoring a TD that made it 27-19 with 2:40 to play. The Titans converted and then were able to win in regulation by kicking the extra point after their next touchdown.
It's the second time this season a team has pulled that off with Green Bay doing it to New Orleans in Week 3.
Tennessee became one of five teams to win after entering this past week with four or fewer wins, joining New England, Chicago, the Giants and the Jets.
It's just the sixth time, excluding the 1982 strike season, that five teams with four wins or fewer won in the same week this late in a season, according to Sportradar. It last happened in 2018 when seven teams did it in Week 14.
It had been more than four years since an NFL game went to halftime without either scoring.
Then it happened twice in one afternoon on Sunday.
The Jets-Texans game didn't have any points until the opening drive of the third quarter. The Vikings and Raiders took it much deeper than that, coming within less than two minutes of being the first game without any points scored in regulation since 1943.
The last game in the NFL without a point scored in the first half was between Washington and San Francisco in rainstorm on Oct. 20, 2019. The last time two games were 0-0 at halftime on the same day came Oct. 30, 1988, when the Cardinals and Cowboys and Dolphins and Buccaneers did it.
The Jets ended up winning 30-6, while the Vikings and Raiders tempted history before Greg Joseph kicked a 36-yard field goal with 1:57 to play. The only game in the Super Bowl era that went longer without a score came in 2007 when the Steelers beat the Dolphins 3-0 on a field goal with 17 seconds left on a rainy night in Pittsburgh.
There have been five other games in the Super Bowl era that finished 3-0, with most of those impacted by bad weather. The Raiders and Vikings played in a dome and had the lowest scoring game ever indoors.
The NFL has had 76 games finish with a 0-0 score but the most recent came on Nov. 7, 1943, in a game between the Giants and Lions.
Joe Flacco led Cleveland less than three weeks after signing off the street, putting the Browns in some rare company.
Cleveland became the seventh team in the Super Bowl era to win games with four starting quarterbacks in the same season with only the 2015 Texans able to make the playoffs out of that group. The Browns currently hold the top wild-card spot in the AFC and are in position to join Houston.
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