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Typical NFL also-rans surge toward playoff position in topsy-turvy season


Inside the Numbers dives into NFL statistics, streaks and trends each week. For more Inside the Numbers, head here.


The way this NFL season is going so far, there's a decent chance there could be a first-time Super Bowl participant for the first time since the 2008 season when Arizona became the 28th franchise to reach the big game.

That left four franchises without a Super Bowl berth and all of them currently have winning records and are off to some of their best starts in years.

Detroit (8-2), Cleveland (7-3), Jacksonville (7-3) and Houston (6-4) are currently in playoff position with a chance to end their droughts.

The success-starved Lions are in the best shape after winning at least eight of their first 10 games for the first time since 1962. Detroit has won just one playoff game since winning the NFL championship in 1957, nearly a decade before the first Super Bowl was played following the 1966 season.

The Browns have the longest drought without a division title, having last won one in 1989, and have won only one playoff game since returning as an expansion team in 1999. Cleveland is tied for its best record after 10 games since starting 8-2 in 1994, when Bill Belichick coached the team.

The Jaguars are tied for their best record after 10 games since starting 9-1 in 1999, when they went to the AFC title game — one of three times they got knocked out a game shy of the Super Bowl.

The Texans have never made it past the divisional round since becoming an expansion team in 2002 but are looking more and more like a contender each week thanks to the play of rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.

This season is the first time that these four star-crossed franchises all have had a winning record at the same time, and there has never been a season when more than two of those franchises made the playoffs.


Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are in a rare second-half slump.

Kansas City has gone three straight games without scoring a point in the second half for the team’s longest drought since at least 1991. In Mahomes’ first five seasons as quarterback, the Chiefs were held scoreless in the second half only twice.

Only two teams in the past 30 seasons have made the playoffs in a season when they went scoreless in the second half in three straight games but both ended up as Super Bowl champions: the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 2015 Denver Broncos.

For the season, the Chiefs have scored just 53 points in the second half for the third-fewest for any team through 10 games in the past 10 seasons, with only the 2016 Browns (51) and the 2019 Dolphins (37) scoring fewer.


Cleveland's Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Tommy DeVito of the New York Giants are the latest rookie QBs to get into the winning column.

They raised the number of rookie quarterbacks to earn a win in a start this season to nine, the most in a non-replacement player season since starts began being tracked in 1950.

There have been a record 10 rookie QB starters this season, with Arizona's Clayton Tune the only one who hasn't been credited with a win.

DeVito's victory was particularly noteworthy, as he managed to throw three TD passes and post a 137.7 passer rating despite getting sacked nine times against Washington.

That was the second-highest rating since the merger for a player who was sacked at least nine times, trailing only the 141.1 for Seattle's Dave Krieg against Kansas City in 1990. DeVito had the 88th game since the merger with a QB taking at least nine sacks, with the first 87 combining for a 64.1 passer rating in those games.


San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy is on one of the most efficient two-game stretches ever for an NFL quarterback.

Purdy is 40 for 51 for 629 yards, six TDs, no interceptions and a 157.3 passer rating the past two weeks for the highest passer rating ever in a two-start stretch.

Purdy is the seventh player to have a passer rating of at least 145 in two straight games with at least 20 attempts, and the first to do it since Drew Brees in 2018.

Purdy had a perfect 158.3 passer rating on Sunday, joining Joe Montana as the only 49ers quarterbacks ever to do that in a game with at least 15 pass attempts.

Purdy had the 25th game with a perfect rating and at least 25 attempts, with Josh Allen the last to do it in Week 4 against Miami.


Dallas cornerback DaRon Bland has developed into quite the scoring threat.

Bland tied an NFL record last week by returning his fourth interception for a touchdown this season. Bland joined Eric Allen (1993), Jim Kearney (1972) and Hall of Famer Ken Houston (1971) as the only players in NFL history to do that in a season. Bland has seven more games to take sole possession of the record.

Bland has scored as many TDs on pass plays as several top pass catchers in the league, with his four TDs the same number as Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins have scored. He has more TDs on pass plays than the entire wide receiver groups for the Jets and Browns, who have three each.