NFL lacking parity through 10 weeks

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrates a touchdown pass to wide receiver Chase Claypool during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


There has never been more disparity across the NFL than this season.

A league built on parity has 15 teams with at least six wins and 12 others with three or fewer, the most ever in both categories through 10 weeks.

New England (4-5) is the only team in between those two extremes in the AFC, with Chicago (5-5), Minnesota (4-5), Detroit (4-5) and San Francisco (4-6) all residing in the mediocre range in the NFC.

The divisions leading the way are the AFC North with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFC West, which both have three teams that have won at least six of their first nine games thanks in part to cross-division matchups with the meek NFC East.

There had been only seven instances since the start of the eight-division era in 2002 when three teams in the same division started 6-3 or better, and it never happened twice in the same year before 2020.

The AFC has nine of the 15 teams with at least six wins, the first time any conference had that many teams win at least six of their first nine games. The previous high was eight AFC teams in 2004.

Even with the playoffs expanding to seven teams in each conference, that means at least two of those fast-starting teams will be home when the postseason starts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the NFC East, where no team has won more than three games through the first 10 weeks. The four teams in the NFC East are just 2-18-1 against opponents from outside the division, with Philadelphia’s win at San Francisco in Week 4 and Dallas’ Week 2 win at Atlanta accounting for the only wins. The Eagles also tied Cincinnati in Week 3.

The two non-division wins through 10 weeks are the fewest for a division outside of the 1982 strike season. The previous low was two wins for the AFC West in 1988.

COMEBACK KIDS: The run of impressive comebacks is showing no signs of slowing down. Arizona overcame a 14-point deficit to beat Buffalo last week 32-30, marking the 10th straight week a team that trailed by at least 13 points won a game. That had only happened previously in 2015.

In all, there have been 31 games in which a team won after trailing by double digits, the most through Week 10 in NFL history.

STREAKING: New England cornerback J.C. Jackson is on an impressive streak of takeaways. He has intercepted a pass in five straight games, the first time that’s happened since Reggie Nelson and Kurt Coleman did it in 2013. Seven players since the merger have had streaks of six consecutive games with an interception, with Brian Russell the last to do it in 2003 for Minnesota.

LONG KICKS: Heading into Week 9 this season, there had been only three weeks in NFL history that featured at least 10 field goals of at least 50 yards. Now it’s happened in back-to-back weeks.

After kickers combined for 10 field goals from long range in Week 9, there were 11 this past week, tied for the most in a single week with Week 13 of the 2012 season.

There have been 71 field goals of at least 50 yards this season, surpassing the 2017 season (67) for the most through Week 10. In all, there have been 102 attempts, also a record, from 50 yards or beyond, and the 69.6% success rate is third-best behind 71.3 in 2017 and 70.2 in 2011.


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