Stats can tell you a lot, and most of the time they’re accurate. However, sometimes stats tell lies. Sometimes stats tell you teams or players are better or worse than they actually are. Through five weeks of the NFL season, that’s been the case. Here are five NFL stats you shouldn’t let fool you as the season goes on.
1. New England Patriots – 6.8 points allowed per game
Through five games, the New England defense has allowed an average of 6.8 points per game. This number has put them in the conversation with some of the best defensive units of all-time. While the Patriots are a good defensive team, they shouldn’t be in that conversation.
In their first five games, the Patriots have played the Steelers, Dolphins, Jets, Bills and Redskins. The only team on that list with a winning record is the Bills (4-1), but they have the interception prone Josh Allen as their quarterback. Between the other four teams, there’s a combined one win. To this point in the season, the Patriots have had the easiest schedule in the NFL.
There’s not one offense the Patriots have played that’s averaging more than 20 points per game right now. The best offense they’ve faced was the Steelers’, who are averaging 19.8 points. Three of the other four teams are averaging 15 points or less and are currently the three worst offensive teams in the league (Redskins, Jets and Dolphins).
Basically what I’m saying is, the 6.8 points allowed per game average won’t last through the season. The last team to average less than 10 points allowed was the 1977 Atlanta Falcons, who averaged 9.2 points allowed per game. Since then, the closest team to doing it was the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. They averaged 10.3 points allowed.
New England will likely keep their points per game average below 10 points per game over the next few weeks, as they play the Giants, Jets and Browns in their next three games. After that, the Patriots take on the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs in five straight weeks.
I’ll give the Patriots credit for what they’ve done, because averaging 6.8 points allowed per game isn’t easy, regardless of who you play. However, this number makes the Patriots seem way better than they actually are.
2. Von Miller – 2.0 sacks
We’ve all been a little surprised by the lack of sacks Von Miller has totaled through the first five game of the season. It’s not often we see a player of Miller’s caliber with just 2.0 sacks in five games. It has been a rough season for Miller and the Broncos’ defense so far, and it’s even tougher now that Bradley Chubb is out for the year.
We shouldn’t worry too much about Miller though. There has only been one time in Miller’s career he’s had less than 10 sacks. That season came in 2013 when Miller played in just nine games. Every other year of his career, Miller has finished with 10.0 sacks or more.
Bradley Chubb being out will definitely make things harder for Von Miller, but there have been years when Miller’s been the only real sack artist on his team. Most recently was in 2017 when the second leading sack artist had 5.5 sacks. Don’t expect Miller’s sack total to stay this low.
3. Baker Mayfield – 68.5 passer rating
If there’s ever been a sophomore slump from an NFL quarterback, it’s Baker Mayfield’s 2019 season so far. Mayfield finished his rookie season with a passer rating of 93.7 after completing 63.8% of his passes for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
So far in his second season, Mayfield has a passer rating of just 68.5. One of the biggest reasons for that is Mayfield’s completion percentage. Through five weeks, Mayfield has completed 55.9% of his passes. He’s also thrown twice as many interceptions (eight) as he has touchdowns (four).
Being an inaccurate passer has never been who Baker Mayfield is. In college, Mayfield completed 68.5% of his passes. He completed more than 70% of his passes in his last two seasons at Oklahoma.
I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with Mayfield, but it seems like he’s trying to do too much. As the season goes on, expect him to calm down and start playing like who he really is.
4. Minnesota Vikings – 191.0 passing yards per game
It’s no secret the Minnesota wide receivers have been frustrated with the passing game so far. They’ve made it clear the Vikings need to pass the ball more. That’s exactly what they did last week against the Giants. In that game, Kirk Cousins threw for 306 yards. 130 of those yards were to receiver Adam Thielen alone.
I think the Vikings’ coaching staff may have got a little too excited about the 111 yard game running back Dalvin Cook had on the ground in their first game of the season. That game was followed up by 154 and 110 yard rushing performances in their second and third games.
With Cook running so well, the Vikings thought they didn’t need to pass the ball. That was until the Bears held Cook to 35 yards in Week 4. The Vikings found a balance against the Giants, leading to Cook having another rushing performance over 100 yards and the passing offense looking good.
The 191.0 passing yards per game the Vikings have averaged through five weeks will quickly go up. This is a much better passing team than they’ve shown so far, especially with one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league in Thielen and Diggs.
5. Ezekiel Elliott – 77.2 rush yards per game
With 386 rushing yards in five games, running back Ezekiel Elliott is currently ranked 8th in the NFL in rushing. The lowest he’s finished in his career is 10th, and that was in a season in which he missed six games due to suspension.
The biggest reason why Elliott is further down on the rushing list this season than we’re used to seeing, is because he’s averaging 77.2 rushing yards per game. Prior to this season, the lowest rushing yards per game Elliott has averaged is 95.6, which happened last season when Elliott led the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons.
I wouldn’t expect this current pattern to continue as the season goes on. The Dallas Cowboys have relied heavily upon the run game for years, and I don’t see any reason why it’s going to stop now. Dallas hasn’t had much opportunity to run the ball over the last few weeks because they’ve dug themselves into early holes. That should change against the Jets, and then moving forward.
Running the ball is what the Cowboys do best, and they must get back to that if they want to have another successful season. Rookie running back Tony Pollard may be another reason why Elliott’s numbers have taken a hit, but when it comes down to it, the Cowboys should soon realize they have to rely on their best offensive player to carry them.