Stats & Info: NFL

Top stats to know: Eagles at Colts

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15

Getty ImagesMcCoy has 303 combined rush yards his last 2 MNF games; Luck making only 2nd MNF start of career.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts are meeting for the 19th time ever tonight, but the first time on Monday Night Football (8:30 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). Here are the best statistical angles for the game tonight.

Great late
Both teams fell behind by 17 points in Week 1, but only the Eagles came back to win.

Philadelphia trailed 17-0 at halftime in its season opener against the Jaguars, but outscored Jacksonville 34-0 in the second half.

Prior to that game, the Eagles were 1-39 since the merger in games they trailed by at least 17 points at the half.

Like the Eagles, the Colts also trailed by 17 points at halftime in their season opener. Indianapolis rallied, but still lost at the Broncos 31-24.

The Broncos thwarted the Colts’ comeback attempt in the fourth quarter thanks to some stellar pass defense.

They intercepted or defended seven passes by players in coverage in the final 10 minutes of the game, more than any other team since 2006 (when ESPN began video tracking).

Quarterbacks with something to prove
Nick Foles had four turnovers all of last season, but had three in the first half against the Jaguars in the season opener.

Foles’ improvement in the second half was the biggest reason the Eagles scored 34 straight points and came away victorious.

As mentioned above, Andrew Luck and the Colts fell behind by 17 at halftime against the Broncos, but rallied in the second half.

Although Luck's completion percentage was lower in the second half (63.2) than the first (73.3), he did throw for 134 more yards after the break (252) than he did in the first two quarters (118).

Coming back is nothing new to Luck during his brief NFL career. Although he didn't get it done in Week 1, since he entered the league in 2012, Luck leads the NFL in game-winning drives (10). Tony Romo is second on the list with nine such drives.

Quick hitters
• Reggie Wayne will be appearing in his 198th game with the Colts. That’ll tie him with Eugene Daniel for third on the team’s all-time list, behind only Peyton Manning (208) and Johnny Unitas (206).

• Luck has gone 33 straight starts without losing back-to-back games to begin his career, tied with Dan Marino for the longest such streak since the merger.

• The Eagles have won each of their last five road openers, including last year on Monday Night Football in Washington. That’s one behind the Texans (who won at Oakland on Sunday) for the longest active streak of its kind.

• LeSean McCoy has rushed for 119 (2012 at Saints) and 184 yards (2013 at Redskins), respectively, in his last two games on Monday Night Football.

• Trent Richardson is averaging just 2.9 yards a rush since being traded to the Colts prior to Week 3 of the 2013 season. That ranks 44th out of the 45 qualified rushers in that time span.

Bears' victory comes after steep climb

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
Brandon Marshall caught three touchdown passes to help the Bears catch the 49ers.
In Week 1 it was the Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 2, on Sunday night, it was the Chicago Bears.

For the second time in two weeks, a team that trailed 17-0 in the first half mounted a rally and pulled out a highly improbable victory.

On Sunday night, on the possession after the San Francisco 49ers took a 20-7 lead in the third quarter, the Bears’ win probability dipped to 5.2 percent. The Bears finished that drive with the second of Brandon Marshall’s three touchdown catches, making the score 20-14 and improving their probability of winning to 20.3 percent.

The first snap after the ensuing kickoff was the game’s biggest play in terms of win-probability swing. Kyle Fuller’s interception of Colin Kaepernick’s pass boosted the Bears’ chances of winning by more than 25 percentage points.

The Bears’ win probability surpassed 50 percent on Jay Cutler’s touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett on the next play, and the Bears never had less than a 45 percent likelihood of winning in the final 13 minutes.

Less is more
Whether it’s because the Dallas Cowboys win more often when Tony Romo passes less, or it’s that Romo passes less when the Cowboys are winning, there’s no denying Romo has performed better when he throws fewer passes. In his career, his win-loss record, touchdown-to-interception ratio and Total QBR are much better when he attempts fewer than 30 passes in a game.

Romo threw 29 passes Sunday in the Cowboys' 26-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. He completed 66 percent of his passes, but he was sacked four times and averaged 6.1 air yards per pass. His Total QBR was 63.

Total QBR is a metric on a 0-to-100 scale, with 50 being average. Even when Romo throws 30 or more passes, he performs at a level above the NFL average.

Don’t blame Saints’ offense
The New Orleans Saints have posted an NFL-high plus-30.3 offensive efficiency this season. But their defense and special teams have combined for a minus-34 efficiency, the worst in the NFL. Efficiency accounts for the impact of each play on a team’s potential point margin.

Five other teams since 2006 have posted a worse defense/special teams efficiency in their first two games, and four of them finished under .500. But there might be some hope for New Orleans -- the 2007 New York Giants finished 10-6 and won the Super Bowl.

Theme of the week: Injuries abundant

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
Significant injuries were aplenty on Sunday, with some teams in better position to adjust and deal with them than others.

Here’s a snapshot look at some of the most notable injuries, with notes worth keeping in mind for those players and their potential replacements moving forward.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins QB
Griffin’s dislocated ankle figures to sideline him for an extended period of time.

His replacement, Kirk Cousins completed his first 12 passes and threw for 250 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Griffin has had only two interception-free games with at least 250 yards and multiple touchdown passes in his career.

Cousins started three games last season after Griffin was shut down. He completed 53 percent of his passes (the lowest percentage among 34 qualified quarterbacks) and his 31.4 Total QBR ranked 28th.

DeSean Jackson, Redskins WR
Jackson suffered a shoulder injury and said after the game that he’s day to day.

With Jackson out, tight end Niles Paul came through in a big way for the second straight game, with eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Paul had only 11 games with a reception prior to Sunday and had never had more than four catches in a game in his NFL career.

Jackson was signed to be a big-play threat for the Redskins. He hasn't been targeted on a pass of at least 15 yards downfield yet this season.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals WR
Green injured his toe last week and tried to play through the injury but could not. He told reporters after the game he hopes to play next week. Green entered this week with 2,907 receiving yards since the start of the 2012 season. Only Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Demaryius Thomas had more in that span.

Quarterback Andy Dalton was undaunted by Green’s absence, completing 15 of 23 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown.

Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu had a 76-yard touchdown reception and completed a 50-yard pass.

Sanu became the first player with at least 50 yards passing and 50 yards receiving in the same game since Rod Smith (72-yards passing, 130 receiving) for the Broncos at the Chiefs on Oct 5, 2003.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs RB
Charles left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, another in a host of injuries that have hurt the Chiefs in the first two weeks. Knile Davis replaced Charles and ran for 79 yards and two scores in the Chiefs’ loss to the Broncos. Davis also managed six receptions, but gained only 26 yards on them. Charles averaged 9.9 yards per reception last season.

Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins RB
Moreno injured his elbow 11 minutes into the Dolphins' loss to the Buffalo Bills. Moreno rushed for 134 yards in his Dolphins debut last week. The Dolphins were forced to play catch-up for most of the day against the Bills. Their 20 rushes by others netted 76 yards, but none for more than seven yards. Moreno averaged almost six yards per carry last week.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers RB
Mathews was carted off the field after hurting his right knee in the Chargers win over the Seattle Seahawks. Sources told Adam Schefter the injury could be a sprained MCL.

Mathews played a significant role in the Chargers playoff push last season, averaging 118 rushing yards in their past four regular-season games.

If Mathews is out for an extended period of time, the Chargers do have an experienced backup in Donald Brown.

Brown averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season for the Colts, the third highest yards per rush of anyone with at least 100 rushing attempts last season.


Cowboys find blueprint for success

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
After an ugly loss to the 49ers last week and Tony Romo struggling mightily, the Cowboys needed to find a winning formula to avoid a daunting 0-2 start (after which NFL teams have made the playoffs only 11.6 percent of the time since 1990). It seemed like they found it in a 26-10 drubbing of the Titans.

Going to the Ground Early
Jason Garrett came out of the gate featuring his running game, increasing it after early pressure on Romo, running 53 percent of the time over the first half to give Dallas a nice 16-0 cushion at the break. This allowed the Cowboys to amp up their rushing percentage even further over the last two quarters. They finished the game with a total of 43 rushes compared to 33 total dropbacks (57 percent rushing).

DeMarco Murray rushed 19 times on first down Sunday for 116 yards and a touchdown. Entering Sunday, Murray had 19 total rushes in only four of his last 15 games (since start of 2013). He finished with a career-high 29 carries for 167 yards.

Featuring the Stars
In addition to the heavy DeMarco workload, the Titans got a large dose of Dez Bryant. The receiver was targeted on 14 of Tony Romo’s 29 pass attempts, finishing with 10 catches for 103 yards and a TD. That’s the highest percentage of Romo passes to go to Bryant in a game since the two became teammates in 2010. In total, Murray and Bryant combined for 40 offensive touches Sunday, six more than their previous high in a game.

Can’t Argue with Results
Last season Dallas rushed the ball only 34 percent of the time, finishing 8-8. During Jason Garrett’s tenure as Dallas head coach, the Cowboys rushed more than they've passed only eight times. Including today, Dallas is 7-1 in those games. Need more evidence to support a rush-heavy approach? The score certainly influences this, but in 13 career games that DeMarco Murray has eclipsed 20 carries, Dallas is 12-1.


Rivers' game plays to Seahawks strength

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsPhilip Rivers led the NFL in completion percentage last season, mainly because of his short approach.
Philip Rivers was a revelation in 2013. The long-time San Diego Chargers quarterback rediscovered himself under then-offensive coordinator (and current Titans head coach) Ken Whisenhunt.

Rivers led the league in completion percentage (69.5 percent), while posting his highest touchdown total (and lowest interception total) in his last five seasons.

His success highlighted the short and simple approach of the Chargers methodical offense. Rivers completed 76.1 percent of his short attempts (throws 10 yards or fewer downfield) as San Diego led the NFL in third-down conversion rate (49 percent).

Rivers was among the most effective third-down quarterbacks in the league. He completed a league-best 64.7 percent of his throws on such downs, while his 81.3 Total QBR was the best among quarterbacks to start all 16 games last season.

But Rivers will find the stout Seahawks pass defense up to the challenge in Week 2.

Since the start of last season, the Seattle defense is the best in the league at containing the short passing game.

The Seahawks secondary is effective against the short pass due not only to its coverage, but also its tackling.

Seattle’s defense has limited opponents to 1,106 yards after the catch on short passes (or 4.2 yards after the catch per reception), both best in the league since 2013.

Perhaps the best display of the Seahawks dominance in the short passing game came in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Peyton Manning ranked first or second in the league in completion percentage (74.5), yards per attempt (6.6), touchdowns (37) and Total QBR (79.5) on short passes last season. Meanwhile, Broncos receivers led the NFL in yards after the catch, recording more than 250 such yards than the next closest team.

During the Super Bowl, the Seahawks let Manning check down all day. Short passes accounted for 78 percent of his attempts, on which he completed 78.9 percent of the time.

However, the Seahawks held the Broncos to only 3.6 yards after the catch on those passes, the lowest mark of the season for Denver. Seattle also held the Broncos without a touchdown on short passes for only the second time all season.

Looking ahead to Week 2, Rivers will have to adjust in order to survive Seattle’s secondary.

One thing working in his favor is his dominance when throwing to the left and middle of the field. Since 2010, Rivers is tied with Peyton Manning for the best completion percentage (69.7 percent) on attempts to the left or middle of the field.

On Sunday, Rivers faces Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, who played all 56 snaps on the offense’s right side in Week 1 against the Packers. In that game, Aaron Rodgers did not attempt a single pass to a wide receiver outside the painted numbers on that side of the field.

Flacco's short passes go a long way

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12

AP Photo/Nick WassFlacco's eyes (and passes) stayed close to the line of scrimmage against the Steelers.
For just the third time in 13 meetings since 2008, the margin of victory between the Ravens and Steelers was more than three points. A lot more.

Baltimore’s 26-6 win was due in large part to Joe Flacco’s new-found reliance on the short passing game. Possessing one of the strongest arms in the league, Flacco was content to keep his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage on Thursday night.

The Ravens signalcaller threw 29 passes, completing 21. All but one of those successful connections came on attempts of 10 or fewer yards downfield. Breaking it downs even further, Flacco was especially prolific on throws of no more than five yards from scrimmage, completing 16 of his 21 attempts within five yards of the line.

This was just the seventh time in 99 career regular season games that Flacco threw at least 20 passes of five yards or less. Last week he attempted 20 such throws against the Bengals (completing 11) which marks the first time in his career that he’s gone back-to-back games with 20 such short passes within a season.

Aiding greatly in this dramatic change of game plan is the emergence of Owen Daniels and healthy return of Dennis Pitta.

Against Pittsburgh the pair of tight ends were responsible for eight catches on nine targets with two touchdowns, both of which went to the former Texan who managed just three scores in five games last season with Houston.

No Ravens tight end caught two touchdowns in a game last season, and Daniels was just the fifth tight end over the past 10 seasons to catch multiple touchdowns in a game against the Steelers.

And finally, playing the Steelers brings out the best in Flacco. He completed 72.4% of his passes on Thursday, his best completion percentage in a game since the start of 2013. In 18 games during the last two years, Flacco's three best games in terms of completion percentage have now all come against Pittsburgh.

Numbers to know: Steelers at Ravens

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11

AP Photo/Don WrightThe Ravens and Steelers have split the last 12 meetings, with 11 being decided by 4 points or less.
The Ravens and Steelers kick off Week two of the NFL season tonight from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Here's a few numbers to know going into the game.

Clash of equals
Since Baltimore drafted Joe Flacco in 2008, the Ravens and Steelers have played 12 times in the regular season, with 11 of those games being decided by 4 points or less. The series is split 6-6 during that time, and the Ravens have outscored the Steelers 225-202 in those games.

The Ravens have gotten the better of the Steelers in recent meetings. Baltimore is 4-2 in the last 6 meetings, and turnovers have been the story.

From 2008 to 2010, the Ravens were -3 in turnover differential against the Steelers and 2-4 in the regular-season series. Since then, Baltimore is +13 in the turnover battle and 4-2 against the Steelers.

Flacco fluttering down to earth
Following a victory in Super Bowl XLVII, Joe Flacco signed a new contract that included $51M in guaranteed money. But since that Super Bowl win, only Eli Manning (29) has thrown more interceptions than Flacco (23), and his 6.3 yards per attempt rank 37th out of 38 qualifying QBs.

During that four-game playoff run, Flacco excelled on the deep throw, completing 48 percent of the passes he threw 20+ yards down the field, with four touchdowns and no interceptions on those throws.

In 17 games since then, Flacco has completed just 21 percent of those same passes, with two touchdowns and five interceptions. In his last 3 games, he's 1-for-17 on those long throws.

Ground game is key
The outcome of tonight's game could depend on the ability of the Steelers to run the ball.

Since the start of the 2012 season, the Steelers are 10-2 when they rush for at least 100 yards (they had 127 yards on the ground in their Week 1 win against the Browns). That .833 winning percentage is the third-highest in the NFL over that span, trailing only the Patriots (.920) and Broncos (.875).

When the Steelers can't get the running game going, they're a much different team.

When they fail to gain 100 rushing yards over that same span, the Steelers are 7-14 (.333), but they've actually been able to keep it close, being outscored by just 16 total points in those games.

To get it done, they'll lean on Le'Veon Bell, who is trying to become just the second Steelers running back to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games in the last six seasons (Jonathan Dwyer).

Since Week 4 of last season, Bell has 1,456 yards from scrimmage, the fifth-highest total in the league over that span.

Patterson makes things happen efficiently

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11

Michael B. Thomas/Getty ImagesWide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on only 3 carries on Sunday.
It didn’t take long for Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson to remind the league that he’s one of the most explosive players in football. Patterson ran for 102 yards on only three rushes in Sunday’s season-opening win against the Rams, including a 67-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Patterson’s 67-yard run is tied for the second-longest rush by a wide receiver in the last five seasons, and tied for the second-longest rushing touchdown by a wideout in the last nine seasons.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Patterson is the second player since 1950 to gain at least 100 rushing yards in a game with three or fewer rushes.

Patterson has gained at least 50 yards rushing in each of his last three games. Dexter McCluster is the only other wide receiver since 2001 to have three games with at least 50 rushing yards (all in 2011), and no other wideout has done it in back-to-back games during that span.

Patterson isn’t gaining empty yards - he’s a real threat to score whenever he touches the ball. He has five career rushes lined up in the backfield. Three of them have finished in the end zone, all gains of at least 33 yards.

Patterson has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last six games, the longest active streak for any skill player and the longest streak for a wide receiver since Wes Welker had eight straight games with a score over the 2012-13 seasons.

Patterson only had one total touchdown in his first 11 games of his career, and there is still room for his role to grow in the Vikings offense.

Patterson has averaged 2.8 receptions per game in his career, but is the only receiver on the Vikings roster to catch a pass in all 17 games since the start of last season.

While the Patriots game plan for Patterson this week, it’s worth noting he could have been a Patriot. Patterson was the 29th selection in the first round of 2013 NFL Draft, a pick originally owned by New England.

New England traded that pick to Minnesota for four picks, two of which were used on players still on the roster.

Cornerback Logan Ryan tied for fifth in the league with five interceptions last year, while linebacker Jamie Collins is the only Patriot with a sack, forced fumble and interception in the last eight games.

Is AFC East now wide open?

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9

Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsAfter losing to Miami on Sunday, New England is alone in last place in the AFC East.
The New England Patriots were ranked as the No. 3 team in the Week 1 NFL Power Rankings behind the Seahawks and Broncos. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ AFC East rivals were all ranked in the 20s.

With Week 1 in the books, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets are all 1-0 and the Patriots sit at 0-1. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots are in sole possession of last place for the first time since Tom Brady became quarterback.

Is this just a Week 1 mirage, or is there reason to believe the AFC East is more wide open than originally seemed?

Week 1 Rank: 3
Week 2 Rank: 7

The Patriots lost their opening game for the first time since 2003, and could potentially fall to 0-2 (they play at Minnesota) for the first time since 2001. Week 2 of that season would be when Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe as the Patriots quarterback.

Brady has been one of the best quarterbacks ever since, but time may be catching up to him.

In Week 1, Brady attempted 18 passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield and completed only two. The 16 incompletions on those attempts were the most in game by a passer since 2006.

Although Rob Gronkowski caught a touchdown in the game, his impact was limited.

Brady completed only four of 12 attempts to Gronkowski, the duos lowest completion percentage in a game with more than five targets.

Week 1 Rank: 21
Week 2 Rank: 22

It might have been against the Raiders, but Geno Smith did complete a career-high 82.1 percent of his attempts in Week 1. Smith was able to do so by keeping it short, with his average pass traveling 4.5 yards downfield, second lowest of the week.

The Jets ranked 30th with a 33.2 Total QBR last season and still finished the season 8-8. Smith playing smarter will help the Jets hang onto the ball, and will give their group of capable running backs – led by former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson – a chance to shine. The Jets gained more rushing yards in Week 1 (212) than they did in a game all of last season.

Week 1 Rank: 22
Week 2 Rank: 15

The Dolphins were able to take down the Patriots in Week 1 with a strong rushing attack. Miami’s 191 rushing yards in the opener was more than it had in any of its games last season.

Maybe more importantly for the Dolphins’ success, Ryan Tannehill was sacked only once in Week 1. Last season, Tannehill played in 16 games and was sacked multiple times in 14 of them.

Week 1 Rank: 29
Week 2 Rank: 23

The Bills could be the biggest Wild Card of the AFC East. The Bills had one of the most disruptive defenses in the NFL last season, especially on passing plays, trailing only the Seahawks in opponent Total QBR.

The Bills’ big weakness last season was their offense as rookie EJ Manuel struggled to stay healthy.

In Week 1 Manuel completed a career-high 72.7 percent of his passes, including 5 of 7 of his attempts thrown at least 15 yards downfield. Last season Manuel ranked 33rd completing those passes (38.1 percent).

Top stats to know: Lions 35, Giants 14

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
The Monday Night matchup between two of the NFL’s most interception-prone quarterbacks featured one who excelled and one who continued to struggle.

The Detroit Lions controlled their win over the New York Giants from start to finish behind the quarterbacking of Matthew Stafford and the receiving of Calvin Johnson.

Stafford impressive under pressure
Stafford was 22-for-32 with 346 yards and two touchdown passes, good for a career-best 97.5 Total QBR . He has 23 300-yard games in the past four seasons, third-most in the NFL in that span. Only Drew Brees (35) and Tom Brady (25) have more.

Stafford completed six of eight passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns when under duress, including 3-of-3 for 107 yards when targeting Johnson. Stafford’s 75 percent completion when under duress was a career best.

Lions receivers did not drop a pass in this game. They led the league the past season with 46 drops -- 10 more than any other team.

Megatron’s mega-game
Johnson had 164 yards and two scores and set the tone with a 67-yard touchdown reception less than three minutes into the game. It was his 13th touchdown reception of at least 50 yards in the past eight seasons, and with it he passed Greg Jennings and DeSean Jackson for most in the NFL.

Johnson has 14 games with multiple touchdown catches over the past seven seasons. Only Randy Moss has more in that span (15).

Johnson had a career-high 98 yards receiving and two touchdown catches in the first quarter. In fact, Johnson matched his career high for first-quarter touchdowns in a season with the two he caught in this game. He had as many yards at halftime (131) as any other receiver had in a game in Week 1.

At the end of three quarters, Johnson had outgained the Giants 131-123. Johnson was the first receiver to have at least 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants in a while. The latest was Santana Moss of the Redskins in 2005.

Manning’s struggles continue
Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw two interceptions and looked uncomfortable for much of the game. Manning has 47 multi-interception games since he entered the NFL in 2004. That's the most in the league in that span.

Little went right for Manning in this game. He was 3-for-10 with a touchdown and an interception when under duress.

He completed 13-of-25 passes (52 percent) for 118 yards and two interceptions against four or fewer pass rushers. Tom Brady was the only quarterback from Sunday’s Week 1 games to have a lower completion percentage against standard pressure (50 percent).

The Giants did go to the short passing game more often in the first game since their offseason offensive overhaul, in which they committed to a West Coast-style offense. Manning's average pass traveled 6.2 yards downfield, including 5.7 yards in the first half. The past season, Manning led the league with 9.5 air yards per attempt.

What's the significance of a Week 1 win?
Since the postseason expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 54 percent of teams to start 1-0 reached the postseason. Only 25 percent of teams that started 0-1 made the postseason.

Did you know? This was the 29th time the Lions have appeared on Monday Night Football. Only twice -- 1981 (31-point win against the Bears) and 1973 (25-point win against the Falcons) -- have they won by more than they did on Monday.


Clowney to miss four to six weeks

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJadeveon Clowney will miss 4 to 6 weeks after having surgery on his right knee.
Jadeveon Clowney – the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft - will miss four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today. Clowney missed only two games due to injury in his three seasons at South Carolina.

Clowney was injured late in the second quarter of Houston’s win over Washington.

The last defensive player picked No. 1 overall pick who missed any games in his rookie season (due to injury or otherwise) was Steve Emtman in 1992. He tore his ACL in his left knee nine games in.

Jadeveon Clowney Injury History
• November 17, 2012: Clowney does not play in South Carolina’s win over Wofford due to a sprained foot.

• August 29, 2013: Clowney told reporters after South Carolina's season debut win over North Carolina that he had been battling a stomach bug.

• September 2013: South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said that Clowney would be day-to-day with bone spurs in his right foot. The issue stems back to his high-school playing days.

• October 5, 2013: Clowney does not play in South Carolina's win over Kentucky because of sore ribs that had kept him out of practice.

• April 2014: Reportedly had a "slight groin pull" during pro day workout

• June 12, 2014: Clowney undergoes hernia surgery after he had struggled with a groin injury

• August 20, 2014: Left practice with Broncos after taking helmet-to-helmet hit with Broncos TE Jacob Tamme. Clowney sat out the final two Texans preseason games with what was diagnosed as a concussion. Clowney said he passed the NFL protocols on concussions & head injuries in just over a week.

• Sunday: Leaves game with knee injury. According to reports, the Texans fear Clowney has a meniscus tear.

Issues with notable No. 1 overall picks in other sports
Clowney is not the first No. 1 overall pick to miss time in his rookie season.

Stephen Strasburg - the first pick in the 2009 MLB Draft - made 12 appearances for the Nationals in 2010 before leaving a start on August 21 with elbow pain. Strasburg would go on to have Tommy John surgery and would not return to the Nationals until September 2011.

The NBA’s top overall pick in 2009 - Blake Griffin - fractured his left knee in a preseason game following a dunk. Griffin would have surgery on the knee and miss his entire rookie season.

And in September of 2007, Greg Oden had his first microfracture knee surgery, costing him his entire rookie season.

Clowney Worthy of the Hype
• 15th defensive player drafted 1st overall and first since Mario Williams in 2006 (also went to the Texans). He was the second SEC defensive player to go No. 1 overall and first since LB Aundray Bruce from Auburn in 1988.

• 4.53 seconds in 40-yard dash at combine (fastest for any player over 265 pounds at combine since 2006).

• In his last year in college (2013), he had 10 fewer sacks than in 2012 but nearly identical QB pressures (2.2 per game in 2013, 2.3 per game in 2012).

• He had "the hit" on Vincent Smith of Michigan on January 1, 2013 in the Outback Bowl which forced a fumble that he recovered.

Top stats to know: Chargers at Cardinals

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8

Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesKeenan Allen led all rookie wide receivers in yards after the catch (433) last season.
The first week of the 2014 NFL season concludes tonight when the Chargers travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals (10:20 ET on ESPN). Here are some stats to know for this game.

Efficiency matters
The Chargers offense (second) and the Cardinals defense (fourth) ranked among the top five units in the NFL last season.

By conventional measures (points per game), the Chargers offense ranked 12th and the Cardinals defense ranked seventh.

Efficiency, otherwise known as expected points added (EPA), measures the points a unit contributes to its team’s net scoring average, compared with the average NFL unit.

Getting defensive
The Chargers defense ranked among the bottom five in the NFL in Opponent Total QBR (63.5, 28th), completion percentage (66.4, 29th) and yards per attempt (8.01, 30th). They drafted cornerback Jason Verrett in the first round to help the unit.

The Cardinals defense allowed the fewest rushing yards per game (84.4) and yards per rush (3.7) in the NFL last season. In addition, they ranked third in touchdowns allowed (five).

However, they will be without two key front-seven defenders this season - Darnell Dockett (torn ACL) and Daryl Washington (1-year suspension).

• Philip Rivers is 4-2 in head-to-head games against Carson Palmer.

• San Diego’s Keenan Allen led all rookies in receiving yards (1,046) and receiving touchdowns (eight) last season. He also led all rookie wide receivers in yards after the catch (433).

• The Cardinals have lost three straight and nine of their last 10 games on Monday Night Football.

They have the worst MNF win percentage (.295) of any team since the merger.

• Carson Palmer has lost five straight Week 1 starts.

Top stats to know: Giants at Lions

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8

Leon Halip/Getty ImagesThe Giants have won 5 straight at the Lions, including an overtime win last season.
The Giants and Lions kick off the 45th season of Monday Night Football tonight (7 ET on ESPN). Let’s take a look at some storylines heading into this game.

Mistakes prove costly
The Giants started out last season 0-6, their worst start since opening 0-9 in 1976. New York did win seven of its final 10 games to finish 7-9.

One reason for that poor start was their inability to keep the ball. New York finished with a league-high 44 turnovers last season, including 23 during their 0-6 start (the Lions were tied for second with 34 turnovers).

Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a league-high 27 interceptions last season, setting a team record in the process.

Unlike the Giants, the Lions got off to a good start last season, but finished poorly. Over its first nine games (6-3 record), Detroit outscored the opposition by 2.4 points per game while averaging just 1.4 turnovers per game.

However, they went 1-6 over their last seven games and were outscored by 0.4 points per game while averaging three turnovers per game.

Quarterback battle
Eli Manning has started 151 consecutive regular-season games. With the retirement of London Fletcher, it’s the longest active streak in the league. Brett Favre holds the all-time record for most consecutive starts at quarterback with 297.

If Manning can pass for 123 yards tonight, he’ll pass Jim Kelly (35,467) for 18th place on the NFL’s all-time list.

As for Detroit’s starter, Matthew Stafford, he threw for 4,650 yards last season, ranking third in the league, behind only Peyton Manning (5,477) and Drew Brees (5,162).

Premier wide receivers
Victor Cruz fell just two yards shy of his third consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2013.

Over the last three years, his nine receiving touchdowns of 50+ yards are the most in the league (Jordy Nelson is second with eight).

On the other side is Megatron – Calvin Johnson.

With Stafford making every start over the last three seasons, Johnson has put up remarkable numbers. His total of 5,137 receiving yards is 1,120 more than the player with the second-most (Brandon Marshall).

• The Giants have won five straight road games against the Lions, a streak that began in 1988 when Detroit was playing at the Silverdome in Pontiac, MI.

• This game marks the regular-season debut of Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. He replaces Jim Schwartz who went 29-51 in five seasons with the team. Caldwell went 26-22 in three seasons with the Colts from 2009-11.

Again, Browns' QB is below average

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
Joe Sargent/Getty Images Brian Hoyer led a 24-point comeback but couldn’t get the Browns a victory.
One of the most stirring comebacks in Week 1 of the NFL season came in Pittsburgh, where the Cleveland Browns erased a 27-3 halftime deficit and tied the score less than four minutes into the fourth quarter. But three plays involving Brian Hoyer late in the game cost the Browns their last chance to win in regulation and added to the team’s already notable total of below-average quarterback performances.

With 1:53 left in the game, the Browns had the ball at their 20, and Hoyer had a 54 Total QBR. Hoyer was sacked on first down, threw an incompletion and then completed a pass for -6 yards. The Browns punted, and the Steelers ended up kicking a winning field goal on the final play.

Hoyer ended up with a 46 Total QBR, the 48th game in which the Browns’ starter has recorded a QBR of less than 50 in the last five seasons (QBR: 0-to-100 scale, 50 is average). Only the Jacksonville Jaguars, with 50, have more.

Eagles’ improbable comeback
The Philadelphia Eagles entered Sunday 1-39 since the merger in games they trailed by at least 17 points at the half.

After a neutral zone infraction penalty by Trent Cole gave Jacksonville a 1st-and-5 at the Philadelphia 19 midway through the second quarter, the Eagles had a 4.5% win probability, their lowest in the game.

It’s the lowest win probability the Eagles have overcome in a game they ended up winning since Dec. 19, 2010, when they recovered from a 0.75% chance of winning against the New York Giants. The Eagles came back from 21 points down in that one, with DeSean Jackson scoring the game-winning touchdown as the clock expired on a punt return.

Brady, Patriots O-Line struggle
Tom Brady posted a 32.2 Total QBR against the Miami Dolphins, his lowest against the Dolphins since Week 14 of 2006, when he posted a 9.6.

Brady was sacked or under duress on 16 of his dropbacks, his second-most in any game since 2006 and his most since 2009.

Overall, the Patriots posted a -9.6 pass offensive efficiency, their fifth-worst in any game since 2006 (since ESPN began video tracking). The efficiency rating means the Patriots’ passing contributed about negative-10 points toward the team’s score.

Cowboys inefficient
The Dallas Cowboys’ offense gained 194 yards in the first half Sunday, the third-most yards the San Francisco 49ers have allowed in the first half in a game the last three seasons. But despite the yardage total, Dallas had a -13.6 offensive efficiency in the half, the Cowboys’ worst in any first half since 2008.

Offensive efficiency accounts for the impact of each play, including turnovers, on the potential point margin. Of the Cowboys’ four first-half turnovers, one was returned for a 49ers touchdown and another gave San Francisco possession at the Dallas 2-yard line. Nearly 14 points of Dallas’ 25-point halftime deficit can be attributed to the Cowboys’ offense.

Overall, the Cowboys posted a -7.3 pass efficiency, their worst in a game since 2010. Maybe this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The 49ers’ defense has a +49.9 defensive efficiency on pass plays in the last five seasons, second to the Seahawks’ +77.3.

Sunday doesn't bode well for Cowboys

September, 7, 2014
Sep 7
Opening Day was a rather grim one for the Dallas Cowboys, who struggled early and often in their 28-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The 25-point halftime deficit was their worst in a season opener in team history.

What went wrong?

Let’s start with quarterback Tony Romo, who didn’t throw an interception on a play-action pass in the entire 2013 season. He threw three in the first half on Sunday afternoon.

Romo has 11 games with at least three interceptions since the start of the 2006 season. The only quarterback with more in that span is Eli Manning with 16.

The Cowboys defense did not force a turnover. It marked the 17th straight game that the Cowboys have lost when not registering at least one turnover. The last game the Cowboys won without forcing a turnover was Week 5 of 2009 against the Chiefs.

The Cowboys couldn’t stop Anquan Boldin, who caught all eight of his targets, netting 99 yards and six first downs. Colin Kaepernick has completed 73 percent of his throws to Boldin in games in which Michael Crabtree was active, 64 percent when Crabtree was inactive.

What does such a rough performance mean?

Consider this stat:

There have been 847 teams in NFL history to finish a season with a winning record. Of those, only two trailed by more points at halftime of their season opener than the Cowboys did on Sunday (the 1989 Steelers and the 1991 Lions).