The key to success in the NFL is quality quarterback play. In the month of September, no one has been better at winning games than Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (he's literally never lost). But when it comes to consistency over the course of a career, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has a record that's approaching legendary status.
It should come as no surprise that Mahomes and Wilson have their respective teams off to undefeated starts in 2020. They're a couple of the most celebrated passers in the game today and project to be among the MVP frontrunners at season's end. All it takes is one look at their highlight reels to understand why that is, but let's dive a little deeper into the important numbers and broaden our vision beyond the eye-popping plays.
In this weekly piece, we'll highlight the numbers that often set social media ablaze and break down the reasons why we find them so interesting. Featured in the paragraphs to follow are Mahomes' streak of wins in September, Wilson's impressive career record and a few other nuggets that caught our eye in Week 2.
9 — Patrick Mahomes improved to 9-0 in the month of September. He almost didn't, though. The Kansas City Chiefs got off to an extremely slow start on Sunday and needed an overtime period to put away the Los Angeles Chargers. Mahomes wasn't immune to his team's struggles. He only had 60 passing yards in the first half (lowest first-half total of his career), as the defending Super Bowl champs trailed 14-6.
In the second half, Mahomes and the Chiefs returned to form. Thanks to a 54-yard bomb to wide receiver Tyreek Hill and some late-game heroics from kicker Harrison Butler, Mahomes maintained his unblemished September record. Kansas City kept rolling, but the 25-year-old phenom looked human for the first time in a long time on Sunday. Now that the Chargers have showed it's possible to stop Mahomes for a half, maybe another team will figure out how to do it for a full game.
11 — The Detroit Lions' losing streak reached 11 consecutive games with their loss to the Packers on Sunday. The streak dates back to Week 9 of last season and is the NFL's longest active losing streak. Matt Patricia has won just nine of 34 games since taking over as Detroit's head coach in 2018. That's significant since his predecessor, Jim Caldwell, won nine games in his final season with the team (9-7, 2017).
Adding to the humiliation is the fact that the Lions have held a double-digit lead in each of their past four losses. They are the first team in NFL history to do that. Patricia can't keep losing in embarrassing fashion and expect to keep his job. No coach is on a hotter seat than his right now.
15 — Carson Wentz is 14-15 in his past 29 regular-season starts. His Philadelphia Eagles are now 0-2, after falling to the Los Angeles Rams by 18 points at home in Week 2. This outcome was a far cry from the last time Wentz faced the Rams, 30 games ago, as an MVP front-runner in Week 14 of the 2017 season.
While Wentz still flashes that heroism in isolated moments, his gladiatorial approach to the game has cost his Eagles far more than it has helped them as of late. So far this season, he has five turnovers (four interceptions, one lost fumble) and only two touchdown passes. Wentz has been particularly ineffective after the halftime break, as Philly has scored just three second-half points in 2020. Injuries have always been an issue — whether they're his own or to those around him — but the excuses for his shortcomings are starting to wear thin.
42 — The Packers scored 42 points in their win over the Lions. This is the second straight week they've eclipsed the 40-point mark, after hanging 43 on the Vikings in Week 1. All other teams have combined to produce just one 40-point game so far this season (Cowboys in Week 2). Green Bay's 85 points scored through two weeks are the franchise's most since 1945, when they scored 88.
After an offseason in which many believed (myself included) that the Packers would regress toward the mean, the offensive explosion in Year 2 under head coach Matt LaFleur has been astonishing. Veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing at a level we haven't seen since his last MVP run in 2014. With six touchdown passes and zero interceptions in thorough defeats of both the Vikings and Lions, Rodgers and the Packers still rule the NFC North. Rookie quarterback Jordan Love can get comfortable on the bench.
61 — Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow attempted 61 pass attempts in the Cincinnati Bengals' loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. That's the second most pass attempts in a single game by a rookie ever, trailing only Chris Weinke's 63 attempts in 2001. Atlanta's Matt Ryan is the only other quarterback who has attempted more than 50 passes in a game this season (Week 1 vs. Seahawks).
It's clear the Bengals are putting everything on Burrow in his rookie season. He currently leads the NFL with 97 pass attempts (and has also rushed 15 times). The first-overall pick is going to experience some serious growing pains, especially behind Cincinnati's offensive line. Burrow can't transform this Bengals team in one season, but he'll continue to be something special for as long as he can roll with the punches.
88 — Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson won his 88th regular-season game on Sunday night. This broke a tie with Tom Brady for second most career wins through a quarterback's first nine seasons. Reminder: Wilson's ninth season just started. He now trails only Peyton Manning (92) and has 14 more games to find four more wins.
The mantra this offseason was to "Let Russ Cook," and so far the Seahawks have. The results? Seattle is 2-0 with wins over the Falcons and Patriots, and Wilson leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (9), passer rating (140.0) and completion percentage (82.5). Believe it or not, Wilson has never received a single vote for the league's MVP award. That is likely to change in 2020.
440 — Heading into Week 2, teams that had scored at least 39 points without turning the ball over were 440-0 all time. The Atlanta Falcons changed that on Sunday, after allowing the Dallas Cowboys to score 16 unanswered points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. The Falcons, who led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, ended up losing by one point on a last-second field goal.
This loss, combined with the now-infamous 28-3 meltdown in Super Bowl LI, only strengthens the narrative that the Falcons are prone to epic collapses. It's difficult to see how head coach Dan Quinn can overcome that. With his team sitting at 0-2, Atlanta's next devastating heartbreak may be the one that ultimately costs Quinn his job.
729 – Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has thrown for 729 yards so far this season. That is the most in the NFL through two weeks. Before this year, Allen had never thrown for 300 yards in a single game. He finally hit that mark with 312 yards against the New York Jets in Week 1, then set a new career-high with 417 yards against the Dolphins in Week 2 (both wins).
Take a deeper dive into Allen's numbers and you'll find that he's only the fourth quarterback in league history to throw for 700+ yards, 6+ touchdowns and zero interceptions through the first two weeks of the season. The others are Peyton Manning (2013), Tom Brady (2015) and Patrick Mahomes (2019). Allen is still good for a boneheaded lowlight from time to time, but it's hard to argue with his rising overall production. Now, let's see if he can do it against the Patriots.