Before the playoffs get underway, let's take a nerdy look back on the 2012 NFL regular season with a breakdown of the 10 most fascinating stats that came out of the 256 games played between Sept. 5 and Dec. 30.
6.5: That's how many yards per play the New Orleans Saints surrendered on defense this season, which is an all-time NFL high (post-1970 merger). Seventeen other teams have given up more than six yards per play before, but none had ever allowed more than the 6.4 Detroit gave up when it went 0-16 in 2008. Pretty amazing the Saints actually won seven games. Also interesting: the 2011 Packers were just below 6.3, which is fifth on the all-time list, and yet that team won 15 regular-season games.
13: That's the number of games the Denver Broncos won by at least seven points in 2012. Only four other teams in NFL history have won 13 or more games by that wide a margin, and three of those teams played in the Super Bowl.
557: That's how many points the New England Patriots scored, ranking first in football by a 76-point margin but falling short of their own all-time record, which was set in 2007 (589). The 2011 Green Bay Packers remain second on the all-time list, just ahead of the 2012 Pats with 560 points.
1,191: That's the number of offensive plays the Pats ran this year, ranking second all time. In fact, the Patriots have somehow now had the three most prolific seasons in NFL history in terms of sheer snap count. The 1994 team ran 1,199 and the 1995 team ran 1,187. Purely coincidental, but a cool anomaly (I think?). The Detroit Lions ran 1,160 plays this year, which now ranks fourth all time.
162: That's the number of points the Dallas Cowboys scored in the fourth quarter this year, which is the fifth-highest total in NFL history. By comparison, Dallas only scored 36 points in the first quarter. And in terms of overall points scored, the 'Boys had only 376, which was one point above the league median.
6.0: That's how many yards per attempt C.J. Spiller averaged in 2012, which tied him with Adrian Peterson at the top of the league (min. 200 attempts). What's amazing is that Spiller only got 207 carries all season despite how well he was playing. Prior to this season, only three backs in NFL history (O.J. Simpson, Barry Sanders and Jamaal Charles) had averaged more yards per carry with at least 200 attempts in a single season. How stupid are the Bills?
102.4 and 100.0: The first number is Robert Griffin III's 2012 passer rating. The second is Russell Wilson's. Only one other rookie quarterback had finished a season with a passer rating in the triple digits (min. 200 passes thrown) prior to this season (Marc Bulger, 101.5, in 2002).
3: That's how many interceptions St. Louis Rams rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins returned for touchdowns in 2012. In NFL history, only Ronnie Lott had done that back in 1981.
45.5: That's how many points were scored per game this season, which is the highest total since the merger. The previous record was 44.4 in 2011. And before that, it was 44.0 in — you guessed it — 2010. The same exact story can be told regarding total yards per game. And there were also 202 more first downs picked up this year than there were in 2011. It's only a matter of time before games average 50 points and 800 yards.
0.9: That's how many interceptions teams threw on a per-game basis this season. It's only the second time in NFL history in which that number has dropped below 1.0. Why is that so crazy? Because there were more passes thrown this year than any other season in NFL history (368 more than in 2011). Offenses are becoming more and more efficient every single year.