It’s been a wild start to the 2018 NFL season, where seemingly everything has turned upside down. Ryan Fitzpatrick has morphed into Tom Brady, players are now retiring at halftime of games, and the Browns even didn’t lose a game! How about that!
We’ve tried to quantify the craziness that we’ve seen through the first two weeks of the NFL season with ten pretty amazing stats that nobody could have ever predicted just ten days ago.
1) It’s Patrick Mahomes’ world now, and we’re just living in it
Most Pass TD in First 2 Games of a Season
Patrick Mahomes 10 TD (2018)
Peyton Manning 9 TD (2013)
Drew Brees 9 TD (2009)
Charley Johnson 9 TD (1965) pic.twitter.com/WHUck7FBqn
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 16, 2018
There’s always a debate that exists over whether or not to play rookie quarterbacks right away or to let them sit on the bench for a year (or even more). After the start Patrick Mahomes has had in Kansas City, expect the latter to become a more popular option. Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith and made just one appearance last year. This year, he’s burst onto the scene with a NFL-record 10 TD passes in his opening 2 games (and 0 INTs). His QB rating is an absurd 143.3! On Sunday in Pittsburgh, he had more TDs (6) than incompletions (5). It may be crazy to think that Mahomes could keep this kind of pace up, but he’s shown enough already to be at the forefront of any way-too-early MVP discussion.
2) Speaking of that Chiefs-Steelers game…
Stat of the day: Since 1940, NFL teams scoring 37+ points at home with 0 turnovers were 386-0.
The Steelers lost doing that today.
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) September 17, 2018
The Steelers may be falling apart at the seams with drama surrounding Le’Veon Bell and now Antonio Brown, and this stat may show that the universe isn’t on their side in 2018. The Steelers accomplished something that hadn’t been done since 1940 in the NFL by scoring more than 37 points at home and not turning the ball over and still losing. The Steelers are literally inventing new ways to lose games, so it may be an even longer season for Mike Tomlin and company.
3) Ryan Fitzpatrick, yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is having the best fantasy football start in 15 years
Ryan Fitzpatrick's 72.3 fantasy points are the most through two team games by any player in the last 15 seasons. pic.twitter.com/N75QCLyv7n
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 17, 2018
Another MVP candidate is * checks notes * Ryan Fitzpatrick?!? The journeyman QB best known for his big beard and Harvard education has suddenly transformed into the second coming of Peyton Manning. Fitzpatrick is off to one of the best fantasy football starts in history (leading the league with 819 yards as well as 8 TDs) for the 0.00001% of people that have been starting him from Week 1. Congratulations to all of you auto-drafters out there. Even more impressive is that he’s done it by playing the Saints and Eagles, two of the pre-season favorites in the NFC.
4) The ties that bind… are, well, ties
In case you're curious…
The last time there were 2 games that ended in a tie during the first 2 weeks of a season was in 1973, the year before the NFL instituted the overtime rule.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 16, 2018
The NFL has never had ties in back-to-back weeks to start the season since overtime has been put into place in the 1970s. Amazingly, the Browns-Steelers draw in Week 1 was followed by the Vikings and Packers doing the same in Week 2. Since the NFL has cut overtime from 15 minutes to ten, ties could even become more commonplace in the future. Because if there’s one thing football fans will surely love, it’s more ties, right?
5) You’ve probably never heard of the NFL’s leading rusher
Lions couldn't catch "The Cheetah" @MattBreida.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 16, 2018
The NFL’s leading rusher through 2 weeks isn’t Ezekiel Elliott or even Saquon Barkley, it’s second-year player Matt Breida of the San Francisco 49ers. Breida was signed as a rookie free agent in 2017 from Georgia Southern after not only going undrafted, but not even getting an invite to the combine. He was a backup his rookie year and did manage 3 total TDs but he has burst onto the scene so far this year by leading the NFL in rushing with 184 yards so far.
6) Saquon Barkley sets a Giants franchise record you’d never expect
He's played in two regular season games. pic.twitter.com/zxbB0mocHD
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 17, 2018
Barkley has been impressive for the Giants in the early days of his career, just in a non-traditional way. In fact, the Giants’ rookie running back already has a franchise record under his belt… in a receiving category. Barkley caught 14 balls on SNF in Week 2 against the Cowboys, although they only totaled 80 yards.
7) Michael Thomas is on pace for 8,543 catches this year
Through two games, Michael Thomas has a NFL best 30 targets and 28 receptions. He set the record for most receptions during the first two games of the season by passing Andre Rison's 26 in 1994. #FantasyFootball pic.twitter.com/OiTgYXNnrn
— FantasyData (@nfldata) September 17, 2018
Another player who’s been racking up the receptions is Saints’ WR Michael Thomas. The former Ohio State Buckeye had a Saints’ franchise-record 16 catches in the Week 1 shootout loss to the Bucs. He followed that up by amassing 12 catches and 2 TDs in the narrow win over the Browns on Sunday. The next closest player in the NFL only has 20 catches. Thomas already set the record for most catches over his first two seasons in the league, and it looks like even more records should fall with Drew Brees tossing him the pigskin every week.
8) Kevin Byard should play QB for the Buffalo Bills
— Armchair NFL (@ArmchairNFL) September 16, 2018
The Titans pulled off this fake punt against the Texans with defensive back Kevin Byard hooking up with Dane Cruikshank for a huge gain. According to the New York Times, Byard’s fake punt pass is the longest completed pass by a defensive player in NFL history by some margin:
It was a mostly forgettable game between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, but some N.F.L. history was made when Kevin Byard, a third-year safety, threw a 66-yard touchdown pass which was the longest ever recorded by a defensive player.
What may be the most unbelievable? Byard’s throw smashed the previous record of just 13 yards set by Ed Meador of the Los Angeles Rams back in 1967. Any time you can more than quadruple an existing record, it might be safe to say this one is going to last for a while.
9) New NFL coaches are still strugggggggling
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 16, 2018
First year coaches and coaches at new teams had a notoriously bad start in their new places with the entire lot going winless (0-7) in Week 1. While it didn’t improve much, at least they racked up some victories in Week 2. The Bears’ win over the Seahawks on Monday Night Football vaunted new coaches in new places to 3-4 on the week and a 3-11 overall record. Given how bad some of these teams have looked that remain winless (hello Arizona, Detroit, and Oakland), it could be a rough season for these teams.
10) Khalil Mack has been as productive as the entire Oakland Raiders
I’ll tell ya what, I’m not sure who that number 52 is for Chicago, but that guy can play. That’s the type of player you want on your team, man. I’m going to have to do some research on this guy
— Jon Gruden (@Faux_Gruden) September 10, 2018
One of those new head coaches is new/old Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, who seems to be COMPLETELY BAFFLED BY HIS DEFENSE’S INABILITY TO CREATE A PASS RUSH IN SPITE OF TRADING AWAY THE BEST PASS RUSHER IN THE LEAGUE. The Raiders shipped Khalil Mack to Chicago and all he’s done so far is notch 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT, and 1 TD. The Raiders * as a team * have gotten 2 sacks with 1 INT and… that’s it. It’s been more than just the stats, though, as Mack has made the entire Bears defense better and into what looks like a legit force. The Raiders, on the other hand… at least they’ve got Brent Musburger?