The NFL is a weird game. There's much parity across the league, except for perhaps the AFC representation in the Super Bowl over the past two decades.
The offseason serves as the perfect time to dive into the weird nuances of the NFL and see what trends have developed over the years, and my early efforts this offseason have not disappointed.
Josh Allen owns the Dolphins
For all of the jokes made at quarterback Josh Allen's expense, you probably won't hear very many being made by Dolphins’ fans. Allen is 3-1 as a starter against the Dolphins, and his one loss featured a final play heave to a wide-open Charles Clay in the end zone but fell inches short of a game-winning catch.
Allen has seven more touchdowns passes (10) against Miami than he does against any other team and has nearly 200 more rushing yards (318) against Miami that he does against any other team. For all of Allen's up and down play, the ups sure seem to coincide with games against the Dolphins.
The Patriots’ dynasty has a losing record in Miami
Speaking of weird AFC East trends, the Patriots dynasty flourished for two decades with Tom Brady at the helm — everywhere except for South Florida.
Since 2000, the Patriots are 9-11 in games played against in Miami. The Patriots are 237-83 over that time frame, meaning 13% of their losses this millennium have come against the Dolphins in an environment that has hosted just 6% of the Patriots’ total games.
The NFC West isn't closers
The saying goes that coffee is for closers. I'm beginning to question the NFC West's closing status. Each of the division's four teams has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in the past 12 years: The Cardinals in 2009 versus the Steelers, the Seahawks in 2014 and 2015 versus the Broncos and Patriots, the Rams in 2019 versus the Patriots and the 49ers in 2020 versus the Chiefs. Yet the division, for all of their successes, has just one Vince Lombardi Trophy to show for it.
Parity is the name of the game in the west, each team has won the division at least once in the last five seasons. What hurts the most is knowing we're just inches away from having three more trophies in the divisional case. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed Emmanuel Sanders on a deep post in the final two minutes of Super Bowl 54 while trailing by 4. Rams’ Jared Goff was a touch late finding a streaking Brandin Cooks in the end zone in the second half of a defensive struggle against the Patriots. And, of course, Seattle elected to throw on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line on a pass intercepted by Malcolm Butler in an all-time moment.
No coffee for you, NFC West.
The Browns' division drought
The Lions haven't won their division since 1993 and somehow that isn't the longest drought in the sport. The Browns last won their division in 1989, and they needed a tie (9-6-1) to avoid a three-way tie with the Houston Oilers and the Steelers (both 9-7) for first place in the AFC Central. Cleveland’s season that year ended at the hands of the same man who tormented them with "The Drive" a few seasons earlier, John Elway and the Broncos, in the AFC Championship Game.
While there's a lot to like about the future of the Browns' organization right now, they still feel quite a bit off the pace being set by the Ravens in the AFC North.
Seattle has represented the AFC more recently than Houston
You read that right. Houston, despite the magic of quarterback Deshaun Watson and six division titles in the past decade, has not been to the AFC Championship Game since 1979, when the city was the home of the Oilers.
The Seahawks, then a member of the AFC West, made an appearance in the AFC Championship Game in 1983 against the Raiders before flipping to the NFC back in 2002.