Getting out to a fast start is important. Getting a lead forces your opponent to be one-dimensional and gives your defense an advantage. Ironically, Minnesota has scored the most first-quarter points with 62, but is 1-6.
The Vikings' problem is that they have only scored 13 points in the third quarter and 26 in the fourth. The offense has fizzled out in the second half, and things didn't change against the Packers with a new quarterback. The Vikings were leading 17-13 at the half, but lost control of the game in the third quarter. Ten fourth-quarter points by Christian Ponder and Co. weren't enough to win.
When it comes to coming closing the deal, nobody tops the Packers. Whatever adjustments they are making at halftime have been working. They have scored 69 third-quarter points while giving up just 10.
In the fourth quarter, the Saints and Falcons stand at the top of the list. New Orleans has the most fourth-quarter points with 68 (10 per game) and Atlanta has given up just 17 fourth-quarter points (2.4 per game).
Select few in good company
Six receivers have now been targeted at least 60 times. These are the darlings of the prima-donna position. You can bet the other receivers around the league will be on their quarterback this week to get them on this list.
Wes Welker leads the way with 75 targets and 51 receptions in six games. He's on pace for 200 targets and 136 receptions.
A couple of Week 7 games had a strange vibe, and had me asking how that happened? Plaxico Burress had three touchdown receptions but finished with just 25 yards receiving. Tim Tebow led Denver to a win over Miami despite being sacked seven times on 34 pass plays (once every five drop backs). And Tebow completed four passes in Denver's first 11 drives!
As weird as those numbers were, the strangest was the Browns' 6-3 win over the Seahawks. Cleveland held the ball for 42:56, the most time of possession in the league last week, and scored just six points, the lowest point total to win a game this year. The second-best time of possession Sunday belonged to New Orleans at 38:19 and the Saints scored 62 points.
Cleveland converted 50 percent on third down (12 of 24) and moved the chains for 20 first downs. Still, the Browns came away with just two field goals. That's hard to do when you have the ball that long.
Ten-play drives mean points
Every coach loves a drive of 10 plays or more. It controls the clock, rests the defense, and usually winds up with points.
Cleveland had five drives of 10 plays or more. No one else even had four. In fact, the Atlanta-Detroit game had none.
The NFL average for touchdowns at the end of a 10-play drive is 36 percent. The Giants lead the league with five touchdowns in seven drives. The Bears are last with just one in nine possessions, but they have kicked a field goal at the end of the other eight drives. Over the past five years, 36.1 percent of drives of 10 plays or more have resulted in touchdowns, so things are on pace. But keep in mind, teams that make the playoffs have scored a touchdown at the end of those drives 40 percent of the time.