NFL 2021: Five Key Stats for Week 18

The National Football League’s 102nd regular season ends with 16 divisional games on Saturday and Sunday. It’s the first time since 1993 that the NFL has had an 18th game week. That season, every NFL team (28 at the time) had not one but two weeks off. And there was no bye week before the Bills and Cowboys clashed in Super Bowl XVIII. So this is the last regular season edition of 5 Key Statistics.

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It wasn’t too long ago that the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL’s first head coach, Nick Sirianni, were 3-6 after nine games. But a team that only won four games a season ago is now on a four-game winning streak. The Birds are 6-1 in their last seven games and host the Cowboys on Saturday night. Sirianni’s side have only made 15 turnovers in 16 games. It’s quite a turnaround from 2020 when the Eagles gave up the ball 29 times.

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It’s sort of a double-edged sword, because Los Angeles Rams will host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Sean McVay’s team has won five straight and can clinch the NFC West with a win. But the Rams have lost five games to the Niners, including a 31-10 loss Monday night in Week 10 at San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan’s club can wrap up a playoff berth with a sixth straight win in the long-running rivalry.

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With a victory Sunday in Florida, Frank ReichThe Indianapolis Colts can reach the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. And if that happens, it will only be the seventh time in NFL history that a club has lost its first three contests and still qualified for the playoffs. But that may be easier said than done as the Colts head to Jacksonville. And Indianapolis has lost six consecutive road games in this rivalry with the AFC South, including a 30-27 loss in London in 2016.

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Speaking of the Jaguars, the team followed last season’s 1-15 disaster with a 2-14 performance in 2021. Urban Meyer’s first season as NFL head coach was cut short and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is in charge. Jacksonville brings an eight-game losing streak to this rematch with the Colts. The Jaguars have forced just seven turnovers in 16 games, tying the NFL record for fewest takeouts in a season set by the 49ers in 2018.

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It’s the last week of the NFL’s longest campaign by games played. After Sunday night’s clash of the Chargers and Raiders in Las Vegas, 272 contests will be on the books. As usual, the last week of the season will feature 16 Divisional Battles. So far in 2021, 23 of the division’s 32 two-game sets completed have resulted in a sweep. Dating back to 2002 and with 32 teams in the league, the most single-season division sweeps came in 2005 (32 of 48).


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Karen J. Nelson