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NFL 2016 Regular Season Review - Close Games
Close games and great comeback victories. New teams making the playoffs and winning divisions. Consistent teams excelling once again. And so much more. Here's a look at the excitement we witnessed during the NFL 2016 Regular Season
The NFL 2016 regular season had it all, including a fantastic finish.
Week 17 came right down to the wire as two division titles -- the AFC West and NFC North -- were decided on the season's final day. Sunday's excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season's final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.
Six of the NFL's eight divisions featured new champions in 2016, the most in a season since 2011.
The 2016 season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as 57 percent were decided by one score -- 146 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.
Each of the 12 teams still in Super Bowl LI contention can look back at the wild ride that was the 2016 regular season and appreciate how challenging the road to the playoffs was.
The DALLAS COWBOYS (13-3), led by rookie quarterback DAK PRESCOTT and rookie running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the first time since 2007.
"It is a whole new season now," says Prescott of advancing to the postseason after finishing with the top record in the NFC. "Everything you do from this point on is really how you get looked at at the end of the year. So that is important to us, looking forward and playing a long time in this postseason."
Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Six teams that missed the postseason in 2015 -- ATLANTA (11-5), DALLAS (13-3), DETROIT (9-7), MIAMI (10-6), the NEW YORK GIANTS (11-5) and OAKLAND (12-4) -- accomplished the feat this year.
"It's so much fun when you get a playoff game at home in front of your own crowd and the energy that kind of comes along with that," says Atlanta head coach DAN QUINN, who helped guide the Falcons to the NFC South title. "It's a byproduct of winning your division, where you're guaranteed a home game. And then if you have a chance to go past that where better things can happen, then you go from there. It's a significant thing and a really cool experience."
The 2016 season also proved that consistency is difficult, but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL. The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS won their eighth consecutive AFC East division title (2009-present), surpassing the 1973-79 Rams for the most consecutive division championships in NFL history. The Patriots, who finished with a 14-2 record, tied the 2003-09 Colts as the only teams in NFL history with at least 12 wins in seven consecutive seasons.
The PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-5) earned the 600th regular-season victory in franchise history this season, becoming the fourth franchise is NFL history to reach 600 wins. The Steelers (601) joined the Chicago Bears (744), Green Bay Packers (730) and New York Giants (684) as the only franchises with at least 600 regular-season victories.
The NFL is never short on surprises, and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2016
Games continued to be close, as more than half of all games were decided by one score.
Games Decided By One Score
|8 or Fewer||146 of 256||57.0%|
|7 or Fewer||135 of 256||52.7%|
This season, 146 of 256 games (57.0 percent) were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.
Most Games Decided By Eight Or Fewer Points
In 2016, 135 of 256 games (52.7 percent) were decided by seven or fewer points, also the most of any season in NFL history.
Most Games Decided By Seven Or Fewer Points
Seventy-two percent of games (184 of 256) were within eight points in the fourth quarter, the highest percentage since the institution of the two-point conversion in 1994.
The 184 games are the most of any season in NFL history.
Most NFL Games Within 8 Points in 4th Quarter
170 of the season's 256 games (66.4 percent) were within seven points in the fourth quarter, the most of any season in NFL history.
Most NFL Games Within 7 Points in 4th Quarter
Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as tight contests frequently came down to the wire.
In 2016, the average margin of victory was 10.23 points per game, the third-smallest margin in NFL history and the lowest figure since 1935 (10.08 points per game).
Lowest NFL single-season margins of victory
There were 72 games won by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most such games in a season in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of 70 in 1989.
Games Won After Trailing In 4th Quarter
The DETROIT LIONS won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most in a single season in NFL history.
Most wins after trailing in the fourth quarter in a single season
The DALLAS COWBOYS clinched the NFC East division title, which marked the 13th time in the past 14 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.
NFL teams to go from "worst-to-first" in their division
|Source: NFL *Tied for last place **Won Super Bowl|
|2005||New York Giants||11-5||6-10*|
The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS captured their eighth consecutive division title, the longest streak in NFL history, breaking a tie with the 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams (seven). The Patriots are the only team in NFL history to win 13 division titles in a 14-year span.