Scoring is no longer up

Early in the season, the NFL experienced an unprecedented offensive explosion, and we couldn’t put our finger on why it was happening. Teams were passing more, running less, and scoring a ton. Through two weeks, NFL games were averaging a ridiculous 47.1 points. In NFL history, that number had never been higher than 44.0 over the course of an entire season.

The easy solution was to blame it on the lockout. Defenses must have been taking longer to adjust after an abbreviated offseason.

Maybe it was that, or maybe it was simply a statistical anomaly — just a coincidence. Either way, it’s over.

Since the start of Week 3, NFL games have averaged just 43.7 points per, which is just a tiny shade above the average of the previous four NFL seasons (43.6). It seems defenses wised up and the market has adjusted itself naturally.

Scoring is still up a little bit. Games this season have averaged 44.6 points overall, which would still be the highest in league history (since the merger, anyway). But recent trends suggest that number will end up at or around 44.0 yet again.

Early in the season, scoring was probably up as a result of an increase in passes thrown and a decrease in rushing attempts. Three weeks into the season, teams were passing on 59 percent of plays (a number that’s never been above 57 percent in NFL history) and averaging just 4.0 yards per carry (a number that hadn’t been so low since 2005).

Those numbers have yet to be corrected fully, as teams are still throwing 58 percent of the time. This year, your average NFL game has had 69.2 pass attempts and 53.2 rush attempts. The former would be the second-highest in NFL history, while the latter would be the lowest in NFL history.

What’s strange about that last statistic is that while rushing attempts are down, yards-per-carry numbers have skyrocketed after a slow start. Suddenly this season, your average NFL rushing attempt results in 4.3 yards. That number has never been higher than 4.2 over the course of an entire season.