As we’ve all experienced, 2020 has been an unusual and challenging year. The coronavirus pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives; that’s even included things we took for granted, like professional sports. While most of the games have resumed, things are still far from normal; just look, for example, at the 2020 NFL season.
During the offseason, it became clear that this football season would be an unprecedented chapter in NFL history. Through the first two weeks of the campaign, that’s proved to be the case.
The 2020 NFL season looks quite a bit different thanks to COVID-19
When the coronavirus became a global pandemic, the 2019 NFL season had just concluded. Despite that scheduling advantage, the league still had to make some significant changes in the name of safety.
The first major shake-up was the 2020 NFL draft; the in-person events were canceled, with teams making their picks online. Training camp rosters were then capped at 80 players instead of the usual 90. Players were given the option to opt-out of the 2020 campaign, and the league’s preseason schedule was canceled.
The in-stadium experience has also changed for the 2020 season. As of now, raucous crowds are a thing of the past; while every team can set its own standards, no one is playing in front of a full stadium’s worth of fans. Coaches also have to wear masks on the sidelines, which has proved to be a bit of a struggle thus far.
The NFL has also added anti-racism messages to the end zones, allowed players to honor “a victim of systemic racism” on their helmets, and started playing the Black national anthem ahead of games. While Colin Kaepernick blasted the efforts as “propaganda,” they all combine to make the 2020 NFL season unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
The 2020 NFL season has also made some offensive history
Those changes, however, aren’t the only way that the 2020 NFL season is making history. Something unprecedented has also happened on the field of play.
According to ProFootballTalk, the first two weeks of the 2020 campaign have featured more offense than ever before. “NFL teams have scored a combined 1,611 points,” Michael David Smith explained. “That breaks the previous record of 1,556 points scored in the first two weeks of the 2012 NFL season. Over 32 games, that works out to 1.7 points per game higher than the previous record.”
Teams aren’t just kicking field goals, either. During the opening action, there has also been a record-setting number of touchdowns.
“NFL teams have also scored a combined 186 touchdowns this season,” Smith continued. “That breaks the previous record of 174 touchdowns scored in the first two weeks of the 2018 season.”
Based on the unusual offseason, those scoring stats make sense
In recent years, things like pass interference penalties have tipped the scales in favor of the offense. 2020, however, may have tilted things even further in their favor.
Looking at the league’s changes, it’s easy to see where offenses can gain an advantage. The lack of practice time and preseason games, for example, hurts the defense; their coverage is more intricate and requires more collaboration than running an offensive play. The lack of crowd noise also makes it easier for the offense to audible into more advantageous looks while avoiding false starts and other miscommunications.
Over the course of every NFL season, we’re bound to see some new records and historic moments. The 2020 campaign, however, will go down in history for more reasons than most.