Through four weeks, the average NFL game score has added up to 51.3 points per game. The highest mark since the 1970 season: the first year of play after the NFL-AFL merger. While an impressive stat this should honestly come as no surprise to any fan of the game who has consistently watched over the past ten years. The league has become smarter and faster, while rule changes make it harder on defenses to contest deep throws to physical receivers and nearly impossible to do any damage to the quarterback.

Retired referee Walt Anderson, now the league’s senior vice president of training and development, told last month that he does not want officials “all of a sudden to start calling the ticky-tack stuff.” Anderson acknowledged that it’s what “the NFL likes and what the audience likes.” With that being said about the rule changes, it seems like defenses have adjusted to the rules if not the offenses since there has been a league-low number of only 13.4 flags per game, the lowest mark since the 2001 season. This lack of flags have also been part of a trend with significant decreases in flagging coming in 2017 and 2018 as well.

The COVID restricted offseason is also another obvious culprit with the only comparable year being the lockout-shortened 2011 season that saw a similar boom in scoring. It took defenses a lot longer to get their feet under them in that year, and with a full month of football being back next week, it will be interesting to see if defenses this year can do the same.

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