Matter of Facts: Falcons Fly North to Philadelphia

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 25, 2012



We’ve Got Your Numbers: A Matter of Facts (Week 8, 2012)
by Russell S. Baxter
Cold Hard Football Facts Leader of the Fact Faction

Ah, the rematch.

We saw it to two weeks ago in Cleveland, when the Browns got their first and only victory this season to date by beating the Bengals, meaning the teams split their two-game set in 2012, both clubs winning at home.

We’ll see if that’s the case once again this Sunday when the New York teams find themselves in different but similar situations. The Jets won at Miami earlier this season while the Giants lost at home to the Cowboys in the very first game of the season.

Now the Pokes are in position to sweep the G-Men for the first time since 2007. And the Green and White has a shot to sweep the Dolphins for the first time since…2007.

By the way, despite the split between the Ohio teams this season, more times than not these divisional series usually result in sweeps. In 2011, the team that won the first meeting of the season went onto win the second encounter 30 times in 48 instances.

So can the defending champs avoid the sweep? And can Rex Ryan’s club squish the Fish?

We shall see…

Thursday Night, Oct. 25

Tampa Bay (2-4) at Minnesota (5-2): Up by a pair of touchdowns at home against the Saints, Greg Schiano’s team couldn’t close the deal. That’s because getting to the quarterback continues to be an issue for the Bucs, who have been held without a sack in two straight and 15 of their last 38 games dating back to 2010. With a win, the Vikings can double their win total from a season ago. Speaking of twos, quarterback Christian Ponder has thrown exactly that many interceptions in each of his last three games after not being picked off the first four weeks of 2012…

Sunday, Oct. 28

Atlanta (6-0) at Philadelphia (3-3): These birds of a feather get to flock together for the fifth straight season and including a pair of playoffs encounters, the 10th time in 11 seasons. But flying north has been anything but a pleasant experience for the Falcons, who have received no Brotherly Love in their last six appearances in Philadelphia. Atlanta may be the NFL’s lone unbeaten team to date but that won’t last long if Mike Smith doesn’t a defensive unit that has seen only four teams in the league surrender more rushing yards per game…

Carolina (1-5) at Chicago (5-1): Talk about opposites attracting. Each week the Bears have won this season Carolina has lost. And the Sunday that the Panthers managed their lone victory of 2012 (Week 2), Chicago lost that week on a Thursday night at Lambeau Field. Some quick math tells us that Lovie Smith’s team is riding a four-game winning streak and Ron Rivera’s team has lost four in a row. And Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton has thrown just five touchdown passes this season, the same number of interceptions the Bears have returned for scores…

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (3-4): Yes, it was the legs of Andrew Luck that scored the Colts’ only two touchdowns they needed last week in a win over the Browns, giving Indianapolis one more win that all of last season. After a miserable start, two wins over the span of 11 days over the Steelers and Bills have Mike Munchak’s team on the verge of getting back to .500 if they can knock off Luck and company. Amazingly, the Titans have allowed an NFL-high 238 points, more than the Steelers (227) and 49ers (229) allowed in all of 2011…

Jacksonville (1-5) at Green Bay (4-3): While the offense has received its share of criticism, it’s the Jaguars’ defense that has been a huge disappointment. Last week, Mike Mularkey’s team blew a 20-6 third-quarter lead on the way to an overtime loss at Oakland. This week, they must deal with a red-hot Aaron Rodgers, who has completed 73.0 percent of his passes for 680 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception. Of course, it is worth noting that the Jacksonville offense has produced just eight touchdowns in six games and will be minus Maurice Jones-Drew…

Miami (3-3) at N.Y. Jets (3-4): Thanks to a 23-20 overtime win five weeks ago at South Florida, the Jets can sweep this AFC East rival for the first time since ’07. But the Dolphins look like a team on the rise ever since getting trounced in Houston in Week 1. And will Miami’s running game be able to take advantage of a New York defense that is giving up 147.7 yards per game on the ground? In any case, we know it will be close for Joe Philbin’s club; winners of two straight, the Dolphins’ last four games have each been decided by four points or less…

New England (4-3) vs. St. Louis (3-4) at London, England: Are we starting to see a little pattern when it comes to the Patriots, who are having trouble holding leads late in games? Bill Belichick’s team has given up 61 points in the fourth quarter and overtime this season after surrendering a combined 102 points in the game’s first 45 minutes. This is an improved Rams’ team under Jeff Fisher but it remains challenged when it comes to getting the ball in the end zone as rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein has totaled nearly half (60) of St. Louis’ 130 points this season…

N.Y. Giants (5-2) at Dallas (3-3): Interesting that Tom Coughlin’s team is a perfect 3-0 in the Cowboys’ current home, where the teams have staged three straight primetime shootouts at the J.J. Corral (33-31 in 2009, 41-35 in 2010 and 37-34 in ’11). More importantly, thanks to a 24-17 Wednesday night win seven weeks ago, Dallas is in position to sweep this series for the first time since 2007. But Rob Ryan’s defense was dealt a severe blow with the loss of linebacker Sean Lee. And Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have connected for scores in four straight games…

Oakland (2-4) at Kansas City (1-5): Off their second victory of the season, the Silver and Black head to their favorite place to play these days as the Raiders have won their last five games at Arrowhead Stadium. Of course, a number of teams have enjoyed a trip as of late to Kansas City, where the Chiefs have lost four straight contests. Romeo Crennel’s team leads the NFL with 21 turnovers and has coughed up the ball at least twice in each of their six contests this season, half the amount that the team managed in their previous 32 regular-season outings (42)…

San Diego (3-3) at Cleveland (1-6): Norv Turner’s team has lost three of its last four games after that 2-0 start, and his squad won’t soon forget their last outing when the Bolts squandered a 24-0 lead vs. Denver two weeks ago. With last week’s loss at Indianapolis, the Browns have now dropped 12 of their last 13 games dating back to last season. And speaking of a dirty dozen, that’s the number of turnovers for Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers in 2012, exactly half of those coming in that aforementioned Monday night meltdown vs. the Broncos…

Seattle (4-3) at Detroit (2-4): Pete Carroll’s team has had a little extra time to get ready for this trip to the Motor City and hopefully, he’s devised a way for Russell Wilson and company to produce a little more as the Seahawks have been limited to 16 or fewer points in 5-of-7 games. We’re still waiting for the first Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson touchdown connection in 2012, the duo combining for 16 scores a year ago. The Lions’ quarterback has thrown for only five scores in six games, equaling his total in last season’s Week 17 loss at Lambeau Field…

Washington (3-4) at Pittsburgh (3-3): Mike Shanahan’s club did everything but win last week, rolling up 248 yards rushing and a total of 480 yards vs. the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. But after committing only five turnovers in their first six games the Redskins coughed up the ball four times at MetLife Stadium. Mike Tomlin’s club appeared enroute to a 2-4 start after falling behind 14-3 at Cincinnati, but wound up outgaining the Bengals 431-185 in a 24-17 win. And the Steelers are 26-7 vs. NFC teams in the regular-season dating back to 2004…

Sunday Night

New Orleans (2-4) at Denver (3-3): Last week, the Saints rallied from a 21-7 second quarter deficit to win at Tampa, 35-28. But that’s child’s play compared to what the Broncos managed in their last outing as they came all the way back for a 35-24 Monday night victory at San Diego after trailing 24-0 at the half. Old friends Drew Brees (299) and Peyton Manning (413) renew acquaintances for the first time since Super Bowl XLIV, the duo combining for 712 touchdown passes in the regular season, and No. 9 looks to become number seven to throw 300-plus…

Monday Night, Oct. 29

San Francisco (5-2) at Arizona (4-3): A quick glance shows that the teams that have allowed the most sacks in the league this season are the Cardinals (35), Packers (26), Rams (21) and 49ers (20). Notice a pattern? It means that playing quarterback in the NFC West is no picnic, unless you enjoy getting hit a lot. These days, the Cardinals aren’t enjoying much of anything, losers of three straight games following that 4-0 start. And the San Francisco ground attack takes aim at an Arizona defense that has allowed 160-plus yards rushing two straight weeks…

Off this week: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Houston


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