Matter of Facts: Saints and 49ers Meet in Epic Playoff Rematch

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 22, 2012



We’ve Got Your Numbers: A Matter of Facts (Week 12, 2012)

By Russell S. Baxter

Cold Hard Football Facts Original Fact-Float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Forget Black Friday. It’s Football Thursday.

Yes, we know you could say that just about every week this season to date. But football on Turkey Day is as traditional as burning the crescent rolls on Thanksgiving afternoon or contemplating exactly what is in the middle of that Jello mold (and why it’s moving).

On a different note, we will have a full platter in terms of NFL action the next six weeks as every team has now enjoyed its fall vacation. There’s still plenty of intrigue left in terms of division titles and playoff berths. And we know that regardless of record, any team is capable of giving another a hard time.

Just ask the Falcons and Texans.

So we’ll say Happy Thanksgiving. This week, may your favorite team beat the stuffing out of its opponent.

And here are some added thanks for taking the time to read this piece…

Thanksgiving, Nov. 22

Houston (9-1) at Detroit (4-6): The beauty of the 2012 Texans is the fact that they can go on the road (Chicago) and win a 13-6 game and a week later, rally from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 43-37 overtime victory. Jim Schwartz’s club’s chances of grabbing a playoff berth took a big hit last week with the loss to the Packers, dropping Detroit’s record in the division this season to 0-4. But that’s nothing compared to their recent lack of success on Thanksgiving Day, which adds up to eight straight losses by a mind-boggling score of 285-113…

Washington (4-6) at Dallas (5-5): All the numbers, both current and historically, point towards a Cowboys’ victory. Dallas has won three straight six of the last seven meetings, the Redskins have lost three straight road games in the series and are winless against the Pokes (0-6) on Thanksgiving. And Jason Garrett’s club is riding a season-high two-game winning streak (okay, it’s a start). But what’s most impressive about Mike Shanahan’s team is the lack of miscues as the ‘Skins have totaled only nine turnovers in 10 games, down considerably (35) from a season ago…

New England (7-3) at N.Y. Jets (4-6): Since that highly-disappointing 3-3 start, Bill Belichick’s club has reeled off four straight victories. Speaking of streaks, the Jets put an end to a three-game skid last week at St. Louis. The Patriots have also won the last three meetings between these rivals and are 9-2 in their last 11 road games in the series. It’s hard to ignore what New England, a little banged up for this rematch, has done as of late. Belichick’s team has scored141 points in its last three games, while New York has totaled 202 points in 10 games in 2012…

Sunday, Nov. 25

Atlanta (9-1) at Tampa Bay (6-4): While the focus in the NFC South these days has been the revival of the once 0-4 Saints, it’s actually the Buccaneers who have the longer current winning streak and the better record these days. The Falcons haven’t looked sharp in recent weeks and the inability to stop the run combined with the failure to establish the ground game this season could have ramifications later this season. Case in point; Buccaneers rookie running back Doug Martin has rushed for 1,000 yards this season, 108 more yards than the Falcons (892)…

Baltimore (8-2) at San Diego (4-6): For the second straight year, John Harbaugh’s team has been a different team on the road opposed to home. Still, the Ravens have managed to win games at Kansas City and at Pittsburgh without their offensive unit scoring a touchdown. Philip Rivers has to be ecstatic that he no longer has to face the Broncos this season as the former Pro Bowler committed all nine of his team’s turnovers in the two losses. Still, Rivers has now coughed up the ball an astounding 43 times in his last 26 games dating back to last season…

Buffalo (4-6) at Indianapolis (6-4): It was a good night for the Bills the last time they took the field, limiting the Dolphins’ offense to just one touchdown in a 19-14 victory. That means Chan Gailey’s inconsistent club has now given up only 61 points in their four wins while this same club has allowed an amazing 238 points in a half-dozen losses. The Colts were cooled off at Foxborough last Sunday as quarterback Andrew Luck continued to impress but did commit four more turnovers, bringing his season total to 17. Just call Gailey’s team unpredicta-Bill (sorry)…

Denver (7-3) at Kansas City (1-9): After committing at least two turnovers in each of their first eight games this season, Romeo Crennel’s club has only given up the football twice in their last two outings. Still, that didn’t prevent consecutive losses Nos. 6 and 7, the latest a 28-6 setback to the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs have yet to win this season. Quarterback Peyton Manning continues his hot play should pick apart a Kansas City defense that had totaled only 17 sacks in 2012, four less than Denver outside linebacker Von Miller (13.0)…

Minnesota (6-4) at Chicago (7-3): Once again, the 49ers were unkind hosts to the visiting Bears, who haven’t won at San Francisco since 1985 and most of them of the ugly variety. That means Lovie Smith’s team has now dropped two straight after a 7-1 start, although they have played the last six quarters without quarterback Jay Cutler. The Vikings return from their off-week knowing they’re just a game out of first place in the NFC North. But the Purple Gang has also lost five straight in this series and are a mere 1-10 on the road vs. the Bears dating back to 2001…

Oakland (3-7) at Cincinnati (5-5): It’s the Carson Palmer Bowl as the former first overall pick from 2003 returns to the city where his NFL career began. But it’s been a rough stretch for Palmer, who has thrown 47 interceptions in his last 36 games with the Bengals (16) and Raiders (20) dating back to 2010, nine of those picks returned for scores. Marvin Lewis’ team has won two straight after losing its previous four (which preceded a three-game winning streak) and take aim at an Oakland team that has allowed the most points in the league (322)…

Pittsburgh (6-4) at Cleveland (2-8): Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have had six different head coaches. Since 1969, the Steelers have been led by Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. But the latter has a battered football team these days and for the third time in as many games Pittsburgh will start a new quarterback (Charlie Batch). It will be another non-winning season in Cleveland despite some promising play at times but it’s interesting to note that the Browns have scored one fewer point (189) than the Steelers have allowed (190)…

St. Louis (3-6-1) at Arizona (4-6): No team in the league has given up more sacks this season than the Cardinals (44), who will give rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley his first start this week. Only three clubs in the NFL have dropped opposing quarterbacks more often in 2012 than the Rams, who got nine of their 29 sacks on a Thursday night vs. Ken Whisenhunt’s team back in Week 5, the first of their six consecutive losses for the Cards. But Jeff Fisher’s squad also hasn’t won a game since (0-4-1). And we don’t dare say barring a tie with the Rams involved…

San Francisco (7-2-1) at New Orleans (5-5): For the second straight week, the Saints face a Bay Area opponent. But the differences between those clubs couldn’t be more different. If you include the Cajuns’ 38-17 win last week at Oakland, the Raiders have allowed 135 points in their last three games. Meanwhile, the 49ers have given up an NFL-low 134 points in 10 games. New Orleans has won three straight and are 5-1 since that 0-4 start, but there is the matter of the league’s worst run defense trying to stop San Francisco and the NFL’s top-ranked ground attack…

Seattle (6-4) at Miami (4-6): With two weeks to prepare for their cross country trip, there’s no truth to the rumor that the Seahawks chose to drive to South Florida. For the second straight game, Pete Carroll will be reunited with another USC alum in Reggie Bush, who hasn’t totaled at least 20 attempts or at least 70 yards on the ground since his 172-yard rushing performance (on 26 carries) in Week 2 vs. the Raiders. Miami’s 4-3 start has been tempered by three straight losses and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s five interceptions in his last two outings…

Tennessee (4-6) at Jacksonville (1-9): It will be fascinating to see what Mike Munchak and company managed to come up with during their off week, although they went into the break on a high note via a 37-3 win at Miami. Jacksonville was on the verge of the upset of the season but wound up squandering a 34-20 fourth-quarter lead at Houston in a game in which they allowed 653 total yards in the 43-37 overtime loss. Keep in mind that the Titans (311) and Jaguars (289) have combined to allow 600 points this season, so this game has 10-7 written all over it…

Sunday Night

Green Bay (7-3) at N.Y. Giants (6-4): It’s not only a meeting between the last two NFL champions and Super Bowl MVPs but a playoff rematch from a season ago, when the Giants went to Lambeau Field and knocked the 15-1 Pack out of the postseason. But these teams are currently at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of play. Green Bay has won five straight and Aaron Rodgers has thrown 17 touchdown passes and just 2 picks in those victories, while Eli Manning has gone three straight outings without a scoring pass and two straight games without a win…

Monday Night, Nov. 26

Carolina (2-8) at Philadelphia (3-7): The Panthers won four of their last six games last season and the Eagles closed out 2011 with four consecutive wins. Obviously, neither team carried that momentum into the current campaign. In the case of the Birds, that last victory came way back in Week 4 as Andy Reid’s club went from a one-game lead in the NFC East to last place in the division. It’s also bottoms up for Carolina as well as Ron Rivera’s team owns the worst record in the NFC. Incredibly, only the Chiefs (152) have scored fewer points than the Eagles (162) in 2012…

 


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