Matter of Facts: Texans Look For First Win Ever in Indianapolis

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 27, 2012



By Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru)

Cold Hard Football Facts' Fact Dynasty

Overture, curtains, lights. This is it, the night of nights.

No, we’re not a little “looney.” But it is the final week of the regular season for the NFL’s 93rd campaign and we feel singing a little.

Not because the season is about to end for 20 teams, rather the fact that the remaining dozen will vie for the right to capture the Lombardi Trophy.

It’s been the usual year of accomplishment, disappointment and surprises. But it’s also been a season of familiarity as five of the six teams headed to the playoffs from the AFC were in the postseason pool in 2011. In the NFC, the Falcons, Packers and 49ers are back again as well. So after a 16-year stretch of at least five new teams in the playoffs, that streak has already come to an end.

And if San Francisco knocks off the Cardinals on Sunday, six of last season’s eight division champions would have defended their title. The previous year, the New England Patriots were the lone team to repeat in 2011.

So enjoy the fullest day of football you get all season (all 32 teams in actions) as we fill your appetite for pigskin knowledge (we hope).

On with the show, this is it…

Week 17

Sunday, Dec. 30

Arizona (5-10) at San Francisco (10-4-1): Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away the Cardinals were 4-0, owned a one-game lead over the 49ers and a two-game edge over both the Seahawks and Rams in the NFC West. Now it’s the Niners who can wrap up the division with a win and the odds are in their favor considering they’ve taken three straight from the Cards at San Francisco by a combined 85-23 score. Jim Harbaugh’s club has given up surprising 76 points in their last two outings, but Brian Hoyer will be Arizona’s fourth different starting quarterback in 2012…

Baltimore (10-5) at Cincinnati (9-6): Riding a rare three-game losing streak, the Ravens blasted the defending Super Bowl champion Giants last Sunday with a pair of 100-yard rushers and 533 yards of total offense as Baltimore wrapped up the AFC North. The Bengals just wrapped up back-to-back outings in Pennsylvania, scoring just five touchdowns (three on offense), committing five turnovers and giving up a dozen sacks--in wins over the Eagles and Steelers. Marvin Lewis’ team has come a long way from that 44-13 opening-night loss at Baltimore…

Carolina (6-9) at New Orleans (7-8): Obviously, neither the Panthers nor Saints will finish with a winning season, although Carolina has won its last three games and quarterback Cam Newton has once again looked like…Cam Newton. Drew Brees is 219 yards away from his third 5,000-yard passing season, quite a feat considering no other player has done it more than once. And the Saints’ quarterback needs one scoring pass to reach 40 for the season, making him only the second player in NFL history (Dan Marino) to accomplish that feat twice. Sit back and enjoy…

Chicago (9-6) at Detroit (4-11): Record-setting Lions’ wideout Calvin Johnson (1,892) is 108 yards away from 2,000 receiving yards, quite the feat regardless of his team’s lack of success. Now combine his season with Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, named to the Pro Bowl with his third different team this week, and the numbers read 230 receptions for 3,358 yards and 16 scores. More important, the Bears still have eyes on a playoff spot and talk about a balanced team? Lovie Smith’s club has scored 40 touchdowns, forced 40 turnovers and totaled 40 sacks…

Cleveland (5-10) at Pittsburgh (7-8): While these Browns have certainly shown improvement, the fact remains that they will finish last in the AFC North for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons and have now lost double-digit games for the fifth consecutive year. From 6-3 to 7-8, it’s been a rough stretch for the Black and Gold, who have lost as many games this season as they did the previous two years combined (8). Of course, 21 turnovers during that six-game stretch didn’t help as eight of those came in Cleveland’s 20-14 win over the Steelers in Week 12…

Green Bay (11-4) at Minnesota (9-6): After failing to reach 100 yards rushing for the first time in his last nine games, running back Adrian Peterson (1,898) will need some help in his bid to tie or break Eric Dickerson’s NFL record of 2,105 yards rushing. But let’s not bury the lead in terms of what the Vikings have done and could accomplish in term of nine wins, equaling their total of the previous two seasons combined. But the hot Packers would love to be the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a sixth consecutive win over the Purple Gang accomplishes that feat…

Houston (12-3) at Indianapolis (10-5): In a season where the Texans have achieved a lot of firsts (beating Peyton Manning on the road, defeating the Ravens and Jets, etc.), the task this Sunday is much more important as the franchise looks for its initial win in the city of Indianapolis (0-10) and in the process, wrap up the top seed in the AFC. The amazing Colts wrapped up a playoff berth last week despite giving up a whopping 352 yards rushing to the Chiefs. More astounding is the fact that an eight-win improvement in the win column isn’t a team record…

Jacksonville (2-13) at Tennessee (5-10): As the Texans and Colts prepare for the playoffs, the bottom two teams in the AFC South (with a combined seven wins) get ready for their season finales. Mike Mularkey’s team has scored an NFL low 235 points and comes off a heartbreaking 23-16 setback to the Patriots. Meanwhile, Mike Munchak’s squad has allowed a league-high 451 points and looks to rebound from a 48-point loss at Lambeau Field. A 24-19 victory by Jacksonville in Week 12 has the Jaguars in position to sweep this series for the first time since 2005…

Kansas City (2-13) at Denver (12-3): Talk about a bad combination for the disappointing Chiefs, who are in the midst of another losing streak (3) and facing the hottest team in the league in Denver (10 straight wins)? Led by Pro Bowl outside linebacker Von Miller (17.5), the Broncos lead the league with 48 sacks, while Romeo Crennel’s club has turned over the football an NFL-high 37 times. Defense has ruled this matchup lately as the clubs have combined for only 79 points in their previous four encounters, which includes the Broncos’ 17-9 win in Week 12…

Miami (7-8) at New England (11-4): Kudos to Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin, who has his rebuilt club on the verge of a .500 campaign in his first season at the helm. But the goal is to upend the Patriots, who have won the last four AFC East titles and five straight games in this series. Following the loss to the 49ers, Bill Belichick’s team edged the Jaguars and has now committed six turnovers in their last two games (10 in first 13 games). With 32 points on Sunday, the Pats will reach 561 for the season, second-most in NFL history behind their ’07 team (589)…

N.Y. Jets (6-9) at Buffalo (5-10): The Jets haven’t won an AFC title since 2002 and the Bills haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999, so in some ways it is somewhat fitting that these teams have combined for as many wins this season as the division champion Patriots (11). Back in Week 1, these clubs combined for 76 points in New York’s 48-28 victory, one of four games this season in which Buffalo allowed at least 45 points. Meanwhile, Rex Ryan’s club has scored 51 points…in their last four games. Who knows what the offseason will be like for both teams?...

Oakland (4-11) at San Diego (6-9): Forget about the occasional rumored move to Los Angeles for the disappointing Chargers, who have gone east two of the last three weeks and grabbed 10-point wins over both the Steelers and Jets. With Carson Palmer out, it will be either Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor at the helm for the Silver and Black, which is a mere 49-110 over the last 10 seasons. For the Bolts, we know it will be Philip Rivers, who has beaten the Raiders in 10-of-13 starts and thrown twice as many touchdown passes (18) as interceptions (9) in those contests…

Philadelphia (4-11) at N.Y. Giants (8-7): Not sure what the urgency is with the defending Super Bowl champions as last season at this time, Tom Coughlin’s team was once also 8-7 and about a month away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. All kidding aside, win and need help Big Blue is reeling these days, losers of two straight by a combined 67-14 score. The last-place Eagles, with one win in their last 11 games, will give veteran Michael Vick the start at quarterback. Including playoffs, the Birds have won five straight road games in this entertaining rivalry…

St. Louis (7-7-1) at Seattle (10-5): What an intriguing contest in the Pacific Northwest as the surprising Rams look to secure their first winning season since 2003 while the Seahawks look to remain perfect at home and with some help, improve their playoff positioning. St. Louis knows how tough it is to win in Seattle, losers in their last seven visits, but Jeff Fisher’s club is also 4-0-1 vs. NFC West rivals this season, including wins over both the 49ers and ‘Hawks. But keeping pace with a Seattle team that has scored 150 points in its last three games is quite the task…

Tampa Bay (6-9) at Atlanta (13-2): Although there’s little doubt that the Buccaneers have been a football team under head coach Greg Schiano, the fact remains that the Bucs have dropped five in a row following a promising 6-4 start. Of course, Tampa was 4-2 in 2011 before dropping their final 10 games. And the current skid began with that heartbreaking 24-23 home loss to the Falcons in Week 12. Speaking of Atlanta, Mike Smith’s 13-2 team is a victory away from wrapping up the best record in the league and tying the franchise record for wins in a season…

Sunday Night:

Dallas (8-7) at Washington (9-6): Well, well. Thanks to a pair of second-half of the season surges, it is old school rivalry time as the Cowboys and Redskins will meet to decide the division title, the latter looking for its first NFC East crown since 1999. Much has been made about Dallas’ late-season woes over the years but did you know that the Redskins have lost their last four regular-season finales? The number six has relevance here as in turnovers for the Cowboys in seven road games (20 at home) and current consecutive wins for Washington after a 3-6 start…  


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