Matter of Facts: Week 16 Statistical Onslaught

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 19, 2013



There are 32 teams in the National Football League. And with two weeks to go in its 94th season, there are only 32 regular-season games remaining.

As we come down the stretch, we know who four of the 12 postseason participants will be. Still, only one division title has been clinched to date.

This week’s action begins on Sunday and concludes with the final Monday night game of the season. Yes, things are certainly winding down around the NFL.

And yet, we’re just getting started.

So let’s not waste any more time…

Sunday, Dec. 22

Arizona (9-5) at Seattle (12-2): It’s been a magnificent year for the Cardinals but they have quite the task ahead of them this week, as well as the next when they host the 49ers. The Seahawks have won 14 straight home games by a combined 398-159 score, which includes a 58-0 shellacking of Arizona a year ago. Pete Carroll’s team is one win away from capturing the NFC West and securing home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. But Bruce Arians’ improved club, led by the number-one rushing defense in the league, won’t go down quietly…

Cleveland (4-10) at N.Y. Jets (6-8): It seemingly wasn’t that long ago that the Browns were in the mix for the AFC North title. But five straight losses and counting took care of that and now the team is on the verge of a sixth consecutive season of 11 or more setbacks. Rex Ryan’s team played hard last week at Carolina but we saw another costly turnover by rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who has now had five interceptions returned for touchdowns in 2013. The erratic Jets can still salvage a .500 campaign but will that be enough to save their head coach’s job?

Dallas (7-7) at Washington (3-11): So let’s go over this again. The Cowboys owned a 26-3 lead at intermission and chose to run the ball just seven times in the second half. And if quarterback Tony Romo didn’t audible out of a running play, that would have made it eight rushing attempts in the final 30 minutes. What’s even funnier to note that while the Cowboys rank dead last in the league it is actually the Redskins that have allowed a league-high 434 points. Of course, Mike Shanahan’s team has also more than doubled its turnovers (29) from a year ago (14)…

Denver (11-3) at Houston (2-12): John Fox’s team is 54 points away from tying the New England Patriots’ season record of 589 points scored in 2007. Quarterback Peyton Manning is three touchdown passes away from tying Tom Brady’s record of 50 scores thrown, also in 2007. But while the Broncos are within of some impressive records, the record also shows that they’ve allowed at least 20 points in 12-of-14 games this season. And this week Denver will be dealing with experienced but mistake-prone Matt Schaub, who has wideout Andre Johnson at his disposal…

Indianapolis (9-5) at Kansas City (11-3): A year ago, the Colts rebounded from a two-win season to finish 11-5 and reach the playoffs. This season, it’s the Chiefs that have bounced back from a 2-14 campaign to win 11 games…and counting. Chuck Pagano’s squad has been on a rollercoaster ride for more than a month and now faces a Kansas City team that has put 101 points on the board the last two weeks. And Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith continues to be efficient, throwing a career-high 23 touchdown passes this season while committing only seven turnovers…

Miami (8-6) at Buffalo (5-9): For the first time since 2008, the Dolphins won’t be finishing with a losing record as Joe Philbin’s revitalized club has put together a three-game winning streak at the best of times. But now they face a Bills’ team that has already beaten them once this season and a defense that can get after the quarterback, totaling an NFL-high 49 sacks in 2013. And while the offensive line has played better as of late (go figure), Miami has still allowed a league-high 51 sacks. We’re watching quarterback Ryan Tannehill grow before our eyes…

Minnesota (4-9-1) at Cincinnati (9-5): It’s been a very disappointing season for the Purple Gang, which has already wrapped up their third losing season in the last four years. With a little help this weekend, the Bengals can wrap up a playoff appearance for the third straight season, which would be a franchise first. Of course, part of that help can come from the Vikings, who scored 48 points last week but have allowed at least 20 points in every game they’ve played this season. The Cincinnati two-headed running attack of Green-Ellis and Bernard should thrive here…

New England (10-4) at Baltimore (8-6): For the second time in five weeks, we saw the Patriots lose a 24-20 game in which quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception in the end zone on his team’s final drive of the game. During Baltimore’s current four-game winning streak, the Ravens’ offense has produced just five touchdowns while the team has scored on a Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return and gotten 15 field goals from Justin Tucker. It is somewhat strange to think that with two weeks to go in the regular season, neither team has secured a playoff berth…

New Orleans (10-4) at Carolina (10-4): So apparently it was the Saints and not the Panthers who got caught looking ahead to this rematch. Just two weeks ago, Ron Rivera’s team was humbled at the Superdome. But the winner today puts themselves in the driver’s seat for the NFC South title and in the case of Sean Payton’s club a victory actually wraps up the division and a first-round bye. You can find both of these teams near the top of the league leaders in getting to the quarterback, the Panthers (45) and Saints (43) combining for 88 sacks in 2013…

N.Y. Giants (5-9) at Detroit (7-7): What are the odds that there are more footballs in the hands of the opposition than teammates this Sunday at Ford Field? Fresh off his five-interception performance against the Seahawks, Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning and his teammates have now committed an astounding 39 turnovers in 14 games. But the Lions are doing their best to catch up with them, coughing up the ball three or more times and rolling up 18 turnovers during the team’s current 1-4 stretch. How did it go so wrong so quickly for both of these teams?

Oakland (4-10) at San Diego (7-7): Despite showing some improvement at times this season, it’s been business and usual for the Sliver and Bleak, who have now gone 11 consecutive years without a winning record and nine of those campaigns with 10 or more losses. It’s been a big bounce back year for Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers, who’s thrown more than three times as many touchdown passes (28) as interceptions (9) in 2013. But it’s worth noting that two of those scores and three of those picks came back in Week 5 on a Sunday night at Oakland…

Pittsburgh (6-8) at Green Bay (7-6-1): It was just three years ago that these great franchises squared off in a very entertaining Super Bowl in Arlington. The Steelers are likely headed for a second straight year without a postseason appearance while the Packers remarkably find themselves just one-half game behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North. It could be an interesting battle of rookie running backs in Pittsburgh’s LeVeon Bell and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy. But more intriguing will be how many times the Packers will get to Ben Roethlisberger…


Tampa Bay
(4-10) at St. Louis (6-8): Greg Schiano’s club has won four of its last six games following that forgettable 0-8 start but it’s also worth pointing out that the pair of setbacks came in convincing fashion at the hands of the formidable Panthers (27-6) and 49ers (33-14). You just never know what you’re going to get from the Rams this season and judging by last Sunday, the Saints weren’t prepared either. The St. Louis pass rush, featuring defensive end Robert Quinn, could make life very difficult for improving rookie quarterback Mike Glennon…

Tennessee (5-9) at Jacksonville (4-10): Talk about teams headed in opposite directions? The Titans and Jaguars have combined for only nine victories. But Tennessee has lost three straight and is 2-8 following a 3-1 start this season. Meanwhile, Gus Bradley’s club have won four of their last six outings after going winless the first half of 2013, that initial victory of the season coming at Nashville at the expense of Mike Munchak’s team. And it’s also worth noting that the Titans are 0-4 and 1-9 vs. their AFC South rivals dating back to the start of last season…

Sunday Night

Chicago (8-6) at Philadelphia (8-6): Talk about ringing up the scoreboard? The Eagles come off a 48-30 loss to the Vikings and the Bears survived Cleveland last Sunday, 38-31. And what could happen when the NFL’s leading rusher in Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy takes aim at the league’s 32nd-ranked run defense? Although they have played better as of late, this is an Eagles’ secondary that certainly be had against the likes of wideouts Brandon Marshall and much-improved Alshon Jeffery. One of these teams could be a division champion by night’s end…

Monday Night, Dec. 23

Atlanta (4-10) at San Francisco (10-4): Some NFC title game rematch this turned out to be. Mike Smith’s team has gone from being tied for the best record in the league to possibly finishing dead last in the NFC North in just one season. Meanwhile, make it three straight seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh that the Niners have won at least 10 games and quarterback Colin Kaepernick and company are currently riding a four-game winning streak.  Atlanta’s 29th-ranked run defense looks like a pretty inviting target for Frank Gore and the Niners’ ground attack…


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