Have you ever seen an actual, real-life cornucopia ... you know, the ancient symbol of autumn bounty? Neither have we. Oh, sure, we've seen plenty of pictures of them. We've gazed at their overflowing abundance and lusted after their shapely fruits.
Or maybe that was a picture of Pam Anderson.
In any case, we know a good cornucopia when we see one: and we have an overflowing abundance of autumnal goodies this week, in yet another epic Patriots-Colts clash Sunday night. The game provides us an incredible bounty of stats and data to gawk at ... some of it quite historic. This is, after all, a clash of two of the defining teams of the decade and two of the great players in the history of the game. In fact, we've already dubbed Brady-Manning the greatest QB rivalry in pro football history, both here on CHFF and this week on WEEI.com
There are plenty of stats, data and streaks floating around the inter-webs in the lead-up to this game, so we figured we'd compile all of them here in our Patriots-Colts cornucopia.
Longest "official" win streaks in NFL history (regular season)
21 games – New England, 2006-08
18 games – New England, 2003-04
17 games – Indianapolis, 2008-present
17 games – Chicago, 1933-34
The fact that three of the four longest win streaks in history have taken place in the past six years is yet another pretty irrefutable indicator that so-called "parity" is dead. The fact that three of the four longest win streaks were produced by these two teams, including one that's still active, tells us quite a bit about the dominance of these two teams over the rest of the NFL. And much like the Dolphins against the Bears in 1985, in the most famous Monday Night Football game in history, the Patriots will attempt to defend the franchise honor Sunday night.
Highest career passer rating
A mere 1.9 points separates Brady and Manning in career passer rating. Manning is the highest-rated dome quarterback in history and has an outside shot of catching Steve Young for the No. 1 spot. Brady is the highest-rated cold-weather quarterback in history.
Highest single-season passer rating
Peyton Manning – 121.1 (2004)
Tom Brady – 117.2 (2007)
Sunday night you'll watch the architects of the two greatest passing seasons in NFL history.
Most TD passes in a season
Peyton Manning – 49 (2004)
Only four players have topped 40 TD passes in a single season. The top two will be on the field Sunday night.
Consecutive wins when passing for 300 yards
Johnny Unitas – 16 (1961-69)
Tom Brady – 14 (2006-present)
Y.A. Tittle – 13 (1953-63)
Peyton Manning – 12 (2007-present)
Pretty interesting stat. Quarterbacks who pass for 300 yards are often at a handicap, as the high number of yards typically indicates a high number of attempts, which in turn indicates that a team is probably desperate. This short list speaks to the difficulty: the four players on the list are universally acknowledged as among the best passers in history and it took players of their caliber to consistently win when passing for more than 300 yards.
Most passing yards each decade
Peyton Manning – 40,229 (2000s)
Dan Marino – 33,508 (1990s)
Joe Montana – 30,958 (1980s)
Fran Tarkenton – 23,863 (1970s)
Johnny Unitas – 26,548 (1960s)
Norm Van Brocklin – 20,539 (1950s)
Sammy Baugh – 17,002 (1940s)
Arnie Herber – 6,189 (1930s)
This is not a list of most yards IN a decade ... but the most yards in each decade. In either case, Manning's prolific numbers are awe-inspiring.
Top four Bay Watch hotties
Best quarterback winning percentage (regular season)
Otto Graham – 57-13-1 (.810)
Daryle Lamonica – 66-16-6 (.784)
Tom Brady – 93-26 (.782)
Graham's numbers include only his NFL years. They're even better if we look at his days in the AAFC, but those are not recognized as "official" NFL stats. Brady has won at nearly a prolific rate, playing in the so-called era of "parity."
Best quarterback winning percentage (postseason)
How tough will it be for Brady to maintain his winning pace? Look at it this way: if the Patriots go 12-4, win a pair of playoff games and then lose in the Super Bowl, Brady's combined career winning percentage will actually decline from its current 107-29 (.787) to 115-32 (.782). If Brady's Patriots go 12-4, win two playoff games and the Super Bowl, his career winning percentage will barely change, 116-31 (.789).
Most NFL games with 6 or more TD passes
Tom Brady – two, New England (2007, 2009)
Peyton Manning – two, Indianapolis, (2003, 2004)
Charley Johnson – two, St. Louis (1965, 1969)
Y.A. Tittle – two, N.Y. Giants (1962, 1962)
George Blanda – two, Houston Oilers (1961, 1962)
There have been just 25 games in pro football history in which a passer connected on six TD passes. Brady and Manning are responsible for four of those 25 games. Active quarterbacks Drew Brees (2009), BrettFavre (2008) and Carson Palmer (2007) have also produced six-TD games. Blanda actually threw a record seven TD passes in the 1961 AFL game included above, a 49-13 victory over the N.Y. Titans.
NFL Most Valuable Player honors
Peyton Manning – 2003, 2004, 2008
It would have been an interesting battle in 2008, had Brady not been injured. Manning won the award last year with what were, by his standards, relatively humble numbers (4,002 yards, 7.2 YPA, 27 TD, 12 INT).
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors
Tom Brady – Super Bowl XXXVI, Super Bowl XXXVIII
Peyton Manning – Super Bowl XLI
A clash of players who sport three Super Bowl MVP awards between the two of them is about rare as our favorite prime rib.
Most regular-season wins since 2000
No. 1 – Indianapolis, 109
That pretty much says it all. The Colts are 109-43 this decade; the Patriots are 108-44.
Most postseason wins since 2000
The Patriots currently share the record for most postseason wins in a decade with the Cowboys and the Steelers of the 1970s.
2009 scoring defense
No. 1 – Indianapolis (13.5 PPG)
No. 2 – New England (14.4 PPG)
These two teams are defined by their offenses and their quarterbacks. But they're the two best defensive clubs in football halfway through the 2009 season.
No. 1 – Indianapolis (22.47 Yards Per Point Allowed)
No. 2 – New England (20.30 Yards Per Point Allowed)
The Colts and Patriots not only keep opponents out of the end zone, they make these opponents work extremely hard for the few points that they do score.
Most consecutive games with a sack
DeMarcus Ware, Dallas – 10 (2007-08)
Simon Fletcher, Denver – 10 (1992-93)
Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis – 9 (2008-present)
Kevin Greene, San Francisco/Carolina – 9 (1997-98)
Bruce Smith, Buffalo – 9, 1986-87
Freeney, Indy's pass-rush specialist now in his eighth year, has 9.5 sacks through eight games, which puts him on pace to smash his personal best of 16 QB takedowns set in 2004.
Most consecutive wins to start a coaching career
Jim Caldwell – 8-0 (2009 Colts)
Potsy Clark – 8-0 (1931 Portsmouth Spartans)
Caldwell, a longtime member of the Tony Dungy staff, inherited a well-oiled machine and his best attribute so far has been checking his ego and not gumming up the works.
Coaches who have won three NFL championships within four years
Curly Lambeau, Green Bay – 1929, 1930, 1931
Vince Lombardi, Green Bay – 1965, 1966, 1967
Bill Belichick, New England – 2001, 2003, 2004
Lambeau coached in the days before the NFL championship game (the first was played in 1933). His 1929-31 teams were crowned NFL champions after finishing each season with the league's best record. Lombardi also won the first two Super Bowls at the end of the 1966 and 1967 seasons. Belichick is the only coach who's won three Super Bowls within a four year span.
The Chief Troll's favorite places to eat Buffalo wings
The Fat Cat
Cronin's Publick House
No. 1 – New Orleans, 37.9 PPG
No. 2 – Minnesota, 30.5 PPG
No. 3 – New England, 28.1 PPG
No. 4 – Philadelphia, 27.4 PPG
No. 5 – Indianapolis, 27.1 PPG
No surprise: the Patriots and Colts are once again among the league's most productive offenses.
No. 1 – New Orleans, 426.9
No. 2 – New England, 409.2
No. 4 – Indianapolis, 400.4
Only four teams this year average more than 400 YPG of offense – New England and Indy are two of them.
No. 1 – Indianapolis, 315.0
No. 2 – New England, 295.0
Peyton Manning, meet Tom Brady. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning.
No. 1 – New Orleans, 55.76
No. 2 – Buffalo, 59.67
No. 4 – Indianapolis, 70.13
No. 5 – Philadelphia, 70.91
No. 6 – New England, 75.24
The Colts have fielded one of the league's best pass defenses for several years. The Patriots appear to be recovering some of the defensive mojo that has eluded them for the past few years.
No. 1 – New Orleans, +50.36
No. 2 – Indianapolis, +34.69
No. 3 – Pittsburgh, +28.14
No. 4 – Green Bay, +27.12
No. 5 – New England, +23.62
Win the passing battle, win the game. The top five teams when it comes to winning the passing battle are a combined 32-8 (.800). The Packers remain one of the league's great anomalies: as noted in our Power Rankings this week, they're good at everything but winning.