By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Football Freak on a Leash
The regular season is over, the playoffs are about to begin and visions of pigskins are dancing in our heads.
With so many meaty, juicy tidbits of pertinent football intel contained below – and so much football still to go! – we're going to get right to the final rankings of the 2010 regular season, where the Patriots are the unquestioned No. 1 team.
1. NEW ENGLAND (14-2)
Last week: 38-7 win vs. Miami
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If you take the first eight games of the 2007 season and surgically attach it to the final eight games of the 2010 season, you have a 16-0 record, 605 points for, 252 points against, average margin of victory 22.1 PPG. Bonus fact: The Patriots were the only team this season to win their last five games.
2. PITTSBURGH (12-4)
Last week: 41-9 win at Cleveland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: When it was all said and done, the Steelers' defense led the league in yards per play allowed at 4.5. They also led in 2008, when they won the Super Bowl, and this year's team is significantly better on
offense (5.6 YPP and 23.6 PPG this year vs. 4.9 and 21.7 in 2008).
3. ATLANTA (13-3)
Last week: 31-10 win vs. Carolina
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Roddy White's 115 catches ties him for 10th all-time. There's been at least one 100-catch receiver every year since Jerry Rice started the trend in 1990; the only time it didn't happen was when Miami's O.J. McDuffie led the league with 90 in 1998.
4. BALTIMORE (12-4)
Last week: 13-7 win vs. Cincinnati
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Ravens played in 13 games decided by 10 points or fewer, the most of any team.
5. GREEN BAY (10-6)
10-3 win vs. Chicago
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:
A three-pack of Packlets: Green Bay scored 22 more touchdowns than their opponents did in 2010; they outgained their opponent in seven of the last eight weeks (vs. a strong schedule); Brandon Jackson had more than 20 touches in a game only once, but managed to go over 1,000 yards from scrimmage (1,045). Yet they're 10-6, the No. 6 seed and won't see home in the playoffs
6. NEW ORLEANS (11-5)
Last week: 23-13 loss vs. Tampa Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: New Orleans finished the season 11th in scoring at 24.0 PPG – way off the 31.9 PPG of 2009. In fact, they topped 31.9 points in a game only three times this season.
7. N.Y. JETS (11-5)
Last week: 38-7 win vs. Buffalo
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Rex Ryan wins big in Week 17. Dating back to his days with the Ravens, he's won five straight Week 17 games with an average victory margin of 21.6 points. He's going to be a first-ballot Week 17 Hall of Famer!
8. CHICAGO (11-5)
10-3 loss at Green Bay
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:
Jay Cutler was sacked a league-high 52 times
. In 2008 with Denver, he was the least-sacked QB in the league (1.75 percent of total pass attempts).
9. PHILADELPHIA (10-6)
Last week: 14-13 loss vs. Dallas
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: In the 11 games cornerback Asante Samuel played, Philly allowed an average of 207.8 passing yards and 1.7 passing TDs. In the five games he missed, they allowed 236.6 yards and 2.4 passing TDs.
10. N.Y. GIANTS (10-6)
Last week: 17-14 win at Washington
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Cornerback Terrell Thomas was No. 2 league-wide in passes defensed (26), No. 3 among cornerbacks with 81 total tackles, and No. 4 among all DBs with four forced fumbles.
11. SAN DIEGO (9-7)
Last week: 33-28 win at Denver
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Chargers finished No. 5 in net scoring at +119. That's the highest number for a non-playoff team in the eight-division era (since 2002), beating out the 2004 Bills (+111). It's also a higher scoring margin that the Super Bowl champion 2003 Patriots, 2006 Colts or 2007 Giants. Oops.
12. INDIANAPOLIS (10-6)
Last week: 23-20 win vs. Tennessee
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Colts were the only team with a bottom-10 scoring defense to finish with a winning record (23rd overall, 24.3 PPG).
13. KANSAS CITY (10-6)
31-10 loss vs. Oakland
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:
The Chiefs played only three Quality Opponents in 2010
, fewest in the league, and went 1-2 with a -11.3 point margin. KC's average of 10.0 PPG against Quality Teams was tied with woeful Carolina for the worst mark in the NFL. Dating back to 2007, the Chiefs are 3-20 against Quality Opponents. Anyone want to bet on the Ravens this weekend?
14. TAMPA BAY (10-6)
Last week: 23-13 win at New Orleans
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bucs played three road games against playoff teams this year: lost by six (at Atlanta), lost by seven (at Baltimore) won by 10 (at New Orleans). A heck of an effort from this young team.
15. OAKLAND (8-8)
Last week: 31-10 win at Kansas City
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Raiders finished with a team-wide offensive passer rating of 77.5. Why is this notable? Their previous four ratings were 62.0, 71.6, 70.9 and 56.2. As a result, they posted their best record since 2002. Sounds like a good time to dump their coach. Bonus fact: The Raiders were the only team in the league not to play a single game on artificial turf.
16. DALLAS (6-10)
Last week: 14-13 win at Philadelphia
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: DeMarcus Ware won the sack title for the second time in four years, and has 60.5 in his last 64 regular-season games. All-time sack champ Bruce Smith's best total over any four-year span was 55.
17. JACKSONVILLE (8-8)
Last week: 34-17 loss at Houston
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: In Jack Del Rio's eight seasons with Jacksonville, the Jags have finished second in the AFC South five times and gone 66-65 including playoffs. Considering the state of the fan base and the general lack of star power (11 total Pro Bowl selections), that's not half bad. We'll call it half good.
18. MINNESOTA (6-10)
Last week: 20-13 loss at Detroit
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Speaking of Pro Bowls, the Vikings have had 33 Pro Bowl selections over those same eight years, with a record of 70-63 since 2003 under three different coaches. Bonus fact: The Vikings won the turnover battle in five of their six games with Leslie Frazier in the head coach headset.
19. MIAMI (7-9)
38-7 loss at New England
The Cold, Hard Football Facts:
Dan Carpenter attempted 26 field goals of 40+ yards, most since Mark Moseley tried 28 during the 1977 season. Moseley hit 13 of his 28; Carpenter 15 of 26. Moseley did it with much more Old School flair
20. ST. LOUIS (7-9)
Last week: 16-6 loss at Seattle
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Danny Amendola quietly had one of the most remarkable seasons in NFL history. Not only did he have 90 combined punt and kick returns, most in the league, but he caught 85 passes. That is an unheard of amount of abuse for one player to take in a single season. But it paid off with the 17th most all-purpose yards in an NFL season (2,364).
21. SAN FRANCISCO (6-10)
Last week: 38-7 win vs. Arizona
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The 49ers finished No. 2 in run defense, allowing just 3.46 YPA, following up on a No. 3 performance in 2009. Now if they can learn how to score points, settle on a quarterback, find a coach and shore up the pass defense, they'll be the best team in the league.
22. DETROIT (6-10)
Last week: 20-13 win vs. Minnesota
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: A four-game win streak to end the season? This is the most optimism we've seen in Detroit since our Uncle Louie invested all his money into the Edsel back in 1958.
23. HOUSTON (6-10)
Last week: 34-17 win vs. Jacksonville
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: 24-year-old Arian Foster won the rushing title with 1,616 yards, following 23-year-old Chris Johnson in 2009 and 24-year-old Adrian Peterson in 2008. Only one player over 30 has ever won a rushing title – 31-year-old Curtis Martin in 2004. Now you know why Jim Brown got out on top at age 29.
24. TENNESSEE (6-10)
Last week: 23-20 loss at Indianapolis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: If the Titans decide to move Vince Young, there should certainly be a nice market for a guy who had an 88.7 passer rating and a 12-6 record in 2009-10. Kerry Collins? He had a 74.9 rating and a 2-11 record.
25. SEATTLE (7-9)
Last week: 16-6 win vs. St. Louis
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Seattle might not deserve a playoff spot, but the defense pulled one out of its collective green behind in Week 17. After allowing an average of 409 yards and 32.7 points over their previous nine games, they held the Rams to 184 yards and six points.
26. CINCINNATI (4-12)
Last week: 13-7 loss at Baltimore
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bengals' 2-8 record in games decided by eight points or fewer isn't much of a reflection of the team's spot on the Clutchability Index. But it at least suggests that a turnaround for 2011 is just a few tweaks away.
27. CLEVELAND (5-11)
Last week: 41-9 loss vs. Pittsburgh
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Eric Mangini has been fired as a head coach twice in three seasons; we're fairly sure that hasn't happened in the modern era but can't confirm it without hours of research that doesn't seem to be "labor-smart." Call this one a Luke Warm Football Fact.
28. WASHINGTON (6-10)
Last week: 17-14 loss vs. N.Y. Giants
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Mike Shanahan's Broncos were outscored by 78 points during the 2008 season. Here in 2010, his Redskins were outscored by 75 points. But don't worry, he's almost done with that John Elway robot clone he's got in the cellar.
29. BUFFALO (4-12)
Last week: 38-7 loss at N.Y. Jets
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Bills kind of blew all of that midseason goodwill with back-to-back stinkers vs. division rivals – they finished 28th in scoring offense and defense, 32nd in turnover margin and 30th in point differential.
30. DENVER (4-12)
Last week: 33-28 loss vs. San Diego
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: Over their final 12 games, the Broncos allowed 400+ yards eight times and 30+ points seven times. Bonus fact: That's not good.
31. ARIZONA (5-11)
Last week: 38-7 loss at San Francisco
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Cardinals were outgained in 13 of their 16 games this year. Bonus fact: Kickers had the greatest season of all-time against the 2010 Cardinals. They were 40 of 51 on field goals and 44 of 45 on extra points for a mind-blowing 164 kicking points. For perspective, the 1986 Bears allowed only 187 points to their entire opposition's offenses.
32. CAROLINA (2-14)
Last week: 31-10 loss at Atlanta
The Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Panthers finished the season with 1,846 rushing yards and 4.3 YPA despite a complete lack of a passing game and injuries to their top two backs. That performance is a tribute to John Fox. If he's not coaching in the NFL somewhere next year, there'd better be a lockout.