By Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru)
Cold Hard Football Facts' Factoid Generator
Simply put, it’s going to be hard to top what we saw last week in what proved to be a very lucky (for all) Week 13.
A pair of rookie quarterbacks (Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson) led their teams to road wins with touchdown passes on the final play of the game, the latter in overtime.
We saw another rookie signal-caller in Robert Griffin III led his Redskins to a third straight win and his team to within one game of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants in the NFC East.
There were the Pittsburgh Steelers, they of the eight turnovers in Cleveland, handing the rivals Ravens their first home loss in two seasons.
There was individual brilliance in watching Adrian Peterson run through the Green Bay Packers.
And there were division titles awarded to Atlanta, Denver and New England, while the Houston Texans are headed back to the playoffs once again.
Welcome to Week 14.
Thursday Night, Dec. 6
Denver (9-3) at Oakland (3-9): Ironically, the team with the longest current winning streak (7) is being led by the quarterback who once guided his club to an NFL record 23 straight regular-season victories.
And it’s now Peyton Manning who owns the Broncos’ franchise record for touchdown passes in a season with 29 and counting. The previous record of 27 was shared by John Elway (1997) and Jake Plummer (2004).
The Raiders have lost five straight games, given up 40 offensive touchdowns and a league-high 376 points. John Fox’s AFC West champions, already with one more win than all of last season, has eyes on a first-round bye…
Sunday, Dec. 9
Arizona (4-8) at Seattle (7-5): The Cardinals’ eighth straight loss, a less-than-memorable 7-6 setback to the Jets, saw the team go 0-of-15 on third down conversions.
Meanwhile, rookie Ryan Lindley is now out and original starter John Skelton is hoping he doesn’t have head coach Ken Whisenhunt seeing red.
Arizona’s opportunistic defense hopes to put the brakes on Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who’s thrown nine touchdown passes and zero picks in his last four outings and in five home games this season has thrown for 11 scores without an interception…
Atlanta (11-1) at Carolina (3-9): When it was all said and done last week, the Falcons wrapped up the NFC South and slayed a dragon in Drew Brees, ending the quarterback’s NFL record 54-game streak with a touchdown pass and picking off the Saints’ signal-caller five times.
Carolina’s less-than-successful season continues but Cam Newton has gotten a little hot, throwing for six scores (0 interceptions) and rushing for two touchdowns in his last three games. Atlanta has scored 31, 31, 31, 31 and 30 points in their last five meetings with the Panthers (5-0)…
Baltimore (9-3) at Washington (6-6): Wow. The Ravens have to make the grueling long road trip to FedExField (no truth to the rumor that they’re taking a taxi) but John Harbaugh’s club is coming off it first home loss in two seasons.
But while Mike Shanahan’s team has won three fewer games, they’re one of the talks of the league these days thanks to three straight wins, all over NFC East rivals.
The play of rookie Robert Griffin III has been a big factor and he’s a major reason the Redskins have gone from minus-14 to plus-11 in turnover differential in one season…
Chicago (8-4) at Minnesota (6-6): From talk of a Super Bowl to the obligatory “what’s wrong with the Bears?” discussion, Lovie Smith’s team has suddenly dropped three of its last four games, including a pair at Soldier Field to the Texans and Seahawks.
The Vikings got 210 yards rushing and a score from comeback story Adrian Peterson at Lambeau Field but it still added up to a loss. And the Chicago defense will be minus its man in the middle in Brian Urlacher.
Two weeks ago, the Bears held Vikings’ defensive end Jared Allen without a sack. Repeat performance?...
Dallas (6-6) at Cincinnati (7-5): One week after losing at home to Washington Jason Garrett’s team was thanking the Redskins after Mike Shanahan’s club knocked off the Giants on Monday night, meaning both the Pokes and their bitter rivals are just one game out of first in the NFC East.
Winners of four straight games by a combined 113-42 count, Marvin Lewis’ team has given up just two offensive touchdowns during that four-game stretch. And while Andy Dalton has been hot, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has rushed for 100-plus yards in three straight games…
Kansas City (2-10) at Cleveland (4-8): Last week was a lot more about football in Kansas City given the tragic circumstances surrounding the Chiefs but Romeo Crennel’s team won a home game for the first time all season.
Cleveland has put together back-to-back wins for the first time all season and with four games to play has already scored 229 points in a dozen games after totaling just 218 points in 16 contests in 2011. Browns running back Trent Richardson (827) is 173 yards from becoming the third rookie this season to rush for 1,000-plus yards…
Miami (5-7) at San Francisco (8-3-1): Miami’s defense played fairly well and did limit the red hot Patriots to just 23 points after Bill Belichick’s had scored 37 or more points in each of the previous four games.
Last Sunday, San Francisco held the Rams to 16 points and without an offensive touchdown in five quarters yet failed to beat Jeff Fisher’s team for the second time this season. And talk about extremes?
In one week, Joe Philbin’s Dolphins goes from playing the highest-scoring team in the league to a Niners’ team that has allowed an NFL-low 171 points…
New Orleans (5-7) at N.Y. Giants (7-5): Isn’t it ironic that the Saints have had their best performances this season in terms of yards allowed vs. the 49ers (375) and Falcons (283) the last two weeks and yet quarterback Drew Brees threw seven interceptions in those losses?
Speaking of turnovers, the Giants had zero at Washington on Monday night but still dropped their third game in their last four outings. With Brees, the Cajuns have won three straight vs. Big Blue dating back to ’06 by a combined score of 127-58, including last season’s 49-24 primetime track meet…
N.Y. Jets (5-7) at Jacksonville (2-10): Besides the starting quarterback talk with the Green and White, there’s some feeling that given who the Jets play in the final four games (Jaguars, Titans, Chargers and Bills) that Rex Ryan’s team could get well down the stretch.
However, it is worth noting that the Jets are a 5-7 team this season and are just 2-4 in their last 6 outings. The Jaguars come off a rough Sunday afternoon at Buffalo and their defense has been a major disappointment but quarterback Chad Henne is more than familiar with what Ryan likes to do…
Philadelphia (3-9) at Tampa Bay (6-6): Birds of a feather? The Eagles are now tied with the Cardinals for the longest current losing streak in the league after a 38-33 Sunday night setback at Dallas as rookie running back Bryce Brown continues to impress but also continued to fumble.
Greg Schiano’s team has scored at exactly 23 points each of the last two games however it wasn’t enough to outlast the now-division champion Falcons and Broncos, respectively.
Last season, the Buccaneers (40) and Eagles (38) were 1-2 in terms of turnovers in the NFL. In 2012, the Bucs has coughed it up just 12 times in as many games while Philadelphia has given it up 28 times…
St. Louis (5-6-1) at Buffalo (5-7): Just as was the case in Week 4 in which Jeff Fisher’s team used four field goals and a fake field goal to beat the Seahawks, the Rams got a safety, fumble return for a touchdown (with a 2-point conversion) and a pair of field goals to beat the visiting 49ers.
But the bad news for Fisher and company is that the Bills are not in the NFC West but rather the AFC East as St. Louis is just 1-6 outside their division this season. The Buffalo pass rush has produced 10 sacks in the last three games, half (5.0) by rejuvenated Mario Williams…
San Diego (4-8) at Pittsburgh (7-5): Talk about a downward spiral? Unless Norv Turner’s team wins out, the Chargers have gone from 13-3 in 2009 to 9-7 in ’10 to 8-8 in ’11 to possibly worse this season.
There are apparently no such issues with the Steelers after a gut-check win at Baltimore behind much-maligned quarterback Charlie Batch along with a big assist from the league’s top-ranked defense. Pittsburgh is not exactly the Bolts’ favorite to play. While they own a 2-1 playoff record in the Steel City, they’re 0-14 lifetime there in the regular season…
Tennessee (4-8) at Indianapolis (8-4): Although Mike Munchak’s team has stopped giving up 30 or more points in a game, it hasn’t prevented the team from losing as the Titans fell at home to the Texans in a game in which they allowed six sacks, committed six turnovers and scored 10 points.
The Colts’ magic ride continued in the Motor City as Andrew Luck overcame three interceptions with four touchdown passes, including the difference-making flip on the final play of the game. After finishing 2-14 in 2011, Indianapolis can wrap a winning season with a victory…
Detroit (4-8) at Green Bay (8-4): Despite 210 yards rushing and a score by Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson last Sunday, the Packers bounced back from their debacle vs. the Giants and held off Minnesota.
Detroit’s current losing streak stands at four straight after last Sunday’s stunning last-second loss to the Colts.
The last time the Lions (3-21 in their last 24 meetings with Green Bay) beat the Packers on the road was way back in 1991, a skid that totals 21 straight losses, three of those setbacks in Milwaukee (remember?) and one in the playoffs (1994)…
Monday Night, Dec. 10
Houston (11-1) at New England (9-3): When the schedule first came out in the spring, more than one person hinted that this could be a preview of the AFC Championship Game.
Well, so far and perhaps very good for a pair of clubs both riding 6-game winning streaks entering this contest. But it may surprise many to know that while the Patriots lead the NFL in scoring with 430 points, the Texans are second with 351.
Add in the fact that Gary Kubiak’s team is the only team in the league that hasn’t lost a road game this season (6-0) and let the intrigue begin…