Through the first five weeks, three teams (Denver, KC & Saints) remain unbeaten this season. Four teams (Steelers, Giants, Jaguars & Buccaneers) also remain winless. Those teams have won five of the last 11 Super Bowls.
The real story of the 2013 season are slow starts and inconsistent play. As you may– or may not already be aware, since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Last season, the Colts, Vikings, Seahawks and Redskins all helped keep the dozen-year streak alive. So far this season, seven of last year’s playoff entrants have a combined record of 13-19. Three (Redskins, Falcons & Vikings) of those seven teams have three wins between them.
The Falcons suffered a devastating home loss to the Jets on Monday night and could only sit back and watch, as their top receiver, Julio Jones, injured his foot and was lost for the season the team announced on Wednesday. However, There is always hope in the NFL. Teams off to a slow start are justified in believing that they can turn it around. Since the current playoff format (12 teams) was instituted in 1990, 14 teams have rebounded from being at least three games under .500 after the season’s first five weeks or later to qualify for the postseason. At least one team has done so in each of the past three seasons, including the Redskins in 2012, who rebounded from a 3-6 start to win their final seven games en route to an NFC East title.
The slow starts do not mean that teams are scoring less. In fact, NFL teams have combined for 3,566 points in 2013, tied for the most points through five weeks in NFL history (2011). That total equates to 46.31 points per game. If the current average stays at this pace, it would rank as the second-highest of any season in history (1948, 46.48 points per game).
ADRIAN PETERSON SAYS HE’S GOING TO PLAY:
The accused attacker, Joseph Robert Patterson, 27, was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant in Sioux Falls, S.D., police spokesman Sam Clemens said. Patterson was in a relationship with the child's mother at the time, Clemens said. In light of the boy's death, the charges against Patterson will be reviewed and additional changes might be added. Patterson is being held in the Minnehaha County Jail on $750,000 cash bond.
All of us at Fanspeak would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the Peterson family during their time of sorrow and grief. Like many great players before him, Peterson will play on this Sunday despite the tragedy—And to judge him for doing so would simply be wrong. Many people deal with tragedy in different ways and there is no guide in life on how to grieve following the loss of a child.
Peterson will look to continue a record setting pace at home on Sunday vs. a tough Panthers front seven Through four games, Peterson has 13 more rush attempts and 89 more yards than he did in 2012, when he finished the season with 2,097 rushing yards (2nd most all-time). With five rush TDs, Peterson has three more than he did at the same time last season.
RECENT SUPER BOWL TEAMS HIGHLIGHT WEEK 6:
Week 6 in the NFL highlights a few recent Super Bowl participants squaring off. The Packers travel to play the Ravens in Baltimore, where HC John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco have compiled a 35-7 regular season record since arriving in 2008. Aaron Rodgers is an even 11-11 vs. the AFC in his career but is just 2-4 versus the AFC North. He is 1-0 all-time vs. Baltimore.
Contrary to many reports, Aaron Rodgers has played at M&T Bank Stadium. In relief of Brett Favre, Rodgers played in the fourth quarter of the Ravens 48-3 win vs. the Pack on MNF back in 2005–his rookie season. The Ravens were not kind to him or the Packers on the night. Rodgers was just 8-15 with one interception but fumbled twice. Brett Favre passed for just 144-yards and no touchdowns and threw two interceptions in the game, as Green Bay committed five turnovers.
The Packers never trailed in the Monday Night Football rematch at Lambeau Field in 2009. They jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead behind TD passes from Rodgers to TE Jermichael Finley and WR Donald Driver. After Baltimore cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-14, Rodgers found Finley (7 catches, 79 yards) again for a score, this time on a 19-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter. Rodgers connected on 26 of 40 passes for 263 yards and three TDs with two INTs. Green Bay’s defense intercepted QB Joe Flacco three times on the evening, with S Nick Collins, LB A.J. Hawk and CB Tramon Williams all registering picks. LB Clay Matthews, who will miss Sunday’s contest, posted a team-high two sacks.
The 5-0 Saints and the New England Patriots, who suffered their first loss last Sunday to Cincinnatti, will also hook up on Sunday. Saints QB Drew Brees owns Bill Belichick and the Pats during his career. Brees is 3-0 vs. the Patriots in his career, with eight TDs, no INTs and a 148.3 passer rating. In two games with San Diego and one with New Orleans, Brees’ teams have outscored NE 100-48.
Not many would have guessed that the game between teams led by Tom Brady and Drew Brees would feature two of the top four scoring defenses in the NFL. The Patriots are allowing 14.0 PPG this season (2nd in NFL), while the Saints are allowing 14.6 PPG this season (4th in NFL). Patriots QB Tom Brady has his team atop the AFC East but he has had his struggles this season. Brady is averaging 6.18 yards per pass attempt this season, down from 7.52 for his career prior to 2013. Only three QBs have lower yards per attempt this season: Blaine Gabbert, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford.
While it is not being met with the fanfare of the above games, the 49ers and Cardinals are also two recent Super Bowl teams that will meet this Sunday. San Fran lost to the Ravens last year in New Orleans and the Cards, with Kurt Warner at QB, dropped a heartbreaker in Tampa Bay back in 2009. Despite handling the Texans and Rams with relative ease, I am not convinced Niners sophomore QB Colin Kaepernick is totally back on track. In Sunday’s night’s victory vs. Houston, Kaepernick went 6-for-15 passing with 113 yards and one TD. It was his fewest completions, attempts and yards as a starter. The last QB to win a game with six or fewer completions was Tim Tebow, who went 2-for-8 passing in a 17-10 win over the Chiefs in 2011.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL:
The winless NY Giants and the Chicago Bears played in the NFL’s latest installment of Thursday Night Hypocrisy Football. Amazing, that with all of the issues surrounding player safety, the league still makes two teams play a game less than 100 hours after playing their last one. The Giants entered the contest having won four consecutive road games against the Bears, dating back to 1992. Before losing last night, the Giants' last loss in Chicago came in 1991, when Jim Harbaugh led the Bears to a 20-17 victory over Jeff Hostetler’s team. NY fell to 0-6 following the 27-21 loss to Da Bears in Chicago. Eli Manning struggles continued as he threw his 13th, 14th and 15th interceptions of the season. Only one other quarterback in NFL history has started and lost each of his team's first six games of a season while throwing at least 15 interceptions. That was Eddie LeBaron, who started and lost each of the first six games in Cowboys' team history, in 1960; he threw 17 picks in those six games.
Manning (0-6) and Ben Roethlisberger (0-4) are the only quarterbacks ever to start a season 0-3 or worse after winning multiple Super Bowls. Only two quarterbacks who started and won a Super Bowl more than once lost their first two starts in a season: Terry Bradshaw (1981) and Troy Aikman (Games 1 and 4 in 2000).
The Bears defense continues to defy experts and father time in some cases. Last night’s hero was Tim Jennings, who intercepted Eli Manning twice. Jennings ran one back for the first score of the game and ended a potential go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. Jennings has 12 interceptions in 20 games over the last two seasons, the highest total by a Bears player over 20 games since Charlie Ford had 12 picks in 20 games from 1971 to 1973.
THE DENVER MANNINGS
What could possibly be said about Peyton Manning that hasn’t already been said. In an epic battle with Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, Manning threw for 414 yards, giving him 10 career games with at least 400 passing yards and tied Drew Brees for second most, trailing only Dan Marino's 13. Manning’s 1,884 yards for the season are second-most in NFL history by a quarterback through five games, the most since Kurt Warner threw for 1,947 for the 2000 Rams. No.18 also tossed four more TD’s during the contest. His 20 touchdown passes through five games is the most through five games in NFL history and also the record for the most touchdown passes before his an interception.
Tony Romo was not too bad either. The Dallas gunslinger threw for a Cowboys single-game record 506 yards and had five touchdown passes threw for 506 passing yards, the 12th-most in a game in NFL history. He is the fifth quarterback to throw for at least 500 yards and five touchdowns in an NFL game.
Here are the top stats from the Elias Sports Bureau from the Broncos 51-48 win in Dallas.
The Broncos, who defeated the Eagles, 52-20, last week, became the first NFL team to score more than 50 points in consecutive games of the same season since the L.A. Rams (October 1950) and the Giants (November 1950) both did it 63 years ago.
This was the fourth-highest scoring non-overtime game in NFL history with the teams combining for 99 points. That is 14 shy of the NFL record set in 1966 by the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.
The two teams combined for 884 passing yards, tied for the third most in an NFL game.
The Broncos have now won 16 straight regular-season games. That’s tied for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history, seven games shy of the record of 23 games by the Indianapolis Colts from 2008 to 2009.
The Cowboys' 48 points in a loss is one shy of the NFL record, set when the 1963 Houston Oilers scored 49 points in a loss to the Raiders.
The Cowboys also became the second team in AFL/NFL history to have three players with at least 120 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in the same game. The only other team to do it was the AFL’s Houston Oilers in 1961 against the New York Titans (now known as the Jets). Dez Bryant was one of those three, as he finished with six catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the Cowboys are now 1-7 in Bryant’s career when he catches multiple touchdown passes.
While this was all amazing to watch, all anyone wants to talk about is the late interception Tony Romo threw. The fact that fans are beating him up this week may have something to do with the fact that the Cowboys have now lost the last eight games in which Romo has thrown a fourth-quarter interception, with six of the eight losses being by seven points or less.
Romo has his troubles in clutch situations (just ask Washington) but last week’s loss to the Broncos was the fifth time that Romo reached the 400-yard mark, and Dallas lost each of those games. In fact, Romo has lost the games in which he recorded each of the seven highest yardage totals of his career.
The only other NFL quarterbacks to lose five games in which they passed for at least 400 yards are Carson Palmer (5 of 5), Drew Brees (5 of 10), and Dan Marino (5 of 13).
This week, the Cowboys will host their division rivals, the Washington Redskins. A win in Dallas would have the Redskins right back in the thick of the NFC East race. Washington entered their bye with momentum after winning 24-14 at Oakland on Sept. 29. RG3 threw for 227 yards and a score and did not turn the football for the first time this year. More importantly, the Skins seemed to get back to an element of success for them last season, the play action pass. RG III was 10-of-13 (76.9%) using play action in Week 4, a week in which the Redskins ran on 48% of their plays. In the first three weeks of the season, the Redskins ran on 24% of their plays, with Griffin going 19-of-33 (57.6%) on play action.
The Cowboys lead the overall regular season series according to Pro Football Reference, 62-40-2 but are 0-2 to Washington in the playoffs. The Redskins swept the Cowboys last season for the first time since the 2005 season and are looking for their first three game winning streak vs. Dallas since the Redskins won four in a row, spanning three seasons from Nov. of 1986 through Oct of 1988.
NFL TIDBITS, THE BEST OF THE REST:
The Matt Schaub story is getting a little stranger each day. There were reports this week that a fan was in his driveway taking pictures of is house and screaming obscenities. The Houston Police Dept. denied any such incident occurred but fans are not happy with the Texans signal caller. Schaub became the first player in NFL history to have an interception returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games. Ironically, Schaub did not throw a pick-six in either 2011 or 2012. The only other NFL player to throw at least 700 passes without a pick-six over those two seasons was Aaron Rodgers. Houston will host the Rams this week; I’ll bet Schaub wishes that game were in St. Louis
Tramaine Brock intercepted Schaub's first pass of the game and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. That set the tone in the 49ers' 34-3 victory over the Texans. Brock's score, at 1:30 of the first quarter, was the earliest ever produced on an interception return by a Niners player. The previous team record was an INT-TD at 1:42 by Stan Hindman against Earl Morrall and the Baltimore Colts in 1968.
The Seahawks are glad to be home after two tough games on the road in Houston and Indianapolis where they won beat the Texans but lost a tough one to Andrew Luck and the Colts. They will host the Tennessee Titans and the numbers say with Russell Wilson playing QB, this is a guaranteed win. Since 1950, Wilson is the only QB to start his career 10-0 at home and post a passer rating of 119.0 or better. Kurt Warner started his home career 10-0 with a 116.2 passer rating, while Roger Staubach started 10-0 with a 108.3 passer rating. Wilson’s home passer rating is 119.9.
A LITTLE LUCK IS ALL YOU NEED:
Speaking of Andrew Luck, all he seems to do win as well. Last week’s come from behind win vs. Seattle was his ninth game winning drive in the fourth qtr. or overtime. That is the most through a player’s first 21 games by any quarterback that began his career since the 1970 merger. Luck is currently tied with Jake Plummer for the most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in the first two seasons of a career since 1970.
He has beat the Seahawks and 49ers this season and with wins over other QB’s like Aaron Rodgers in his brief career, is off to quite a start. In fact, last week’s game vs. Seattle and Wilson was historic in this way; never before had a pair of second-year quarterbacks, each with at least 10 previous victories, started head-to-head. In this case, both QBs have far exceeded that total. Following Sunday's game, both Luck and Wilson have a 15-6 record as starting QBs. Sunday's game was also the first matchup of second-year quarterbacks who both started a playoff game in the previous season.
Luck, who has led Indianapolis to a 4-1 record atop the AFC South this season reached 15 wins faster than any quarterback drafted No. 1 overall since the 1970 merger (21 starts). With an 11 win season, Luck can challenge Ben Roethlisberger’s (22) record for the most wins among quarterbacks in their first two seasons of a career since 1970
PRYOR TO HIS ARRIVAL:
Prior to Terrelle Pryor taking over the starting job in Oakland , beating out Matt Flynn, who was cut once again this past week, the Oakland Raiders were a sure bet to be drafting in the top 5 of next year's NFL Draft. However, performances like the one he turned in late last Sunday night have fans and the so called experts from around the league taking notice. Pryor hit Rod Streater on a 44-yard scoring pass on the Raiders' first play from scrimmage against the Chargers. It marked the first time that Oakland had scored on its first play from scrimmage since the 2010 season, when wide receiver Jacoby Ford ran 71 yards for a touchdown to spark a victory over the Broncos. Streater scored on the Raiders' first offensive play just a smidge over 24 hours after Yoenis Cespedes scored on the Athletics' last offensive play in the same stadium (Cespedes scored the game's only run on the walk off RBI single by Stephen Vogt in Game Two of the Division Series against the Tigers). The Raiders would go onto win the game 27-17.
After upsetting the Chargers last week, the Raiders will travel to KC to try to hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season. This may not be as hard as you might think. Since 2008, the Oakland Raiders have the best road record against AFC West teams of any team in that division. At 11-5, the Raiders are one win better than the Broncos (10-5) and the Chargers (10-6). Would you believe that AFC West teams are a combined 36-26 on the road against their divisional foes in that span? It may be a little difficult to hear in KC on Sun afternoon, Chiefs fans will look to break a noise record set by the Seahawks fans last season.
Staying with the Chiefs theme for a moment, at 5-0, they are tied atop the AFC West the Denver Broncos, as both are two of three remaining undefeated teams in 2013. If both win this Sunday, it would mark the second time since the divisional structure was implemented in 1933 that two teams in the same division started 6-0.
The Broncos should easily get to 6-0, as should KC for that matter. The Broncos opened the week as a four-touchdown favorite against the winless Jaguars. After all, Manning & Co. scored more points last Sunday (51) than the Jaguars have all season. This all sounds eerily familiar to another recent high powered offensive undefeated team: The Tom Brady led 2007 Patriots. New England began that season 9-1 against the spread. Therefore, oddsmakers in Las Vegas upped the ante so to speak. In Week 11, the Pats were 25-point favorites against the Eagles—the NFL’s biggest spread since 1976, and the second largest of all-time. In case you are wondering, the Pats failed to cover in the contest and nearly lost. Philadelphia led 28-24 in the fourth Qtr. before a Laurence Maroney 4-yard TD run put the Pats up 31-28, which is how the game ended.
From NFL.com—-In the midst of the Pittsburgh Steelers' worst start since 1968, coach Mike Tomlin has banned all games – including billiards, Ping-Pong and shuffleboard (– from the locker room, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The games were added as a reward for Super Bowl appearances in 2008 and 2010. The ban was originally instituted a few weeks ago by the team's 10 remaining Super Bowl veterans, prohibiting players with less than four years of experience from joining in on the fun because they had not earned that right.
"From his point, it was dividing the team in a way," defensive leader Ryan Clark explained Thursday. "One sect of people couldn't do a certain thing and he just wanted everybody to be together — because we're all in the losses together. We're all in the business of fixing this problem together. He didn't want anything to divide us."Tomlin doesn't plan on removing his players from "timeout" until the season is "back on track," per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Steelers play the Jets this week—stay tuned.
Stats courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau, ESPN Stats and Information & NFL Communications: