Pittsburgh Steelers: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has the
second-best touchdown pass percentage of all quarterbacks in the NFL. Trailing
only the Patriots' Tom Brady, who has thrown a touchdown on 8.9 percent of his
pass attempts, Roethlisberger's 7.9 percent puts him ahead of Cowboys QB Tony Romo (7.1 percent) and the Colts' Peyton Manning (6.0 percent).
Dallas Cowboys: What a difference one defender makes at the line of
scrimmage for the Cowboys. So far this season, with just four defenders up at
the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys have blitzed just 13.1 percent of the time.
When they've put five defenders at the line of scrimmage, they've blitzed 31.9
percent of the time. Add a sixth defender anywhere along the line of scrimmage
and their likelihood of blitzing jumps up to 52.1 percent. Dallas has put more
than six defenders on the line of scrimmage just nine times this season and
didn't blitz once. Those are significant variances that could certainly help
opposing quarterbacks anticipate when they're most likely to get some additional
heat on a pass play.
San Diego Chargers: When they've won, the 9–5 Chargers have
usually thumped their opponents with an average margin of victory of 18.33
points. That's second in the NFL only to the Patriots' 20.79 points during their
14 wins this season. Pittsburgh (17.1 points), Minnesota (16.5 points), and New Orleans (15.29 points) round out the top five in the category.
Philadelphia Eagles: While Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson is drawing
the lion's share of the attention among NFC running backs with his 1,278
rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, you have to admire the all-around work of the
Eagles' Brian Westbrook in 2007. With two games remaining, he's rushed for 1,191
yards and caught 83 passes for 705 yards. His 145.8 scrimmage yards per game is
the best by far in the NFL, eclipsing Peterson's 127.1 average yards from
scrimmage. Only three other backs are averaging more than 100 yards per game
from scrimmage, including the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (126.6), the Colts'
Joseph Addai (105.4), and the Ravens' Willis McGahee (102.0).
Reggie Wayne has helped the Colts overcome the loss of Marvin Harrison this year.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Indianapolis Colts: With Marvin Harrison sidelined with a knee injury
for much of this season, the Colts have had to rely on Reggie Wayne to deliver
the big-play receptions — and he's done just that. Wayne has caught 82
passes for 1,280 yards (15.6 yards per catch), including a league-leading 15 for
25-plus yards. Heading into Week 16 action, Dallas' Terrell Owens is second with
13 big-play catches while five others have 11, including the Jets' Jerricho Cotchery, the Browns' Braylons Edwards, the Buccaneers' Joey Galloway, the
Patriots' Randy Moss and the Falcons' Roddy White.
Arizona Cardinals: Running back Edgerrin James is a tough guy to
tackle for a loss this season. His 5.8 stuffed runs percent is the best in the
NFL among running backs with at least 200 attempts. Dallas' Marion Barber has
been stuffed just 5.6 percent of the time, but has just 198 carries compared to
James' 274 this season.
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore's defense built a reputation during past
seasons for creating costly turnovers that they converted into points or that at
least helped set up their offense for more scoring opportunities. But this
season, the defense has struggled mightily to keep opposing offenses from taking
advantage of scoring opportunities after the Ravens offense has coughed-up the
ball. With Baltimore's offense turning the ball over a league-worst 36 times
this year, the Ravens defense has allowed 129 points to be scored off of those
turnovers, including six rushing touchdowns, 6 passing touchdowns and 8 field
goals. Those 129 points surrendered ties them for worst in the league along with
the Houston Texans, whose offense has given up the football 34 times this
New England Patriots: Tom Brady needs four touchdown passes in
the last two games of the season to tie Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown
record set back in 2004. He is also just slightly behind Manning's 121.1 passer
rating from that season, which is also an NFL record. To put Brady's current
119.7 rating into perspective, it's so extraordinary that the third-place quarterback,
former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, had a 112.4 rating back in 1994 that many
people thought would never be broken. And
Brady's previous career high for a single season was 92.6 back in 2004.
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