A crucial Week 15 featured six contests between teams with winning records. That number is sliced in half for Week 16, with Vikings-Texas, Giants-Ravens, and especially 49ers-Seahawks on Monday night taking center stage. Only four games have spreads of fewer than three points, while three spreads favor a team by at least 13 points.
In the NFL more than any other sport, however, the smart move is to expect the unexpected.What do the numbers tell us to expect—or not—this weekend?
(All odds provided by Sportsbook.ag).
182 – Receiving yards needed by Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson to break Jerry Rice’s single-season record of 1,848 (set in 1995). The Lions have lost six in a row (they haven’t dropped seven straight since the 0-16 team in 2008), but that’s no fault of Johnson’s. In his last seven games he is averaging 9.3 receptions and 147 yards. Meanwhile, in the Falcons’ last two victories they held Drew Brees and Eli Manning to a combined zero touchdowns and seven interceptions. Atlanta is a four-point road favorite on Saturday night.
34 – Points by which the Giants got blown out by Atlanta in Week 15, an all-time record in any game for a defending Super Bowl Champion. New York committed three turnovers while forcing none, suffered its first regular-season shutout since 1996, and Manning’s 38.9 passer rating was his worst in any game since 2007. Sunday’s showdown features a Giants team that is suddenly outside the playoff picture and a Ravens squad that has lost three in a row. The G-Men are 2.5-point road favorites.
9 – Consecutive losses for Cincinnati against AFC North rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the two opponents it faces to round out its regular season. The previous 2012 meeting between the Bengals and Steelers went in Pitt’s favor, 24-17, on Oct. 21 in Cincinnati. The Bengals amassed a mere total of 185 yards. Pittsburgh is 4-1 against the spread in the last five head-to-head encounters and the favorite is 5-0 ATS in the last five overall. The Steelers are four-point home favorites in Week 16.
3 – Consecutive wins for the Cowboys, all three of which have come after they trailed in the fourth quarter. Their last four victories have come following fourth-quarter deficits, including two of those four in overtime. Tony Romo has thrown for 912 yards with six touchdowns and only one interception during this streak. He will have every chance for more success against a New Orleans defense that is dead last in the NFL in total defense at 446.2 yards per game. The Cowboys are 2.5-point home favorites this weekend.
14 – Years since an American had won Miss Universe, until last night when Rhode Island’s Olivia Culpo (smokeshow. Although, did you see first runner-up Miss Philippines?) brought home the title. But, back to sports for now. It’s also the number of games the Bears and Cardinals have combined to lose in their last 16. Chicago has lost five of six, and Arizona dropped nine in a row before finally getting back in the win column in Week 15. The Bears, who are averaging 14.2 points in their past six games after putting up 29.5 per outing in their first eight, have lost seven straight December contests dating back to 2010. Arizona is a six-point home underdog in Week 16.
294 – Rushing yards needed by Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 (set in 1984). The Vikings visit Houston on Sunday then host Green Bay as they make a last-gasp effort to sneak into the playoffs. AP rushed for a season-high 212 yards last weekend against St. Louis, and he is averaging 129.4 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry. The Texans are fifth in the league in rushing defense at 93.2 yards per outing. Minnesota is a 7.5-point underdog.
158.3 – A perfect passer rating in the NFL. It also happens to be the passer rating that Robert Griffin III recorded the last time Washington faced Philadelphia, a 31-6 Redskins blowout on Nov. 18. The ‘Skins have won five in a row overall to surge into first place in the NFC East. They are 5-0 ATS in their last five and 4-1 ATS in their last five road games. They are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Philly, and the favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings. Washington, which is expected to have RG3 back on the field, is a 6.5-point road favorite on Sunday.
62 – Years since a team had scored at least 50 points in consecutive games until this season’s Seattle squad accomplished the feat. The Seahawks embarrassed Arizona in Week 14, 58-0, before pounding Buffalo last Sunday, 50-17. Russell Wilson is the first rookie quarterback since the 1970 merger to win his first six home games. A seventh straight victory of that sort would keep Seattle alive in the NFC West. The Seahawks are one-point home underdogs against San Francisco on Sunday night.
108 – Receiving yards (plus 36 yards in kick returns) needed by Green Bay’s Randall Cobb to become the first player in NFL history to amass 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards in kick returns in a single season.
10 – Rushing yards gained by Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles on nine carries in last week’s 15-0 loss at Oakland. That ended a streak of three straight 100-yard outings for Charles.
104 – Rushing yards for Miami’s Reggie Bush in last Sunday’s win over Jacksonville. It was his first 100-yard game since Week 2. Bush needs 105 more yards for his second straight 1,000-yard season.
7 – Turnovers committed by the Jets in their last two games. It’s also the round in which Greg McElroy—who will start over Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow against San Diego—was drafted.
377 – Career-high passing yards for Sam Bradford in last week’s loss to Minnesota. Bradford and the Rams are going up against a Tampa Bay team with the worst passing defense in the NFL at 310.6 yards per game.