With two weeks remaining in the 2014 regular season, 21 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona. Only three teams – Denver (AFC West), Indianapolis (AFC South), New England (AFC East) – have clinched their divisions, while Arizona has clinched a playoff spot.
THE NEW 30: In Week 16, Pittsburgh’s BEN ROETHLISBERGER (29), Chicago’s JAY CUTLER (28), Dallas’s TONY ROMO (28), Atlanta’s MATT RYAN (27) and San Diego’s PHILIP RIVERS (27) can all reach 30 touchdown passes. If at least one quarterback reaches 30 touchdown passes on Sunday, 2014 will have the most quarterbacks with at least 30 TD passes of any season in NFL history (five in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013).
Indianapolis’ ANDREW LUCK (38), Denver’s PEYTON MANNING (37), Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS (35), New England’s TOM BRADY (32) and New Orleans’ DREW BREES (31) have thrown 30+ TD passes this season.
RECEPTION PARTY: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN leads the NFL with 115 receptions (8.2 average) and Chicago running back MATT FORTÉ ranks seventh with 88 receptions (6.3 average). With nine catches on Sunday against Kansas City, Brown can surpass HERMAN MOORE (123 in 1995) and WES WELKER (123 in 2009) for the second-most catches in a season in NFL history. Brown has eight or more catches in eight straight games, the longest streak in NFL history.
With five catches on Sunday against Detroit, Forté can surpass CHARLIE GARNER (91 in 2002) and ROGER CRAIG (92 in 1985) for the fourth-most catches by a running back in a season in NFL history.
ROOKIE RECEIVERS: Four rookie wide receivers – the New York Giants’ ODELL BECKHAM, JR. (972), Carolina’s KELVIN BENJAMIN (952), Tampa Bay’s MIKE EVANS (948) and Buffalo’s SAMMY WATKINS (850) – are approaching the 1,000-yard receiving mark.
If at least three rookie wide receivers reach 1,000 yards this season, 2014 will have the most rookie wide receivers with 1,000+ receiving yards of any season in NFL history. The 1986 season is the only season in NFL history to have two rookie receivers reach the mark – Indianapolis’ BILL BROOKS (1,131) and Houston Oilers’ ERNEST GIVINS (1,062).
SACK ATTACK: Houston defensive end J.J. WATT ranks third in the NFL with 16.5 sacks this season and has 53.0 sacks since entering the league in 2011.
With a sack on Sunday against Baltimore, Watt can surpass DE MARCUS WARE (53.5, 2005-08) for the most sacks in a player’s first four seasons since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
ROOKIE POINTS: Philadelphia rookie kicker CODY PARKEY leads the NFC and ranks second in the NFL with 134 points (29 field goals, 47 PATs) this season, already the fifth-most points scored by a rookie in NFL history. With 11 points on Saturday at Washington, Parkey can surpass KEVIN BUTLER (144 in 1985) for the most points in a rookie season in NFL history.
MILE-HIGH MONDAY: On Monday night, the AFC West champion DENVER BRONCOS (11-3) will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The Broncos’ MNF appearance this week marks their 23rd consecutive season playing on MNF (1992-present), the longest current streak in the NFL. Oakland holds the record with 28 consecutive seasons appearing on Monday Night Football (1970-1997).
Denver (67) also ranks fourth for the most appearances on MNF among NFL teams.
TOP BILLING: Last week, New England (11-3) and head coach BILL BELICHICK clinched their sixth consecutive AFC East division title and the club’s 11th in the past 12 years. Belichick has amassed 229 wins in his career and with a win at the New York Jets on Sunday, Belichick can surpass CURLY LAMBEAU (229-134-22) for the fourth-most wins by a head coach in NFL history.
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