Philadelphia at Seattle
Series: Eagles lead 7-5
Last Meeting(s): In 2008, the Eagles travelled to Seattle and won 26-7. The only scoring plays in the second half were four David Akers field goals.
Streak(s): The 2008 win was Philadelphia’s third straight in Seattle. The Seahawks’ last home win against Philadelphia came in 1995 when Rick Mirer’s zero touchdown-zero interception game was better than Rodney Peete’s zero touchdown-one interception game.
Carolina at Tampa Bay
Series: Panthers lead 12-9
Last Meeting(s): Tampa Bay’s convincing 2010 sweep of Carolina started with a 20-7 win in Charlotte in Week 2. Neither team hit 300 yards on offense and the Panthers had three turnovers. In Week 10, Tampa Bay rushed for 186 yards and won 31-16.
Streak(s): The Buccaneers snapped a three-game Carolina winning streak with their Week 2 win. The Panthers have been very good in Tampa, posting a 6-4 record there overall.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Series: Steelers lead 51-32
Last Meeting(s): In Week 10, Pittsburgh pulled off a 24-17 road win in Cincinnati. The Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but Cincinnati kept the game close and tied it at 17 in the third quarter. Rashard Mendenhall put Pittsburgh back on top for good with a nine-yard touchdown run, also in the third quarter.
Streak(s): The Steelers have now won three straight since getting swept by Cincinnati in 2009. Pittsburgh has won eight of the last 10.
Atlanta at Houston
Series: Tied 1-1
Last Meeting(s): Can I call this the Matt Schaub Bowl? Schaub had a big game in the Texans’ 26-16 2007 loss in Atlanta. He was 26-40 for 317 yards and a touchdown but Houston had to settle for three field goals. Joey Harrington was just as good for Atlanta, completing 23 of 29 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. The 2003 meeting featured passes thrown by Doug Johnson, Michael Vick, T.J. Duckett, David Carr, and Tony Banks. Woof.
Streak(s): There’s not enough history here for a streak.
NY Jets at Washington
Series: Redskins lead 8-1
Last Meeting(s): I guess I like to name games after a player who played for both teams. This one’s the John Riggins Bowl. It could also be the co-sponsored Santana Moss-Laveranues Coles Bowl. In 2007, the Redskins won 23-20 thanks to five Shaun Suisham field goals, including a 46-yarder to win it. Suisham’s distances on the five kicks, in order, were 46-40-22-40-46. Kellen Clemens threw 42 passes…which reminds me that Clemens was briefly with Washington this year. Clemens Bowl?
Streak(s): The Jets’ only win in this series came in 1993 at RFK Memorial. Washington has sandwiched that game with two four-game winning streaks.
Indianapolis at New England
Series: Patriots lead 45-29
Last Meeting(s): New England finally solved their Peyton Manning problem with a 31-28 win in 2010. The Patriots led 31-14 in the fourth quarter before two Blair White touchdown catches got the game close. Manning out-threw Brady 396 yards to 186, and four touchdowns to two, but also tossed three picks. New England ran (34) more than they threw (25) and it paid off: 168 yards and two touchdowns, one for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and one for Danny Woodhead.
Streak(s): This is one of the NFL’s most common inter-division matchups since the 2002 realignment because the Patriots and Colts almost always win their divisions (meaning they are on each others’ schedule the following season). Including playoff games, the Patriots and Colts have met 11 times, with New England winning 6 times (twice in the playoffs; the Colts won one playoff meeting). In the Brady-Manning era, which started on September 30, 2001, the series has had two fairly distinct stretches. The first was dominated by New England and lasted through the 2004 AFC Divisional playoffs. The Patriots were 6-0 during that time and intercepted Manning five times in two playoff wins (and five more times in the four regular season games).
It’s fairly well known that after the 2003 AFC Championship, then-Colts coach Tony Dungy and Bill Polian campaigned for the NFL’s Competition Committee to have pass inference more strictly enforced. They were successful, and the NFL issued a “point of emphasis” memo, basically asking referees to call pass interference to the letter of the law. This emphasis is still plaguing the NFL today. The effect for the Colts was not immediate: New England beat them in the playoffs one more time before the tide turned.
Starting with a 2005 regular season crushing, Indianapolis ran off five wins over New England in six meetings, including an epic comeback in the 2006 AFC Championship and another big comeback in the Bill Belichick 4th-and-2 game. As mentioned above, that stretch was ended by the Patriots 2010 win.
Wait…what? Curtis Painter? That’s right, those three paragraphs above have no bearing on this week’s game. Might as well be a Patriots-Argonauts game.
Oakland at Miami
Series: Raiders lead 19-14-1
Last Meeting(s): In 2010, Miami and Oakland entered Week 12 5-5. The Dolphins left Oakland (the city of Oakland, that is) with a leg up in the playoff race after a 33-17 win. Jacoby Ford returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but the Raiders offense couldn’t build on the early lead. Oakland, led by quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, managed only 16 yards rushing (Ford was the leading rusher with one carry for 13 yards) and turned the ball over three times. Chad Henne threw for over 300 yards while Ricky Williams chipped in 95 yards rushing and Ronnie Brown added another 85.
Streak(s): Miami has won two in a row and holds an 11-4 advantage since 1988. The Raiders had dominated the series before that (15-3-1). The Raiders also hold a 3-1 playoff record against Miami. The Dolphins playoff win against the Raiders came in the 1973 AFC Championship, while all of the Raiders wins have come in the divisional round.
Denver at Minnesota
Series: Vikings lead 7-5
Last Meeting(s): Tarvaris Jackson and Bobby Wade hooked up twice in the fourth quarter to cap a furious Vikings comeback and send the teams’ 2007 Week 17 meeting to overtime. The Vikings came in needing a win and a Redskins loss to make the playoffs and Denver’s Darrent Williams had been killed less than 24 hours before the game.
Jay Cutler was sharp all game and threw the ball to Brandon Marshall (10 catches, 114 yards, touchdown) a lot. Denver led 19-3 with eight minutes left, but Jackson ran in a two-point conversion after each of Wade’s touchdowns to tie the game. On the second play of overtime, Jackson was sacked and fumbled. Denver recovered the ball at Minnesota’s 12 yard line and immediately sent Jason Elam on to hit the game-winner.
Streak(s): Denver’s win snapped a two-game winning streak for the Vikings. Dating back to 1987, the teams have played eight consecutive games decided by one score. Denver and Minnesota could have played in the 1998, 1987, and 1977 Super Bowls; Denver won the AFC Championship in each of those seasons while the Vikings lost the NFC Championship each of those seasons.
Tennessee at Buffalo
Series: Titans lead 26-16
Last Meeting(s): The Titans won in Nashville 41-17 in 2009. Trent Edwards started and was ineffective for the Bills. Edwards finished his day by throwing an interception for a touchdown (Vincent Fuller), prompting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fourth appearance of the season. Fitzpatrick followed Edwards’ lead and threw an interception for a touchdown (Roderick Hood). Chris Johnson ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Streak(s): Tennessee has won three in a row and six of seven, a stretch that started in December 1995. The Titans/Oilers and Bills have met three times in the playoffs: following the 1988, 1992, and 1999 seasons. Buffalo won in the divisional round in 1988. The 1992 wildcard meeting featured the greatest comeback in NFL history (Bills were down 32 points in the third quarter and won in overtime). The Titans knotched their own wild win in the 1999 wildcard round (Music City Miracle).
Kansas City at Chicago
Series: Bears lead 6-4
Last Meeting(s): Chicago won at home 20-10 in 2007. Rex Grossman threw two picks that day, which has become his calling card (Grossman has a streak of seven straight games with at least two interceptions thrown). This is one of those matchups where almost no offensive players are still around since the last meeting. Devin Hester scored on a 73-yard punt return.
Streak(s): The only winning streak in this series was a three-game by Chicago (1977, 1981, 1987). Kansas City has lost their last two games in Soldier Field; their last win came in 1990.
Baltimore at Cleveland
Series: Ravens lead 17-7
Last Meeting(s): Baltimore won 24-17 at home in Week 3 last season. Peyton Hillis had more yards on the ground (144) than Seneca Wallace had through the air (141). The rare big rushing game against the Ravens wasn’t enough as Joe Flacco threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns. In Week 16, Cleveland helped the Ravens to a 20-10 win with four turnovers (Colt McCoy threw three interceptions). Hillis managed just 35 yards this time around.
Streak(s): Baltimore has won six straight since Cleveland swept the series in 2007. There have been nine sweeps in the series’ 12-season history.
Dallas at Arizona
Series: Cowboys lead 55-30-1
Last Meeting(s): The Cowboys and Cardinals played in one of those Saturday NFL Network games in Week 16 last year. The quarterback matchup was a bid strange. The Cardinals, who never really settled on a starter in 2010, went with John Skelton. The Cowboys, who lost Tony Romo early in the year, went with Jon Kitna. Kitna threw interceptions for touchdowns on both of Dallas’ first two drives, then left with an injury at halftime. Stephen McGee filled in admirably, leading the Cowboys on a 16-6 second-half run and giving them the lead with 1:41 left on 37-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin. Unfortunately, David Buehler missed the extra point, the Cardinals drove into field goal range quickly, Jay Feely hit a 48-yarder, and Arizona won 27-26.
Streak(s): Dallas dominated this series when both teams were in the NFC East (they were in different divisions from 1967-69—Dallas was in the Capital and the St. Louis Cardinals were in the Century; Dallas was actually correctly placed in the West division in their inaugural season in 1960, but they were switched to the East in 1961). From 1990 to 1996, the Cowboys won 13 straight. The Cardinals are 7-6 in the series since then. Sunday’s meeting will be the fourth straight in Phoenix, where the Cardinals have beaten Dallas six of the last seven times.
Green Bay at NY Giants
Series: Packers lead 30-23-2
Last Meeting(s): There were two touchdowns of 80-plus yards in the first half and the Giants were down just 21-14 at halftime. Green Bay dominated the second half and won 45-17. Aaron Rodgers threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns while Eli Manning had 301 yards and two touchdowns, but threw four interceptions.
Streak(s): Green Bay has won three straight in New Jersey (1998, 2002, and 2007). The Packers have won five of the last six regular season meetings (back to 1995), they the Giants won in Lambeau in the 2007 NFC Championship, spoiling Brett Favre’s final season as a Packer before spoiling the Patriots bid at 19-0.
St. Louis at San Francisco
Series: Rams lead 61-60-2
Last Meeting(s): The Rams’ Week 10 loss to San Francisco in 2010 was a huge reason they didn’t win the weak NFC West. The 49ers’ 23-20 home win in overtime kept the Rams at 4-5 while San Francisco improved to 3-6. Troy Smith has 356 yards passing for San Francisco and five of his receivers had at least 60 yards. The Rams entered the teams’ Week 16 meeting 6-8, but stayed alive with a 25-17 home win. Troy Smith got his sixth start but threw for just 153 yards with a touchdown and an interception before Alex Smith took the field. Sam Bradford was 28-37 for 292 yards with one touchdown.
Streak(s): The Rams’ Week 16 win snapped a five-game losing streak overall to the 49ers; it was also their first home win in the series since 2004 (four losses in between). If you started watching football after 1980, the overall record of this series has to be somewhat shocking. The Rams were a not-terrible 8-13 in the 1980s against San Francisco—including a loss in the 1989 NFC Championship, which was played in January 1990. The Rams won the series’ first game of the 1990s and swept the 49ers in 1999. In between, they lost 17 in a row. The series has been split 11-11 since 2000, meaning the 49ers have a 36-27 advantage since 1980. But the Rams won the 1970s 17-3 and the 1950s 12-7-1.
Detroit at New Orleans
Series: Saints lead 10-9-1
Last Meeting(s): New Orleans crushed the Lions 45-27 in the 2009 season opener. Drew Brees had 368 yards, six touchdowns (to five different players), and one interception, but the Saints found room for running back Mike Bell, who had 143 yards. Matt Stafford threw three interceptions and didn’t find the endzone through the air, but ran one in. The Lions also scored on 65-yard fumble return by Louis Delmas.
Streak(s): The Saints have outscored Detroit 87-34 in the last two meetings (2008, 2009). The Lions had a three-game win streak before those two blow outs.
San Diego at Jacksonville
Series: Tied 2-2
Last Meeting(s): The Chargers crushed Jacksonville 38-13 at Qualcomm Stadium last year. David Garrard’s four interceptions were enough to get Luke McCown in the game. Philip Rivers was busy, throwing for 334 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Streak(s): Although the Jaguars came into the league in 1996, these teams didn’t play their first game until 2003. They’ve traded wins since then; they’re both 2-0 at home.