Houston at Indianapolis
Series: Colts lead 16-3
Last Meeting(s): The Texans started their season by dominating the Peyton Manning-less Colts 34-7. Houston committed three turnovers, but Matt Schaub, Ben Tate, and Andre Johnson all had solid games and Jacoby Jones took a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to make the score 34-0.
Streak(s): Houston has now won two of the last three. Their other win in this young series was sandwiched between a nine-game Colts winning streak and a six-game Colts streak. The Texans have never won in Indianapolis, which amounts to a nine-game losing streak. Houston has scored at least 14 points in every game since scoring just six points total in the 2002 series.
Oakland at Kansas City
Series: Chiefs lead 55-48-2
Last Meeting(s): Just days after the Raiders acquired Carson Palmer from Cincinnati, the Chiefs went on the road and embarrassed Oakland. Kyle Boller started the game and threw three first-half interceptions and Palmer threw three more in the second half as Kansas City rolled to a 28-0 win. Kendrick Lewis took one of Boller’s picks 59 yards for a score and Brandon Flowers took one of Palmer’s back 58 yards for a touchdown. Matt Cassel threw two interceptions of his own.
Streak(s): Both teams have struggled for the last decade, and the series has been fairly tight lately, but the Raiders have won four straight in Kansas City. The Chiefs last home win in this series came in 2006, though they’ve more than returned the favor, winning eight of nine in Oakland.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
Series: Titans lead 19-15
Last Meeting(s): Tennessee has not done well against the AFC South this year (they lost to the Colts, which says enough) and they got off on the wrong foot with a 16-14 loss in Jacksonville in Week 1. Kenny Britt’s five catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns (one went for 80 yards, the other from two yards out) were not enough as the Titans rushed for only 43 yards.
Streak(s): The Jaguars lead the series 8-7 since 2004, including a 4-3 mark in Nashville. The Week 1 game broke a streak of five games decided by more than one score.
Miami at New England
Series: Dolphins lead 50-42
Last Meeting(s): Chad Henne and Tom Brady put on a crazy air show in Miami in Week 1 on Monday Night Football. The two quarterbacks combined for 933 yards passing, six passing touchdowns, two interceptions and Henne even ran in a score. The Dolphins scored first on a dominating opening drive and tied the game at 14 early in the third quarter, but New England was too much for Miami’s defense. With the Patriots leading 31-17 in the fourth quarter, Brady hit Wes Welker for a 99-yard touchdown and New England went on to win 38-24.
Streak(s): From December 2004 through the 2009 season, Miami was a respectable 5-6 against the Patriots, but the Patriots have won the last three meetings. In fact, they’ve dominated the last three games: 41-14, 38-7, and 38-24.
Arizona at Cincinnati
Series: Bengals lead 5-4
Last Meeting(s): Arizona won a shootout in 2007, 35-27. The high scoring ended in the third quarter; neither team scored in the fourth. This sounds repetitive: Carson Palmer had 329 yards and two touchdowns, but threw four interceptions. Kurt Warner had 211 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Meanwhile, Arizona scratched out only 50 yards rushing and Cincinnati had 72. So where did all the points come from? Antrell Rolle took two Palmer interceptions back for touchdowns (55 yards and 54 yards) and Cincinnati’s De De Dorsey recovered a blocked punt for a score.
Streak(s): The 2007 win was Arizona’s first in six tries in Cincinnati and second straight overall in the series. Neither team has won three straight.
Denver at Buffalo
Series: Bills lead 19-15-1
Last Meeting(s): In 2008, 9-7 was not good enough to get you into the AFC playoffs; the Matt Cassel-led Patriots went 11-5 and didn’t even get in. Still, when the 7-7 Bills travelled to Denver to plays the 8-6 Broncos, a playoff berth was at stake. Just two weeks earlier, Denver was in full control of the AFC West at 8-5. San Diego had just broken a three-game losing streak to get to 5-8 and the Chiefs and Raiders were even further back.
Needing one win to clinch their division, the Broncos first lost badly on the road against Carolina, then blew an early 13-0 lead at home to the Bills. Three Rian Lindell field goals and a two-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch put the Bills on top 16-13 in the third quarter. Jay Cutler ran in a score from six yards but the Bills answered in the fourth quarter on a three-yard touchdown pass from Trent Edwards to Stevie Johnson. Matt Prater hit his third field goal of the day to even the score, but Buffalo drove down the field once more and sealed the game with an eight-yard touchdown run by Fred Jackson. Denver out-gained Buffalo 532 yards to 275 and only committed two turnovers; the Chargers comeback was simply meant to be. Denver lost again in Week 17 and San Diego won the division at 8-8.
Streak(s): That game broke a five-game Broncos winning streak that stretched back to 1995. Buffalo holds the other substantial winning streak in this old AFL rivalry: from 1962 to 1967, the Bills won nine in a row. Denver hasn’t lost in Buffalo since a 1994 Monday night game. Each of these teams lost to both the Giants and Redskins in the Super Bowl in a span of just six seasons, from 1986 to 1991 (in those six seasons they lost five Super Bowls; the Bengals lost the other one).
St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Series: Rams lead 15-7-2
Last Meeting(s): Pittsburgh went to St. Louis late in 2007 and out-lasted the Rams for a 41-24 win. Ben Roethlisberger had a great game, completing 16 of 20 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Najeh Davenport rushed for 123 yards and scored one touchdown on the ground and one through the air. Nate Washington had two catches for two touchdowns while Santonio Holmes caught four passes for 133 yards. How great are the Steelers at finding wide receivers? Washington and Holmes are now starters on other teams, while Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace have stepped up to become one of the best young receiving corps in the league. And don’t forget Hines Ward and Plaxico Buress, both still catching NFL passes. Makes that wasted second-round pick of Limas Sweed hurt a little less, I should think.
Streak(s): The Steelers won three straight starting with the 1979 Super Bowl, and the third, in 1984, started a back and forth trend in the series. The Rams won in 1987, the Steelers won in 1990, Rams in 1993, Steelers in 1996, Rams in 2003, Steelers in 2007. Lots of blowouts in there: 41-10 in the Steelers’ 1990 win, 27-0 in 1993 for the Rams, and 42-6 for the Steelers in 1996. At least one guy (I didn’t check both rosters) won in both of those last two game: Jerome Bettis. Rookie Bettis and Cleveland Gary shared carries for the Rams in the 1993 meeting; Gary ran 14 times for 30 yards and a score while Bettis ran 16 times for 76 yards and a score. A few years later, in his first season with the Steelers, Bettis scored twice in the first quarter, from three and 50 yards out; he ended up with 129 yards. The 1996 Rams were handing the ball to Lawrence Phillips, Harold Green, and Greg Robinson. Luckily for them, Marshall Faulk came along a few years later.
New York Giants at New Jersey
Series: Giants lead 7-4
Last Meeting(s): It’s the New Jersey bowl. It’s just too weird for me that there are two NFL teams that call themselves “New York” but play all of their home games in a different state. At least the Jets go to Buffalo every year; the Giants haven’t played in New York state since they beat the Bills in December 2007. A couple months prior, the Giants “hosted” the Jets and scored 28 second-half points to earn a 35-24 win. Chad Pennington (3) and Eli Manning (1) threw more interceptions than touchdowns (three total), but the running game was what really decided things on offense. The Giants ran for 188 yards, mostly from Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, while the Jets managed only 55 yards on 25 carries. OK, the passing game was kind of important: Plaxico Burress caught a 53-yard touchdown from Manning and Aaron Ross sealed the game with a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Streak(s): The Giants have won four straight dating back to a 1996 win. The Jets last win came in 1993, when Brad Baxter scored the game-winning touchdown in a 10-6 final. Not every game in this series has been played at the Meadowlands: the first game, in 1970, was played in Shea Stadium, the Jets’ home; the next meeting, in 1974, was played at the Yale Bowl, the Giants’ temporary home in Connecticut while the Jersey stadium was being built and Yankee Stadium was being renovated.
Minnesota at Washington
Series: Redskins lead 11-9
Last Meeting(s): When Minnesota beat Washington 17-13 last season, then-interim head coach Leslie Frazier (coaching his first game) should have taken away only one thing: Donovan McNabb has become a very ineffective quarterback. McNabb was 21-35 with a touchdown and an interception, but the Redskins had numerous easy third down-conversions fall to the ground in the second half; to be fair, Santana Moss wasn’t helping McNabb. Still, to think that Frazier could watch that game live, from the sideline, then go trade for McNabb nine months later is baffling.
Brett Favre wasn’t great in that game either and neither team hit 300 total yards. The Vikings played mistake-free enough to eek out the meaningless (for Minnesota) win and basically kill Washington’s playoff hopes (they fell to 5-6).
Streak(s): This will be the fourth meeting hosted by Washington in the last five; the teams have split the series overall since 2005 (2-2). Minnesota won in the 1993 and 1998 regular seasons but, before that, Washington had won seven straight including three playoff games. The Redskins won at home 21-7 in a 1982 divisional round game; 17-10 at home in the 1987 NFC Championship; and 24-7 at the Metrodome in a 1992 wildcard game. The Redskins also ended the Vikings playoff hopes in 2007: Minnesota entered the game 8-6 with a chance to clinch a playoff spot, but lost to Todd Collins 32-21. The Redskins beat the Vikings 21-18 in Week 17 of the 2004 season, in the infamous “Randy Moss leaves the field before the clock runs out” game, which dropped Minnesota to 8-8 but did not deny them a playoff spot.
Tampa Bay at Carolina
Series: Panthers lead 13-9
Last Meeting(s): The Buccaneers looked like a legit team for parts of 2010; this year they’ve been exposed, and the Panthers destroyed them 38-19 just a few weeks ago in Tampa. Cam Newton threw for 204 yards and a touchdown but also ran for three scores. Josh Johnson started for the Buccaneers and the offense did nothing good nor terrible. Eight Panthers caught a pass, including Newton, who grabbed a wide receiver reverse pass from Legedu Naanee and ran for 27 yards.
Streak(s): The Panthers have won four of the last six, though Tampa Bay swept the series in 2010.
Cleveland at Baltimore
Series: Ravens lead 18-7
Last Meeting(s): Despite gaining just over half as many yards as Baltimore, Cleveland hung around for a little while at home in Week 13. Baltimore pulled away for good on a 68-yard punt return for a score by Lardarius Webb in the third quarter and won 24-10.
Streak(s): Baltimore has won seven straight since Cleveland swept the 2007 series.
San Diego at Detroit
Series: Chargers lead 6-3
Last Meeting(s): San Diego scored 34 first-half points the last time they faced Detroit. The Chargers won 51-14 at home. Detroit turned the ball over six times, making things awfully easy on San Diego, who did it the efficient way. They only needed 416 yards to score 51 points.
Streak(s): The Lions started this series 3-0; all of the wins came in the 1970s and all three games were played in Detroit. Starting in 1981, the Chargers have won six straight, including two games in Detroit. Can you believe Bobby Ross got two head coaching gigs? Yeah, probably, considering he took San Diego to their only Super Bowl appearance.
Philadelphia at Dallas
Series: Cowboys lead 59-46
Last Meeting(s): Philadelphia evened these two teams at 3-4 in Week 8 by crushing Dallas 34-7. Dallas scored late on a 70 yard pass from Tony Romo to Laurent Robinson to avoid a shutout. Philadelphia gained 495 yards, 239 of them rushing.
Streak(s): Philadelphia has won two of the last three after the Cowboys swept the three-game 2009 series—they beat the Eagles in Week 17 and in the wildcard round, by a combined score of 58-14.
San Francisco at Seattle
Series: Seahawks lead 13-12
Last Meeting(s): Seattle mounted a late comeback in Week 1, but fell 33-17 after two huge Ted Ginn, Jr., fourth-quarter returns: after Seattle pulled within two points on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Tarvaris Jackson to Doug Baldwin, Ginn went 102 yards with the kickoff for a score; a few minutes later, with Seattle still only eight points behind, Ginn took a punt back 55 yards for a touchdown.
Streak(s): San Francisco has won two straight, but they lost two in a row before that, both in Seattle. Their last win in Seattle was a 33-30 overtime victory in 2008.
Chicago at Green Bay
Series: Bears lead 92-85-6
Last Meeting(s): The Packers improved to 3-0 by beating Chicago 27-17 in September. Jermichael Finley scored two first half touchdowns to give Green Bay a cushion, then put the game away with his third touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Circumstances have changed a lot since then: Green Bay finally lost a game, but they are still in the driver’s seat for the NFC’s top seat, while Chicago, once in the running for a wildcard berth, has dropped completely out of contention since Jay Cutler broke his right thumb.
Streak(s): The Packers have won three in a row and five out of six. Aaron Rodgers is 6-2 with a playoff win against the Bears, which must have a lot of Packers fans happy. The Bears’ last win at Lambeau came in 2007 against that other Packers quarterback, the last of four straight wins in Green Bay (2004-07).
Atlanta at New Orleans
Series: Falcons lead 46-39
Last Meeting(s): Atlanta scored the last 10 points in regulation in Week 10 to force overtime, but lost on a John Kasay field goal, 26-23. The quarterbacks were good: Drew Brees had 322 yard and two touchdowns and Matt Ryan had 351 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The teams combined for 18 penalties and each missed one field goal.
Streak(s): Atlanta has done fairly well against the Saints offense in recent years, but holding Brees to field goals has not been enough to get the Falcons consistent wins. The Saints are 9-2 against Atlanta since 2006 and have scored at least 20 points in every game except one, which they won 17-14. Atlanta’s last win came in 2010 at the Superdome.