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NFL ENTERS SECOND HALF AS RACE TO PLAYOFFS INTENSIFIES

Posted Nov 6, 2012

NFL ENTERS SECOND HALF AS RACE TO PLAYOFFS INTENSIFIES

The second half of the NFL season gets underway this week and the race to the playoffs is in full swing.

 

Week 10 starts on Thursday night (8:00 PM ET, NFL Network) when the Indianapolis Colts visit the Jacksonville Jaguars. It will conclude on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

“We’re 5-3 and we’re now searching for 6-3,” says Steelers head coach MIKE TOMLIN, whose team defeated the New York Giants 24-20 on Sunday. “Hopefully that win is a big step for us in terms of us trying to be the football team that we desire to be. Now it’s back to business and moving forward to next week’s challenges.”

 

The Steelers are one of 13 teams with at least five wins through the first nine weeks of the season. Halfway through the season, almost nothing is clear. There’s still plenty of football left to be played and a lot can happen.

 

“You’ve got to survive in this league and find a way to win,” says head coach GARY KUBIAK of the 7-1 Houston Texans. “It’s about winning and finding a way to get it done.”

 

While the Texans have the best record in the AFC, the Atlanta Falcons remain the league’s lone unbeaten team after a 19-13 win over Dallas.

 

The Falcons are the 15th team since 1978 – when the NFL introduced the 16-game schedule – to start a season 8-0. Of the previous 14 teams to get to the halfway point undefeated, nine advanced to the Super Bowl (64.3 percent).

 

“I want to be 16-0,” says Atlanta wide receiver RODDY WHITE, who leads the team with 709 receiving yards. “Well, 19-0.”

 

Of those previous 14 teams to start 8-0, six won the Super Bowl:

 

YEAR

TEAM

RECORD

SUPER BOWL

 

YEAR

TEAM

RECORD

SUPER BOWL

1985

Chicago

15-1

XX

 

1998

Denver

14-2

XXXIII

1990

New York Giants

13-3

XXV

 

2006

Indianapolis

12-4

XLI

1991

Washington

14-2

XXVI

 

2009

New Orleans

13-3

XLIV

 

But don’t count anyone out.

 

Since 2000, 29 teams have had a .500 or below winning percentage at the halfway point and proceeded to the playoffs, including at least one in each season. Of those 29 clubs, five have advanced to the Conference Championship Game, including the 2001 New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl XXXVI. 

 

So as the second half gets underway, it’s all still to be decided. Some of the key games this week:

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (5-3) at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-7) (Thursday, NFLN, 8:00 PM ET)

 

The Colts have won three games in a row and will look to get to 6-3 on Thursday night when they visit the Jaguars in a matchup of AFC South clubs.

 

Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK completed 30 of 48 passes (62.5 percent) for 433 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 105.6 passer rating in the Colts’ 23-20 Week 9 victory over Miami. His 433 passing yards are the most by a rookie in a game in NFL history, besting the previous mark of 432 yards set by CAM NEWTON last season. It also marked Luck’s fourth 300-yard passing game, tying PEYTON MANNING (1998) for the most by a rookie in NFL history.

 

“That’s why he was the first player taken in the NFL Draft,” says Colts wide receiver REGGIE WAYNE, who leads the NFL with 835 receiving yards. “He’s special.”

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-4) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-4) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)

 

Both the Chargers and Buccaneers evened their records at 4-4 with victories in Week 9.


San Diego won 31-13 on Thursday night, knocking off the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs. Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS completed 90 percent of his passes (18 of 20) and threw two touchdowns while the San Diego defense got two scores: SHAUN PHILLIPS’ fumble-return touchdown and DEMORRIO WILLIAMS’s 59-yard interception-return TD.

 

“We played a complete game,” says Chargers head coach NORV TURNER. “Getting a win was big.”

 

San Diego will need to slow down Tampa Bay’s offense, which has scored at least 28 points in a team-record four consecutive games. Leading the way has been rookie running back DOUG MARTIN, who last week became only the second player in NFL history to rush for at least 250 yards (251) and four touchdowns in a game. Martin had touchdown runs of 70, 67, 45 and one yards in the victory at Oakland and is the only player in league history with three TD runs of at least 40 yards in a game.

 

“I’ve got to step back and just look at it,” says Martin, who grew up in nearby Stockton, California. “It’s surreal. I was just doing my job out there. I’m honored.”

 

Martin, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October, has 486 scrimmage yards in his past two games, the most by a player in a two-game span in a season since Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON in 1977.

 

“What can I say about him that hasn’t already been said and will be exalted upon later,” says Buccaneers veteran defensive back RONDE BARBER. “He’s turned into a heck of a player here these past two weeks. Just the way he’s handled the pressure that he’s had to be the main guy here in our offense, that’s impressive.”

 

HOUSTON TEXANS (7-1) AT CHICAGO BEARS (7-1) (Sunday, NBC, 8:20 PM ET)

 

Two 7-1 teams will meet on Sunday night at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Texans are 3-0 on the road this season while the Bears have yet to lose (4-0) at home.

 

Both teams have a balanced offense and a staunch defense. Chicago leads the NFL with a 116 point differential (236 points scored, 120 points allowed) and Houston is second with a 100 mark (237, 137).

 

Offensively, the Texans are led by quarterback MATT SCHAUB (96.8 passer rating), running back ARIAN FOSTER (AFC-best 770 rushing yards and NFL-best 11 total touchdowns) and wide receiver ANDRE JOHNSON (42 catches, 562 yards). For the Bears, their offensive attack runs through quarterback JAY CUTLER (26-0 career record with 100 passer rating, including playoffs), running back MATT FORTÉ (718 scrimmage yards) and wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL (NFC-best 797 receiving yards).

 

“We’re happy to be 7-1 at the halfway mark,” says Schaub. “But we’re not finished. We’ve got to go in a tough environment against a very good football team next Sunday night so we’re already on to Chicago.”

 

On defense, two of the best defensive players in the NFL this season will take the field: Houston’s J.J. WATT and Chicago’s CHARLES TILLMAN. Defensive end Watt leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and is the only player in the league with at least 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed. Cornerback Tillman leads the NFL with seven forced fumbles and is tied with teammate LANCE BRIGGS for the most interception-return touchdowns with two.


“The Bears have the best defense in the NFL,” says NFL Network analyst STEVE MARIUCCI.

 

Chicago is the first team in NFL history to return seven interceptions for touchdowns through the first eight games of a season. The Bears have an interception-return touchdown in five of their past six games and are the first team since the 1961 San Diego Chargers with an INT-TD in five games during a six-game span.

 

“We like where we are right now,” says Chicago head coach LOVIE SMITH. “I know this defense is doing some things that no other defense has done that I’ve been a part of. It’s special what we have going at the halfway point.”

 

 

****************************************************************************************************************************************

NFL FACTOID: Indianapolis’ ANDREW LUCK (433 yards) and Miami’s RYAN TANNEHILL (290) combined for 723 passing yards in their Week 9 meeting. That total is the most passing yards by two rookies in a game in NFL history.

****************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

2012 NFL STANDINGS

 

American Football Conference

East Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

New England Patriots

5

3

0

.625

262

170

2-1-0

3-2-0

4-1-0

2-0-0

Won 2

Miami Dolphins

4

4

0

.500

170

149

2-1-0

2-3-0

3-3-0

1-1-0

Lost 1

New York Jets

3

5

0

.375

168

200

2-3-0

1-2-0

3-4-0

2-2-0

Lost 2

Buffalo Bills

3

5

0

.375

180

248

1-2-0

2-3-0

2-4-0

0-2-0

Lost 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

Baltimore Ravens

6

2

0

.750

199

176

4-0-0

2-2-0

5-1-0

3-0-0

Won 1

Pittsburgh Steelers

5

3

0

.625

191

164

3-0-0

2-3-0

2-3-0

1-0-0

Won 3

Cincinnati Bengals

3

5

0

.375

189

218

1-3-0

2-2-0

2-5-0

1-3-0

Lost 4

Cleveland Browns

2

7

0

.222

169

211

2-3-0

0-4-0

2-5-0

1-3-0

Lost 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

Houston Texans

7

1

0

.875

237

137

4-1-0

3-0-0

7-0-0

2-0-0

Won 2

Indianapolis Colts

5

3

0

.625

159

191

4-1-0

1-2-0

3-2-0

1-1-0

Won 3

Tennessee Titans

3

6

0

.333

182

308

2-3-0

1-3-0

2-4-0

0-2-0

Lost 2

Jacksonville Jaguars

1

7

0

.125

117

219

0-4-0

1-3-0

1-3-0

1-1-0

Lost 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

Denver Broncos

5

3

0

.625

235

175

3-1-0

2-2-0

4-2-0

2-0-0

Won 3

San Diego Chargers

4

4

0

.500

185

157

2-2-0

2-2-0

4-2-0

3-1-0

Won 1

Oakland Raiders

3

5

0

.375

171

229

2-2-0

1-3-0

3-3-0

1-2-0

Lost 1

Kansas City Chiefs

1

7

0

.125

133

240

0-4-0

1-3-0

0-5-0

0-3-0

Lost 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Football Conference

East Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

New York Giants

6

3

0

.667

254

185

3-2-0

3-1-0

5-2-0

2-2-0

Lost 1

Philadelphia Eagles

3

5

0

.375

133

183

2-2-0

1-3-0

1-4-0

1-0-0

Lost 4

Dallas Cowboys

3

5

0

.375

150

181

1-2-0

2-3-0

3-4-0

1-1-0

Lost 2

Washington Redskins

3

6

0

.333

226

248

1-3-0

2-3-0

3-4-0

0-1-0

Lost 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

Chicago Bears

7

1

0

.875

236

120

4-0-0

3-1-0

4-1-0

1-1-0

Won 6

Green Bay Packers

6

3

0

.667

239

187

4-1-0

2-2-0

4-2-0

1-0-0

Won 4

Minnesota Vikings

5

4

0

.556

204

197

4-1-0

1-3-0

3-3-0

1-0-0

Lost 2

Detroit Lions

4

4

0

.500

192

188

2-1-0

2-3-0

3-3-0

0-2-0

Won 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

Atlanta Falcons

8

0

0

1.000

220

143

4-0-0

4-0-0

4-0-0

1-0-0

Won 8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4

4

0

.500

226

185

2-2-0

2-2-0

2-4-0

1-1-0

Won 2

New Orleans Saints

3

5

0

.375

218

229

2-2-0

1-3-0

2-3-0

1-1-0

Won 1

Carolina Panthers

2

6

0

.250

149

180

1-3-0

1-3-0

2-6-0

1-2-0

Won 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

San Francisco 49ers

6

2

0

.750

189

103

3-1-0

3-1-0

4-2-0

2-0-0

Won 2

Seattle Seahawks

5

4

0

.556

170

154

4-0-0

1-4-0

4-4-0

0-3-0

Won 1

Arizona Cardinals

4

5

0

.444

144

173

3-2-0

1-3-0

2-4-0

1-2-0

Lost 5

St. Louis Rams

3

5

0

.375

137

186

3-2-0

0-3-0

3-3-0

2-0-0

Lost 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LAST WEEK’S RESULTS (NOVEMBER 1, 4-5)

 

Thursday, November 1

Sunday, November 4 cont’d

SAN DIEGO 31, Kansas City 13

Chicago 51, TENNESSEE 20

 

Carolina 21, WASHINGTON 13

Sunday, November 4

Tampa Bay 42, OAKLAND 32

Denver 31, CINCINNATI 23

SEATTLE 30, Minnesota 20

Baltimore 25, CLEVELAND 15

Pittsburgh 24, NY GIANTS 20

GREEN BAY 31, Arizona 17

ATLANTA 19, Dallas 13

HOUSTON 21, Buffalo 9 

 

INDIANAPOLIS 23, Miami 20

Monday, November 5

Detroit 31, JACKSONVILLE 14

NEW ORLEANS 28, Philadelphia 13

 

 

2012 WEEK 10 SCHEDULE (NOVEMBER 8, 11-12)

(All times local)

Byes: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay, Washington

 

Thursday, November 8

Sunday, November 11 cont’d

Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 8:00 PM (NFLN)

Atlanta at New Orleans, 12:00 PM

 

San Diego at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Sunday, November 11

NY Jets at Seattle, 1:05 PM

Oakland at Baltimore, 1:00 PM

Dallas at Philadelphia, 4:25 PM

Denver at Carolina, 1:00 PM

St. Louis at San Francisco, 1:25 PM

NY Giants at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Houston at Chicago, 7:20 PM (NBC)

Tennessee at Miami, 1:00 PM

 

Detroit at Minnesota, 12:00 PM

Monday, November 12

Buffalo at New England, 1:00 PM

Kansas City at Pittsburgh, 8:30 PM (ESPN)

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