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NFL WEEK 18 PRIMER

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NFL WEEK 18 PRIMER

  1. 1. Thursday, January 5, 2023 CENTRAL VIRGINIA’S ONLY LOCAL NFL PUBLICATION GridironGoose@msn.com OFFICIAL MEDIA MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE BACK IN BLACK: The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS defeated Carolina, 30-24, and clinched the NFC South division title in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. The NEW YORK GIANTS defeated Indianapolis, 38-10, and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2016. Four teams – BALTIMORE, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, MINNESOTA and the NEW YORK GIANTS – have clinched playoff berths after missing the postseason last year. Since 1990 – a streak of 33 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. CLOSE GAMES: There have been 114 games decided by a touchdown (six points) or less and 192 games within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter this season, both the most in a single season in NFL history. COMEBACKS: SAN FRANCISCO (10-point deficit) and TAMPA BAY (14-point deficit) each overcame deficits of 10-or-more points to win on Sunday and there have been 50 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win or tie this season, the most such games in a single season all-time. ATLANTA defeated Arizona with a field goal as time expired in regulation and San Francisco defeated Las Vegas in overtime in Week 17. There have been 61 games this season decided by a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, the most such games in a single season in NFL history. Atlanta, KANSAS CITY, San Francisco and Tampa Bay each came back to win after trailing in the fourth quarter and there have been 81 games this season in which a team has come back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a single season all-time. Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 328 yards and three touchdowns, including two to running back JERICK MCKINNON, while tight end TRAVIS KELCE had seven receptions for 43 yards in the Chiefs' 27-24 win over Denver. Mahomes, who has 5,048 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes this season and had 5,097 passing yards with 50 touchdown passes in 2018, joins DREW BREES (five seasons) and TOM BRADY (two) as the only players in NFL history to total at least 5,000 passing yards in multiple seasons. Mahomes joins DREW BREES (2011-12) as the only players ever with two career seasons of 5,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes. Kelce, who has 104 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards this season, has three career seasons with at least 100 receptions and three career seasons with at least 1,300 receiving yards, both the most by a tight end in NFL history. No other tight end all-time has more than one such season of each. Kelce recorded his 96th career game with at least five receptions, tied with ANTONIO GATES (96 games) for the third-most such games by a tight end in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ (139 games) and JASON WITTEN (130) have more. McKinnon is the first running back since 1970 to record a touchdown reception in five consecutive games. McKinnon has eight touchdown receptions this season, tied for the fourth-most by a running back in a season in the Super Bowl era. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (nine touchdown receptions in 2001), CHUCK FOREMAN (nine in 1975) and LEROY HOARD (nine in 1971) have more.
  2. 2. Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY completed 34 of 45 attempts (75.6 percent) for 432 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 127.3 rating while wide receiver MIKE EVANS had 10 receptions for 207 yards and three touchdowns in the Buccaneers' 30-24 win over Carolina. Brady has 11 career games with at least 400 passing yards and three touchdown passes, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers PEYTON MANNING (11 games) and DAN MARINO (11) for the second-most such games in NFL history. Only DREW BREES (12 games) has more. Brady has 131 career games with at least 300 passing yards, including the postseason, tied with DREW BREES (131) for the most such games including the playoffs in NFL history. Brady has 477 completions and surpassed DREW BREES (471 completions in 2016) for the second-most completions in a season in NFL history. Brady set the single-season record with 485 completions in 2021. Brady is the first player in NFL history to complete at least 30 passes in five consecutive games and the first player ever with at least 30 completions in 10 games within a single season. Evans has 1,124 receiving yards in 2022 and is the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first nine seasons. Evans is the third player ever with at least 1,000 receiving yards in nine consecutive seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JERRY RICE (11 consecutive seasons from 1986-96) and TIM BROWN (nine consecutive seasons from 1993-2001). Evans has five career games with at least 180 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions, tied with TYREEK HILL (five games) for the most such games in NFL history. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT had two touchdown passes with a 119.9 rating while running back AUSTIN EKELER had four catches, 161 scrimmage yards (122 rushing, 39 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns in the Chargers' 31-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Herbert has 44 career games with a touchdown pass, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (44 games) for the most such games with at least one touchdown pass by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history. Ekeler has 103 receptions this season, the third-most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history. Only CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (116 receptions in 2019 and 107 receptions in 2018) has more. Ekeler has 1,567 scrimmage yards with 18 scrimmage touchdowns (13 rushing, five receiving) this season and joined PRIEST HOLMES (2002-03) as the only undrafted players with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in consecutive seasons in the common-draft era. Ekeler has 7,105 scrimmage yards in his career and joined ARIAN FOSTER (8,350 scrimmage yards) and PRIEST HOLMES (7,143) as the only undrafted players with at least 7,000 scrimmage yards in their first six seasons in the common-draft era. San Francisco rookie quarterback BROCK PURDY recorded 284 passing yards and two touchdown passes while running back CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY had six catches, 193 scrimmage yards (121 rushing, 72 receiving) and one rushing touchdown in the 49ers' 37-34 overtime win at Las Vegas. Purdy is the fifth rookie quarterback ever to win each of his first four career starts, joining BEN ROETHLISBERGER (won first 13 starts in 2004), MIKE KRUCZEK (first six in 1968), VIRGIL CARTER (first four in 1968) and PHIL SIMMS (first four in 1979). Purdy became the seventh rookie in the Super Bowl era with at least two touchdown passes in five consecutive games and the first since JUSTIN HERBERT (2020). McCaffrey has 439 receptions and surpassed ROGER CRAIG (434) for the most receptions by a running back in his first six seasons in NFL history. Detroit rookie defensive lineman AIDAN HUTCHINSON had a half sack, interception and fumble recovery, rookie linebacker JAMES HOUSTON had three sacks and a forced fumble and rookie defensive lineman JOSH PASCHAL had two sacks in the Lions' 41-10 win over Chicago. Hutchinson, who has 7.5 sacks this season, and Houston (eight sacks) are the first pair of rookie teammates each with at least seven sacks since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Hutchinson is the first rookie since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, with at least seven sacks (7.5) and three interceptions (three). Houston is the first player with eight sacks in his first six career games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. With Houston and Paschal, it marked the fourth game in which rookie teammates each recorded multiple sacks in the same game since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. The three other occurrences were October 4, 1987 (Chicago's JIM ALTHOFF and SEAN MCINERNEY), November 11, 2001 (Buffalo's KENDRICK OFFICE, TYRONE ROBERTSON and AARON SCHOBEL) and December 20, 2009 (Green Bay's BRAD JONES and CLAY MATTHEWS). Find & friend us at: https://www.facebook.com/brian.slack.581/
  3. 3. Bounceback teams could make history this week; 19 clubs remain in contention for Super Bowl LVII This week, four teams that were at least four games under .500 at some point in 2022 have the opportunity to earn playoff berths. Never in the 89 seasons from 1933-2021 has the league seen so many teams bounce back in the same year. • The DETROIT LIONS (8-8) were 1-6 following a Week 8 loss. The team is aiming to become only the second ever and the first in 52 years, since the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals (1-6), to make the playoffs after winning no more than one of their first seven games. • Their opponents this week on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), the GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-8), were 4-8 following a Week 12 loss. Only the 2008 San Diego Chargers (4-8) and the 2014 Carolina Panthers (3-8-1) have gone to the playoffs after winning no more than four of their first 12 games. • The JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-8) were 2-6, 3-7 and 4-8 on respective occasions this year. Only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals (2- 6) and the 2020 Washington Football Team (2-6) have earned postseason berths after winning no more than two of their first eight games. • The PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8) were 2-6 and 3-7 at different points in 2022. Only the 2014 Carolina Panthers (3-6-1) and the 2020 Washington Football Team (3-7) have qualified for the playoffs after winning no more than three of their first 10 games. NUMBER OF THE WEEK – 19: The number of teams remaining in contention for the Super Bowl, the most entering the final week of a season since there were 20 in 2006. Only three playoff berths remain, two in the AFC and one in the NFC. IMPROVEMENT IS EN VOGUE: Five teams have an opportunity to improve their records by at least five games compared to last year. In 16 of 19 seasons from 2003-21, at least three teams have improved their win totals by five-or-more games. And should Detroit, Jacksonville and the New York Giants win this week, three teams would have six-game improvements. That hasn’t happened since there were four in 2018. • The DETROIT LIONS (8-8) need a win at Green Bay on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC) to improve by six games over 2021, when they were 3-13-1. • The JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-8) with a win vs. Tennessee (7-9) on Saturday (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC) would have six more victories than in 2021 (3-14). • The MINNESOTA VIKINGS (12-4) with a win at Chicago (3-13) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX) would have five more victories than in 2021 (8-9). • The NEW YORK GIANTS (9-6-1) with a win at Philadelphia (13-3) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS) would have six more victories than in 2021 (4-13). • The PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-3) are one victory away from improving their record by five games over 2021 (9-8). SPOTLIGHT – INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: Browns guard JOEL BITONIO and Steelers defensive tackle CAMERON HEYWARD have combined for 10 Pro Bowl selections (five each). They’ll square off across the line of scrimmage on Sunday when PITTSBURGH (8-8) aims to keep its postseason hopes alive against CLEVELAND (7-9) at Acrisure Stadium (1:00 PM ET, CBS). …Pittsburgh quarterback KENNY PICKETT is the first rookie ever with a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of consecutive games. SPOTLIGHT – TEAM MATCHUP: In the Jets’ Week 5 win over the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, cornerbacks SAUCE GARDNER and D.J. REED – both key offseason additions – were pivotal in holding TYREEK HILL and JAYLEN WADDLE out of the end zone and limiting the wide-receiver duo to a combined 70 receiving yards, their lowest combined total of the season. On Sunday, the DOLPHINS (8-8) host the JETS (7-9) in a rematch at Hard Rock Stadium (1:00 PM ET, FOX) and Miami needs a win to stay alive in the race for (Continued back page) 29 Hall of Famers – 600+ Former & Current NFL Players – 1,000+ Media Moguls Worldwide! https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-slack-760a8a38/
  4. 4. one of the AFC’s final playoff berths. Last week, Gardner had a career-high four passes defensed and enters Sunday leading the league with 20 on the season. Meanwhile in 2022, Hill ranks second in the NFL with career bests in catches (117) and receiving yards (1,687), both Miami single-season franchise records. Plus, Hill and Waddle have combined for 2,999 receiving yards this season and need 176 to establish the most by a pair of teammates in NFL history. STREAK SPEAK: TENNESSEE (7-9) and JACKSONVILLE (8-8) face off Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC) in a winner-take-all showdown for the AFC South division crown and one of the conference’s final two playoff slots. With a victory, Jacksonville would complete a “worst-to-first” turnaround after finishing fourth in the AFC South last season. In 17 of the past 19 seasons (2003-21), at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing last or tied for last. With a win, the Jaguars would improve their winning streak to five games, the franchise’s longest in a single regular season since 2005. Jacksonville would also notch its first season sweep of the Titans since that ’05 campaign. A Tennessee win would give the Titans their third consecutive AFC South title. Should that happen, the tiebreaker would come down to Tennessee’s better record in the division. DID YOU KNOW?: Since the NFL began determining No. 1-seeded playoff teams in 1975, no team has ever earned a conference’s No. 1 seed after having a losing record through its first seven games. The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-4), who were 3-4 after a Week 7 loss, could become the first. San Francisco needs a win against ARIZONA (4-12) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX) coupled with a Philadelphia loss, to earn the NFC’s lone bye and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs…With a victory Sunday, the 49ers’ BROCK PURDY would become only the third rookie quarterback ever to win each of his first five career starts, joining BEN ROETHLISBERGER (won first 13 starts in 2004) and MIKE KRUCZEK (first six in 1968). UNDER-THE-RADAR STORYLINE: Since 1990 – a streak of 33 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Four teams – BALTIMORE, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, MINNESOTA and the NEW YORK GIANTS – have already clinched playoff berths after missing the postseason last year while DETROIT, JACKSONVILLE, MIAMI and SEATTLE have a chance to join them this week. TREND TIME: No question, the 2022 season will go down as the Year of Close Games and Comebacks. The league can make even more history in those two departments this week. • 69 games have been decided by three points or less. The single-season league record is 73 in 2018. • 133 games have been decided by seven points or less. The single-season league record is 135 in 2016. • 11 games have been won or tied by teams that trailed by 16-or-more points. The single-season league record is 12 in 2011. • 19 games have been won or tied by teams that trailed by 14-or-more points, matching the single-season league record (19 in 2013). Already this season, the NFL has broken its single-season records in seven related categories: Games decided by six-or-fewer points (114), games decided by eight-or-fewer points (148), games within a one-possession margin in the fourth quarter (192), games won or tied by teams that trailed by 10-or-more points (51), games won/tied by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter (81), games with the winning score coming in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime (62) and games with the winning score coming in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime (71). THIS WEEK IN NFL HISTORY: Jan. 4, 2003 (20 years ago) – On a snow-covered Lambeau Field, 22-year-old MICHAEL VICK and the Falcons shock Green Bay, 23-7, in an NFC Wild Card game. Atlanta head coach DAN REEVES avenges his Ice Bowl loss on the same field 35 years prior, handing the Packers – 13-0 in Wisconsin since the NFL began its playoff system in 1933 – the first home postseason loss in franchise history. Vick defeats future Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE, who had been 35-0 at home in cold-weather games. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Raiders running back JOSH JACOBS enters the season finale leading the league with 1,608 rushing yards. After LAS VEGAS (6-10) hosts KANSAS CITY (13-3) on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, ESPN/ABC), Jacobs could finish the weekend as just the second in franchise history to win a prestigious NFL rushing title and join Pro Football Hall of Famer MARCUS ALLEN (1,759 in 1985). … What’s more, both NICK CHUBB (1,448) and DERRICK HENRY (1,429) are nearing 1,500 rushing yards this season. The last time the NFL had at least three players rush for 1,500 yards was 2012. Find & friend us at: https://www.facebook.com/brian.slack.581/

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