What To Look For -NFL Week 3

mark-sanchez-jetsSLIMMEST OF MARGINS: Since 2005, the NFL has played six primetime games in the first two weeks of the season. In 2009, these games have been closer than ever. The margin of victory in the six primetime games to date is only 3.3 points per game (20 total points), by far the slimmest margin in the past five years. All six games were decided by six points or fewer. The next closest margin is 9.2 points per game (2005).

Close games have been a theme for the league overall after two weeks of play, as 15 of the 32 games have been decided by six points or fewer, the second highest total in league history (17 in 2000).

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DOWN BUT NOT OUT: History shows that 0-2 teams advance to the playoffs more often than people might think. Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 22 teams started 0-2 and still qualified for the postseason.

The 1993 Dallas Cowboys started 0-2 before winning Super Bowl XXVIII. The 0-2 New England Patriots of 1996 played in Super Bowl XXXI, and in 2001, the 0-2 Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI. Most recently, the 2007 New York Giants started 0-2 before winning Super Bowl XLII.

Following are the 0-2 teams since 1990 to qualify for the playoffs:

1990 Houston Oilers (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
  Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
  New Orleans Saints (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
1991 Atlanta Falcons (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
1992 San Diego Chargers (0-4) Divisional Playoffs
1993 Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
  Dallas Cowboys (0-2) Won Super Bowl XXVIII
1994 New England Patriots (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
1995 Detroit Lions (0-3) Wild Card Playoffs
1996 New England Patriots (0-2) Lost Super Bowl XXXI
1998 Arizona Cardinals (0-2) Divisional Playoffs
  Buffalo Bills (0-3) Wild Card Playoffs
  New York Jets (0-2) Championship Game
2001 New England Patriots (0-2) Won Super Bowl XXXVI
2002 Atlanta Falcons (0-2) Divisional Playoffs
  Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) Divisional Playoffs
2003 Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) Championship Game
2006 Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
2007 New York Giants (0-2) Won Super Bowl XLII
2008 Miami Dolphins (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs 
  Minnesota Vikings (0-2) Wild Card Playoffs
  San Diego Chargers (0-2) Divisional Playoffs

MVP MATCHUP: Super Bowl XLI MVP and reigning AP NFL MVP PEYTON MANNING (three-time winner; 2003-04, 2008) of the Indianapolis Colts will face Super Bowl XXXIV MVP and two-time AP NFL MVP KURT WARNER (1999, 2001) of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night. It marks the first-ever meeting of multiple-regular-season MVP and Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks in NFL history. This game will also mark just the fourth instance of multiple-MVP quarterbacks facing off in NFL history.

The meetings between multiple-MVP quarterbacks:

11/1/1998 Green Bay Packers (Brett Favre) vs. San Francisco 49ers (Steve Young) Packers 36, 49ers 22
10/3/2004 Green Bay Packers (Brett Favre) vs. New York Giants (Kurt Warner) Giants 14, Packers 7
9/28/2008 New York Jets (Brett Favre) vs. Arizona Cardinals (Kurt Warner) Jets 56, Cardinals 35
9/27/2009 Indianapolis Colts (Peyton Manning) vs. Arizona Cardinals (Kurt Warner) ???

EL REY DE NUEVA YORK: With a win on Sunday against Tennessee, New York Jets rookie quarterback MARK SANCHEZ would become the first rookie quarterback to start and win his team’s first three games of a season. Sanchez is only the fourth quarterback in the past 40 years to win his first two starts of a season, and the second in as many years (JOE FLACCO, Baltimore).

The rookie quarterbacks to win their team’s first two games in a season:

1983 John Elway, Denver L 13-10 vs. Philadelphia 6-Apr
1998 Ryan Leaf, San Diego L 23-7 at Kansas City 6-Mar
2008 Joe Flacco, Baltimore L 23-20 at Pittsburgh (OT)  11-5
2009 Mark Sanchez, New York Jets ??? ???

The Jets are seeking their second consecutive win against Tennessee, who started 10-0 in 2008 until the Jets earned a 34-13 win at LP Field in Week 12.

This meeting will mark just the fifth game since 1970 in which a club that handed a 10-0 or better team its first defeat of a season will face them again in the subsequent season

1969 Los Angeles Rams, 11-0 Minnesota 10/26/1970: Minnesota 13, L.A. Rams 3
1990 San Francisco, 10-0 Los Angeles Rams 11/25/1991: San Francisco 33, L.A. Rams 10
1990 New York Giants, 10-0 Philadelphia 11/04/1991: Philadelphia 30, N.Y. Giants 7
1991 Washington, 11-0 Dallas 09/07/1992: Dallas 23, Washington 10
2008 Tennessee, 10-0 New York Jets 09/27/2009: ???

UNDRAFTED BUT NOT UNDERAPPRECIATED: Pittsburgh Steelers running back WILLIE PARKER went undrafted out of North Carolina but has rushed for over 5,000 yards, good for third in Steelers’ history. With 84 rushing yards at Cincinnati on Sunday, Parker will move into third-place all-time among undrafted NFL rushers. Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE PERRY is the all-time leader in rushing yards for an undrafted player with 8,378 yards.

The most rushing yards for an undrafted player in NFL history:

Joe Perry, San Francisco-Baltimore 8,378
Priest Holmes, Baltimore-Kansas City 8,172
Clem Daniels, Dallas-Oakland-San Francisco 5,138
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh  5,055*
Paul Lowe, Los Angeles-San Diego-Kansas City 4,995

HINES CATCH-UP: Steelers wide receiver HINES WARD (9,940) needs 60 receiving yards on Sunday to join the exclusive 10,000 receiving yards club. Ward, who has 814 career receptions, would become just the 21st player in NFL history to record 800 receptions and 10,000 receiving yards in a career.

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ODOM-ETER HITS 7: Cincinnati Bengals defensive end ANTWAN ODOM leads the league in sacks with seven, powered by a two-sack effort on Kickoff Weekend against the Broncos and a franchise-record five-sack output in Green Bay. Odom needs 1.5 sacks on Sunday against the Steelers to set the NFL record for most sacks through a team’s first three games of a season. The Bengals franchise record for sacks in a season is 13 (EDDIE EDWARDS, 1983).

1984 Mark Gastineau, New York Jets 8
1983 Bill Gay, Detroit 7.5
1996 Michael Sinclair, Seattle 7
1998 Derrick Thomas, Kansas City 7
1998 Kevin Greene, Carolina 7
2009 Antwan Odom, Cincinnati  7.0*