SLIMMEST 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).
— NFL —
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:
||TEAM (WINLESS START)||ADVANCED TO:|
|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:
||THIRD GAME AS STARTER||OVERALL RECORD AS ROOKIE STARTER|
|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
||WINNNING TEAM IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S MATCHUP||RESULT IN NEXT MEETING|
|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:
||CAREER RUSHING YARDS|
|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.
— NFL —
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).
||PLAYER (TEAM)||SACKS THROUGH TEAM’S FIRST THREE GAMES|
|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*|