HOPE IS ALIVE: Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 15 clubs with a .500 or worse record after nine games have made the playoffs.
Last season, the New York Jets had a 4-5 record through nine games before advancing to the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
A look at the 15 clubs to qualify for the playoffs since 1990 after having a sub-.500 record through nine games:
|YEAR||TEAM||RECORD AFTER NINE GAMES||FINAL RECORD||ADVANCED TO|
|1990||New Orleans||4-5||8-8||Wild Card|
|1994||New England||3-6||10-6||Wild Card|
|1995||San Diego||4-5||9-7||Wild Card|
|2001||Tampa Bay||4-5||9-7||Wild Card|
|2009||NY Jets||4-5||9-7||AFC Championship|
DIVISION RACES: For the first time since realignment in 2002, every division leader has no more than a one-game lead and five divisions have two teams tied for first place. The 13 2010 division leaders are a combined 78-39 (.667) through Week 10, 17 wins better than their records from a year ago at this time (61-56, .521).
Seven of the eight divisions feature at least one team with a share of first place that did not win the division in 2009, and Week 11 features intriguing division games with playoff implications. Two NFC East rivals meet with first place on the line when the Philadelphia Eagles (6-3) host the New York Giants (6-3) on Sunday Night Football. Other key division games include the Minnesota Vikings (3-6) welcoming the Green Bay Packers (6-3) in an NFC North showdown and the AFC West’s Denver Broncos (3-6) visiting the San Diego Chargers (4-5) on Monday Night Football.
BEAR DOWN: The Chicago Bears are currently 6-3, tied atop the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers. The franchise holds a 699-510-42 all-time regular season record.
With a win over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, Chicago would become the first franchise to reach 700 regular-season wins.
The NFL franchises with the most regular-season wins:
|TEAM||REGULAR SEASON RECORD|
|Green Bay Packers||660-521-36|
|New York Giants||632-521-33|
FAMILIAR FOES: The Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots will meet at Gillette Stadium this Sunday. The teams are meeting for the eighth season in a row (2003-2010), the longest streak among non-division opponents since realignment in 2002. Including the postseason, the past five meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer. The Colts earned a last-minute 35-34 victory in Week 10 of last season.
Colts quarterback PEYTON MANNING has thrown for at least 300 yards in four of the team’s five road games this season. He now has 32 road games in which he has passed for at least 300 yards, an NFL record.
|PLAYER||300-YARD PASSING GAMES ON ROAD|
Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY has won 24 consecutive games at Gillette Stadium. With a win this week, he can tie BRETT FAVRE (25) for the most consecutive regular-season home wins as a starting quarterback
The most consecutive regular-season home games won as a starting quarterback:
|Brett Favre||Green Bay||1995-98||25|
|Tom Brady||New England||2006-present||24*|
RIVERS FOR 3,000: Through nine games, San Diego Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS leads the NFL with 2,944 passing yards. He is averaging 327.1 passing yards per game.
With 308 passing yards against the Denver Broncos, Rivers would have the most passing yards through the first 10 games of a season in NFL annals. New Orleans Saints quarterback DREW BREES currently holds the record with 3,251 passing yards through 10 games in 2008.
The players with the most passing yards through the first 10 games of a season in NFL history:
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||2008||3,251|
|Philip Rivers||San Diego||2010||2,944*|
|* Through nine games|
TOSS TO MOSS: Tennessee Titans wide receiver RANDY MOSS has 949 receptions for 14,804 yards and 153 touchdowns in 195 career games.
With one reception this weekend when the Titans host the Washington Redskins, Moss can become the ninth player in NFL history with 950 receptions. In his 196th game, Moss would be the fourth-fastest player to accomplish the feat.