HOPE IS ALIVE: Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 15 clubs with a losing record after nine games have made the playoffs.
Most recently in 2009, the New York Jets had a 4-5 record through nine games before advancing to the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The 15 clubs to qualify for the playoffs since 1990 with a sub-.500 record through nine games:
|YEAR||TEAM||RECORD AFTER NINE GAMES||FINAL RECORD||ADVANCED TO|
|1990||Houston Oilers||4-5||9-7||Wild Card|
|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|
YARD SALE: New England quarterback TOM BRADY leads the AFC with 3,032 passing yards through nine games. Brady has more than 300 yards in two consecutive games and six times overall this season.
With 295 yards this weekend against Kansas City on Monday Night Football, Brady would set the record for the most passing yards through a team’s first 10 games of a season in NFL history. New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES just surpassed his own mark from 2008 (3,251), passing for 3,326 yards through 10 games.
The most passing yards through a team’s first 10 games in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM||YEAR||PASSING YARDS THROUGH 10 GAMES|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||2011||3,326|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||2008||3,251|
|Philip Rivers||San Diego||2010||3,177|
|Tom Brady||New England||2011||3,032*|
*Total through nine games
RODGERS THAT: Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS has thrown for 2,869 yards and leads the league with 28 touchdown passes and a 130.7 passer rating. He is the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 2,800 yards and 28 touchdowns in the first nine games of season.
Rodgers has posted a passer rating of at least 100 in nine consecutive games, tied for the longest such streak in a single season in NFL history (PEYTON MANNING, 2004). With a passer rating of at least 100 this weekend when the Packers host Tampa Bay, Rodgers would become the first player ever to record a 100+ passer rating in 10 consecutive games in a single season.
Rodgers also has a passer rating of at least 140 in three consecutive games, tying the longest single-season streak for such games (minimum 10 attempts) held by Pro Football Hall of Famer ROGER STAUBACH (1971) and KURT WARNER (1999). With a 140+ passer rating against the Buccaneers Sunday, Rodgers would become the first player in NFL history with four consecutive games of at least a 140 passer rating (minimum 10 attempts).
TEN SPOT: Philadelphia running back LE SEAN MC COY leads the NFL with 12 touchdowns (10 rushing, two receiving). McCoy has recorded at least one touchdown in every game this season.
With a touchdown this weekend when the Eagles visit the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, McCoy would become only the second player since 1970 to score a touchdown in each of his team’s first 10 games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. SIMPSON (1975).
TIGHT END TOUCHDOWNS: New England tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI has recorded eight touchdown receptions this season and now has 18 for his career.
With two touchdown catches on Monday Night Football, Gronkowski would reach 20 touchdowns in the fewest games (26) among tight ends in NFL history (Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE DITKA, 31 games).
Gronkowski has caught two or more touchdowns in a game five times in his career, including last week’s victory over the New York Jets.
The tight ends to reach 20 touchdown receptions in the fewest games:
|PLAYER||TEAM(S)||GAMES TO 20 TD CATCHES|
|Kellen Winslow||San Diego||35|
|Antonio Gates||San Diego||37|
|Fred Arbanas||Dallas Texans, Kansas City||40|
|Rob Gronkowski||New England||25*|
|*18 career touchdowns|
ELITE COMPANY: Atlanta tight end TONY GONZALEZ has 45 receptions this season and 1,114 for his career, second all-time behind Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,549).
With five catches against Tennessee on Sunday, Gonzalez would join Rice (17) as the only players in NFL history with 14 50-reception seasons.
SACK ATTACK: Minnesota defensive end JARED ALLEN (13.5) and Dallas linebacker DE MARCUS WARE (13) lead the NFL in sacks this season.
Both players can challenge the single-season record held by MICHAEL STRAHAN, who totaled 22.5 sacks in 2001 for the New York Giants.
The sack leaders, since the sack became an official statistic in 1982, through a team’s first 10 games and in a single-season all-time:
THROUGH 10 GAMES FULL SEASON
|Mark Gastineau||NY Jets||1984||17.5||Michael Strahan||NY Giants||2001||22.5|
|Keith Millard||Minnesota||1989||15||Mark Gastineau||NY Jets||1984||22|
|Derrick Thomas||Kansas City||1990||15||Reggie White||Philadelphia||1987||21|
|Michael Strahan||NY Giants||2001||15||Chris Doleman||Minnesota||1989||21|
|Lawrence Taylor||NY Giants||1986||14.5|
FOR THE WIN: In his 17th season, New England head coach BILL BELICHICK has amassed a 183-103 record, tied with BILL PARCELLS for ninth place all-time in career victories.
With a win against Kansas City on Monday Night Football, Belichick would surpass Parcells for sole possession of ninth place all-time.
The coaches with the most victories in NFL history:
|Don Shula||Baltimore Colts, Miami||347|
|Earl “Curly” Lambeau||Green Bay, Chicago Cardinals, Washington||229|
|Marty Schottenheimer||Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington, San Diego||205|
|Dan Reeves||Denver, NY Giants, Atlanta||201|
|Chuck Knox||LA Rams, Buffalo, Seattle||193|
|Bill Belichick||Cleveland, New England||183*|
|Bill Parcells||NY Giants, New England, NY Jets, Dallas||183|