NEVER SAY NEVER: Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 15 teams have reached the postseason despite having a losing record after 11 games. This includes an active streak of seven consecutive seasons in which a sub-.500 team after 11 games has reached the playoffs.
Six of those seven teams have gone on to win at least one playoff game. The Seattle Seahawks advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after a 5-6 start last season.
The teams with a losing record after 11 games to make the playoffs since 2004:
|YEAR||TEAM||RECORD AFTER 11 GAMES||FINAL RECORD||ADVANCED TO|
|2009||New York Jets||
|2008||San Diego Chargers*||
|2004||St. Louis Rams||
THE NEW THIRTY: New England quarterback TOM BRADY (28) and New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES (27) are second and third, respectively, in touchdown passes this season through Week 12 (AARON RODGERS, 33).
With two touchdown passes on Sunday against the Colts, Brady can become the sixth quarterback in NFL history to have 30+ touchdown passes in at least three seasons.
With three touchdown passes against the Lions on Sunday Night Football, Brees will have his fourth career 30 touchdown pass season, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO.
The quarterbacks with 30+ touchdown passes in at least three seasons:
|QUARTERBACK||SEASONS WITH 30+ TD PASSES|
YARD WORK: Through 11 games, New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES has completed 323 of 460 passes (70.2 percent) with 27 touchdowns. Brees leads the NFL with 3,689 passing yards (335.4 average per game) and is on pace to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO’s all-time record for most passing yards in a season (5,084, 1984).
Brees needs 311 passing yards on Sunday to become the first quarterback in NFL history to reach 4,000 passing yards in his team’s first 12 games of a season.
STREAKING TO HISTORY: With their 27-15 victory over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, the Green Bay Packers are now 11-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Dating back to last year, the Packers have won 17 consecutive games including the playoffs – the longest streak in team history. With a win against the Giants on Sunday, the Packers can become the eighth team to win 18 consecutive games including the playoffs, tying for the second longest winning streak in NFL history (New England, 21, 2003-2004).
The longest winning streaks in NFL history, including playoffs:
|2003-2004||New England Patriots||21|
|2007||New England Patriots||18|
|1989-1990||San Francisco 49ers||18|
|2010-present||Green Bay Packers||17*|
WARM RECEPTION: In his 15th season, Atlanta tight end TONY GONZALEZ is the all-time leader among tight ends in receptions (1,128), receiving yards (13,093) and receiving touchdowns (95).
In 2011, Gonzalez has 59 receptions, 630 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns. With at least one reception against the Texans on Sunday, Gonzalez will record his 13th consecutive season with 60+ receptions, adding to his NFL record 12 such seasons.
The players with the most consecutive seasons with 60+ receptions in NFL history:
|PLAYER||SEASONS||CONSECUTIVE SEASONS WITH 60+ RECEPTIONS|
WINNING PATH: Pittsburgh head coach MIKE TOMLIN has guided the Steelers to an 8-3 record this season, tied for tops in the AFC with Baltimore, Houston and New England. With a win against the Bengals on Sunday, Tomlin can become only the sixth head coach to win at least nine games in each of his first five seasons since 1970.
The head coaches to win at least nine games in each of their first five seasons since 1970:
|HEAD COACH||TEAM(S)||CONSECUTIVE 9+ WIN SEASONS|
|George Seifert||San Francisco 49ers||8|
|Mike Holmgren||Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks||8|
|Bill Cowher||Pittsburgh Steelers||6|
|Chuck Knox||Los Angeles Rams||5|
|Mike Sherman||Green Bay Packers||5|
|Mike Tomlin||Pittsburgh Steelers||4*|
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