Pittsburgh Steelers: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has the second-best touchdown pass percentage of all quarterbacks in the NFL. Trailing only the Patriots' Tom Brady, who has thrown a touchdown on 8.9 percent of his pass attempts, Roethlisberger's 7.9 percent puts him ahead of Cowboys QB Tony Romo (7.1 percent) and the Colts' Peyton Manning (6.0 percent).
Dallas Cowboys: What a difference one defender makes at the line of scrimmage for the Cowboys. So far this season, with just four defenders up at the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys have blitzed just 13.1 percent of the time. When they've put five defenders at the line of scrimmage, they've blitzed 31.9 percent of the time. Add a sixth defender anywhere along the line of scrimmage and their likelihood of blitzing jumps up to 52.1 percent. Dallas has put more than six defenders on the line of scrimmage just nine times this season and didn't blitz once. Those are significant variances that could certainly help opposing quarterbacks anticipate when they're most likely to get some additional heat on a pass play.
San Diego Chargers: When they've won, the 9–5 Chargers have usually thumped their opponents with an average margin of victory of 18.33 points. That's second in the NFL only to the Patriots' 20.79 points during their 14 wins this season. Pittsburgh (17.1 points), Minnesota (16.5 points), and New Orleans (15.29 points) round out the top five in the category.
Philadelphia Eagles: While Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson is drawing the lion's share of the attention among NFC running backs with his 1,278 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, you have to admire the all-around work of the Eagles' Brian Westbrook in 2007. With two games remaining, he's rushed for 1,191 yards and caught 83 passes for 705 yards. His 145.8 scrimmage yards per game is the best by far in the NFL, eclipsing Peterson's 127.1 average yards from scrimmage. Only three other backs are averaging more than 100 yards per game from scrimmage, including the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (126.6), the Colts' Joseph Addai (105.4), and the Ravens' Willis McGahee (102.0).
Reggie Wayne has helped the Colts overcome the loss of Marvin Harrison this year.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Indianapolis Colts: With Marvin Harrison sidelined with a knee injury for much of this season, the Colts have had to rely on Reggie Wayne to deliver the big-play receptions — and he's done just that. Wayne has caught 82 passes for 1,280 yards (15.6 yards per catch), including a league-leading 15 for 25-plus yards. Heading into Week 16 action, Dallas' Terrell Owens is second with 13 big-play catches while five others have 11, including the Jets' Jerricho Cotchery, the Browns' Braylons Edwards, the Buccaneers' Joey Galloway, the Patriots' Randy Moss and the Falcons' Roddy White.
Arizona Cardinals: Running back Edgerrin James is a tough guy to tackle for a loss this season. His 5.8 stuffed runs percent is the best in the NFL among running backs with at least 200 attempts. Dallas' Marion Barber has been stuffed just 5.6 percent of the time, but has just 198 carries compared to James' 274 this season.
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore's defense built a reputation during past seasons for creating costly turnovers that they converted into points or that at least helped set up their offense for more scoring opportunities. But this season, the defense has struggled mightily to keep opposing offenses from taking advantage of scoring opportunities after the Ravens offense has coughed-up the ball. With Baltimore's offense turning the ball over a league-worst 36 times this year, the Ravens defense has allowed 129 points to be scored off of those turnovers, including six rushing touchdowns, 6 passing touchdowns and 8 field goals. Those 129 points surrendered ties them for worst in the league along with the Houston Texans, whose offense has given up the football 34 times this year.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady needs four touchdown passes in the last two games of the season to tie Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown record set back in 2004. He is also just slightly behind Manning's 121.1 passer rating from that season, which is also an NFL record. To put Brady's current 119.7 rating into perspective, it's so extraordinary that the third-place quarterback, former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, had a 112.4 rating back in 1994 that many people thought would never be broken. And Brady's previous career high for a single season was 92.6 back in 2004.
Statistics referenced in this article are provided by STATS, LLC. Copyright 2007 by STATS, LLC. Any use or distribution of such Licensed Materials without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.