Stats Pack: Around the NFC

Ed Thompson points out NFC stats for all 16 teams you won't easily find elsewhere, including why Seattle's Patrick Kerney is worth keeping an eye on over the next three weeks, why Donovan McNabb's career as an Eagle is likely coming to a close, interesting notes about the Dallas offense and the Vikings defense.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks: With a sack this weekend, Patrick Kerney would move into a tie with former Seahawk Jeff Bryant for third-most sacks in a single season in franchise history. Bryant posted 14.5 sacks back in 1984. Kerney has a real shot at become the team's all-time single season leader with only Jacob Green in second place with a 1983 16-sack performance and Michael Sinclair with 16.5 sacks in 1998 to surpass. Kerney's has 13.5, but his next three opponents include the Panthers, the Ravens and the Falcons, so he's got a legitimate shot at matching, if not setting, the team record. 

St. Louis Rams: While the Rams will have plenty of issues to address during the offseason, one of the prominent ones will be kickoff returns coverage. Currently ranked 31st in the NFL after allowing an average of 27.2 yards per return, they've also allowed four kickoff returns of 50-plus yards, putting them in a tie for second-worst in that category. The Lions own the worst record in overall average with 28.2 yards per return and seven 50-plus yard returns.

San Francisco 49ers: Star running back Frank Gore, whose 1,695-yard performance in 2006 when he averaged 5.4 yards per carry, hasn't been given the chance to shine and provide big plays for his team as often this season.  With the team's passing offense being virtually non-existent to balance their attack, along with the fact that they've had to play catch-up in so many contests, the talented running back is on pace to have just 213 carries versus 312 last season — a 32 percent drop-off in chances to make something good happen for his team.  Gore is seventh in the NFC in total rushing yards with 781 and three games remaining.

Arizona Cardinals: With an 87 percent success rate, Arizona is the second-most successful team at converting 3rd- and 4th-and-1 situations this year. In 23 attempts, the Cardinals have moved the chains 20 times, including 13 of 14 rushing attempts. Who's number one? The Cowboys at an incredible 94.1 percent rate.

NFC East

Donovan McNabb encourages his teammates.
Harry How/Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles: Although he'll still be under contract, there's good reason to believe that quarterback Donovan McNabb will be playing his final three regular season games as an Eagle beginning this weekend. The nine-year veteran is no longer the rushing threat that he was earlier in his career when he kept defenses on their heels by rushing for as much as 629 yards while completing 57- to 58-percent of his passes. While he's thrown for a second-best career completion rate of 60.4 percent this season, he's thrown just 14 touchdown passes in 11 games — and that's a far cry from the 31 he threw in 2004 over 15 games. His 11-game total is even short of the touchdown passes thrown during his previous two injury-shortened seasons where he threw 16 in nine games in 2005 and 18 during ten outings in 2006. If the Eagles release McNabb, he'd hit their cap for roughly $4.3 million dollars in prorated money that is spread over the next two seasons. But that would be easily offset by the $6.3 million in base salary he would collect in 2008 and $9.2 million salary he'd receive in 2009. 

New York Giants: For anyone hoping that the Giants will find a way to beat the Patriots in the regular season finale at home, they better hope that Eli Manning reverses his home field passing trends. So far this season, Manning's completion rate in front of the Giants fans is just 54.1 percent compared to 61.7 percent on the road. He's also thrown 10 of his 17 interceptions and just eight of his 18 touchdown passes at home.

Washington Redskins: Tight end Chris Cooley has been the target of passes ten or more times in three of the last four games. That gives him a total of four games this season where he's been a double-digit passing target. Over the span of his first three seasons, after being picked in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Utah State, Cooley had logged a total of just three games with ten passes or more thrown his way. He's already tied his career-best seven touchdown passes in a season, meaning that he'll have completed all four of his NFL seasons to date with at least six touchdowns. 

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys' potent offensive attack has kicked into a higher gear during the final 30 minutes of play this season, creating all kinds of problems for their opponents during their 12-1 run. In the first half, the passing attack has notched 13 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. But after halftime, they've scored 22 touchdowns and surrendered just four interceptions. Dallas' average reception covers 14.3 yards per catch in the second half versus 11.3 yards in the first. And even the running game gets better with a 4.6 yards-per-carry mark versus just 4.1 yards earlier in the game.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers: Out of the five players in the NFL who have been flagged the most for defensive pass interference this year, two of them are playing in Green Bay. Safety Atari Bigby is tied for the league-lead along with the Rams' Fakhir Brown with four flags and has cost the Packers 79 yards in field position. Cornerback Charles Woodson is tied with Carolina's Ken Lucas and the Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha with three pass interference flags. But with just two of those being accepted by Green Bay's opponents, those three flags have only cost the Packers 33 yards by comparison.

Kevin Williams sacks Detroit QB Jon Kitna.
AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid

Minnesota Vikings: While the accolades deservedly continue to roll in for rookie running back Adrian Peterson, no one should overlook the contribution that the Vikings defense has made to the scoreboard this season. Seven different players have scored a total of eight touchdowns as a result of a fumble recovery or an interception. That's three more defensive scores than the second-best Patriots who have logged five. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams is the only Viking to score twice, both — oddly enough — on interception returns. Defensive end Ray Edwards, linebacker Chad Greenway, cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin, and safeties Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith have each scored once.

Chicago Bears: With 40 quarterback sacks allowed already this season, the Bears have posted the 14th-worst result in the franchise's history in that category. At their current pace, they would finish the season at 46 which would bump them up to 8th. But even at their current spot, they've assured that the team will become the fourth Bears squad this decade to finish in the top 15 of the franchise's worst all-time offenses in protecting the quarterback. The 2004 team is in the number one spot after yielding 66 sacks in a season, the 2002 Bears allowed 44, and the 2003 team allowed 43. 

Detroit Lions: Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers has recovered four fumbles this season, placing him in a tie with Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway for the NFL lead in that category among defensive players. Rogers also made his first career interception this year and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown against the Broncos on November 4.

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With three games remaining, a trio of Buccaneers are battling for the team lead in special teams tackles with 10 each. Sixth-year linebacker Ryan Nece has 10 solo efforts while fourth-year safety Kalvin Pearson has nine solos and one assist. Second-year wide receiver Maurice Stovall also has nine tackles and one assist.

Atlanta Falcons:
While teams like the Colts and Patriots have been in goal-to-go situations 30 times or more this season, that scenario has been a rarity for the Falcons offense. During a mere eight goal-to-go drives in 2007, Atlanta has had good success, scoring three touchdowns and three field goals. The only other NFL team with that few goal-to-go situations this year is the Kansas City Chiefs.

New Orleans Saints: With all the focus that's been on New England's Tom Brady, combined with the Saints' struggles this season, it would be easy to miss how effective Drew Brees has been in the red zone this year. He's thrown an NFC-leading 20 touchdowns in the red zone while completing 72.1 percent of his passes. And get this — he hasn't thrown an interception or allowed himself to get sacked after his team has crossed over the opponent's 20-yard line.

Carolina Panthers: Running back DeAngelo Williams is averaging 4.8 yards per carry during a disappointing season for the Panthers offense overall. But he's boosted that average with his fourth-quarter runs this season, averaging 6.41 yards on 39 attempts. That average is second-best out of all running backs with at least 10 fourth-quarter carries this year. Only Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, who's boasting a 6.50 average on 40 carries during the final 15 minutes, has a better mark than Williams heading into Week 15 action.

Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and are syndicated through You can contact him by email through this link.

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. 

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