- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:
Tom terrific: Even at 35 years old, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is playing some of the best football of his career. The Patriots have won five straight games and Brady put up monster numbers in that stretch, including throwing for 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has had five consecutive games of at least two touchdowns and zero interceptions, which is the second longest streak of his career according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Patriots lead the NFL in total offense and scoring, and Brady is the primary reason. He’s justifiably one of the favorites for the NFL MVP award this season.
A wild card: New England’s opponent Sunday, the Miami Dolphins, is in the thick of the wild-card race. Miami (5-6) is one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) and Cincinnati Bengals (6-5). All three teams have tough games. The Steelers are on the road against the Baltimore Ravens (9-2), while the Bengals travel to play the San Diego Chargers (4-7). It’s possible that both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati could lose their road games Sunday, which would open the door for Miami to gain a game. But the Dolphins upsetting the Patriots is a tall task.
No shotgun for Sanchez: New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is having a poor season all around. But it may be wise for the Jets to keep Sanchez out of the shotgun as much as possible in the final five games. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Sanchez has the NFL’s second-lowest completion percentage (56.6) from the shotgun formation. Sanchez also has six interceptions and has been sacked 15 times from the formation. New York is a ground-and-pound team that’s not adept at using multiple wide receivers and airing it out.
Jets need sacks: A lot of the focus has been on the Jets’ struggling offense. However, New York’s defense also has been inconsistent. This was a group expected to finish in the top five in the NFL. But injuries and underachieving have kept New York’s defense back. One big issue has been New York’s inability to pressure the quarterback. The Jets are 30th in the NFL with only 17 sacks. Look for New York to attack the Arizona Cardinals with different blitz looks Sunday. The Cardinals are starting struggling quarterback Ryan Lindley.
Bills could face Babin: The Philadelphia Eagles created national headlines earlier this week when they released Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin. He was claimed 24 hours later by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will travel to Buffalo to face the Bills on Sunday. Babin is expected to make his Jacksonville debut against Buffalo in some capacity this weekend. The irony is Buffalo tried to claim Babin, who was one of the NFL’s top pass-rushers last season. The Jaguars (2-9) are last in the NFL with 13 sacks.