AFC South: Final Word 2012 Week 16

Final Word: AFC South

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
1:37
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

[+] EnlargeBrooks Reed
Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Houston linebacker Brooks Reed returns from a groin injury to face Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.
Stop AD: Adrian “All Day” Peterson leads the NFL with 1,812 rushing yards and needs 294 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards set in 1984. Peterson needs 188 yards to become the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. According to ESPN Stats & Info, more than half his yards have come after contact. Peterson has rushed for 1,313 yards in his past eight games, the most by any player over an eight-game span in league history. He’s rushed for at least 150 yards in three games in a row. Houston is allowing 93.2 ground yards a game and gets one key defender, outside linebacker Brooks Reed, back from a groin injury.

To blitz or not to blitz: Aaron Rodgers has been sacked or put under duress on 31.1 percent of his dropbacks since the Packers’ Week 10 bye, the second-highest percentage in the NFL. Rodgers has been able to handle the pressure, though: He has an 84.3 Total QBR when under duress this season, best in the NFL (league average: 24.9). The Titans' pass rush has really picked up in recent weeks, but it’s been against quarterbacks of far less stature than Rodgers. Will defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, whose job security is in question, continue to blitz or back off? Rodgers has completed 79.4 percent of his passes to Randall Cobb this season. That’s the highest rate for any quarterback-wide receiver combination with at least 50 attempts.

Beating bad teams: I never fault any team for its schedule, which it can't control. But let’s note that each of the past seven Colts wins have come against teams currently under .500. Indianapolis has not beaten a team that currently has a winning record since the Packers in Week 5. Andrew Luck needs 74 passing yards to break Cam Newton’s record for most passing yards by a rookie quarterback (4,051 last season). Luck needs six touchdown passes over his final two games to tie Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdown passes by a rookie (26). Luck has thrown 18 interceptions this season, tied for the league lead with Drew Brees. However, per Stats & Info, Luck has also had seven potential interceptions dropped by defenders this season, most in the NFL.

Bad news for the Jaguars: Over the past 10 seasons, Tom Brady is 22-4 in games following a loss. Brady had 53 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in those games. That's bad news for Jacksonville, hosting the Patriots after their Sunday night loss to San Francisco. Jacksonville has been outscored 189-78 at home this season. It has the worst home scoring margin (minus-111) in the NFL. One more loss for the Jaguars and they will be assured of the worst season in franchise history. The team was 4-12 in 1995, their first season in the NFL.

On the verge: Chris Johnson needs 196 rushing yards over his final two games to reach 7,000 career rushing yards. He’d be the fourth player in NFL history to reach 7,000 career rushing yards in his first five seasons. Currently, he has the seventh-most rushing yards ever by a player in his first five seasons. With 71 yards, he’ll surpass Eddie George on that list. The Titans can take heart that they’ve got a young receiver to go with Johnson moving forward. Kendall Wright's total of 62 receptions leads NFL rookies by a wide margin. Justin Blackmon is next with 51. Wright needs 11 over the final two weeks to set the franchise rookie record for most receptions in a single season. Bill Groman had 72 catches in 1960.

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