Friday, December 30, 2011
Final Word: NFC East
By Dan Graziano
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:
Ware QBs dare not tread:Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware could become the first player to lead the NFL in sacks in three different seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Ware led the league with 20 sacks in 2008, with 15.5 last season and currently has 18 with one game to go. Minnesota's Jared Allen has 18.5 and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jason Babin has 18, so this is a race that's going down to the wire. Of those three, Ware's the one with something to play for Sunday other than the league sack lead.
Despite playing in just 12 games this season, Rex Grossman is tied for the league lead in turnovers with 24.
You take it. No, you take it: The game between the Eagles and the Washington Redskins has a chance to be sloppy. The Eagles are tied with the Buccaneers for the league lead in turnovers with 36. Right behind them are the Redskins, who rank third in the league this year with 34 turnovers. Washington quarterback Rex Grossman, who is tied for the league lead with 19 interceptions in spite of having played just 12 games, is also tied with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers for the league lead in turnovers with 24.
Romo's signature season: If Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws at least one touchdown pass and no interceptions in Sunday night's game against the New York Giants, he will become the sixth player in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Info, to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions in the same season. Aaron Rodgers did it in 2009 and will again this year unless he throws four interceptions Sunday. Tom Brady did it in 2007 and 2010. Brett Favre turned the trick in 2009, Peyton Manning in 2006 and Donovan McNabb in 2004.
Eagles history: Babin enters the game with an outside shot at Reggie White's team record of 21 sacks, set in 1987. Babin had three sacks each in his Week 14 and Week 15 games, so it's not out of the question that he could get three here against the banged-up Redskins line and match White's record. The Eagles will be playing hard, as LeSean McCoy has an outside shot at the league rushing title and the team is trying to stave off what would be just the third losing season in Andy Reid's 13-year tenure as its head coach.
Holding on when it counts: The Giants' receivers have had an issue with dropped passes this year. They are tied for the league lead with 31 drops. But according to ESPN Stats & Information's "Next Level" numbers, 23 of those 31 drops have come in the first half of games. Their 23 first-half drops are five more than any other team has this year, but 22 teams have more than the eight drops the Giants have in the second half or overtime. So the Giants' passing game does seem to correct itself as the game goes along. Those same "Next Level" stats say Giants quarterback Eli Manning was 4-for-11 with 8.6 yards per attempt when the Cowboys sent five or more pass-rushers in the first half of the Week 14 game in Dallas, but he was 8-for-11 with 12.7 yards per attempt and a touchdown against Dallas blitzes in the second half of that game.