NFC South: Daryle Lamonica

Final Word: NFC South

October, 12, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 6 (remember, the Panthers and Saints are on their bye week):

Odds-on favorite: With a 5-0 start, the Falcons are well on their way to the playoffs. Thirty-eight teams have started 5-0 since the NFL went to its current playoff format in 1990, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Of those teams, 34 have reached the postseason, with 25 winning at least one playoff game. Sixteen of those teams have reached the Super Bowl and eight of them have won it. We’ll give you an update on the history of 6-0 teams next week if the Falcons beat the Raiders on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
AP Photo/John BazemoreFalcons quarterback Matt Ryan is set to face a Raiders defense that has been burned by opposing quarterbacks recently.
Aiming for the trifecta: The Oakland defense has given up three or more touchdown passes to the past two quarterbacks it has faced (Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger). That obviously is good news for Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. In his five-year career, the Falcons are 14-0 when Ryan has thrown for three or more touchdowns. In NFL history, only Daryle Lamonica (19-0) has won more games without a loss when throwing for three or more touchdowns.

Rain on the parade: Speaking of Ryan, he’s having a wonderful season and deserves to be in any MVP conversation. But there is one unflattering little streak going on right now. Ryan has thrown an interception in his past three games. That’s tied for the second-longest streak of his career. The longest came in 2009, when he was intercepted in six straight games.

AFC history isn’t pretty: Although the Chiefs may be struggling, the fact that the Buccaneers are playing an AFC opponent is not very encouraging. Over the past 10 years, the Bucs are tied with the Redskins for fewest wins among NFC teams against AFC opponents. The Bucs are 11-25 against the AFC in that span.

Something has to give: Tampa Bay’s run defense has been a bright spot so far. The Bucs are allowing 73.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks as the fourth-lowest average in the NFL. But Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles is averaging 110.2 yards per game.

First look at Week 5

October, 2, 2012
With some help from ESPN Stats & Information, let’s take our first look at the Week 5 games involving NFC South teams (and remember, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bye):

  • Atlanta has started 4-0 twice before, in 1986 and 2004. But the Falcons have a chance at history against Washington. They never have started 5-0.
  • Quarterback Matt Ryan's 11 touchdown passes are the most ever thrown by an Atlanta quarterback through four games.
  • Ryan has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of his past two games. The Falcons are 14-0 when Ryan throws at least three touchdown passes. That’s the second-best record in NFL history. Daryle Lamonica was 19-0.
  • Ryan is completing 60 percent of his throws 10 yards or more downfield. Ryan hasn’t completed more than 50 percent of such throws since his rookie season (2008)
  • The Redskins have lost seven straight home games. That’s the longest active home losing streak in the league.
  • The Falcons have won their last two road games with Washington. Prior to that, Atlanta was 0-9 against the Redskins.
  • One of the keys for the Saints will be to stop the San Diego offense early. The Chargers have outscored opponents by a league-high 25 points in the first quarter. They’ve only outscored opponents by four points over the final three quarters.
  • The Saints are 0-4 for the first time since 2007. If they fall to 0-5, it will be the first time since 1996. A loss also would make the Saints the first team since the 2009 Tennessee Titans to start 0-5 following a season with at least 13 wins.
  • The Saints will try to avoid losing three straight home games in a single season for the first time since 1995. The last time the Saints lost their first three home games of the season was 1995.
  • A bit of good news for the struggling Panthers -- the Seahawks have lost three straight road games and are 6-20 on the road since 2009.
  • The key matchup in this game could be Seattle’s run defense against Carolina’s rushing game. The Seahawks rank third in the NFL in rush yards allowed. Carolina has a talented backfield with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, but the running skills of quarterback Cam Newton may be what really sets this backfield apart. Newton is coming off a career-high 86 rushing yards against Atlanta. But the Seattle defense has allowed quarterbacks to run for a total of just 15 yards in four games.
  • The Carolina defense has allowed three straight running backs to rush for 100 yards and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin had 95 in the opener. The bad news is Seattle has the NFL’s leading rusher, Marshawn Lynch. Since Week 9 of last season, Lynch has produced eight 100-yard rushing games, two more than any other running back.