NFL Nation: Lynn Dickey

Final Word: NFC South

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 15 games:

Good news/bad news: Coming off a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons can take solace in the fact they’ve won their previous 11 games immediately after a loss. The Falcons have not lost back-to-back games since 2009. They also are playing in the Georgia Dome, where they’ve won 10 straight games (the NFL’s longest active home winning streak). So everything appears to be in Atlanta’s favor. Until you consider this -- the Falcons have not won a home game against the New York Giants since 1978.

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireWith three more receiving yards Julio Jones will reach 1,000 yards for the season.
Terrific tandems: The meeting between the Falcons and Giants will feature the two most prolific pairs of wide receivers in the NFL since the start of the 2011 season. In that span, Atlanta’s Roddy White and Julio Jones have combined for 4,392 receiving yards, while New York’s Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have combined for 4,384 yards. By the way, Jones needs only three receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the season. That would make Jones and White the first pair of Atlanta receivers to hit 1,000 yards since Tony Martin and Terance Mathis in 1998.

A record they don’t want: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are allowing 311.6 passing yards per game. At that pace, they would give up 4,986 passing yards by the end of the season, which would be an NFL record. The current record was set last season when the Green Bay Packers gave up 4,796 yards.

A record he doesn’t want: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees leads the league with 32 touchdown passes and is tied with Andrew Luck for the league lead with 18 interceptions. Since 1970, Lynn Dickey (1983) and Brian Sipe (1979) are the only quarterbacks to lead the league in both touchdowns and interceptions.

Intentional grounding: The Carolina Panthers have been making the most of quarterback Cam Newton's running ability. He leads the team with 640 rushing yards. The last quarterback to finish a season as his team’s leading rusher was Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb in 2000.
AFC: Ravens-Patriots: Graham | Walker Jets-Bengals: Graham | Walker
NFC: Cowboys-Eagles: Mosley Packers-Cardinals: Sando | Seifert

Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday’s Packers-Cardinals wild-card game:

[+] EnlargeCharles Woodson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCharles Woodson draws a tough assignment this week: covering Larry Fitzgerald.
We’ve spent time discussing the matchup between Green Bay’s nickel defenders and Arizona’s receivers without mentioning the marquee matchup: Packers cornerback Charles Woodson and Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Packers have moved Woodson around their defense a fair amount this season, allowing him to develop from pure cover corner to a top candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. But speaking to reporters in Green Bay this week, Woodson left little doubt about the Packers’ intentions. “We’ll mix it up,” Woodson said. “We’ll try to throw them off balance a little bit and put me in some different positions. It ain’t going to be a secret: Most of the day I’ll probably be on Fitzgerald.” Football fans of all allegiances should take a minute to enjoy that matchup.

Sunday’s game could be a milestone affair for the Packers’ quarterback position. The last time someone other than Brett Favre started a playoff victory was before current starter Aaron Rodgers was born. That’s right. Green Bay’s last postseason victory without Favre occurred on Jan. 8, 1983. On that day, Lynn Dickey led the Packers to a 41-16 victory against St. Louis at Lambeau Field. Rodgers was born Dec. 2, 1983. The last time the Packers won a road playoff game with a quarterback other than Favre? You have to go back to Jan. 14, 1968. On that day, the Packers and Bart Starr defeated Oakland 33-14 in Super Bowl II at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Wow.

This game will feature two of the NFL’s top four quarterbacks against the blitz this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Rodgers finished No. 2 on that list with a 117.4 passer rating against the blitz. Arizona’s Kurt Warner was No. 4 at 111.8. (Elias defined a blitz as five or more pass-rushers.) Sacks don’t count against passer rating, however, and so we should point out that Rodgers was sacked 9.4 percent of the time against blitzes. Warner took a sack on 5.8 percent of those instances. As the season progressed, both teams moved to shorter drops and quicker releases. That shift, along with each quarterback’s success when he got the ball off during the regular season, could make blitzing a risky proposition in this game.

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