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NFL Record Watch: The Packers and Colts Trudge Towards History

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  • The Green Bay Packers may not be perfect. Their defense is lousy, they don't have a running back, and they just lost Greg Jennings for the final three games of the season. The good news is that they have one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the history of the game, and they don't need no stinkin' running back thank you very much. And hey, neither did the 2007 Patriots team that went 16-0. Some of Aaron Rodgers' numbers are simply mind-boggling. Sunday was the first time all season that Rodgers failed to have a QB Rating over 100 and a completion percentage over 60%. He's on pace to finish with the highest passer rating ever, his completion percentage is only 1.3 points behind Drew Brees' current total for the single-season record, he needs 11 touchdowns over his final three games to tie the single-season record of 50, and he needs 960 yards during that span to surpass Dan Marino's seasonal record. In entirely likely that Rodgers will finish with one of the five highest totals ever in all four major statistical categories for a quarterback, AND his team is on the verge of going to 16-0. It'll be a crime if he doesn't win the MVP unanimously.
  • If the Packers do go unblemished, one of the gripes people will have is that they did it with a pretty easy strength of schedule. It can't be argued that there isn't tremendous parity between the second and the twenty-second best teams in the NFL, and that the Packers have had a pretty easy go of it. However, Green Bay's light schedule pales in comparison to the saintly 1972 Miami Dolphins, who pride themselves as the only 19-0 team in history. That team played exactly two teams with winning records in the regular season, and their opponents' winning percentage was below 40%, giving them one of the easiest schedules of all-time. They were so un-tested that even with an 18-0 record, they were underdogs going into the Super Bowl.
  • Tim Tebow.... I mean, what can I say? It's inexplicable. It'd be one thing if Tim Tebow was 7-1 as a starter and pulling off all these comebacks by playing incredible, but Tebow is somehow doing it despite looking totally inept 90% of the time. Somehow, magical things seems to happen all around him that allow him to win in spite of how bad he plays. Marion Barber basically had to cough up the game twice in order for Matt Prater to kick game-tying and game-winning field-goals of a combined 110 yards, and that had nothing to do with Tebow. One of the worst defenses last year is suddenly amazing, and it has nothing to do with Tebow. They're winning with Knowshon Moreno out for the year, Brandon Lloyd traded and Kyle Orton released. It's an entirely new team, with an atrocious statistical quarterback, and they can't stop winning. There's why no to explain it, so all we can do is love it. What we're witnessing is better than any schmaltzy Hollywood sports movie, better than Rocky, better than Hoosiers, better than Remember the Titans. It's better because it's real.
  • Poor Jim Caldwell. Is there any move he can make that won't look like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? He subbed out Curtis Painter and his 0-8 record for Dan Orlovsky, who is also 0-8 in his career after losing on Sunday. The Colts are 0-13 and their next two match-ups are against the Titans and Texans (loss, loss), however, they finish the season on the road against the pitiful Jacksonville Jaguars, and if there's any quarterback who Dan Orlovosky might have an edge over, it's Blaine Gabbert.
  • Prior to the season, I read an article in the Boston Globe professing that Aaron Hernandez was going to have a breakout year for the Patriots. The odds that Hernandez would indeed have an excellent season, which he's having, and that the other tight end on the roster would set the single-season touchdown record for a tight end 14 games into the year is pretty remarkable. Hernandez is good, but he isn't Rob Gronkowski good. Meanwhile, the other record-seeking Patriots receiver, Wes Welker, is going to have a hard time cracking either the single-season receptions record or the single-season receiving yards record. With 100 catches, Welker would need another 44 in the next three weeks to break Marvin Harrison's catch record (so that ain't happening), and he needs 510 yards during that time to break Jerry Rice's yardage record. Welker has slightly more yards through 13 games than Rice did when he set the record in 1995; the problem is that Rice finished that year on a ridiculous run, posting outputs of 121, 289 and 153 yards in the last three games. Even with a minor head start, it's going to be difficult for Welker to best a performance that incredible over a three-game period, particularly if Brady gets rested in the final weeks. Regardless of what Welker's final numbers are, he will easily finish with one of the greatest seasons of all time by a wide receiver.