NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.
Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 15 of NFL play:
7-1: Aaron Rodgers career record against Jay Cutler
The Packers won their seventh consecutive game against the Bears as Rodgers' continued domination of Cutler gave Green Bay their second consecutive NFC North championship. Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in the road win and is second to only Drew Brees with 32 touchdown passes this year. The Packers are 10-4 and are eyeing the NFC's two-seed without the help of a kicker — Mason Crosby has missed at least one field goal in eight straight games and is nine for his last 18 — or a host of elite playmakers on both sides of the ball. Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Desmond Bishop, Cedric Benson, D.J. Smith and Bryan Bulaga are either out for the year or have missed significant time this year. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning are deserving MVP candidates, but has anyone done more with less than No. 12 in Green and Gold?
9: Consecutive wins for Peyton Manning over the Ravens
The future Hall of Fame quarterback led his Broncos to a key victory on the road over Baltimore in a game with AFC seeding implications. The 34-17 win over the Ravens gives Manning nine straight wins over the extremely successful AFC North franchise. The Ravens have been a playoff team in each of the last four years (soon to be five) and, after this year, will have made the postseason in six of the last seven seasons. In fact, two of those nine wins have come in the postseason, both in years that the Colts made it to the Super Bowl (2006, 2009). The last time No. 18 lost to Baltimore was December 2001.
108: Points scored by Seattle in its last two games
The Seahawks set all kinds of franchise records in their 58-0 drubbing of the Cardinals last week. The offense, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, didn't miss a beat again this week in a 50-17 win over Buffalo in Toronto. It marked just the third time in NFL history a team scored 50 points in back-to-back games. Seattle forced 11 turnovers in the two wins while turning the ball over just once. Wilson, who set a franchise record with three rushing touchdowns (by a QB), is putting together one of the best rookie campaigns in history. All while Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are doing the same. The Seahawks' signal caller has thrown 21 scoring strikes, which ties him with Cam Newton for the third highest total by a rookie (Peyton Manning 26 in 1998, Charlie Conerly 22 in 1948). After a four-touchdown performance in the win over the Bills, Wilson trails Luck (20 pass, 5 rush) by one total TD for the rookie lead. He finished 14-of-23 for 205 yards passing to go with 92 yards rushing on nine carries and has his team at 9-5 in his first year.
8,743: New San Francisco franchise rushing record by Frank Gore
In 156 games as a 49er, Joe Perry rushed for a franchise-record 8,689 yards. In 42 fewer games, Gore has supplanted Perry atop the Niners' all-time rushing standings. He rushed for 83 yards and scored a touchdown in the huge statement win over the Patriots on Sunday night in New England. The Niners endured a 28-point comeback and more than 300 yards passing from Tom Brady in the second half, but Colin Kaepernick answered with four touchdown passes of his own in the gut-check win over the defending AFC Champs. Gore, at 29 years old in his eighth NFL season, will become the first Niners player to rush for 10,000 yards with just one more solid season in the Bay Area. He is already the franchise's leader in rushing attempts (1,885) and his 50 rushing touchdowns trail only Perry's record 68.
294: Yards Adrian Peterson needs to set the NFL single-season rushing record
Eric Dickerson set the single-season NFL rushing record (2,105 yards) in 1984 as a 24-year old Los Angeles Ram. With 212 yards, including an 82-yard scoring run, Peterson has 1,812 yards rushing on the year. His quest for 2,000 almost seems secondary, as he needs 188 yards per game in his last two to reach Dickerson's benchmark. The Vikings tailback is less than a year removed from major knee surgery and has carried a 3-13 team to eight wins with two games left to play. Minnesota and its MVP running back will face the Texans and the Packers — who entered the weekend ranked second and 15th respectively against the run. It will be an extremely difficult task, but 146.5 yards per game is well within reach for the most gifted runner on the planet. Setting that record on that team after that injury, it's hard not to think this would be considered the best season by any running back in NFL history.
181: Yards Calvin Johnson needs to set the NFL single-season receiving record
Before 1995, only two receivers in history had ever topped 1,600 yards receiving in a season. Charley Hennigan's extraordinary 1,761 yards in only 14 games in 1961 and Lance Alworth's 1,602 in 1965 were the only such occurrences. Then the craziness of 1995 took place when four of the top 12 receiving seasons of all-time happened in the same year. Jerry Rice set the single-season mark with 1,848 yards, but the No. 2 (Isaac Bruce, 1,781), No. 6 (Herman Moore, 1,686) and No. 12 (Michael Irvin, 1,603) top receiving seasons also took place. At the time, they ranked No. 1, 2, 4 and 5 all-time. In total, only 15 times has a player topped 1,600 yards receiving in a single NFL campaign. With 121 yards on Sunday, Calvin Johnson (1,667) joined Marvin Harrison as the only two players to have accomplished the feat twice. He needs only 90.5 yards per game over the next two weeks against Atlanta and Chicago to knock Rice from one of the most prestigious pedestals in NFL history.
27: Number of 10,000-yard rushers in NFL history
Steven Jackson rushed for 73 yards in the loss to Minnesota this Sunday, but he became just the 27th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000-yard mark. Jackson is constantly underrated by most fans, particularly because the fantasy community doesn't appreciate his relatively low yearly touchdown totals. But with 91 more rushing yards over the final two weeks, Jackson will top the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth consecutive season. He also caught eight passes in the loss, giving him 399 catches for his career. He is one away from 400 and two away from passing Tom Fears for fifth all-time in Rams' history. Jackson is one of the most consistent producers in the NFL over the last nine seasons and has been doing it for bad football teams with little support from the quarterback position.
17: Number of times Drew Brees has passed at least 300 yards with 4 TDs in a game
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the Saints’ 41-0 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Brees has recorded at least 300 passing yards and four touchdowns in a game 17 times and passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (16) for the most such games in NFL history.
EDITOR'S NOTE: While we all sit with our friends and families watching football this holiday season, there will be 26 gaping voids in 26 different living rooms in Newtown, Conn., following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I went to an elementary school not 15 miles down the road and I can assure the small Northeastern town that an entire nation is mourning your loss. There is no explanation and there are no words. But celebrating the lives and heroics of the teachers and principle who lost their lives protecting children — and appreciating every moment you get with your loved ones — feels like a good place to start rebuilding.