Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from Week 17 of the NFL season:
5,477: Peyton Manning's NFL single-season passing record
Peyton Manning finished what might be the greatest regular season for a quarterback in NFL history in style. He threw for 266 yards and four touchdowns in the first half in the home-field-clinching win over lowly Oakland. Manning threw for one more yard this year (5,477) than Drew Brees' record-setting season of 2011 (5,476). Manning now owns the NFL's top single-season benchmark for both passing yards and passing touchdowns (55). Manning's previous career high was 4,700 set with the Colts in 2010. The 34-14 win gives the Broncos the best record in the AFC and tied with Seattle for best record overall (13-3). Denver will sit at home during Wild Card Weekend and wait to see who it will play in two weeks. Manning enters what could be his final postseason with a 9-11 career playoff record, including eight one-and-dones.
1-9: Jay Cutler's record against Green Bay
Jay Cutler played well against the rival Packers in a winner-take-all season finale in wintery Soldier Field. But he still could not get his team over the hump against the dreaded Packers. Cutler fell to 1-9 all-time against Green Bay — 1-8 in the regular season — as he watched his defense give up three fourth downs on the Packers' game-winning, final-minute drive. The win sent Green Bay to the playoffs for the fifth straight season and gave the Pack its third consecutive NFC North division title. In 10 games against his division rival Cutler, who threw for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the loss, has completed 55 percent of his passes with 11 TDs and 18 INTs. Aaron Rodgers is 7-1 head-to-head against Cutler now.
1,607: LeSean McCoy's Eagles single-season rushing record
LeSean McCoy rushed 27 times for 131 yards and scored on a three-yard Nick Foles touchdown pass in the NFC East-clinching win over Dallas in AT&T Stadium Sunday night. McCoy led the NFL in rushing and set a Philadelphia single-season rushing record with 1,607 yards while also leading the NFL in carries (314). He is the first Eagles player to win the rushing title since Steve Van Buren in 1949. McCoy, who helped lead the Eagles to the playoffs in Chip Kelly's first season as the head coach, set a new franchise record for yards from scrimmage as well with 2,146 total yards (539 receiving). The Cowboys finish 8-8 for the third consecutive season after losing with a chance to make the playoffs on the final weekend against NFC East foes for a third straight season.
14: Houston Texans' current losing streak
Houston began the year 2-0 with wins over San Diego and Tennessee. However, the Texans lost every game the rest of the season, giving the franchise 14 consecutive losses heading into a critical offseason. According to ESPN, only five teams in NFL history have ended a season with at least 14 consecutive losses. A new coach needs to be hired and Houston will have the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. This team was technically the worst in the NFL after back-to-back division championships, a 22-8 record and two seasons with at least one playoff win. If rumors of Bill O'Brien being the next head man in Houston prove to be true, Texan fans should be ecstatic about being able to rejoin the playoff fray in 2014.
7,965: Career rushing yards for Chris Johnson
Lorenzo White played 95 games for the Oilers franchise from 1988 to 1994. He rushed for 42.9 yards per game and is fourth all-time in team history with 4,079 yards. That's because the top three backs in Houston/Tennessee history are in a class by themselves. Chris Johnson rushed 27 times for 127 yards and a touchdown in the season finale win over Houston in what was likely his final game in a Titans uniform. He is second all-time in team history with 83.8 yards rushing per game, third all-time in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and carries. But he is second all-time with 9,968 yards from scrimmage and is No. 1 all-time among running backs with 272 career receptions. Here is exactly how the top three backs in Oilers/Titans history stack up against each other:
Case for Johnson: He's owns the team's single-season rushing record and is one of seven players to ever rush for 2,000 yards. He is No. 1 as a pass catcher, No. 1 in terms of yards per carry, has displayed considerably better ball security, and is No. 2 in terms of overall production. He is easily the most explosive, as he has six touchdown runs of at least 80 yards and 14 touchdowns of at least 50 yards or more. Earl Campbell was likely the most talented but didn't last very long and finished his career in New Orleans. Eddie George was the most productive, the least efficient, won the most and led his team to a Super Bowl. So who is the best back in Houston/Tennessee history?
9.0: Carolina's single-game sack record
With a shot at a bye in the NFC playoffs, Carolina's defense came through in a big way against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. The 21-20 win clinched the NFC South division crown and makes the Panthers the No. 2 seed in the NFC after finishing 13-19 over the last two seasons. Cam Newton has been excellent but his defense is the real reason for the turnaround. The Panthers registered a team-record 9.0 sacks against Matt Ryan. Greg Hardy had a career-high and team-record 4.0 sacks after recording 3.0 last week. The nine takedowns were the most in Ryan's career as well.
15-1: Russell Wilson's career record at home
The lone loss came two weeks ago in bizarre fashion to the Arizona Cardinals. That loss is the only time Russell Wilson has lost at home in two seasons as a NFL starter in Seattle. After a very easy 27-9 win over the Rams in the season finale, no quarterback in history has won more home games than Wilson has in his first two seasons. The win over St. Louis clinched the NFC West and home-field advantage for Seattle throughout the playoffs. The path to the Super Bowl could end up going through CenturyLink Field — which looks like bad news for the rest of the NFC.
3: NFL defensive tackles who led their team in sacks
The Cowboys nearly won the de facto NFC East title game with the Eagles because the defensive line got pressure on Nick Foles. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher had 4.0 tackles, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble, giving him the NFL lead in sacks (11.0) by a defensive tackle. He led the Cowboys in sacks and is one of just three interior D-linemen in the NFL this year to lead their respective team in sacks. The Jets Muhammad Wilkerson and the Titans Jurrell Casey both tied for 16th in the NFL with 10.5 sacks and led their respective teams in QB takedowns.
1: Browns players to lead the NFL in receiving
Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson both caught more than 100 passes this season. Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green all finished in the top five in receiving yards this fall. But Cleveland's Josh Gordon is the guy who led the NFL in receiving in 2013 and he did it by a comfortable margin. His 1,646 yards and 117.6 per game was significantly ahead of No. 2 in both categories — Antonio Brown's 1,499 and Megatron's 106.6 (Julio Jones was at 116.0, but he only played five games). Gordon became the first Browns player ever to lead the league in receiving, however, it wasn't good enough to keep head coach Rob Chudzinski employed as the Browns fired their head coach after just one year on the job.
6: Number of players any team can have on one side of the ball
The NFL rulebook states that no team can have more than six players lined up on the line of scrimmage on the same side of the ball. Kansas City's Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard field goal as timed expired that would have given the Chiefs a win and would have knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs. Except San Diego had seven men lined up on the right side of the defensive line — which is illegal according to NFL rules this season and should have been a five-yard penalty. Succop would have then had a chance to kick a 36-yard field goal to beat the Bolts. Had he made the normally automatic kick, the Steelers would be going to Cincinnati to play the Bengals on Sunday instead of the Chargers. And it wasn't the only questionable call in the game — see Eric Weddle.
Looks like seven to me...