15 Star-Driven Fun Facts to ponder for NFL Week 15

BY foxsports • December 9, 2014

FOX Sports South takes a whimsical and diverse look at 15 star-driven factoids for NFL Week 15 -- a piece that might help shape fantasy-league decisions and/or inspire more real-world and barstool debates, among friends and kind strangers:

1. Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch hasn't scored a rushing touchdown in four games, but that's of little concern entering Sunday's game against the 49ers, citing two reasons:

a) The memories of Beast Mode's 163-yard, four-TD explosion against the Giants (Week 10) are still fresh.

b) In his past seven games against the 49ers (including the playoffs), Lynch has notched 100 total yards and/or one TD every time. In fact, during that stretch, he holds per-outing averages of 115 yards/1.1 TDs.

2. Rams rookie Tre Mason (406 rushing yards since Week 10) has been near-unstoppable on the lightning-fast turf of the Edward Jones Dome -- where St. Louis hosts Arizona on Thursday -- averaging 121 total yards and 1.3 TDs in his past three home outings.

But his success pales in comparison to that of the St. Louis defense, which has produced back-to-back shutouts (Weeks 13-14) -- a feat the Rams franchise hadn't accomplished since 1945 (then in Cleveland).

Which brings us to this: At the very least, the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers are the greatest team to start 1-4 in any NFL season.

In their final nine games that year -- all Pittsburgh victories -- the famed Steel Curtain defense surrendered a GRAND TOTAL of 28 points (or 3.1 per game), a ferocious, awe-inspiring run that included three consecutive shutouts (an NFL record).

3. The Giants and Redskins hold the NFL records for "most combined points in a single game" (113 in 1966) and "fewest combined points in a single game" (zero in 1932).

In modern times, here's something else to consider: In his first 17 outings against Washington, QB Eli Manning never had multiple touchdown passes in a single game.

But that all changed in Week 4, when Manning tossed four TDs -- including three to tight end Larry Donnell -- in the Giants' 45-14 rout at Washington. On Sunday he'll try to do it again at home.

4. Go ahead and pencil in Jamaal Charles for averages of 120 yards/one TD over the next two weeks, with the Chiefs taking on the Raiders (Sunday at home) and Steelers (away).

In his past three games against Oakland, Charles has amassed 465 total yards and eight scores. And against Pittsburgh, the all-world back has tallied at least one touchdown in every meeting.

5. In his nine complete games this season, Bengals wideout A.J. Green (56 catches, 910 yards, six TDs) has impressively tallied 100 yards and/or one TD eight times.

That includes an 11-catch, 224-yard, one-TD explosion against the Steelers last week.

The lone clunker of the bunch: catching just three balls for 23 yards against the Browns in Week 10. He'll be put to the test again Sunday in Cleveland.

6. Cleveland's playoff contention aside, Johnny Manziel shouldn't feel pressure to perform against Cincinnati on Sunday.

Of the Browns' previous five first-round quarterbacks -- Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn, Tim Couch, Mike Phipps and Bernie Kosar (supplemental draft) -- none passed for 250-plus yards or three scores in their first start.

In fact, that group posted pedestrian averages of 174 passing yards, 0.8 TDs and 1.3 INTs in their first starts.

Oh, and Brian Hoyer, the Browns' starter from Weeks 1 through 14, has accounted for just one TD and eight INTs in his past five games.

7. Ben Roethlisberger's Hall of Fame-worthy résumé (38,160 passing yards, 263 TDs, two Super Bowl trophies) doesn't include many indoors games. In fact, his last elements-protected outing came in September 2013 (against the Vikings).

On the plus side, in his past eight games played indoors, Big Ben has notched 300 passing yards and/or three TDs seven times.

That's some positive mojo heading into Sunday's crucial clash with the first-place Falcons -- the NFL's worst defense against the pass (287 yards allowed).

8. Hat tip to ESPN for the following nugget: From Weeks 7 through 13, spanning seven games, Seattle's opponent went 0-7 the following weekend.

That stat speaks volumes to the Seahawks' physical, pounding nature ... and how most clubs need more than seven days to recover from the NFL's best defense.

9. Aaron Rodgers, who just logged his 100th pro start on Monday night, has never started a game at Buffalo. So, where to draw our Fun Facts inspiration for Sunday's matchup?

In his past seven cold-weather road games played after the Thanksgiving holiday (including the playoffs), Rodgers holds rock-solid averages of 285 yards passing/2.6 TDs.

10. Eagles tailback LeSean McCoy, who ravaged the Cowboys for 159 yards and one TD on Thanksgiving Day, stands as a 50-50 bet to replicate those superb numbers against Dallas in Week 15.

To wit, in his past seven regular-season outings against Dallas, McCoy boasts stellar averages of 125 total yards/0.9 TDs.

11. In his past 10 home games (including the playoffs), Colts QB Andrew Luck has accounted for multiple touchdowns eight times -- with the clunkers both coming against the Jaguars.

But the Indy passer seemingly can rest easy this week -- sarcasm alert -- with only Houston and J.J. Watt on the docket. For his career, Luck holds per-game averages of 242 yards passing/2.4 TDs against the Texans.

12. Think Jets RB Chris Johnson has been looking forward to Sunday's clash with the Titans -- his former team of six prodigious seasons (2008-13)?

Is it possible the Jets have enough mojo to produce two 100-yard rushers against Tennessee -- the NFL's worst defense against the run?

Regarding the Titans, the defense has surrendered 125 rushing yards per game during their seven-game slide. And Tennessee has allowed 26-plus points nine times.

Meanwhile, the Titans offense hasn't hit the 26-point mark in 10 weeks.

13. Since 2008, and excluding last Sunday's blah outing against the Bills, Peyton Manning has thrown for zero touchdowns seven times during the regular season; and for the follow-up act, Manning is averaging 293 yards passing/2.1 TDs in his very next start.

By the way, that robust average includes a forgettable 95-yard, zero-TD effort from Week 17 of the 2010 season, when Manning was merely logging some tune-up reps in the snow, prior to Indy's playoff push.

He'll put it to the test Sunday in San Diego.

14. Bucs wideout Mike Evans (57 catches, 935 yards, 10 TDs) could be joining a very exclusive club by season's end:

In the modern era, only two rookie pass-catchers -- Sammy White in 1976 (Vikings) and John Jefferson in 1978 (Chargers) -- have notched double-digit receiving touchdowns ... without posting eight or more receptions in a single game.

And last but not least ...

15. Rookie quarterbacks are typically afterthoughts in the fantasy realm, especially ones who have never tallied three TDs in a game.

But check out Teddy Bridgewater's Year 1 progression with the Vikings:

Bottom line: Using history as a guide, at the very least, Bridgewater (309 yards, two TDs last week) is a healthy lock for multiple touchdowns against the Lions, who have surrendered six TD passes in their past three outings.

Jay Clemons, the 2008 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year (Fantasy Sports Writers Association), can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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