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Week 15 in the NFL

The Nickel Package

Times staff writer Sam Farmer breaks down five areas worth watching in this week's NFL matchups

December 17, 2006|Sam Farmer

5 MOST-BURNED CORNERBACKS

Ronde Barber

Tampa Bay

* 59 passes completed: But Barber also has three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 12 pass knockdowns.

Fred Smoot

Minnesota

* 59: Vikings paid the corner a huge bonus before last season, and now he's not even starting.

Darrent Williams

Denver

* 55: Quarterbacks simply don't want to throw at Champ Bailey on the other side.

Charles Tillman

Chicago

* 54: With three games to go, he's matched his career high with five interceptions.

Quentin Jammer

San Diego

* 54: Jammer has improved, yet the San Diego secondary is the Chargers' only soft spot.

NOTE: Burned is when a targeted defensive player allows a completed pass.

*

5 MOST PRE-SNAP PENALTIES

* St. Louis -- 48: Rams have 33 false starts, by far the most in the league.

* Chicago -- 46: Bears love to get after the QB; they're tied for league high with five encroachments.

* Seattle, Arizona -- 44: Combined, Seahawks and Cardinals have been flagged for delay of game 13 times.

* Oakland, Detroit -- 40: Raiders and Lions aren't so great after the ball is snapped, either.

* Baltimore -- 39: Eight delay-of-game flags could be due to the play-calling changeover.

*

5 LONGEST LOSING STREAKS BY A STARTING QB (SINCE 1970)

Dan Pastorini, Houston -- 23 games: Streak of futility stretched from Oct. 1972 to Oct. '74.

* Chris Weinke, Carolina -- 16: Panthers might turn to Weinke, who hasn't won since early in 2001 season.

* Steve Spurrier, San Francisco/Tampa Bay -- 16: Heisman winner found the one team worse than the 49ers: the Bucs.

* Archie Manning, New Orleans -- 14: It wasn't pretty being quarterback of the 1980 Saints, who went 1-15.

* Manning, New Orleans/Houston/Minnesota -- 14: This streak stretched over three franchises and three years.

*

5 BEST RECORDS IN DECEMBER

Since 2001

* New England, 18-4 -- Like the four teams below the Patriots on this list, winter weather is a big factor here.

* Pittsburgh, 19-5 -- With Carolina, Baltimore and Cincinnati left, the Steelers could be reversing trend.

* Philadelphia, 16-7 -- Now the Eagles are looking for Jeff Garcia to mimic McNabb's winning ways.

* Green Bay, 15-8 -- The biggest stumbling block in the Packers' final three is a finale at Chicago.

* Seattle, 15-9 -- Seahawks sure didn't look like strong closers in losses to Arizona, San Francisco.

*

5 LOCKS

* Baltimore over Cleveland -- The Ravens are takeaway specialists, and the Browns are more than willing.

* Chicago over Tampa Bay -- The Buccaneers have been outscored, 75-19, in their three-game losing streak.

* Green Bay over Detroit -- Pitiful Lions have lost 15 in a row at Lambeau Field.

* New Orleans over Washington -- Redskins have lost four in a row on the road, and this place is tough.

* San Diego over Kansas City -- The Chargers can almost taste home-field advantage throughout playoffs.

* Last week: 3-2.

* Season: 50-20.

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