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NFL WEEK 16

A burial ground for Giants' playoff hopes?

December 27, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

The New York Giants are moving on up -- they're reminded of that every time they catch a glimpse of the soon-to-be-completed $1.7-billion stadium next door -- but are they moving on this season?

They probably can't afford to lose another game if they intend to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

If they beat Carolina today, they might even be able to control their own destiny in the scramble for an NFC wild-card spot. But a loss to the Panthers, coupled with two likely scenarios -- Dallas beating Washington, and Green Bay beating Seattle -- would leave the Giants out in the cold.

Either way, this is most likely New York's last game at Giants Stadium, the team's home since 1976. The only way they could play another one there is if they wound up seeded fifth in the NFC playoffs, and the top four in front of them lost in the first two rounds, leaving the Giants to play host to the conference championship game.

Rest assured the players see the writing on the wrecking ball.

"If it is the last time we play at Giants Stadium," defensive end Justin Tuck told the New York Daily News, "we definitely want to go out with a bang."

Frequent flier

Peyton Manning leads the NFL in yards passing this season (4,213), accumulating them at an astounding average of 300.1 per game. The Indianapolis star needs just 159 against the Jets today to become the fourth quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 for his career.

If those yards were air miles, he'd be hitting platinum status.

The most career yards passing in NFL history:

*--* PLAYER TEAMS YARDS BRETT FAVRE Packers, Jets, Vikings *68,692 DAN MARINO Dolphins 61,361 JOHN ELWAY Broncos 51,475 PEYTON MANNING Colts *49,841 *--*

*Active

Source: NFL

Homebody

Sure, the Patriots have had their struggles this season, and Tom Brady hasn't been as precise over the last month as we're used to seeing him, but they're still a team no one wants to face with the playoffs on the line -- particularly at Gillette Stadium.

Today, New England has a chance to finish 8-0 at home, facing Jacksonville in a game in which the temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s.

Quarterbacks really don't have a win-loss record, but because that has become a stat du jour, consider this: Brady has won 19 consecutive home games as the Patriots' starting quarterback.

One more and he can tie Miami's Bob Griese and Philadelphia's Randall Cunningham for third on the all-time list.

Brady has a long way to go, though, to match the mark of a certain Lambeau legend.

The most consecutive home games won as a starting quarterback since 1970:

*--* QUARTERBACK TEAM YEARS STREAK BRETT FAVRE Packers 1995-98 25 JOHN ELWAY Broncos 1996-98 22 BOB GRIESE Dolphins 1971-74 20 RANDALL CUNNINGHAM Eagles 1990-94 20 TOM BRADY Patriots 2006- *19 *--*

*Active

Source: NFL

Youth is served

The days of letting first-year players sit back and observe are long gone. There's too much money spent on them, and with free agency, teams don't want to invest the time to leisurely develop a budding talent only to watch him playing for another franchise in a few years.

So it's not surprising that, through 14 games, a total of 118 rookies have started at least a game this season. That's already among the highest season totals since the current seven-round draft format was implemented in 1994.

This number should continue to climb over the next two weeks as out-of-the-running teams start rotating in the players who represent the future of their franchise. Rookie starts by season:

*--* YEAR STARTS YEAR STARTS 2004 141 2003 120 2002 135 2005 120 2006 128 2009 118* *--*

*Through Week 15

Source: NFL

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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