Sunday, October 31, 2004

New sack stat looks like it's a keeper

NFL insider

Mark Curnutte
The NFL loves numbers. Here's a relatively new statistic: sack differential.

There might be something to it.

The five teams with the best sack differential have a 26-5 record. The Eagles (6-0) are plus-11. The Colts (4-2) are plus-10. The Patriots (6-0) are plus-10. The Jets (5-1) are plus-10. The Broncos (5-2) are plus-8.

The Bengals, at minus-5 (10 for, 15 against) are 2-4.

PASS HAPPY: Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson has 99 catches for 1,587 yards and eight touchdowns in the first 22 games of his career. Johnson catches. Quarterback David Carr throws. Carr has a league-best 19 completions of at least 25 yards.

At the same stage, here's how some great receivers compare to Johnson:

Player Rec.-Yards TDs
Jerry Rice 83-1,650 11
Cris Carter 40-774 7
Tim Brown 49-780 5
Andre Reed 63-829 6
Art Monk 82-1,142 4

BIG SHOES: Kicker Morten Andersen (Vikings) and Gary Anderson (Titans) kicked against each other a week ago and extended their records for NFL games played to 344. Andersen is No. 2 in career scoring (2,303), trailing Anderson (2,381) by 78 points.

CATCHING UP WITH COREY: Patriots running back Corey Dillon, the former Bengals star, loves life at 6-0 with clear visions of the playoffs in front of him.

"I tell you, losing ain't fun, you know what I'm saying?" Dillon said. "Every opportunity we have to play hard, play tough, play great opponents and come out with a win, it's very fun. It's a great feeling. This is wonderful. I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying playing with these guys. I'm playing with some of the best guys that I've done ever played with. So every game is special to me. And it's special when we win."

Dillon is seeking his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game for the first time since 1999 (Weeks 13-15). So far, he has 637 yards, a 4.9-yard average and three touchdowns.

MAGNIFICENT MARVIN: Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison has 793 catches. If he has seven today against the Chiefs, that'll give him 800 in 130 games. Barring injury, he'll become the quickest to 800 in NFL history. Rice had 800 in 154 games.

ARENA BALL: The Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League are trying to wipe out the memory of last season, when they won one game.

So the franchise sent out rolls of toilet paper to its season-ticket holders with "1 and 15" (the record) printed on each sheet. The message was simple: "It's time to put last season behind us."

RAVENS: Cornerback Deion Sanders' interception return for a touchdown gives him 19 touchdowns on returns in his career. Rod Woodson had 17. Woodson leads with 12 interception returns for touchdowns, three more than Sanders.

BROWNS: The bye might have come at the wrong time. Cleveland's offense is hot.

In the last two games, the Browns defeated the Bengals 34-17 and lost to Philadelphia 34-31. It's the first time in their expansion-team era that the Browns had back-to-back games of 30 points or more. The Browns are running the ball the best they have since 1999 by alternating William Green and Lee Suggs behind fullback Terrelle Smith in their two-back set.

STEELERS: Though coach Bill Belichick's Patriots are 2-0 against the Steelers and Bill Cowher, the Pittsburgh coach had the best of Belichick when they met nine times from 1992-95.

Belichick coached the original Cleveland Browns, and he met Cowher nine times. Cowher won seven of them.

"I think he has always been a bright coach," Cowher said. "I know Bill from way back when we both became coordinators, myself at Kansas City and him in New York. We actually spent a whole day together talking football. I have a lot of respect for him."

Insider written in part from notes provided by other NFL beat writers.

Power rankings

Team Last week Record Comment
1. Patriots 1 6-0 13-0 vs. teams with winning records since 2003.
2. Eagles 2 6-0 Winning despite poor run defense.
3. Vikings 6 5-1 Scoring 28.4 points a game.
4. Colts 3 4-2 Need to rebound, stop infighting.
5. Broncos 4 5-2 Dealing with cut-blocking criticism.
6. Falcons 5 5-2 Outscored by 13 points overall.
7. Jets 8 5-1 Fighting talk of weak schedule.
8. Steelers 9 5-1 Easy part of schedule behind them.
9. Jaguars 10 5-2 Winning ugly, but winning nonetheless.
10. Seahawks 7 3-3 Were they not just 3-0?
11. Ravens 12 4-2 Eagles will provide measuring stick.
12. Rams 11 4-3 Still in first place despite losing to Dolphins.
13. Giants 13 4-2 Worries about pass defense heading to Minnesota.
14. Packers 16 3-4 Streak update: Favre started 215 in a row.
15. Lions 17 4-2 RB Kevin Jones starting to produce.
16. Panthers 15 1-5 Scoring fewer than 14 points a game.
17. Titans 14 2-5 Injuries tear apart good, albeit thin, team.
18. Chargers 24 4-3 Verbalize goal of making playoffs.
19. Browns 18 3-4 Have bye week to prepare for Ravens rematch.
20. Saints 20 3-4 Maddening team stays within striking distance.
21. Texans 22 3-3 Have scored one more point than opposition.
22. Cowboys 19 2-4 Parcells depressed after loss to Packers.
23. Redskins 23 2-4 Not more than 18 points in any game.
24. Chiefs 25 2-4 Play best when running ball more.
25. Bengals 27 2-4 Impressive win on Monday night.
26. Raiders 21 2-5 Another 4-12 season a possibility.
27. Bucs 28 2-5 Beginning to get players back.
28. Cardinals 30 2-4 WR Boldin gets warm welcome back.
29. Bills 26 1-5 Losman healing, could take Bledsoe's job.
30. Bears 29 1-5 Former OSU quarterback Krenzel to start.
31. 49ers 31 1-5 Rattay struggles in taking over for Garcia.
32. Dolphins 32 1-6 Defense, Fiedler earn first victory.

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