Bears, Texans give last-place teams hope for 2019
By ROB MAADDI, AP Pro Football Writer
There’s hope in 2019 for the Jaguars, Raiders, Giants and other teams who will finish last in the division this year.
The Chicago Bears (10-4) already won the NFC North to complete a worst-to-first turnaround, and the Houston Texans (10-4) are on the verge of securing the AFC South to become the second team to do it this season.
At least one team has finished in first place in its division the year after finishing last or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. Since the playoff format was expanded to 12 teams in 1990, at least four teams have reached the postseason each year after not qualifying the previous season.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Eagles went from last place to winning a Super Bowl title. The Bears and Texans are hoping to duplicate that feat this year.
Here’s a look inside more numbers entering Week 16:
COUNTDOWN TO 50: Patrick Mahomes needs five touchdown passes to become the third quarterback to throw for 50 in a season. Peyton Manning had 55 in 2013, breaking Tom Brady’s mark of 50 set in 2007. Manning also threw 49 TDs in 2004, Dan Marino had 48 in 1984 and Drew Brees tossed 46 in 2011.
RUNNING RAVENS: Led by quarterback Lamar Jackson and rookie running back Gus Edwards, the Ravens have rushed for at least 190 yards in five consecutive games. Baltimore is the first team since the 1976 Steelers to do so five straight games.
MACK ATTACK: Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack joined Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only players in franchise history with multiple games of at least 125 yards rushing yards and two TDs rushing in a season.
JULIO’S WAY: Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons is the fifth player with at least three seasons of at least 1,500 yards receiving. Jerry Rice had four. Marvin Harrison, Antonio Brown and Andre Johnson also did it three times.
DUAL THREAT: Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey needs nine receptions to break Matt Forte’s (102) record for most catches by a running back in a season.
DUAL THREAT II: New York Giants star Saquon Barkley needs seven receptions to break Reggie Bush’s (88) record for most receptions by a rookie back.
TIGHT END TAKEDOWN: Kansas City’s Travis Kelce needs 108 yards receiving to break the single-season record for tight ends held by Rob Gronkowski (1,327).
TIGHT END TAKEDOWN II: Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz is 10 receptions away from breaking the single-season record for tight ends held by Jason Witten (110).
4K CLUB: Brady (3,979) and Rivers (3,951) are close to joining Manning and Brees as the only quarterbacks to throw for 4,000 yards 10 times. Manning did it in 14 seasons. Brees needs 334 yards to reach that number for the 13th time.
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