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


Total of fake field goals, fake punts, onside kicks and going for it on fourth down.

* Minnesota, 25 -- Vikings have attempted two fake field goals, more than any other team.

* New Orleans, 24 -- Saints and Rams are tied with a league-high four onside kicks.

* St. Louis, 23 -- Only the Rams and Kansas City have tried a fake punt and fake kick.

* Detroit, Pittsburgh, 21 -- These teams have gone for it on fourth down a combined 42 times.

* Atlanta, Dallas, New England, 20 -- Risks paid off for the Patriots and Cowboys, but not Falcons.






Number of third- or fourth-down runs resulting in a first down or touchdown.

* Larry Johnson, Kansas City, 24 -- He enters final weekend second in rushing to San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson.

* Thomas Jones, Chicago, 21 -- He doesn't have many long runs or touchdowns, but he's a steady performer.

* Vince Young, Tennessee, 19 -- Already, Young has established a rushing record for a rookie quarterback, 523 yards.

* Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia, 16 -- Tied for second in the NFC with eight runs of 20-plus yards.

* Marion Barber, Dallas, 16 -- Julius Jones gets the ball more, but Barber has rushed for 13 touchdowns, most in the NFC.




Cincinnati over Pittsburgh -- The Steelers play well in Cincinnati, but Bengals have more reason to win.

* Dallas over Detroit -- The Lions haven't rushed for 100 yards or more in last seven games.

* New York Jets over Oakland -- A wild-card spot is within reach, and Jets won't stumble here.

* Baltimore over Buffalo -- Bills are out of it; Ravens can guarantee themselves a first-round playoff bye.

* San Diego over Arizona -- Appeal of home-field advantage is too strong for LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers to ease up.

* Last week: 3-2.

* Season: 57-23.



Baltimore is giving up a league-low 12.9 points per game.

* Chicago, 2005, 12.6 points -- Bears couldn't contain Steve Smith in the playoffs and lost to Carolina in a divisional game.

* Pittsburgh, 2004, 15.7 -- New England's defense was the better one in a bitter-cold AFC championship game at Heinz Field.

* New England, 2003, 14.9 -- Patriots surrendered 14 each to Titans and Colts before beating Carolina in the Super Bowl.

* Tampa Bay, 2002, 12.3 -- This Super Bowl-winning defense was compared to the great ones in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Baltimore.

* Chicago, 2001, 12.7 -- Outstanding during the regular season, these Bears were shredded by Philadelphia in a divisional game.



Most yards after contact per rush, minimum 6.25 carries per game.

* Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville, 3.29 yards -- The former UCLA standout is a pinball wizard for the Jaguars.

* Frank Gore, San Francisco, 3.04 -- NFC's leading rusher has upstaged better-known backs from Miami.

* Travis Henry, Tennessee, 2.94 -- Titans workhorse has quietly put together a very respectable season.

* Ladell Betts, Washington, 2.51 -- And to think the Redskins felt they needed T.J. Duckett to fill the bruiser role.

* Laurence Maroney, New England, 2.50 -- Rookie has bounced back from torn rib cartilage and looks ready to roll in playoffs.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World