Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:
Ryan's on fire: The Falcons appear to be getting hot at the right time. In the past six quarters, against the Panthers and Jaguars, Atlanta has outscored opponents 65-14. Quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in those two games. Ryan also is playing for a spot in the record books. He is 42-18 in his career. Joe Flacco, who also entered the league in the 2008 draft, is 42-20. Each already has won more starts in his first four seasons than any quarterback since the Super Bowl era started in1966.
Monday Night Fever: The New Orleans Saints have all sorts of streaks going. They’ve clinched a playoff berth for the third straight season. They’ve won at least 11 games in each of the past three seasons. They’re on a six-game winning streak. That ties them with the Patriots for the longest active winning streak in the NFL. Finally, the Saints have the NFL’s longest active winning streak in “Monday Night Football’’ games. They’ve won six straight and haven’t lost since a 2008 game against Minnesota.
The “other’’ record: Understandably, most of the talk surrounding the Saints has to do with Drew Brees’ pursuit of Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season. But another member of the Saints is chasing history. That’s second-year tight end Jimmy Graham. He’s on pace for 99 catches and 1,338 receiving yards. The NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end is 1,290, set by San Diego’s Kellen Winslow in 1980. Graham also has had at least five catches in six straight games.
Making history: Even in a season that hasn’t been filled with wins, the Carolina Panthers have a chance to make some very positive history. Running back Jonathan Stewart needs to gain just 6 rushing yards to reach 600 for the season. Fellow running back DeAngelo Williams already has 717 yards and quarterback Cam Newton has 609 yards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last two teams to have three 600-yard rushers in a season were the 2006 Falcons (Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood) and the 1978 Patriots (Sam Cunningham, Horace Ivory and Andy Johnson).
Losing at historic rate: Some unflattering notes on Tampa Bay’s eight-game losing streak. It’s the longest active streak in the NFL and the first time the Bucs have lost eight straight in a season since 1987. If the Bucs lose to the Panthers and make it nine straight, it will set off some more statistical bells. The Bucs haven’t lost nine straight in a single season since starting 0-9 in 1985.