Six for Sunday: Besides playoffs, intriguing storylines remain

Adrian Peterson is chasing Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. (US Presswire)

Week 16 still has lots of meaningful games on the schedule. Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is on the line for the Falcons and Texans. Four games have double-digit point differentials. Final impressions from certain players could push them over the top or sink them when it comes to MVP awards. Certainly, a few coaches need a win to keep their jobs. Week 16 is just what the NFL wanted this late in the season.

AP after contact

Adrian Peterson is on record pace and the all-time rushing title is within reach with two games to go. Teams are not threatened by the Christian Ponder passing attack and the fact that Percy Harvin isn’t on the field leave even more people to focus on Peterson.

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The most impressive part of Peterson’s season for me is the 898 rushing yards after contact. Houston has the No. 5 rush defense, only allowing 93.2 yards per game. Peterson has eight straight games with more than 100 yards rushing, and I wouldn’t bet against him this week to crack the century mark.

Here’s an interesting note on Peterson when it comes to rushing yardage after contact. He has 4,474 career yards after the first tackler had a shot on him.

Styles make a fight

It’s a favorite expression when describing a boxing match. Well, the 49ers are heading to Seattle for a heavyweight fight.

Both teams are built the same way, run the ball 30 times and ask the QB to pass 25 times. The Seattle defense at home gives up 12 points a game and has six interceptions in the last two games.

Marshawn Lynch has more than 100 yards rushing in his last two games against the 49ers. Seattle is 0-3 against San Francisco since Jim Harbaugh butted heads with Pete Carroll in the NFC West. Seattle has the No. 3 running game in the NFL and Frisco has the No. 3 run defense.

If Seattle can stop the Colin Kaepernick sweep it might win for the seventh time at home.

Sack tracker

The Giants are up and down this year but still hold their own fate for the playoffs. If they win both remaining games they are in the postseason.

Eli Manning takes a lot of heat in the losses and a shutout last week was a shock to me. When you dig down into the Giants' problems, the pass rush surfaces as a big issue. Since 2009 when the Giant pass rush generates one or no sacks in games the team is 5-14. When they produced three or more sacks they are 23-5. The Giants' secondary can’t hold up without a pass rush and the 2012 Giants story is in the hands of the pass rushers.

Baltimore is 12-0 at home against NFC teams, so it will not be easy.

Peyton at home

It took a while, but Peyton Manning got the Broncos' offense up and running like his old Colts offense. At home the numbers are impressive.

At home Peyton throws an interception once in every 113 throws. He gets sacked once in 30 throws. He has thrown 16 touchdown passes and averages 31 points a game.

Not many opposing offenses can come into Denver and match that production and Cleveland looks like another victim.

Rookie of the Year on the line?

People go round and round about the rookie of the year this season with Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson all in the conversation. All three are driving their teams toward the playoffs and these weeks’ games are critical.

It is a must for all three to win this week and keep the race going for the top rookie. Wilson looks like he’s in third place, but he has the toughest game this week and a win would go a long way to making him a top candidate.

Quick thoughts

There are already 62 interception returns for touchdowns this year, the most in NFL history. There are 45.7 points per game through 15 weeks, the most since the merger.

Aaron Rodgers is awesome in the red zone with 18 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Rookie quarterbacks have 92 touchdown passes, and eight different rookie quarterbacks have won a game this year (the most in history).

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