Saturday, December 22, 2012

Madden Curse? What Madden Curse? Calvin Johnson Chasing History vs. Falcons on Saturday Night

Tonight's Monday Night Football game is being played on Saturday night (since Monday is Christmas eve), and it's a huge match-up for two reasons. 1) Atlanta is chasing the No. 1 seed in the NFC postseason. 2) Calvin Johnson Jr. is chasing down Jerry Rice's coveted receiving record.

Sure, a win for the 12-2 Falcons would clinch a first round bye and the No. 1 seed in the postseason. But I'm more intrigued by watching the Detroit Lions' (4-10) wideout Calvin Johnson Jr. possibly break Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record.

With 1,667 yards through 14 games this season, the sixth year pro Johnson is just 15 yards away from setting a career-high of 1,681 yards, which he set last season in his monstrous breakout year that landed him the coveted Madden cover for the 2013 video game.
But more importantly, Johnson Jr. finds himself just 182 yards away from breaking Rice's record of 1,848 yards for the 49ers in 1995. Johnson set career-highs in receptions (96), yards and TDs (16) last season, but has already broken that mark in receptions (106 through 14 games) and is about to break his career-high in yards tonight as well.

Clearly out of the playoff hunt with a 4-10 record out of the NFC North, Johnson's record chase seems to be all that the Lions' have left to fight for this season, so there's no doubt Matt Stafford will be gunning for him. And the Falcons secondary will be paying extra attention––well, obviously a guy of Johnson's talent will be double-teamed whether there's a record in reach or not.

In the midst of all these young quarterbacks that have entered the spotlight this season, it's refreshing to see records such as single-season receiving yards, rushing yards and sacks in reach of being broken all within the same season.
Both San Fran's defensive end Aldon Smith and Houston's J.J. Watt are at 19.5 sacks this season and are just 3.5 shy of breaking Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5 with two games to play. There will be more on that particular record tomorrow morning. For now, enjoy tonight's game!

All-Out Blitz's prediction: Falcons win 35-21, and Calvin Johnson inches closer to Rice's record with 125 yards and a TD.

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