2011 Week 12 Wednesday notebook: Rarity for Thanksgiving teams

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half during their NFL football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Thursday, the NFL serves a tripleheader of football action as Green Bay (10-0) visits Detroit (7-3) at 12:30 pm ET (FOX), Miami (3-7) heads to Dallas (6-4) at 4:15 pm ET (CBS) and San Francisco (9-1) heads to Baltimore (7-3) at 8 pm ET (NFL Network).

NO TURKEYS ON THANKSGIVING: According to the NFL, for the first time since 1998, every team playing on Thanksgiving won its preceding game. Four (Baltimore, Dallas, Green Bay and San Francisco) of the six participants own at least a share of first place in their respective divisions and four (Green Bay 10 games; San Francisco eight; Dallas three; and Miami three) boast winning streaks of three games or more.

The combined winning percentage (.850) of Detroit-Green Bay is the second-best on Thanksgiving since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, behind only the 1995 matchup between 9-2 Dallas and 10-1 Kansas City (.864). The combined .800 winning percentage of San Francisco-Baltimore is tied for fourth on Thanksgiving since 1970 with the 1973 Dallas (7-3) vs. Miami (9-1) contest.

Green Bay will also be the first undefeated team to play on Thanksgiving since the 1962 Packers. Green Bay’s lone loss that season was to the Lions on Thanksgiving Day as the Packers went on to finish 13-1 and won the NFL Championship.

A STREAK WILL END: One of the Harbaugh brothers will end the other brother’s perfect 2011 home or road record, respectively, when they meet on Thanksgiving as Baltimore is unbeaten through its first five home games while San Francisco is 4-0 in away contests.

Since John Harbaugh was named the Ravens’ head coach in 2008, Baltimore has compiled a 24-5 record (.828) at M&T Bank Stadium, the second-highest home winning percentage during that span (New England Patriots, 25-4, .862).

After the 49ers finished 1-7 on the road in 2010, rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh has directed San Francisco to four consecutive road victories. With their Week 9 win at Washington, Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers joined the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals as the only teams since the 16-game regular-season format was adopted in 1978 to win their first four road games one year after finishing 1-7 or worse in away games.

AFC WEEKLY HONORS ANNOUNCED: Rookie Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith (offense), rookie Denver linebacker Von Miller (defense) and New England punt returner-wide receiver Julian Edelman (special teams) were the Week 11 AFC Players of the Week.

Smith had 165 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Ravens’ victory over Cincinnati. He joined Ken Burrow (two in 1971) and Randy Moss (three in 1998) as the only rookies to have multiple games with at least 150 receiving yards and a TD catch since 1970. It was Smith’s second-such game.

Miller had a career-high 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass defense in the Broncos’ victory over the Jets. He joined Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas (9.5 in 1989) and Julius Peppers (11 in 2002) as the only rookies with 9.5 sacks in a team’s first 10 games since sacks became official in 1982. Miller has 9.5 sacks to date.

Edelman had 81 punt return yards, including a 72-yard TD return in the Patriots’ victory over Kansas City. It was the second punt return TD of his career.

NFC WEEKLY HONORS GIVEN OUT: Detroit running back Kevin Smith (offense), Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons (defense) and Carolina kick returner Kealoha Pilares (special teams) were the Week 11 NFC Players of the Week.

Smith rushed for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 61 yards with a TD in the Lions’ victory over Carolina. He set career-highs with 201 scrimmage yards and three TDs and is the fifth player in franchise history to record at least 200 scrimmage yards and three TDs in a game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (three times), Mel Farr, Billy Sims and current teammate Jahvid Best.

Clemons had a career-high three sacks and two forced fumbles in the Seahawks victory over St. Louis. He finished the game with five tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass defense. The sacks and the force came in the fourth quarter.

Pilares returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown vs. Detroit. His TD was the longest in franchise history, besting the 100-yard kickoff-return touchdowns by Rod Smart in 2003 and Michael Bates in 1999.

MARINO’S MARK IN DANGER: Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino holds the NFL’s single-season passing yard mark with 5,084 yards in 1984. But three quarterbacks have a chance to break that record in 2011.

Drew Brees (3,326 yards), Tom Brady (3,266) and Aaron Rodgers (3,168) are all on pace to break Marino’s record after 10 games. The NFL says it is the first time in NFL history that three players have passed for at least 3,125 yards through the first 10 games of a season.

PLAY 60 FEATURED ON THANKSGIVING: The NFL will continue its tradition of encouraging children to be active during special NFL PLAY 60 themed games throughout Thanksgiving weekend. NFL PLAY 60 is a league-wide effort to fight childhood obesity by getting kids active for at least 60 minutes a day.

A special NFL PLAY 60 television spot will debut during each of the three Thanksgiving games. The 90-second ad features Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, players including QB Matthew Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson and DT Ndamukong Suh, a special appearance by Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, as well as other players from teams around the league, joining children to take part in PLAY 60 activities to get healthy and active. The spot also will air during the Sunday and Monday Night Football games on Thanksgiving weekend. In addition, the Lions-Packers Thanksgiving game will include a United Way PLAY 60 PSA featuring Bears players, including DE Israel Idonije.

To preview the Lions PLAY 60 spot, click here.

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