The 26 NFL teams still mathematically breathing in the chase for 12 playoff tickets are the most entering Week 15 since 2004. Realisticallty, though, that includes 17 teams with an actual reasonable shot (including the Dolphins) and nine that are as likely to make the postseason as a department-store mannequin is to win the Boston Marathon.
But enough about teams making the playoffs. I’m as interested in the sports underbelly of teams that consistently don’t — led by the dubious grand marshal of failure, the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are one of those mannequins. Not yet eliminated, officially, but with a 0.6 percent chance, according to computer models. So we feel comfortable that Buffalo will reach 17 seasons since its last playoff appearance
The 10 longest active droughts in the four major sports, based on most recent playoff season:
▪ 1999 — Buffalo Bills.
▪ 2001 — Seattle Mariners.
▪ 2002 — Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, although Oakland’s drought finally is ending this season.
▪ 2003 — Miami Marlins.
▪ 2004 — Minnesota Timberwolves and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.
▪ 2006 — Edmonton Oilers, Sacramento Kings and San Diego Padres.
If you wondered, the Dolphins’ drought dating to 2008 — which might or might not be ending — is tied for the 13th-longest in the big-four sports and tied for seventh-longest in the NFL.
THIS AND THAT
▪ The NFL continues to try and fail to make its Pro Bowl more interesting. The latest: including a “skills showdown” that will feature dodgeball. Need I say more?
▪ King Sport also continues its London obsession with four more games next season, including Dolphins-Saints. That might be the best matchup. Others are Ravens-Jaguars, Vikings-Browns and Cardinals-Rams. Apologizes in advance, Brits, for sending Cleveland.
▪ Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell last week became second player ever with at least 225 yards rushing, three TDs and 50 yards receiving in a game. The other: Jim Brown, in 1961.
▪ Dolphins this season became second team ever to score game-winning points in fourth quarter on five different types of plays (run, interception return, kickoff return, pass and field goal). Only the 2008 Colts also did that.
▪ Super combos: Aaron Rodgers’ 57th TD pass to Jordy Nelson tied the Packers’ franchise mark set by Brett Favre-to-Antonio Freeman, and Ben Roethlisberger’s 49th to Antonio Brown tied the Steelers’ record set by Terry Bradshaw-to-Lynn Swann.
▪ Falcons' Matt Ryan surpassed 4,000 yards for a sixth straight season, tying Peyton Manning for second-longest streak after Drew Brees, who this year did it for 11th straight season.
▪ Tom Brady’s 28,464 passing yards at Gillette Stadium are most by any QB in one stadium. Last week, he broke the old mark of 28,240 by Favre at Lambeau Field.
▪ Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry (273) and Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. (266) already have most catches in first three seasons, both with three games left. Previous high was 260 by A.J. Green.
▪ Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson scored his 22nd career touchdown of at least 60 yards. Only Jerry Rice (23) had more.