Every Wednesday, Dan Hanzus combs through the expert findings of the NFL Media Research Department to share nuggets (also known as "nugs") that fascinate, frighten or change him on a fundamental level. This is the Week 15 edition of High-Flying Adventures In The Research Notes.
TOM BRADY OWNS THE STEELERS (AND SLEEP RECOVERY PAJAMAS)
This is a wild collection of data that should keep every Steelers fan from getting too overconfident as we approach The Biggest Game Of The Season. If you're a super optimist, you can point out that this is a superior Pittsburgh defense compared to what we've seen in recent years, which is very true. The unit is ranked sixth in yards allowed entering Week 15, up from 12th last season and 18th in 2015.
But Brady sliced up some very good Steelers defenses earlier this decade as well. It doesn't seem to matter who's in front him -- Tommy gonna tap some Himalayan pink salt on you and eat. Add to that the unfortunate absence of Ryan Shazier and the fact that Pittsburgh couldn't find a way to slow down the Ravens last week, and well, I'm guess I'm saying Tom Brady is a must-start in all fantasy formats. Free advice for you there.
The most likely scenario here is a shootout starring two future Hall of Famers behind center. Fun fact: This game will feature the NFL's top two passing yardage leaders (Brady currently holds a narrow edge on Big Ben). Well, that was just a regular ol' fact, here's the fun part: It will be first meeting between the NFL's two passing leaders this late in a season since Peyton Manning and the Colts faced Kurt Warner and the Rams in Week 16 of the 2001 season. See, that was a fun fact! Hence the title!
YOU WANT THE MVP, RUSSELL WILSON? GO GET IT
The season-ending injury suffered by Carson Wentz was depressing on every level imaginable. It probably ruined the 2017 Eagles and it robbed some intrigue from one of the best MVP races in recent memory. Assuming Wentz will be removed from consideration, the race now seems like it will come down to Brady, Russell Wilson and perhaps Antonio Brown.
In the case of Wilson, Sunday could be make-or-break for his chances. The Seahawks may have to win out to ensure a playoff spot in the top-heavy NFC. If Wilson carries Seattle (as he's done all season) against the Rams, Seattle will be 9-5 with signature wins over two NFC powerhouses in the past three weeks. Another challenge against the equally desperate Cowboys in JerrahWorld awaits in Week 16.
If the Seahawks close strong, I think Wilson wins it. But that's a rather beefy "if" given the challenges ahead.
CAN ANYBODY STOP THE SUPER CHARGERS?
I'll take it a step further: Are the Chargers the most dangerous team in the NFL, period? It's all come together for the Bolts, who, if not for some faulty place-kicking early in the season, would be duking it out with the Pats and the Steelers for the first seed in the AFC. This a team with playmakers on both side of the ball. Best of all, Philip Rivers is playing his best football of the season -- it's basically a script flip of how his 2016 season played out.
If the Chargers get past the Chiefs in Arrowhead, look out. The Bolts should beat up on the Jets and Raiders and surge into the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak. Of course, it's always dangerous to make assumptions about the Chargers, who have been as star-crossed as any franchise during their existence. Let's hope they stay out of their way because the AFC playoffs could use a jolt of electricity. See what I did there?
NO PRESSURE, NICK FOLES -- JUST SAVE CHRISTMAS IN PHILADELPHIA
Nick Foles' 2013 season was one of the bigger WTF developments of 21st century professional football. I honestly forgot it even happened, instead working under the mistaken impression that Foles was a textbook JAG (just another guy) at the game's most important position. But no. For four months in a galaxy not so far away, Nick Foles was a God. Could he be that once more?
Until next week ...