Look out for the Chargers

Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown congratulated Chargers future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson after he passed Brown on the NFL's career rushing list in Cleveland on Sunday. Brown also reportedly told LT, "This might be the year" the Chargers win it all. It's not a far-fetched thought. San Diego has won seven consecutive games and is 10-0 in December under coach Norv Turner the past three years. Quarterback Philip Rivers never has had a hotter stretch than the past four games. In victories over the Eagles, Broncos, Chiefs and Browns, Rivers completed at least 72 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 109 or better. The only red flag for San Diego is a 3.3-yard rushing average that ranks last in the league.

Are the Cardinals better than last year?

Yes. A year ago, Arizona left Week 13 with a 7-5 record following a 48-20 loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving night. This year, they improved to 8-4 with an impressive 30-17 prime-time victory over the Vikings. A year ago, the Cardinals couldn't run the ball and had surrendered 313 points through 12 games for a 26.1 average per game. That, of course, included Brett Favre's six touchdowns in the Jets' 56-35 victory over the Cardinals. This year, the Cardinals have a better running game and have given up only 234 points (19.5). They're on pace to allow 312 points, or one fewer than they gave up in 12 games during last year's Super Bowl season.

Ho-hum. Another 12-0 start in Indy

Only seven teams in NFL history have started 12-0. The Colts have done it twice in five seasons, adding this year's 12-0 mark to their 13-0 start in 2005. The Colts are tied with the 2006-08 Patriots for the longest regular-season winning streak in NFL history (21). They can break the record at home against Denver on Sunday. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who still remembers his 3-13 rookie season in 1998, said, "You try to tell these guys, 'Hey, this is not normal. It's not normal to win 10, 11, 12 games every year.' But these guys who have been here for five years kind of look at me and say, 'It is normal for us.'" The Colts traditionally rest starters once they clinch the No. 1 seed. They can clinch this week if they win and the Chargers and Bengals lose. Indy might want to reconsider resting starters if they improve to 13-0. The 2005 team that started 13-0 lost their playoff opener at home to the No. 6 seed Steelers.

Another December meltdown in Big D?

The pressure to win in December seems to be crushing the Cowboys. Sunday's loss to the Giants dropped them to 18-32 in games played in December and January since 1996. "We have to forget all of this December stuff," tight end Jason Witten said. Good luck with that.

MARK CRAIG