Welcome to Monday Night Football. A game for the ages tonight, as The Houston Texans (11-1) and New England Patriots (9-3) face off for AFC pride and positioning. How rare is it for teams to sport such gaudy records this late in the year on Monday Night?
Here is a list of the ten Monday Night Games with the highest combined winning percentage in December:
San Francisco dominates the list. This game would tie for the 2nd highest combined winning percentage of any December Monday Night Game in history, behind only the 49ers and Giants clash in 1990. It matches a 1987 meeting between the 49ers and the Bears, and the famous 1985 game where the Dolphins ended the Bears’ perfect season. So many fond memories of those games, as I convinced my dad to let me stay up and watch the Dolphins-Bears game, and also remember the 49ers’ offensive fireworks in the 1989 match against the Rams.
Home teams dominate the list, as 8 of the 10 home teams won. Several of these games led to playoff rematches among the conference games. The Giants avenged the loss to the 49ers in 1990, the Jets reversed the blowout by the Patriots in stunning New England in the divisional round, Denver routed Miami at home in the playoffs after losing on Monday night, and the 49ers beat the Rams again in the Championship Game.
Take heart, loser of this game, it does not determine your fate in the postseason.
Houston can all but clinch the #1 seed with a road win tonight (though still not clinching the division). They would then have a magic number of 1, needing a win, or a loss by Indianapolis and Denver. A New England win throws it wide open with three weeks to go, pulling both New England and Denver within a game, and giving the Patriots the edge (head to head wins over both Houston and Denver).
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]