It’s the second season. It’s a second chance for teams are in the post-season party to improve their lot, while knocking off a foe in the process.

It’s easy.

Win.

Advance.

Lose.

Your next game is in 2016.

While 12 teams are fighting to either keep the Lombardi Trophy or win their own, 20 other teams will be at home, sitting and watching and wondering what they could have done to be in the post-season party. This time, it’s not about them.

It’s about you.

Sounds somewhat narcissistic, we know. But that’s football. As Herm Edwards once said, “you play to win the game.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Think of it as a pep talk. It’s what you’ve worked for since OTA’s started, then the draft, then a summer where you had coaches yell and cuss at you, sleeping in college dorms and fighting with the heat and that rookie or free agent that’s looking for your job.

For teams like New England, Pittsburgh, Denver, Green Bay and Seattle, it’s “been there, done that, got the t-shirts.” For teams like Carolina, it’s their second chance in as many years to be in the post-season and want to prove that they didn’t do it with smoke and mirrors.

All that work, sweat, heat, fighting bugs, fighting teammates, having coaches yell at you in such a manner Marine Gunnery Seargents would have a smile on their faces. It’s all worth it. You’ve played 16 games, had a bye week and now it’s go time.

UNPREDICTABLE NFL: Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Four teams – Houston (9-7, AFC South champions), Kansas City (11-5, Wild Card), Minnesota (11-5, NFC North champions) and Washington (9-7, NFC East champions) – accomplished the feat this season.

The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)

Many close games and great comeback victories… new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions… consistent teams excelling once again… records falling… young players making their mark… and so much more! In case you were wondering… The average margin of victory in NFL games this year was 11.06 points, the lowest in 19 seasons.

The 2015 season really did have it all, including a fantastic finish.

Week 17 came right down to the wire as 11 of the 16 games scheduled for the final day of the regular season had playoff implications for at least one of the teams involved. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.

The 2015 season featured a trend of many exciting games with close finishes, as nearly 55 percent were decided by one score – 140 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.

Each of the 12 teams still in Super Bowl 50 contention can look back at the wild ride that was the 2015 regular season and appreciate how challenging the road to the playoffs was.

Carolina (15-1) secured the No. 1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs and became just the seventh team in NFL history to win 15 games in a season.

“I’m an optimist but even 15-1 is a lot,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera about advancing to the postseason after the team posted the league’s top regular-season record. “This is very satisfying but we still have a lot of work to do. I am proud of what this football team is becoming.”

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Four teams that missed the postseason in 2014 – Kansas City (11-5), Minnesota (10-5), Houston (9-7) and Washington (9-7) – accomplished the feat this year.

“I feel very proud to be associated with this team,” says Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, whose team clinched the AFC South division title with a win over Jacksonville in Week 17. “Now the second season starts and that’s exciting. It is also really exciting that we didn’t back in to the playoffs. We won our way in and that is pretty cool,” he told the Houston Chronicle, KPRC-TV and KHOU-TV.

The Chiefs won 10 consecutive games to finish the regular season and are the only team in NFL history with a 10-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak in the same season. Kansas City finished with an 11-5 record, the best in NFL history by a team that suffered five consecutive losses during a season.

“I love every one of these wins, our team loves every one of them and we cherish every one of the wins,” says Chiefs head coach Andy Reid about the team’s winning streak heading into the postseason. “Any time you can win in the National Football League, it is a major accomplishment. I’m just talking about one game, let alone all of them in the streak we had.”

Green Bay (10-6 in 2015) earned the 750th total victory in franchise history this season. The Packers are 751-567-37 and joined the Chicago Bears as the only teams in NFL history to reach 750 total wins. The Redskins (9-7 in 2015; 601-583-27 all-time) reached 600 total victories.

The 2015 season also proved that consistency is difficult but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL. New England won their seventh consecutive AFC East division title (2009-present), which ties the 1973-79 Rams for the most consecutive division championships in NFL history. The Patriots, who finished with a 12-4 record, became the second team in NFL history with at least 12 wins in six consecutive seasons.

The NFL is never short on surprises and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2015:

COMPELLING COMPETITION
•Games continued to be this close, as more than half of all games were decided by one score.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE SCORE
POINTS – GAMES (PCT.)
8 or Fewer – 140 of 256 (54.7%)
7 or Fewer – 131 of 256 (51.2%)
3 or Fewer –  59 of 256 (23.0%)
•This season, 140 of 256 (54.7 percent) were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY EIGHT OR FEWER POINTS
2015 – 140
2002 – 137
2003 – 132
2011 – 132
2010 – 131
2012 – 131
2013 – 131

•In 2015, 131 of 256 games (51.2 percent) were decided by seven or fewer points, also the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN OR FEWER POINTS
2015 – 131
2002 – 126
2011 – 125
2003 – 124
2013 – 123

•Sixty-eight percent of games (174 of 256) were within one score in the fourth quarter. The 174 games are tied for the third-most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN FOURTH QUARTER
2002 – 177
2004 – 175
2015 – 174
2013 – 174
2007 – 173

•Twenty-one games were decided in overtime this season, tied for the fourth-most in a season since overtime was instituted in 1974.

The most overtime games in a season since 1974:

SEASON – MOST OVERTIME GAMES IN A SEASON
2002 – 25
2003 – 23
2012 – 22
2015 – 21
1995 – 21

•Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as comebacks were a frequent theme.

In 2015, there were 67 comeback victories in which a team was trailing at some point in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most in a single season in NFL history.

The most wins after trailing at some point in the fourth quarter:
SEASON – MOST WINS WHEN TRAILING IN FOURTH QUARTER
1989 – 70
2013 – 69
2015 – 67
2008 – 67
2001 – 67

•Washington (9-7) clinched the NFC East division title, which marked the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their division since 2003:
SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3, 8-8)*
2004 – Atlanta (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orlenas (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

•Since realignment in 2002, Carolina (15-1) is the first NFC South team to win the division title in three consecutive seasons.

SCORING
•A total of 11,680 points were scored during the 2015 season, the second-highest total all-time (11,985 points in 2013). Games averaged 45.6 points per game, the second-highest average since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger (46.8 points per game in 2013). In all, 1,318 total touchdowns were scored, also the second-most all-time (1,338 in 2013).

•Nine teams scored at least 400 points this season – Carolina (500), Arizona (489), New England (465), Pittsburgh (423), Seattle (423), the New York Giants (420), Cincinnati (419), New Orleans (408) and Kansas City (405) – tying the 2008, 2012 and 2014 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .667 winning percentage, and seven qualified for the playoffs.

PASSING

•NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2015.

The league-wide completion percentage (63.0), league-wide passer rating (90.2) and league-wide touchdown pass totals (842) were at historic levels, topping the previous records set in 2014 (62.6 completion percentage; 88.9 passer rating; 807 TD passes).

The league-wide interception percentage of 2.38 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.52 in 2014.

•Games averaged 705.3 total net yards per game, the best mark in NFL annals (697.0 in 2013). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 487.7 net passing yards per game, an all-time high (473.6 in 2014).

The league-wide yards per attempt average of 7.25 was the highest in the Super Bowl era, topping the previous record of 7.21 yards per attempt in 2014.

•There were 59 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2015, the most of any season in NFL history (58 in 2014).

•There were 11 individual games with five or more TD passes this season, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history (2004).

•An NFL-record 11 quarterbacks had 30+ touchdown passes – Tom Brady (36), Blake Bortles (35), Eli Manning (35), Cam Newton (35), Carson Palmer (35), Russell Wilson (34), Drew Brees (32), Derek Carr (32), Matthew Stafford (32), Ryan Fitzpatrick (31) and Aaron Rodgers (31) – surpassing the previous high of nine in 2014.

•Denver quarterback Peyton Manning (71,940) surpassed Brett Farve (71,838) for the most career passing yards in NFL history.​Manning also registered his 186th career regular-season win as a starting quarterback, tied with Favre for the most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

•Drew Brees and Tom Brady both climbed higher on the all-time list for career passing yards and touchdowns. Brees ranks fourth in passing yards (60,903) while Brady is fifth (58,028). Brady and Brees each have 428 touchdown passes, tied for the third-most in NFL history.

Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in eight consecutive seasons, extending his NFL-record streak.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady led the league with 36 touchdown passes, joining Peyton Manning (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four different seasons.

•New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees finished the season with 4,870 passing yards, his NFL-record sixth consecutive season with at least 4,500 yards. Brees has seven career 4,500-yard passing seasons, the most in NFL history.

Brees’ 4,870 passing yards were the most in the NFL this season and he is the first player to lead the league in passing yards six times. Pro Football Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Dan Marino each accomplished the feat five times.

Brees had two 400-yard passing games in 2015. In 15 seasons, Brees has 13 career 400-yard passing games, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the second-most such games in NFL history and one shy of the NFL record held by Peyton Manning (14).

Brees had 10 300-yard passing games in 2015. Brees’ 96 career 300-yard passing games are the most in NFL history.

•Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had 21 touchdown passes and has now thrown 10 or more touchdown passes in each of his first 12 seasons, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the third-longest streak to start a career in NFL history.

•Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who is 23 years old, had a single-season franchise record 35 touchdown passes and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in a season at age 23 or younger.

•Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck became the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win four consecutive starts after turning 40 years old.

​RUSHING & RECEIVING

•Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2015:

Six players registered at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015 – Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman (11), Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill (11), Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (11), Pittsburgh’s De Angelo Williams (11), St. Louis’ Todd Gurley (10) and Carolina’s Cam Newton (10).

Seven players registered at least 1,000 rushing yards this season – Peterson (1,485), Doug Martin (1,402) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gurley (1,106), Darren McFadden (1,089) of the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Ivory (1,070) of the New York Jets, Latavius Murray (1,066) of the Oakland Raiders and Freeman (1,061).

•Minnesota’s Adran Peterson finished the season with an NFL-best 1,485 rushing yards and tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns. Peterson is just the third player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing yards after his 30th birthday.

With 11 rushing touchdowns in 2015, Peterson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (eight) and La Dainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least eight different seasons.

•St. Louis running back Todd Gurley led all rookies with 1,106 rushing yards. Gurley had five games with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most ever by a rookie.

•Seven players registered at least 100 receptions in 2015 – Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (136), Atlanta’s Julio Jones (136), Houston’s De Andre Hopkins (111), Miami’s Jarvis Landry (110), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (109), the New York Jets’ Brandon Marshall (109) and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (105) – the second-most in a season (nine in 1995).

Four players recorded at least 1,500 receiving yards in 2015 – Jones (1,871), Brown (1,834), Hopkins (1,521) and Marshall (1,502) – tied for the most in a season (1995 and 2014).

•Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown and Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones tied for the NFL lead with 136 receptions, the second-most in a single season in NFL history (Marvin Harrison, 143 in 2002). Brown, who led the league with 129 catches in 2014, has 265 total receptions over the past two seasons, surpassing Harrison (252 in 2001-02) for the most catches in any two-season span in NFL history.

Brown (136 catches for 1,834 yards) and Jones (136 catches for 1,871 yards) are the first players in NFL history to have at least 125 catches and 1,800 yards in a season. Brown had four 185-yard receiving games in 2015, the most in a single season in NFL history.

Jones’ 1,871 receiving yards are the second-most in a single season (Calvin Johnson, 1,964 in 2012).

•Three players reached the 1,000-catch mark this season – Dallas’ Jason Witten (1,020), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (1,018) and San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin (1,009) – marking the first time in NFL history three players recorded their 1,000th career reception in the same season.

•Anquan Boldin of the 49ers had 69 receptions this season, the 13th consecutive season he has caught 50+ passes since entering the league in 2003. Boldin’s streak is the most consecutive seasons with 50+ receptions to begin a career.
Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD (109 receptions) had more than 50 catches for the 12th consecutive season, the second-longest such streak to begin a career.

•New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. had 96 receptions for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2015. Beckham, who had 1,305 receiving yards as a rookie last season, has 2,755 career receiving yards, surpassing RANDY MOSS for the most receiving yards through a player’s first two seasons NFL history.

•New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall had a franchise-record 109 catches this season and is the first player in NFL history with six 100-catch seasons.

Marshall and Jets teammate Eric Decker each had a touchdown catch in nine games in 2015, the most such games by teammates in the same season in NFL history.

•Houston wide receiver De Andre Hopkins had a career-high 1,521 receiving yards this season. In three seasons, Hopkins has amassed 3,533 receiving yards, joining Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to record 3,500 receiving yards before the age of 24.

•Jacksonville wide receiver Allen Robinson (22 years, 132 days), who had 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and a franchise record 14 touchdown catches, became the youngest player in NFL history to register at least 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in a single season.

•Detroit’s Golden Tate (90 receptions), Calvin Johnson (88) and Theo Riddick (80) became just the fifth trio on the same team to each record at least 80 catches in a season.

•Dallas tight end Jason Witten brought his career receiving yard total to 11,215. Witten is the second tight end in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards (Tony Gonzalez, 15,127).

•Antonio Gates (104) of the San Diego Chargers joined Tony Gonzalez (111) as the only tight ends with 100 career touchdown receptions.

VERSATILE PERFORMANCES
•Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had seven games with both a touchdown pass and a rushing score. Newton has 31 career performances with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in the same game, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young for the most in NFL history. Newton reached the mark in his 78th career game while Young played 169 games in his NFL career.

Newton finished the season with 35 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history with at least 30 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

•Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for a franchise-record 4,024 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2015. He also added 553 rushing yards and is the first player in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes and 500 rushing yards in a single season.

•Seattle rookie wide receiver-return specialist Tyler Lockett had six touchdown receptions, a kickoff-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown in 2015, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five touchdown receptions, a kickoff-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown in a season.

•Philadelphia’s Darren Sproles had a punt-return touchdown (89 yards) and a rushing touchdown (one yard) in Week 3, which marked the second time in his career in which he had both a punt-return touchdown and a touchdown run in the same game (November 10, 2014). Sproles became the fourth player in NFL history to record multiple games with both a punt-return touchdown and a rushing touchdown, joining Ockie Ander, Curly Oden and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.

Sproles is also the only player in NFL history with at least 25 receiving touchdowns (28), 20 rushing touchdowns (20) and five punt-return touchdowns (seven).

•Adam Vinatieri (2,253) of the Colts surpassed Jason Hanson (2,150) for third place on the all-time scoring list. With 107 points this season, Vinatieri became the only player in NFL history to score 100+ points in 18 different seasons.

Vinatieri (503) also joined Morten Andersen (565) and Gary Anderson (538) as the only players with 500 career made field goals.

•New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL in scoring for the fifth time in his career with 151 points, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Huston (five) and Gino Cappaelletti (five) as the only players to lead the league in points scored at least five times.

•Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who converted four 50+ yard field goals in 2015, tied Jason Hanson (52) for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

DEFENSE
•With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. Four of the top five NFL teams in total defense qualified for the playoffs – Denver (283.1), Seattle (291.8), Houston (310.2) and Arizona (321.7). Those four clubs had a combined winning percentage of .688.

•The top four teams in turnover margin all advanced to the postseason and won at least 10 games each – Carolina (+20), Kansas City (+14), Cincinnati (+11) and Arizona (+9). Those four clubs had a combined .797 winning percentage.

•Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, who led the league with 17.5 sacks in 2015, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only players with at least 15 sacks in three of their first five NFL seasons since the statistic became official in 1982.

•Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus recorded 3.5 sacks in two different games in 2015 and joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Strahan (2001), Reggie White (1986) and Chris Doleman (1998) and Karl Mecklenburg (1985) as the only players to accomplish the feat since the statistic became official in 1982.

•The Houston Texans (J.J. Watt, 17.5; Whitney Mercilus, 12) and Cincinnati Bengals (Carlos Dunlap, 13.5; Geno Atkins, 11) were the only teams with two players who each had double-digit sacks.

•Oakland safety Charles Woodson had five interceptions and tied Ken Riley (65) for fifth on the all-time interceptions list.

HIGH SCORES: NFL teams combined to score 11,680 points (45.6 points per game) this season, surpassing 2012 (11,651) for the second-most points scored in a single season in NFL history (11,985 in 2013).

The most combined points scored in a single season in NFL history:
SEASON – MOST COMBINED POINTS SCORED
2013 – 11,985
2015 – 11,680
2012 – 11,651
2014 – 11,565
2011 – 11,356

30 CLUB: Eleven different quarterbacks have passed for 30 or more touchdowns in 2015, the most in a single season in NFL history. The previous high was nine in 2014.

The quarterbacks to throw at least 30 touchdown passes this season:
PLAYER, TEAM (TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Tom Brady, New England (36)
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville (35)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (35)
Cam Newton, Carolina (35)
Carson Palmer, Arizona (35)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (34)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (32)
Derek Carr, Oakland (32)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (32)
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (31)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (31)

FANTASTIC RECEIVERS: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had nine receptions for 149 yards against New Orleans.

Jones, who had the most receiving yards in the NFL this season with 1,871, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,848 yards in 1995) for the second-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown finished the season with 1,834 yards, the fourth-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in a season in NFL history:
PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR; RECEIVING YARDS)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (2012; 1,964)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2015; 1,871)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1995; 1,848)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2015; 1,834)
Isaac Bruce, St. Louis (1995; 1,781)

KICKING THE RECORD BOOKS:  New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL in scoring for the fifth time in his career with 151 points, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five) as the only players to lead the league in points scored at least five times.

FROM WILD CARD TO SUPER BOWL: Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times. At least one Super Bowl participant in seven of the past 10 years played a Wild Card game.

The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:
SEASON – TEAM (SUPER BOWL RESULT)
1980 – Oakland (Defeated Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV, 27-10)
1997 – Denver (Defeated Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII, 31-24)
2000 – Baltimore (Defeated New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7)
2005 – Pittsburgh (Defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XL, 21-10)
2006 – Indianapolis (Defeated Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17)
2007 – New York Giants (Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14)
2010 – Green Bay (Defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25)
2011 – New York Giants (Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17)
2012 – Baltimore (Defeated San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31)

​WINNING PARTICIPANTS: Pittsburgh and Green Bay will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend. Pittsburgh will travel to Cincinnati this Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on CBS, while Green Bay travels to Washington on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on FOX.

The Steelers (33) and Packers (31) rank second and third, respectively, behind Dallas (34) for the most postseason wins in NFL history. The two teams have combined to win 10 Super Bowls (Pittsburgh six, Green Bay four).

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:
TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, PCT.; SUPER BOWL WINS)
Dallas Cowboys (34-25 .567; 5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (33-22, 600; 6)*
Green Bay Packers (31-20, .608; 4)*
San Francisco 49ers (30-20, .600; 5)
New England Patriots (28-18, .609; 4)**
Oakland Raiders (25-18, .581; 3)
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

The clubs’ postseason winning percentages also rank third (Green Bay, .608) and tied for fourth (Pittsburgh, .600) in NFL history.

The teams with the highest postseason winning percentage in NFL history:

TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, PCT.; SUPER BOWL WINS)
Baltimore Ravens (15-8, .652; 2)
New England Patriots (28-18, .609; 4)**
Green Bay Packers (31-20, .600; 4)*
Pittsburgh Steelers (33-22, .600; 6)*
San Francisco 49ers (30-20, 600; 5)
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

STREAKING SMITH: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has made three career postseason starts, completing 66 of 114 passes (57.9 percent) for 873 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions for a 108.6 passer rating.

With two more pass attempts without an interception to begin Saturday’s game at Houston, Smith would surpass Jeff Hostetler (115) for the longest streak of consecutive pass attempts without an INT to start a career in postseason history.

The most consecutive pass attempts without an interception to start a career in postseason history:
POSTSEASON TO START A CAREER
PLAYER, YEAR(S) (CONSECUTIVE PASS ATTEMPTS WITHOUT INT)
Jeff Hostetler, 1991-94 (115)
Alex Smith, 2012-present (114)*
Roger Staubach, 1969-73 (103)
Peyton Manning, 2000-03 (101)
*Active streak

Smith’s nine postseason touchdowns without an interception are already the most consecutive TD passes without an INT in postseason history to start a career.

The most consecutive touchdown passes without an interception to start a career in postseason history:

POSTSEASON TO START A CAREER
PLAYER, YEAR(S) (CONSECUTIVE TD PASSES WITHOUT INT)
Alex Smith, 2012-present (9)*
Roger Staubach, 1969-73 (7)
Tony Eason, 1985-87 (7)
Jeff Hostetler, 1991-94 (7)
*Active streak

RODGER THAT: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for at least 300 yards in four postseason games in his career.

With 300 passing yards Sunday at Washington, Rodgers would join Peyton Manning (nine), Tom Brady (eight), Drew Brees (six), KURT WARNER (six) and Pro Football Hall of Famers Joe Montana (six) and Dan Fouts (five) as the only quarterbacks to have at least five 300-yard passing games in NFL postseason history.

The quarterbacks the most 300-yard passing performances in NFL postseason history:
PLAYER, MOST 300-YARD PASSING GAMES IN POSTSEASON
Peyton Manning, 9*
Tom Brady, 8*
Drew Brees, 6
Joe Montana, 6^
Kurt Warner, 6
Dan Fouts, 5^
Aaron Rodgers, 4*
*Active in 2015 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FIRST-TIMER: Three quarterbacks – Houston’s Brian Hoyer, Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater and Washington’s Kirk Cousins – will make their first-career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend.

Cincinnati’s A.J. McCarron and Denver’s Brock Osweiler also contributed to their team’s success this season and could make their playoff debut.

The players with the most passing yards in their first career postseason start:
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – ROUND, PASSING YARDS)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (2002 – Wild Card, 429)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2009 – Wild Card, 423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1988 – Divisional, 407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999 – Divisional, 391)
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982 – Wild Card, 385)

MARCHING MARSHAWN: Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 100 yards in six postseason games, including his last two playoff games.

​With at least 100 yards on Sunday at Minnesota, Lynch would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (seven) and Terrell Davis (seven) as the only players in postseason history with seven 100-yard rushing games.

The players with the most 100-yard rushing games in the postseason:
PLAYER, TEAM (MOST POSTSEASON GAMES WITH 100+ RUSHING YARDS)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (7)^
Terrell Davis, Denver (7)
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle (6)*
John Riggins, Washington (6)^
Thurman Thomas, Buffalo (6)^
*Active in 2015 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HIGH WATTAGE: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt led the league with 17.5 sacks this season and has five sacks in four career postseason games.

With two sacks against Kansas City on Saturday, Watt would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Richard Dent (nine) and La Marr Woodley (nine) as the only players to have seven or more sacks in their first five postseason appearances since the statistic became official in 1982.

The players with the most sacks in their first five postseason games (since 1982):
PLAYER (MOST SACKS IN FIRST FIVE POSTSEASON GAMES)
Richard Dent (9.0)^
LaMarr Woodley (9.0)
Tim Harris (6.5)
Kevin Greene (6.0)
Michael McCrary (6.0)
J.J. Watt (5.0)*
*Through four playoff games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Once again, the mission is simple.

Win.

Advance.

Lose.

Kick off is in September 2016.

Here’s a look at the playoff schedule, including Super Bowl 50 (or Super Bowl L for you Roman numeral junkies)…

NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND

Saturday, January 9
AFC: Kansas City at Houston, 4:35 p.m. on ESPN, with simulcast on ABC
AFC: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 8:15 p.m. on CBS

Sunday, January 10
NFC: Seattle at Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. on NBC
NFC: Green Bay at Washington, 4:40 p.m. on FOX

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, J​anuary 16
AFC: Cincinnati, Houston or Kansas City at New England, 4:35 p.m. on CBS
NFC: Minnesota, Washington or Green Bay at Arizona, 8:15 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, January 17
NFC: Washington, Green Bay or Seattle at Carolina, 1:05 p.m. on FOX
AFC: Houston, Kansas City or Pittsburgh at Denver, 4:40 p.m. on CBS

In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest seeded Wild Card survivor. Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football Conference
1.Denver (12-4, AFC West champion)
2.New England (12-4, AFC East champion)
3.Cincinnati (12-4, AFC North champion)
4.Houston (9-7, AFC South champion)
5.Kansas City (11-5)
6.Pittsburgh (10-6)

National Football Conference
1.Carolina (15-1, NFC South champion)
2.Arizona (13-3, NFC West champion)
3.Minnesota (11-5, NFC North champion)
4.Washington (9-7, NFC East champion)
5.Green Bay (10-6)
6.Seattle (10-6)

The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 24 at 3:05 p.m. on CBS and 6:40 p.m. on FOX.

The 2016 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 31 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN and Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on CBS at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

The playoffs are football’s answer to “musical chairs.” As long as the music is playing and there are chairs, all is right with the world. It’s when the music stops is when the chaos begins and they don’t give Lombardis to the second play winners.

After an exciting finish to the regular season, the NFL’s second season has arrived.

“We’re in the dance and we’ve got to win,” says Cincinnati defensive end Wallace Gilberry. “It’s a new season and a new year. If we stay undefeated, it means we’ve done something special. We’ll take it one day at a time, one game at a time and just get it done.”

Week 17 came right down to the wire as 11 of the 16 games played on the final day of the regular season had playoff implications. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. And three divisions were decided on the last day of the regular season, including the NFC North in game No. 256 of 256 as Minnesota defeated Green Bay.

“We are excited,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Mike Tomlin told KDKA-TV. “It’s been a tough 16-game fight for us but we are where we want to be. We are where we need to be. We have an opportunity like the others in the field and for that, we’re grateful.”

The final 12 teams are now set. It doesn’t matter how you got here. All that matters is that you’re here.

“We’ve enjoyed the journey and the journey’s not over yet,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, KIRO-TV and KING-TV. “We want to be able to tell our story and hopefully we’ll be able to tell it in the right way.”

The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 7 with Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on CBS at 6:30 p.m. begin this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

“I’m proud of this football team,” Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, KCCO-TV and KARE-TV. “We started out two years ago trying to build something special. It’s not a surprise we are where we are at. These players have earned this opportunity and now we have to go out there and take it.”

The Vikings are one of four new teams in this year’s playoff field, joining Houston, Kansas City and Washington. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before.

12 teams start a journey that will end with one team hoisting a Lombardi Trophy. The other 11 will fight for bragging rights. The journey begins in earnest on Saturday with two Wild Card games and two more on Sunday. As for last week, we were 10-6 (not bad), which means for the season, 156-86. Here are Saturday and Sunday’s picks.

Kansas City (11-5) at Houston (9-7) 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN and ABC. Wild Card weekend opens in the Lone Star State at Kansas City travels to Houston to face the Texans.

The Chiefs enter the postseason riding a 10-game winning streak. Kansas City is the first team in NFL history to win 11 games in a season in which it had a five-game losing streak. “It’s playoff time and there is no tomorrow,” says Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who has nine touchdown passes and no interceptions in three career postseason games. “The mindset in the playoffs is to execute the offense and score points.” Kansas City enters the post-season party with a 23-17 win over AFC West rival Oakland last Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City led 14-10 at the half and then held off a late Raider rally in the final 30 minutes of action when Michael Crabtree and David Carr connected on a 31-yard TD pass with 2:01 left to play in regulation. The Chiefs outrushed Oakland 189-48, while sacking Carr six times. Smtih threw for 156 yards and a pair of TDs i the win that allowed them to sweep the season series with their AFC West rivals, even though he threw a pair of interceptions to go with the two TD passes in the contest. Kansas City went 6 of 13 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down conversions), keeping the ball for 34:55, while the Silver and Black were 3 of 14, 1 of 1 on third and fourh downs, keeping the ball for 25:05.

Houston won the AFC South for the third time in franchise history (2011, 2012). The Texans have won seven of their past nine games, allowing just 12.7 points per game over that stretch and holding opponents to six points or fewer in five of those contests. Houston clinched the AFC South title with a 30-6 win over Jacksonville last SUnday. Houston, who led 20-3 at the half, outpaced Jacksonville 10-3 in the final 30 minutes of play for their ninth win of the season. Texans RB Alfred Blue ran for 102 of his club’s 160 yards in the contest, while the Texan defense held Jacksonville to 32 yards rushing and sacked Blake Bortles eight times. Houston was 8 of 17 on third down tries, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 35:37, while the Jaguars held on to the pigskin for 24:23, going 1 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

“It’s great to be in the playoffs,” says Texans Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt, who led the NFL in sacks (17.5). “It’s great for our team, great for our fans, great for our city. This is what we expect. We expect to win the division and we expect to be in the playoffs. Now we go into the playoffs and we look forward to the opportunity and the challenge ahead,” he told KHOU-TV, KPRC-TV and the Houston Chroncicle.

While they have never met in the post-season, either as the Texans or Oilers, they met in week one in Houston and the Chiefs survived, taking a 27-20 win in the Lone Star State. Leading 27-9 at the half, the Chiefs held off a late Houston rally to take the opening day win. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce caught a pair of Smith TD passes in the early part of the contest to build what they thought would be a safe lead. After a scoreless third quarter, Houston went to work and won the final 15 minutes of play, shutting out Kansas City 11-0 and making the contest a 7-point affair when Texans K Randy Bullock connected on a 47-yard field goal with 83 seconds left in regulation. Houston outrushed the Chiefs 98-97 and Smtih (243 yards) threw three TD strikes, while Brian Hoyer threw for 236 yards with a TD but was sacked four times. Kansas City was 3 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 35:19, while the Texans were 3 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 24:41.

In the week one meeting, the Texans were 1-point favorites and the Chiefs covered the spread, winning by 7 and the 47 combined points by both teams easily covered the 41 over/under. This time, the Chiefs are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 40. They raise the curtain in the post-season show and this could be closer than the 3. The Chiefs may not be at home but everything’s up to date in Kansas City as they take the win in the Lone Star State, although the Texans will make it a close contest.

Pittsburgh (10-6) at Cincinnati (12-4). Round 3. It’s the AFC North’s version of Ali-Fraizer.

They still don’t like each other. They meet again along the shores of the Ohio River and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Roethlisberger vs. McCarren.

They both sit along the Ohio River and that’s all that they have in common.

AFC North rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will meet on Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium.

Pittsburgh clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season and defeated Cleveland 28-12. Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown finished the season with 136 catches for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history with at least 125 catches, 1,800 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns in a single season. The Steelers led 14-9 at the half and then proceeded to pull away from the Browns in upstate Ohion in the second half to seal the win an a playoff spot after Buffalo beat the New York Jets 22-17 in Orchard Park. Pittsburgh outrushed Cleveland 86-30 and the Steeler defense sacked Alex Davis seven times and picked him off twice, while Roethlisberger threw for 349 yards and three TDs. Pittsburgh was 2 of 8 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:03, while the Browns actually ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:57, going 4 of 16, 1 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

“It’s gratifying to be back in the playoffs,” says Brown. “As a Pittsburgh Steeler, the expectation is to make the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy. For us to get the opportunity, it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Bengals tied a franchise-record with 12 wins and won the division for the fourth time under head coach Marvin Lewis.

“Every year we’ve improved and now we’re 12-4,” says 10-year veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was selected to his second Pro Bowl. “That’s a heck of an accomplishment. It’s something we’re extremely proud of. We want to keep it rolling.”

The Steelers and Bengals have met once in the postseason and that was in 2005 in Cincinnnati, with the Steelers coming away 31-17 winners in the first round of the AFC playoffs. They split the season series in the 2015 regular season campaign, with each winning on the road. Cincinnati took the first meeting in week eight, coming away 16-10 winners in the Steel City. The Bengals trailed 7-6 at the intermission before rallying in the second half to come away with the 6-point win at Heinz Field and took the lead for good when a healthy Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green connected on a 9-yard TD pass with 2:57 left in regulation. Cincinnati ended the scoring 70 seconds later when Mike Nugent booted a 41-yard field goal with 1:47 left. Pittsburgh did outrush Cincy 116-78 and Roethlisberger did outpace Dalton in passing 262-231 (each had a TD pass, with Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connecting on a 1-yard pass to open the scoring in the contest) but Roethlisberger was picked off three times, while Dalton was picked off twice (each man was sacked three times). Neither club did anything for their fan bases to write home about on third down tries (Pittsburgh was 3 of 11, Cincinnati was 4 of 15) and neither had a fourth down attempt but the home team did manage to rule the, as Pittsburgh held on to the ball for 30:09 to Cincinnati’s 29:51.

The second meeting saw much better results for Steelers fans as they came to Cincinnati and took a 33-20 win at Paul Brown Stadium. In the week 14 matchup, the Steelers outrushed the Bengals 84-64 in the second contest and leading 16-7 at the half, knocked Dalton (wrist) out of the contest, sacking backup QB A.J. McCarren twice and sacking him three times. The Steelers did much better on third down tries in the second contest, going 8 of 14, while the Bengals were 3 of 8 (again, neither club had a fourth down attempt) and Pittsburgh ruled the clock again, keeping the ball for 35:47 to Cincinnati’s 24:13.

In the first meeting in week eight, Cincinnati covered the 3-point spread (the Bengals were favored in that contest) with their 6-point win but the 48 1/2 over/under was safe, as both teams only combined for 26 points. The Bengals were favored again in the week 14 contest as 3-point favortites but this time Pittsburgh covered the spread, winning by 13. This time, both teams covered the 47 over/under with 53 ponts. This time, the Steelers are the darlings of Vegas, as 2 1/2 point favorites and the over/under is 46 1/2. The winner gets to move on here, while the losers will go back home and clear out their lockers come Monday. Marvin Lewis would like nothing more than to take the playoff monkey off his back and so would Dalton, assuming he plays Saturday. Bengals fans can rejoice. The curse will be broken. Cincy covers the 2 1/2 and pulls the upset along the banks of the Ohio.

Seattle (10-6) at Minnesota (10-6), 1:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC. They met in week 13 in the Twin Cities and now they meet in the playoffs for the first time in their respective histories. The defending NFC champions travel to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a meeting with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Seahawks are back in the postseason and aiming to return to the Super Bowl for the third consecutive season. Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson led the NFL with a 110.1 passer rating and threw 24 touchdown passes with only one interception over the team’s final seven games, the only player in NFL history with at least 24 touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions over a seven-game span in a season. Wilson threw for 197 yards last Sunday in the desert and scored four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in Seattle’s 38-7 win at Minnesota in Week 13. The Seahawks manhandled Arizona in Glendale 36-6 at University of Phoenix Stadium. Seattle led 30-6 at the half and held Arizona in check in the final 30 minutes of play. Seattle outrushed Arizona 145-27 and RB Christine Michael did his best Marshawn Lynch impression, rushing for 102 yards. Seattle last Sunday on third down tries went 8 of 15 (Arizona was 5 of 12, 0 of 1 on fourth down) and was perfect on fourth down in their only attempt and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:37 to Arizona’s 23:23.

“We know we’ve got a lot of football to play,” says Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who tied for the NFL lead with 14 receiving touchdowns. “We’re on the path we’re supposed to be on and that’s what you want to see heading into the playoffs.”

The Vikings have won three in a row, including a Week 17 victory at Green Bay (20-13) to clinch the NFC North division title. Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson led the league with 1,485 rushing yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Marion Motley (1950) and Curtin Martin (2004) as the only players 30+ years old to win the rushing title. In the contest at Lambeau that allowed them to clinch, the Vikings led 20-13 at the end of three quarters before Green Bay rallied to make it a 7-point contest, thanks to a 16-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to TE Richard Rodgers and a 43-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Minnesota then held off a late Packer rally that would have either sent the game into overtime or given Green Bay the win at home. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 151-76 and the Packers sacked Rodgers five times, despite throwing for 291 yards. Green Bay went 2 of 15 on third down, 3 of 6 on fourth down at Lambeau and actually won the battle of the clock as they kept the ball for 35:42, while Minnesota went 2 of 11, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 24:18.

“It feels amazing to be the NFC North champions,” Peterson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It puts us in a position now to make a run to the Super Bowl.” Minnesota makes 1st playoff appearance since 2012 & 1st under Zimmer’s tenure.

As for that week 13 contest in the Twin Cities… Seattle led the Vikings at the half by a 21-0 score and gave up Minnesota’s lone score on a 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson. Seahawk rookie RB Thomas Rawls was in “Beast Mode’ himself, rushing for 101 yards and a TD, while the Vikings were held to 31 yards and Teddy Bridgewater was sacked three times at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Seattle was 9 0f 13 on third down tries, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 35:10, while the Vikings were 2 of 10, 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 24:50.

In the week 13 affair in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Seattle was favored by 1 and eclipsed the spread with their 31-point win and both clubs cover the 41 over/under with 45 points. The oddsmakers like the defending NFC champs as a 5 1/2 point favorite and the over/under is 41 1/2. There is one more factor and that’s the weather. The forecasted temperature at kickoff Sunday? A balmy 6 degrees… above zero. That would make it the third-coldest kickoff in NFL post-season history (of course, Ice Bowl in 1967 between Dallas and Green Bay and Freezer Bowl in 1981 between San Diego and Cincinnati; that temp at kickoff? -9 with a wind chill of -59). The weather outside might be frightful but the Seahawks make their march toward another Super Bowl and do it in the Twin Cities, covering the 5 1/2.

Green Bay (10-6) at Washington (9-7), 4:45 p.m. Sunday on FOX. The curtain for Wild Card Weekend drops when Washington hosts Green Bay. The teams have previously met twice in the postseason: 1936 NFL Championship Game (Packers 21, Boston Redskins 6) and 1972 Divisional Playoffs (Redskins 16, Packers 3).

The Packers have won five of the past six meetings between the two teams. The last time the two clubs met (September 15, 2013), Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 480 yards and four touchdowns in Green Bay’s 38-20 victory. Rodgers, who was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl, enters the 2015 playoffs with a 101.0 postseason passer rating, the third-best mark in NFL history. The Packers lead the series 18-13-1 and have outscored Washington 622-507 in regular season action. (Washington’s last regular-season win over Green Bay came in 2010, when the Redskins needed overtime to take a 16-13 win at RFK Stadium.)

“We have to prove to ourselves we can win the big games,” Rodgers told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “There’s belief there but we have to prove it to ourselves. We have to be consistent. If we do that, we have a chance to make a run.” In their 20-13 loss to Minnesota last Sunday night, Green Bay trailed the Vikings 20-13 at the end of three quarters before Green Bay rallied to make it a 7-point contest, thanks to a 16-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to TE Richard Rodgers and a 43-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Minnesota then held off a late Packer rally that would have either sent the game into overtime or given Green Bay the win at home. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 151-76 and the Packers sacked Rodgers five times, despite throwing for 291 yards. Green Bay went 2 of 15 on third down, 3 of 6 on fourth down at Lambeau and actually won the battle of the clock as they kept the ball for 35:42, while Minnesota went 2 of 11, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 24:18.

The Redskins won the NFC East, the team’s first division title since 2012. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 192 of 257 passes at home for a 74.7 completion percentage, the highest in NFL history in home games in a season. Cousins set a franchise-record with 4,166 passing yards and is the only quarterback in team history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns (29) in a single season. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen (14 games in 1967) as the only players in franchise history to throw a touchdown pass in every game in a season.

Washington closed out the 2015 campaign in Arlington and took a slumping Dallas Cowboys team to task 34-23. The Redskins led 24-14 at the half against the Romo-less Cowboys, with Cousins throwing for 176 yards and three TD passes in the NFC East matchup, while Alfred Morris ran for 100 of Washington’s 146 (Dallas had 100 yards rushing, with backup QB Kellen Moore throwing for 435 yards with three TDs and a pair of interceptions).

“It’s important to go into the playoffs with some momentum and a rhythm,” says Cousins about the Redskins’ current four-game winning streak. “To put together four wins in a row in the fourth quarter of the season is important. It’s crucial to keep that momentum and carry it into what will be the biggest game of the year.” Washington, while forcing four Dallas turnovers, went 7 of 14 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:57, while Dallas went 2 of 10, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 26:03.

Washington’s favored by 1 and the over/under is 45 1/2. Since this one’s the last post-season game of the weekend, it’s only fair that this one becomes “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 56 last June and dates a 41-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

Both clubs are in survival mode. The winner? They get a road trip to either Glendale or Charlotte and play either next Saturday or next Sunday. The loser? They get to go back home and empty their lockers and start those preps for the draft, OTAs and training camp. Washington, it’s been a good run but the Packers find their swagger in Landover, taking this one on the road and covers the 1.

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