And then there were eight.

The tournament continues. Football’s answer to “Musical Chairs” continues. As long as the music plays, there’s still the chance that someone’s going to get to sit down. It’s when the music stops that the chaos begins and in the end, someone’s not going to get to sit down and suffice it to say, they’re out.

The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs and all four games are rematches from the regular season, the first time that has happened since the 2010 season. Each of the remaining eight teams won its division, the first time all eight teams in the Divisional round were division winners since 2011. Four more teams will be clearing their lockers on Monday and four more will advance a little closer to the Lombardi Trophy (more about him in a later post).

On Saturday, Atlanta (11-5), the NFC South champions, will host NFC West-champion Seattle (11-5-1) at the Georgia Dome to kick off the weekend on FOX at 4:35 p.m. That night in primetime on CBS at 8:15 p.m., New England (14-2), who won the AFC East and secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will host AFC South-champion Houston (10-7) at Gillette Stadium.

On Sunday, Kansas City (12-4), Dallas (13-3), who won the NFC East and secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, will host Green Bay (11-6) at AT&T Stadium at 4:40 p.m. on FOX. Kansas City, the AFC West champions, will welcome AFC North-champion Pittsburgh (12-5) to Arrowhead Stadium on NBC at 8:30 p.m. because of weather in Kansas City (the original time was 1:05 p.m.).

“It is a whole new season now,” Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott told the Dallas Morning News. “Everything you do from this point on is really how you get looked at the end of the year. So that is important to us, looking forward and playing a long time in this postseason.”

Four games last week to start the playoffs and four wins. Can’t do any better than that. For the season, we’re 178-80.

This is week 18, for those of you keeping score. As was the case last week and in week 17, we’re going to make all the games “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 kindergarten 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 57 last June and dates a 42-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?”

Four more games. Four teams (Oakland, Detroit, Miami and the New York Giants) are sitting at home and have already cleared out their lockers by the time these games get underway and four more teams will follow suit this weekend. It’s not fair but it’s football and this time of year, it’s not like regular season where if you lose, you play next week.

The rules are different this time. It’s all for the Lombardi.

Win.

Advance to the next round.

Lose.

Kickoff is next September.

It’s so simple even a five-year old gets it.

With that, here are this weekend’s Divisional Playoff games.

Seattle (10-5-1, 3rd seed) at Atlanta (11-5, 2nd seed), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on FOX. Divisional week gets underway in the Big Peach as Atlanta and Matt Ryan host Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in a Saturday afternoon contest in the Georgia Dome. Seattle advanced to the playoffs for 5th consecutive season and have won 10+ games in each of past 5 seasons. Seattle aims for 3rd Super Bowl appearance in past 4 seasons, winning 7 of past 9 postseason games and have playoff wins in each of past 5 postseasons and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is 9-4 (.692) in playoffs with Seattle.

Atlanta won the NFC South and advanced to postseason for 1st time since 2012. The Falcons are 4-3 at home in playoffs in franchise history and are ranked 1st in NFL in total points (540) and 2nd in total offense (415.8 yards per game). Head coach Dan Quinn makes postseason debut in 2nd season in the Big Peach and spent four season with Seattle in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks (2009-10, 2013-14) and was team’s defensive coordinator in 2013-14.

Seattle enters the second round of the playoffs after they came away 26-6 winners over Detroit last Saturday night in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. The Seahawks held a slim 10-3 lead over Matthew Stafford and the Lions at the half, then scored their final 16 points of the contest in the fourth quarter unchallenged. Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls ran for 161 yards in the contest, as Seattle outrushed the Lions 177-49, while Wilson threw for 224 yards and a pair of TDs, with Stafford throwing for 205 yards with three sacks.

Atlanta comes off the bye week after their 38-32 win over New Orleans to close out the regular season and secure the number two seed in the NFC. The Falcons led from start to finish in their win over their NFC South rivals, taking a 35-13 lead into the halftime, then holding on for dear life in the final regular season game at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta outrushed New Orleans 142-132 (the Saints’ Mark Ingram led all rushers with 103 yards and a TD), while Ryan threw for 331 yards and four TDs, connecting with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu on two of those tosses. Atlanta was 6 of 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 29:45, while the Saints ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:15 and went 7 of 16 and 3 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

The Seahawks came away 26-24 winners in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in week 6. Atlanta, who trailed 17-3 at the half, let a 24-17 lead after three quarters of play get away from them as the Seahawks took the lead back for good with 1:57 left when Stephen Hauschka kicked a 44-yard field goal. Atlanta then got the ball back and threw four incomplete passes to seal their fate. Seattle outrushed Atlanta 72-52, while Ryan threw for 335 yards and three TDs, connecting with WR  Jones and Sanu on two of those strikes, while Wilson threw for 270 yards in the contest in the Pacific Northwest. Atlanta was 3 of 11 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:51, while the Seahawks, who held the pigskin for 30:09, went 5 of 14 on third down tries.

RECORD VS. COMMON OPPONENTS

Atlanta: 9-2 (Arizona 1-0; Carolina 2-0; Green Bay 1-0; Los Angeles 1-0; New Orleans 2-0; Philadelphia 0-1; San Francisco 1-0; Tampa Bay 1-1)

Sea: 5-5-1 (Arizona 0-1-1; Carolina 1-0; Green Bay 0-1; Los Angeles 1-1, New Orleans 0-1; Philadelphia 1-0; San Francisco 2-0; Tampa Bay 0-1)

Seattle was favored by 6 1/2 and although they won, they didn’t cover the spread, winning by only 2. Both teams did manage to cover the 46 over/under by combining for 50 points. Atlanta and Seattle have met only once in the post-season and that meeting took place in the Big Peach in 2012, with the Falcons taking a 30-28 win. Atlanta’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 51. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Seattle’s looking to prove to the Falcons that the first meeting was not a fluke. The Falcons are looking for revenge from their loss in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. It’ll be closer than the 4 1/2 but revenge prevails. Falcons win at home in the Big Peach.

Houston (9-7, 4th seed) at New England (14-2, 1st seed), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Divisional Saturday concludes in Foxboro as New England hosts the Houston Texans in a week three rematch at Gillette Stadium.

Houston took care of Oakland last Saturday at NRG Stadium by a 27-14 final. The Texans led 20-7 at the half and never looked back, holding the Silver and Black to 64 yards, while rushing for 123 yards of their own. Brock Osweiler threw for 168 yards and a TD to DeAndre Hopkins, while the Raiders’ Connor Cook threw for 161 yards and a TD with three sacks and three interceptions. As far as third downs tries… the contest in the Lone Star State was not much to write home about, as the Texans were 4 of 15, while Oakland was 2 of 16, 1 of 2 on fourth down conversions. Houston in the win ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:29, while the Raiders held the pigskin for 26:31.

New England enjoyed their time off after they were 35-14 winners against Miami two weeks ago in the Sunshine State. Brady burned Miami for three TD passes as the Pats took a 20-7 lead at the break and never looked back. New England outrushed Miami 120-75 and Brady threw for 276 yards and the three TDs, while Miami’s Matt Moore threw for 205. Both clubs were 7 of 12 on third down conversions in the Sunshine State, while the Pats kept the ball for 31:22 to Miami’s 28:38.

New England and a Brady-less Patriots shut out Texans 27-0 in week three on a Thursday night. New England jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the break  in the contest that saw Watt get injured (back) and the Pats then added 17 second half points unchallenged. Jacoby Brissett, in for the suspended Brady, threw for 103 yards, while LeGarrett Blount ran for 105 yards and a pair of TDs (New England outrushed Houston 185-109). Osweiler threw for 196 yards and a TD but was sacked twice. Neither club was spectacular on third down (New England was 4 of 14, while the Texans were 6 of 15, 0 of 3 on fourth down). Houston did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 31:22, while the Brady-less Pats kept it for 28:38.

Houston won consecutive AFC South titles for 2nd time in franchise history (2011-12). Meanwhile, New England has won 8 consecutive division titles, longest streak in NFL history. Since 2001, have won 4 Super Bowl titles, the most in NFL. New England is 29-19 (.604) all-time postseason record, 3rd highest winning pct. in playoff history, while head coach BILL Belichick has 23 career postseason wins, most all-time. The Pats have won 4 Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), tied with Chuck Noll for most in NFL history.

Houston was favored by 2 1/2 in the week three contest (New England easily covered the spread with their 27-point win) and the 41 over/under was safe, as the Pats scored all 27 points. New England and Houston have played once in the post-season and the Pats were 41-28 winners in Foxboro in 2012. This time? The Pats are a huge favorite, thanks to the boys and girls in Vegas. How huge? 16 points, the largest in this year’s playoffs. The over/under’s 44 1/2. The 44 1/2 makes sense. The 16? What the hell, fellas? That’s a little on the high side. It’s going to be closer than that. Still, this one might be entertaining to watch. Pats win but expect Houston to make things closer than 16.

Green Bay (10-6, 3rd seed) at Dallas (13-3, 1st seed), 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX. Divisional Weekend continues in the Lone Star State as a pair of franchises with a playoff history meet in Arlington when Dallas hosts the Green Bay Packers in a late afternoon contest at AT&T Stadium.

The Packers have won 13 NFL championships, most all-time. Green Bay’s .611 postseason winning pct. (33-21) is best in NFL history among teams with 50+ games played. This is the team’s 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. Mike McCarthy has led the team to playoffs in 9 of his 11 seasons as head coach and is 9-7. Green Bay rallied in the first half against Eli and the Giants, coming out on top 38-13 at chilly Lambeau Field (game-time temperature? A chilly – by Wisconsin standards – 14 degrees with a 4 degree wind chill). Green Bay trailed 6-0 after the first 15 minutes of action before the Packers scored twice in the second quarter and took the lead for keeps as the clock struck :00 in the first half when Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb connected on a 42-yard “Hail Mary” strike. The Giants would pull to within one with 5:16 left in the third when Manning and WR Tavarress King connected on a 41-yard TD pass to make it 14-13 Packers. Green Bay then restored order at home and scored their last 24 points of the contest unchallenged. Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four TDs, despite being sacked five times, while Manning threw for 299 yards and the one TD with a pair of sacks. Green Bay, who outrushed the Giants 75-70, went 5 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:31, while the Giants kept it for 25:29, going 5 of 16 on third down (New York was 1 of 1 on fourth down, while the Packers were 1 of 2).

Dallas won the NFC East for 2nd time in past 3 seasons. This is team’s 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. The Cowboys have 34 postseason victories, 2nd most in NFL history, ranking them 1st in NFL in rush defense (83.5 yards per game). Head coach Jason Garrett is 1-1 (.500) as head coach in postseason. Dallas closed out their 2016 campaign on a less-than pleasant note against Philadelphia, falling to the Eagles 27-13 in the City of Brotherly Love.  Tied 10-10 at halftime time at Lincoln Financial Field, Dallas took a 13-10 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 9:18 left in the third before the Eagles took control of things in the last two quarters of the game, scoring their last 17 points unchallenged. Dallas did get a look at Tony Romo under center for the first time since he was injured against Carolina in the 2015 season, backing up Prescott with a TD pass to Terrance Williams in the contest. Romo threw for 29 yards and the lone TD, while Prescott threw for 37. Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott was given the day off, as Dallas ran for 69 yards on the afternoon, while Philly tallied 114. Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz threw for 245 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Zach Ertz. Dallas was 5 of 12 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 24:18 to Philly’s 35:42 (the Eagles were 6 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs).

Dallas and Green Bay met at Lambeau in week six and took a 30-16 win in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst. The Cowboys led 17-6 at the half and never looked back, holding Green Bay to 78 yards on the ground, while Elliott ran for 157 of his team’s 191 yards. Prescott threw for 247 yards and three TDs, connecting with Chad Beasley on two of those tosses, while Rodgers threw for 294 yards and a TD pass to Cobb. Dallas was 3 of 11 on third down tries at Lambeau (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:50, while the Packers, who went 7 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:10.

This is the eighth meeting in the post-season between the teams and Dallas has a 4-3 lead in the series. Dallas’ last win in the playoffs over the Packers came in 1985 when they were 38-27 winners at old Texas Stadium, while Green Bay’s last win in the post-season came at Lambeau in 2014 by a final of 26-21. That contest was the Dez Bryant catch-no catch contest, which Dallas led 14-10 at the half. Green Bay then rallied to take the 26-21 lead with 9:10 when Aaron Rodgers and Richard Rodgers connected on a 13-yd TD pass. Dallas then had one last chance to reclaim the lead and would have set up the game-winning score when Bryant and Romo connected on what they thought was a 31-yard pass to the Packers’ 1 yard line with 4:42 left in the contest. Green Bay then challenged the ruling on the field and the Packers won the challenge and Dallas gave up the ball on downs. Green Bay went on to run the clock out and take the win in the contest that took place in 24-degree weather in upstate Wisconsin.

In the week six contest at Lambeau, Green Bay was favored by 4 1/2 and Dallas covered the spread, winning by 14. Both clubs barely missed the 47 1/2 over/under, combining for 46 points. This time, the Cowboys are a 4 1/2-point favorite and the over/under’s 52. Revenge is on the docket for the Packers, while the Cowboys want to make sure Green Bay got the message the first time. Going with the upset here in the Lone Star State. Packers cover the 4 1/2 and win in Arlington.

Pittsburgh (11-5, 3rd seed) at Kansas City (12-4, 2nd seed), 8:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC. Divisional weekend concludes in the Midwest and travels to the Show-Me State as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead in a week four rematch. Pittsburgh is 35-23 all-time postseason record, most playoff wins all-time, ranking them 5th all-time in postseason win pct. (.600). and have won 7 division titles since 2002. The Chiefs have won 10 of past 12 and since 2015, they have 23 wins, 2nd most in NFL. The contest was slated for a 1:05 p.m. Eastern kickoff but the league decided that because of the weather situation in Kansas City, they pushed the kickoff time back.

Pittsburgh manhandled Miami 30-12 at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh led 20-6 at the half and never were really threatened by the Dolphins, who were held to 52 yards rushing, while the Steelers’ LeVeon Bell ran for 167 yards and a pair of TDs (Pittsburgh tallied 179). Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger threw for 197 yards and a pair of TDs to Antonio Brown, while the Steelers’ defense sacked Matt Moore (289 yards, TD, interception) five times. Pittsburgh was 4 of 9 on third down conversions at Heinz Field and held on to the ball for 27:58, while the Dolphins kept the ball for 32:02, going 6 of 14 and 2 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Steelers beat Kansas City 43-14 in week four at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh led 29-0 at the half and never looked back. Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five TDs, while Bell ran for 144 yards (Pittsburgh outrushed Kansas City 149-87). Alex Smith threw for 287 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times and picked off once. The victorious Steelers were 6 of 11 on third down tries in the Sunday night contest in the Steel City and kept the ball for 29:24, while Kansas City was 8 of 17 on third down (2 of 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 30:36. This time, the Chiefs are a 2-point favorite in the Show-Me State and the over/under is 45. The home teams last week went 4-0 and we expect that trend to continue through the post-season party. Steelers make this one close but Chiefs keep things up to date in Kansas City and moves on to the championship round.

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