Round one is in the books.

Time for round 2.

It’s the divisional round of the 2018 NFL playoffs. It’s pro football’s answer to the NCAA basketball Elite 8. It’s still the same formula.




Your next game is next year.

It’s such a simple formula that even a 5-year old gets it. It’s not rocket science.


LOWER SEED SUCCESS: Beware of the lower seeds! Indianapolis (11-6) and Philadelphia (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on NBC and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on FOX, look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.

The Number 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:

2010 – Green Bay (NFC, Won Super Bowl XLV)
2010 – New York Jets (AFC, AFC Championship)
2008 – Baltimore (AFC, AFC Championship)
2008 – Philadelphia (NFC, NFC Championship)
2005 – Pittsburgh (AFC, Won Super Bowl XL)
2018 – Indianapolis (AFC, ???)
2018 – Philadelphia (NFC, ???)

In the AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers (13-4, number five 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a number five and number six seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.

WINNING WAYS: Dallas, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend and New England, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

The Cowboys, who play at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. on FOX, has 35 playoff wins and can tie  Pittsburgh (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS, has 34 postseason victories and can surpass Green Bay (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

Pittsburgh (36-25, .590; 6)
Dallas (35-27, .565; 5)
Green Bay (34-22, .607; 4)
New England (34-20, .630; 5)
San Francisco (30-20, .600; 5)

TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback Andew Luck and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on NBC.

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:

2016 – Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay, 40)
2014 – Andrew Luck (Indianapolis, 40)
2009 – Drew Brees (New Orleans, 34)
2009 – Drew Brees (New Orleans, 34)
2018 – Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City, 50)

2016 – Matt Ryan, ATLANTA (38, NFC Championship)
2014 – Peyton Manning, Denver (39, AFC Divisional)
2009 – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (33, Super Bowl XLIV)*
2009 – Brett Favre, Minnesota (33, NFC Championship)^
* Tie for 2nd
^ Pro Football Hall of Famer

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots welcome quarterback Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS.

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:

1/13/19 – Tom Brady (New England), Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) (28,688)*
1/24/16 – Peyton Manning (Denver), Tom Brady (New England) (28,603)
1/9/99 – John Elway (Denver), Dan Marino (Miami) (27,704)^
1/16/94 – Warren Moon (Houston Oilers), Joe Montana (Kansas City) (27,306)^
1/22/17 – Tom Brady (New England), Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) (27,162)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Total days as of Sunday, January 13

RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on FOX to face New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):

Nick Foles (125/179 – 1,432; 10/3, 105.2)
Bart Starr (130/213 – 1,753; 15/3, 104.8)^
Kurt Warner (307/462 – 3,952; 31/14, 102.8)^
Matt Ryan (237/351 – 2,672; 20/7, 100.8)
Drew Brees (354/537 – 4,209; 29/9, 100.7)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):

Nick Foles (125/179, 69.8)
Matt Ryan (237/351, 67.5)
Kurt Warner (307/462, 66.5)^
Ken Anderson (110/166, 66.3)
Drew Brees (354/537, 65.9)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. on FOX.

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:

Terrell Davis, Denver (1/11/98-1/17/99; 4)^
Arian Foster, Houston (1/7/12-1/5/13; 3)
John Riggins, Washington (1/15/83-1/30/83; 3)^
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (1/15/17-1/5/19; 2)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:

Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants (1986 – 20.5, Won Super Bowl XXI)^
Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (2018 – 20.5, ???)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

We went 1-3 for Wild Card weekend, which in actuality is a lot better than going 0-4. For the season, we’re 146-110. When Divisional Weekend is over, two teams will advance for the right to go to Atlanta, while the others will be cleaning out lockers.

Again, the formula is this.




Your next game is next year.

ICYMI: All the playoff games, including Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, are going to be designated “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”).

Divisional play gets underway in Kansas City Saturday afternoon and concludes in New Orleans late Sunday afternoon.

And then there were eight.

On Saturday, January 12, the Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), who won the AFC West and secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will host the Indianapolis Colts (11-6) at Arrowhead Stadium to kick off the Divisional Playoffs on NBC at 4:35 p.m.. Saturday night in primetime on FOX at 8:15 p.m., the Los Angeles Rams (13-3), who won the NFC West and own the No. 2 seed in the NFC, will host the Dallas Cowboys (11-6) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

On Sunday, January 13, the New England Patriots (11-5), the AFC East champions and the AFC’s No. 2 seed, will welcome the Los Angeles Chargers (13-4) to Gillette Stadium on CBS at 1:05 p.m. The NFC South-champion New Orleans Saints (13-3), who own the NFC’s No. 1 seed, will host the defending Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles (10-7) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on FOX at 4:40 p.m. to conclude Divisional weekend. Here are the Saturday and Sunday picks for Divisional Weekend.

AFC – Indianapolis (10-6) at Kansas City (12-4), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC. Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes. They meet in the weekend opener of Divisional Weekend. The Indinapolis Colts, all but given up for dead, travel to Arrowhead to face off against the top-seed Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Playoff matchup. While the Chiefs were enjoying their bye weekend, the Colts made the first step toward Atlanta, taking number three seed Houston to task last Saturday afternoon in the Lone Star State, coming away 21-7 winners at NRG Stadium.

The Colts, the six seed in the AFC side of the bracket, took a 21-0 lead with them to the intermission against their AFC South rivals, then held Houston in check the rest of the contest, as the Texans would end Indy’s bid for a shutout when Houston WR Keke Coutee would catch a 6-yard TD pass from QB Deshaun Watson with 10:57 left in the contest. Indianapolis outrushed 200-105 with Colts RB Marlon Mack leading the way with 148 yards and a rushing TD (Watson led Houston with 76 yards) and Luck threw for 222 yards and a pair of TDs (one to TE Eric Ebron), without a sack, while Watson threw for 235 yards with the lone TD, with three sacks (both men threw an interception). The Colts were 9 of 14 on third down in the Saturday afternoon AFC Wild Card contest and kept the ball for 31:14, while the Texans were 3 for 13 on third down, 2 of 6 on fourth down and they would hold on to the ball for 28:46.

Kansas City, the AFC’s top seed, earned their first-round bye and the AFC West crown, taking AFC West rival Oakland to task at Arrowhead 35-3 to close out the regular season. The Chiefs led 21-3 at the intermission, holding Oakland to a 50 yard field goald by Dan Carlson with 64 seconds left before the intermission. Kansas City would then go on to score 14 more second half points unchallenged for the win. Even though the Raiders did outrush the Chiefs 127-99 (Raiders RB Doug Martin led all rushers with 100 yards), Mahomes threw for 281 yards with a pair of TDs, while Derek Carr threw for 185 yards with three sackes and a pair of interceptions (Mahomes threw an interception but was not sacked). Kansas City went 5 of 9 on third down (the Chiefs were 1 for 3 on fourth down) at Arrowhead and kept the ball for 26:04, while the Raiders actually ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 33:56, going 4 for 10 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

The two teams have met four times in the post-season and the Colts have come away winners in all four contests, including a 45-41 AFC Wild Card win in the Hoosier State in 2013. The Colts have outscored Kansas City 116-90 in those four contests. Kansas City’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 57. Both numbers make a ton of sense. The winner? If it’s Kansas City, they get to host the AFC Championship Game the next weekend; if the Colts win, they will be on the road to either Los Angeles or Foxboro. Colts make this one close but Chiefs prevail at Arrowhead and advances to the AFC Championship.

NFC – Dallas (10-6) at Los Angeles Rams (13-3), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX. A pair of division winners meet in Saturday’s second game as the Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, travel to the West Coast for a Saturday night meeting with Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams.

The fourth-seeded Cowboys, winners of the NFC East, erased a 14-10 third quarter deficit against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks last Saturday evening in Arlington, holding off a late Seattle rally and came away 24-22 winners at AT&T Stadium. Dallas led 10-6 at the intermission before Wilson gave Seattle their only lead of the contest with 1:59 on a 4-yard TD run. Seattle then went for two because K Sebastian Janikowski (who had kicked a pair of field goals) left the contest with a pulled hamstring and found success on the try when Mark Davis scored on the 2-point run. with 1:59 left in the third. Dallas would reclaim the lead early in the fourth quarter when Elliott and Prescott each used 1-yard TD runs to make it a 10-point contest. Seattle would make a 2-point contest with 78 seconds left in the contest when Wilson connected with RB J.D. McKissic on a 7-yard TD pass. Seattle then went for two again and once again, they found success as Chris Carson would make the contest a two-point affair. The Seahawks then tried an onside kick, which Dallas recovered. The Cowboys then ran out the clock and gave their fans a chance to catch their collective breaths.

Dallas outrushed Seattle 164-73 (Elliott led all rushers with 137 yards), with Prescott throwing for 226 yards (Dallas WR Amari Cooper was Prescott’s main target, catching seven passes for 106), while Wilson threw for 233 yards with a sack and no interceptions (Prescott threw an interception and a sack, both men threw a TD pass). Dallas went 2 of 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:50, while Seattle held on to the pigskin for 25:10, going 2 for 13 on third down and 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Rams, winners of the NFC West for the second staight season, secured the second seed as they come off their bye week 48-32 winners over NFC West and instate rival San Francisco to close out the 2018 season for both clubs. Los Angeles led 31-10 at the break at the Coliseum, then watched the 49ers outscore them in the second half by a 22-17 margin. The Rams outrushed San Francisco 155-127 and both clubs had 100-yard rushers (San Francisco was led by Alfred Morris with 111 yards, while the Rams’ Chris Anderson led all rushers with 132 yards; each man had a rushing TD), while Goff threw for 199 yards with 199 yards and four TDs with no sacks or interceptions, while San Francisco’s Nate Mullins threw for 282 yards with three TDs (connecting with TE George Kittle on one toss; Kittle had nine catches for 149 yards) with three sacks and three interceptions. The Rams were 10 of 16 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:50, while the 49ers went 3 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 28:10.

The Cowboys and the Rams have met eight times in the post-season and each has taken four wins in the series. The Cowboys have outscored the Rams 174-115. Los Angeles’ last playoff win over Dallas came in 1985 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs in Los Angeles, while the Cowboys’ last win in post-season action came 1980 in Dallas at old Texas Stadium by a final of 34-13 in the NFC Wild Card round. The Rams are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 49 1/2. For the winner, they will either have a chance to host or travel to New Orleans next week. As for the loser? It was fun while it lasted. The Rams may not cover the 7 but they do take the win on the West Coast.

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) at New England (11-5), 1:05 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Sunday divisional action gets underway southwest of downtown Boston as the New England Patriots and Tom Brady host Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

Rivers and the Chargers, the number five seed, survived a scare from Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens as the Bolts held off a late Ravens rally to come away 23-17 winners at M&T Bank Stadium last Sunday afternoon. The Chargers got four first-half field goals from Michael Badgley to take a 12-0 lead with them to the intermission. The Ravens would then break the shutout in the third quarter as Baltimore K Jeff Tucker connected on a 33-yard field goal late in the quarter before the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon scored on a 1-yard run after there was confusion about a fumble that Baltimore recovered and scored what they thought was a TD inside their 1-yard line. The play was reviewed and the officals ruled that Chargers RB Derek Watt was down by contact at the one. This would give Los Angeles a second chance and they would capitalize on it.

After Badgley kicked his fifth field goal of the day, the Chargers thought that Baltimore was going to go away quietly. Such was not the case as Jackson and WR Michael Crabtree connected on a 31-yard TD pass with 6:33 left in the contest. Baltimore would then use an 80-yard, 12-play drive with 1:59 left when the Jackson-Crabtree combo went back to work, scoring from seven yards away to make it a 6-point contest. Baltimore would get the ball back one more time and this time, Jackson was his own worst enemy, as he fumbled the ball and DE Melvin Ingram recoved the fumble, giving the Chargers the ball and the win. Baltimore barely outrushed the Chargers 90-89 and Rivers threw for 160 yards with one sack and no interceptions, while Jackson threw for 194 yards with seven sacks and an interception to go with the two TD tosses. Los Angeles went 6 of 17 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 33:40, while the Ravens kept the ball for 26:20, going 5 for 15 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Pats, the number two seed, took a week off after holding the New York Jets 38-3 in Foxboro in the season finale. New England, who held the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to a first quarter field goal by Jeff White, scored all of their points in the contest without much challenge, taking a 21-3 lead with them to the break, then tacking on 17 more points to seal New York’s fate. New England outrushed GangGreen 131-104, with Brady throwing for 250 yards with four TDs and no interceptions (he was sacked once), while Sam Darnold threw for 167 yards with four sacks (Darnold did not have a TD pass but did not throw an interception). New England in the season finale at home went 5 of 11 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and the Patriots held on to the ball for 32:13, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! kept the pigskin for 27:47, going 4 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

The two old AFC/AFL rivals have played three post-season contests against each other and the Patriots lead the series 2-1 (which includes games that were played in San Diego and in Foxboro). New England’s last win came in 2007 in the AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium, coming away 21-12 winners, while the Chargers’ last post-season win over New England came in San Diego in 1963, coming away 51-10 winners to take the AFL title, when the Pats played in Boston. New England’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 48. The winner? They’ll either be at home or have to travel to Kansas City. The loser? They’re done for the year. New England covers the 4 1/2 in Foxboro and wins at home.

NFC – Philadelphia (9-7) at New Orleans (13-3), 4:40 p.m. on FOX. Divisional play concludes in the Big Easy as Cheesesteak and Gumbo met in New Orleans as the defending Super Bowl champs travel to New Orleans to face off against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in a week 11 rematch.

The defending Super Bowl champs survived a scare from Chicago, the NFC’s third-seed, in the Windy City, escaping with a 16-15 win at Soldier Field last Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia trailed the Monsters of the Midway 6-3 at the half, then took a 10-6 lead with 5:20 in the third when rookied TE Dallas Goedert and QB Nick Foles connected on a 10-yard TD strike. Da Bears would take the lead back when WR Allan Robinson and Mitch Trubisky connected on a 22-yard TD pass with 9:04 left in the contest. Philadelphia then had one last chance and used a 12-play, 60-yard drive that took 3:52 of time and ended when Golden Tate III and Foles connected on a 2-yard TD toss with 56 seconds left. Philadelphia then went for the two-point conversion to make it 18-15 but failed, which gave Chicago the ball back.

Da Bears then made their way downfield and got as close as Philadelphia’s 25-yard line, when Bears K Chris Parkey kicked what he thought was a 43-yard game-winner but Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson used his team’s final time out to ice Parkey. The move paid off huge as Parkey’s second attempt hit the crossbar and fell back into the field of play. Philadelphia then ran the clock out and took the win out of the Windy City. Chicago outrushed Philadelphia 65-42 and Foles threw for 266 yards with the two TDs (he was sacked once and picked off twice), while Trubisky threw for 303 yards with the TD and a pair of sacks but no interceptions. Philadelphia went 6 of 13 on third down (the Eagles were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 30:48, while Chicago kept the ball for 29:12, while going 5 of 16 on third down tries.

Although they wound up being the one seed in the NFC, New Orleans limps its way into the post-season after falling 33-14 to Carolina in the Big Easy two Sundays ago in the season finale. Carolina led their NFC South rivals 23-0 at the half and took a 30-0 lead with them to the start of the final 15 minutes of action before the Saints scored a pair of TDs in the fourth, with rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith catching a 9-yard TD toss from backup QB Teddy Bridgewater (the Saints had rested most of their starters, including Brees) with 13:28 left in the contest and a 9-yard run by Taysom Hill to close out the scoring in the contest. New Orleans did outrush Carolina 184-111 and Bridgewater threw for 118 yards with the lone TD, adding a sack and an interception to his tally. New Orleans went 4 for 10 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:34, while the Panthers ruled the clock and held the ball for 33:26, while going 6 for 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The earlier meeting took place in week 11 and the and the Saints won 48-7. New Orleans took a 24-4 lead at the half, with the Eagles’ lone TD coming in the second quarter when rookie RB Josh Adams scored on a 28-yard run. The Saints, who scored the first 17 points of the game unchallenged, went on to score 24 more second half points uninhibited. While holding the Eagles to 58 yards rushing, the Saints ran for 173 yards, with Mark Ingram leading all rushers with 103 yards and a pair of TDs. Brees threw for 363 yards with four TDs passes without a sack or interception, while Carson Wentz threw for 156 yards with three sacks and three interceptions. Philadelphia was 3 of 10 on third down (they were 0 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 22:26, while the Saints ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 37:34, going 6 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Eagles and Saints have met three times in post-season play and the Saints lead the series 2-1 but Philadelphia has outscored New Orleans 84-73. Philadelphia’s last win over New Orleans came in 1992 in the Big Easy, when they took a 36-20 NFC Wild Card win, while the Saints’ last win also came in the City of Brothery Love, as the Saints would wind up taking a 26-24 Wild Card win in 2013. In the week 11 contest in the Big Easy, the Saints covered the 8-point spread, winning at home by 41 and and both teams matched the 55 over/under. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Saints as 9-point favorites in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 51 1/2. Philly’s trying to go back to the Super Bowl, New Orleans is trying to stop them and stay home for the remainder of the playoffs. The Eagles may be playing with house money but expect an upset in the Big Easy. Philadelphia may not cover the 9 but they get a trip to either Los Angeles or Dallas next week, as they take the win on the road.