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One week down. 16 to go.

The celebration continues.

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL100 Game of the Week. Each game will be a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL has designated the Cleveland-New York Jets matchup as the Week 2 NFL100 GAME OF THE WEEK because Monday Night Football, now in its 50th season, began with a Browns-Jets contest – and an American cultural institution was born. With Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the booth, on September 21, 1970, Cleveland topped the Jets 31-21 at Municipal Stadium in the season-opener. Cleveland’s Homer Jones scored to open the second half on a 94-yard kickoff return and the Browns’ Billy Andrews intercepted Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath and scored on a 25-yard return to ice the game late in the fourth quarter. This week’s game will be the 781st in Monday Night Football history.

Rookies exploding onto the scene, flawless passer ratings, long-distance strikes and white-knuckle comebacks highlighted maybe the most thrilling Kickoff Weekend ever. What will the NFL do for an encore?

This week’s NFC Championship rematch could be a classic in the making. Fresh off a last-second victory to open 2019, Drew Brees and New Orleans travel to meet the Los Angels Rams, who defeated Carolina. It’s one of six rematches of last season’s playoff games on the NFL schedule. Head coaches Sean Payton and Sean McVay, two of the top offensive minds in the game, each saw their teams score 30 points in their victorious season openers. They weren’t alone in putting points on the scoreboard.

On the heels of the most prolific offensive season in its history, the NFL picked up where it left off. The league combined for 90 touchdowns, most ever on Kickoff Weekend (89 in 2002 and 2011). Teams also combined for 776 points, the third-highest total in league history for an opening week. Only the 791 points in Week 1 of 2012 and the 788 in 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 teams, were higher. Baltimore led the way, heading to the halftime locker room with 42 points, the most by any team ever in a season-opening half. Kansas City and Tennessee also posted 40-plus points in their games, marking the first opening week ever in which three road teams scored 40-or-more points. And points most certainly weren’t the only common thread.

To recap Week 1 (ICYMI):

ROOKIE PASS-CATCHERS: Four rookies – Tennessee’s A.J. Brown (100), Baltimore’s Marquise Brown (147), Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson (131) and Washington’s TERRY McLAURIN (125) – posted 100-yard receiving games in their NFL debuts. It marked the first week ever in which more than two rookies recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts. Hockenson’s total broke the 59-year-old NFL record held by Monty Stickles (123) for a tight end in his debut. Marquise Brown, meanwhile, became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut.

UNPRECEDENTED PASSER RATINGS: Thirteen quarterbacks had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts). That’s the most in any week in NFL history, breaking the record of 12 set in Week 3 of the 2017 season. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Dallas’ DAK PRESCOTT became the first players to post the highest-attainable passer rating (158.3) in a season-opener (minimum of 20 attempts), with Jackson (22 years, 244 days) becoming the youngest player to finish any game with a 158.3 passer rating (minimum of 20 attempts).

EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Overall, 15 offensive touchdowns covered at least 40 yards, an NFL record for Kickoff Weekend. The prior record was 14 in 1991. With two more Sunday, Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson (31) joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36) as the only players to record more than 30 touchdowns of 50-plus yards in NFL history.

CONTAGIOUS COMEBACKS: New Orleans scored twice in the final minute to deny Houston 30-28, in a Monday night opener for the ages. In NFL history among season-opening games, Saints kicker Wil Lutz (58 yards) recorded the longest game-winning field goal with no time remaining. Five triumphant clubs erased second-half deficits. Buffalo trailed 16-0 and won and Philadelphia trailed 17-0 before winning. The only other year in which multiple teams overcame deficits of at least 16 points to win their Week 1 games was 1999, when both Arizona and Dallas closed 21-point gaps to win on Kickoff Weekend. Also this past weekend, both Indianapolis and Arizona trailed 24-9 in the second half and sent their games to overtime.​

HOPE REMAINS IN ABUNDANCE: In 2018, seven teams opened 2-0. Only two – Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams – made the postseason.

Since 1990, when the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format, 144 of the 235 teams (61.3 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason. Since 1978, when NFL teams began playing 16-game schedules and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, 195 of the 313 teams (62.3 percent) to start 2-0 advanced to the postseason. Of those 313 teams, only 128 (40.9 percent) won their division titles.

INTRA-CONFERENCE CLASHES: In addition to the Saints and Rams, two other Week 2 games feature match-ups of 1-0 teams. Earlier, at Lambeau Field, Green Bay with a win over Minnesota at 1 p.m. on FOX, can start the year with a 2-0 record in the NFC North, and start 2-0 overall for the first time since 2015. In Oakland, the Raiders can also jump to 2-0 in their division with a win over Kansas City at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 with at least 100 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns in his NFL debut. Meanwhile, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has more passing yards (5,759) and passing touchdowns (53) than any player ever over his first 20 games. The Kansas City-Oakland game is one of seven division contests to dot the schedule.

FAMILIAR TERRITORY: After authoring an incredible comeback to defeat the New  York Jets last week, Buffalo returns to MetLife Stadium to meet the New York Giants. It’s the first time a road team has played at the same stadium in consecutive weeks since BALTIMORE did it Oct. 16-23, 2016, also at MetLife Stadium. Miami later this season will also travel to New York in consecutive weeks, Dec. 8-15.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: 11 quarterbacks have had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts) through 13 games in Week 1, tied with Week 13 of the 2004 season (11) and Week 12 of the 1995 season (11) for the second-most in any week since 1970. Only Week 3 of the 2017 season (12) had more quarterbacks record a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts).

Four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards), Baltimore wide receiver Marquise Brown (147), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson (131) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts on Kickoff Weekend.

It marks the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history.

With 131 receiving yards, Hockenson surpassed Monty Stickles (123 receiving yards on September 25, 1960) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in his NFL debut in league history.

Baltimore defeated Miami 59-10 on Kickoff Weekend. Baltimore scored 42 points in the first half, the most by any team in the first half of a season-opening game in NFL history. The Ravens, who scored 47 points on Kickoff Weekend in 2018, are the fifth team in league annals and first since the 1967-68 Oakland Raiders to score at least 40 points in consecutive season-opening games.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 17 of 20 attempts for 324 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the victory. Jackson is the seventh quarterback in NFL history and first since Ben Roethlisberger (November 11, 2018) with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, in a single game in NFL history.

Baltimore rookie wide receiver Marquise Brownrecorded touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards on his first two catches in his NFL debut. Brown became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut and his 83-yard touchdown reception is the second-longest by a player in his NFL debut in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Rick Upchurch (90-yard touchdown reception on September 21, 1975).

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns for a 143.2 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 40-26 win at Jacksonville.

Mahomes, who has 5,759 passing yards in 18 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (5,613 passing yards) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 20 career games in NFL history. Mahomes’ 53 touchdown passes are also the most by any player in his first 20 career games.

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins had nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Watkins is the fourth player in NFL history to record at least 195 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in a season-opening game, joining Frank Clarke (September 16, 1962), Irving Fryar (September 4, 1994) and Hugh Taylor (September 28, 1947).

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed 88 percent of his pass attempts (22 of 25), the highest completion percentage (minimum 15 attempts) by a quarterback in his NFL debut in league annals. Minshew completed his first 13 pass attempts, the longest streak to start a career among players who made their NFL debut over the past 40 seasons.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed 25 of 32 attempts for 405 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 rating in the Cowboys’ 35-17 victory against the New York Giants.

Prescott is the fourth quarterback to register a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, on 30-or-more pass attempts in NFL history, joining Jared Goff (33 attempts on September 27, 2018), Ken O’Brien (32 attempts on November 2, 1986) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (30 attempts on October 1, 2000).

The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS defeated Indianapolis 30-24 in overtime while Arizona and Detroit played to a 27-27 tie at State Farm Stadium on Kickoff Weekend. At least one game on Kickoff Weekend has gone to overtime in five of the past six seasons.

Sunday’s contest between the Cardinals and Lions marked the second consecutive season in which a game ended in a tie in Week 1 and the third tie overall on Kickoff Weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns tied on September 9, 2018, while the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos played to a 10-10 tie on September 19, 1971.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler totaled 154 scrimmage yards (96 receiving, 58 rushing) and three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) in the victory. Ekeler is the first undrafted player to record at least 150 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game since Dan Reeves (156 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns) on November 5, 1967.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald recorded eight catches for 113 yards and one touchdown, the 117th touchdown catch of his NFL career. He surpassed Antonio Gates (116 touchdown receptions) for the sixth-most in NFL history.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson had 154 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including 51-yard and 53-yard touchdown catches, in the Eagles’ 32-27 win against Washington. He has six career games of at least 100 receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

Jackson has 31 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (29) for the second-most in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36) has more in league annals.

Other notable performances from Sunday include:

Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey had 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with 10 receptions for 81 yards, in the Panthers’ Week 1 loss against the Los Angeles Rams.

McCaffrey, who also had 125 rushing yards and 11 receptions in Week 12 of the 2018 season, is the first player in the Super Bowl era to record at least 120 rushing yards and 10 receptions in multiple games.

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell totaled 92 scrimmage yards (60 rushing, 32 receiving) and a touchdown reception in the Jets’ Week 1 loss at home agaisnt Buffalo.

Bell, who has 8,088 scrimmage yards in 63 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (64 games) to become the fastest player to reach 8,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK TWO

NO NEED TO PANIC: Since realignment in 2002, 126 of the 204 playoff teams (61.8 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including 10 teams last season, the most since 2002, and six division champions – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East), Houston (AFC South), New England (AFC East) and New Orleans (NFC South).​

Last season, Houston became the first team in NFL history to win nine consecutive games following an 0-3 start. They also were the first team to win its division after starting 0-3 since the San Diego Chargers in 1992.

A look at how playoff clubs in 2017 and 2018 began their seasons:

2017
Team (After 2 games, Playoff Result)
ATLANTA (2-0, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Buffalo (1-1, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Carolina (2-0, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Jacksonville (1-1, Advanced to AFC Championship)
Kansas City (2-0, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Los Angeles Rams (1-1, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Kansas City (2-0, Advanced to AFC Championship)
Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Los Angeles Rams (2-0, Advanced to Super Bowl LIII)
Philadelphia (1-1, Won Super Bowl LII)
Pittsburgh (2-0, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Tennessee (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
2018​
Team (After 2 games, Playoff Result)
Baltimore (1-1, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Chicago (1-1, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Dallas (1-1, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Houston (0-2, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Indianapolis (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional
Minnesota (1-1, Advanced to NFC Championship)
New England (1-1, Advanced to Super Bowl LII)
New Orleans (0-2, Advanced to Divisional)
New England (1-1, Won Super Bowl LIII)
New Orleans (1-1, Advanced to NFC Championship)
Philadelphia (1-1, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Seattle (0-2, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)

LEADING OFF: Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut against Detroit on Kickoff Weekend.

With 300 passing yards on Sunday at Baltimore, Murray can join Cam Newton (2011) as the only players to pass for at least 300 yards in each of their first two career games in NFL history.

If Murray repeats his Week 1 performance by passing for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, he would become the first player in league history to pass for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in each of their first two career games.

JACK & DAK IN THE BOX: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for 324 yards and five touchdowns in Week 1, while Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns. They became the first players to record a 158.3 passer rating – the highest-attainable mark – in a season opener (min. 20 attempts) in NFL history. Jackson, at 22 years, 244 days-old, became the youngest player in NFL history with a perfect passer rating (min. 20 attempts).

If Jackson or Prescott pass for at least four touchdowns on Sunday, they would join Ryran Fitzpatrick (2018), Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Drew Bledsoe (1997) as the only players in NFL history to pass for at least four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games of a season.

The players to throw at least four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – SEASON; TEAM (GAME 1 PASSING TDs/GAME 2 PASSING TDs)

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 2018; Tampa Bay (4/4)
Patrick Mahomes – 2018; Kansas City (4/6)
Drew Bledsoe – 1997; New England (4/4)
Lamar Jackson – 2019; Baltimore (5/???)
Dak Prescott – 2019; Dallas (4/???)

Additionally, dating back to Week 17 of 2018, Prescott has recorded at least 350 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in consecutive games. Prescott can become the first player to pass for at least 350 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in three consecutive games in NFL history.​​

Week 2 features two matchups between Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks as Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, faces off with Arizona’s Kyler, the 2018 Heisman winner, while Thursday night’s matchup featured Tampa Bay’s Jzmdix Winston (2013) and Carolina’s Cam Newton (2010). This marks the first time in which two games feature Heisman-winning starting quarterbacks in the same week in NFL history.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS: In Week 1, four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards – selected in the second round, 51st overall, out of Mississippi), Baltimore wide receiver MARQUISE BROWN (147 – selected in the first round, 25th overall, out of Oklahoma), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson (131 – selected in the first round, 8th overall, out of Iowa) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125 – selected in the third round, 76th overall, out of Ohio State) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts. It marked the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history.

With at least 100 receiving yards in Week 2, they would join WILL Will Fuller (2016), DeSean Jackson (2008) and Don Looney (1940) as the only players in NFL history to record at least 100 receiving yards in each of their first two career games.

The players to record at least 100 receiving yards in each of their first two career games:

PLAYER – SEASON (TEAM, GAME 1 REC. YARDS/GAME 2 REC. YARDS)
Will Fuller – 2016 (Houston, 107/104)
DeSean Jackson – 2008 (Philadelphia, 106/110)

Don Looney – 1940 (Philadelphia, 115/129)
A.J. Brown – 2019 (Tennessee, 100/???)
Marquise Brown – 2019 (Baltimore, 147/???)
T.J. Hockenson – 2019 (Detroit, 131/???)
Terry McLaurin – 2019 (Washington, 125/???)

Additionally, with two touchdown receptions on Sunday vs. Arizona, Marquise Brown can become the first player in NFL history to record at least two touchdown receptions in each of his first two career games.

SCHUSTER & LADDERS: Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has 2,421 career receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns in 31 career games.

Smith-Schuster, who will be 22 years and 297 days old on Sunday vs. Seattle, needs 79 receiving yards to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (22 years, 310 days) as the youngest player in NFL history to reach 2,500 career receiving yards. ​

The youngest players to reach 2,500 career receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (AGE)
Randy Moss (HOF), Minnesota (22 years, 310 days)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (23 years, 31 days)
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (23 years, 35 days)
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland (23 years, 39 days)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh (22 years, 297 days*)
*On Sunday

GET YOUR KITTLE CORN READY: San Francisco tight end George Kittle has 1,946 career receiving yards in 32 career games and set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) in a single season in NFL history in 2018.

With 54 receiving yards on Sunday at Cincinnati, Kittle would tie Dave Kocourek (33 games) as the third-fastest tight end to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in NFL history. The only tight ends to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in fewer games o Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Ditka (30 games) and Kellen Winslow Sr. (31 games). ​

The tight ends to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES TO REACH 2,000 REC. YARDS)
Mike Ditka (HOF), Chicago (30)
Kellen Winslow Sr. (HOF), San Diego (31)
Dave Kocourek, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers (33)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (34)
Kellen Winslow Jr., Cleveland (34)
George Kittle, San Francisco (32)* (1,946 yards)
*Has 1,946 receiving yards in 32 career games

Week two got underway in Charlotte Thursday night as Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston edged out Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in a NFC South matchup featuring two former Heisman winners in a contest that was delayed by bad weather. The week comes to an end in upstate New Jersey as the New York Jets hosts Cleveland in primetime at 8 p,m. on ESPN. As for last week, 7-9 was not all that great but it was better than nothing. An NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint and as Chris Berman says “That’s why they play the games!” With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week two.

Philadelphia (1-0) at ATLANTA (0-1), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Cheese steak meets chicken and waffles as Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Big Peach to face off against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. While the Eagles come off a win at home against Washington last Sunday, the Falcons look to even their record after a loss on the road to Minnesota in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Philadelphia erased a 20-7 deficit at the half last Sunday against NFC East rival Washington and proceeded to outscore the Redskins 25-7 to come away 32-27 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz threw for 313 yards and no interceptions, while the Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28, with Case Keenum throwing for 380 yards (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked once without an interception). Philadelphia went 11 of 17 on third down tries (the Eagles were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and they would ruled the clock and keep the ball for 34:27, while the Redskins kept the ball for 25:33, going 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Falcons found themselves being shut out for three quarters at Minnesota in the season opener for both clubs, struggling and leaving the Twin Cities with the 28-12 loss. Atlanta trailed 21-0 at the break and could never really get on track until the final 15 minutes of play when Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones each TD passes from Ryan. Minnesota ran roughshod on Atlanta, outrushing the Falcons 172-73 (Minnesota’s Delvin Cook led all rushers with 111 yards and a rushing TD), while Ryan threw for 304 yards with the two TDs but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 98 yards with a TD toss to Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked once but did not throw an interception). While Atlanta was 2 for 8 on third down at US Bank Stadium, they struck gold on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:13, while the Vikings held the ball for 29:47, going 5 for 10 on third down tries.

Philadelphia leads the series 17-13-1, the Eagles have outscored Atlanta 670-574 and have come away with wins in the last two regular season meetings, including an 18-12 win last year in the City of Brotherly Love (Atlanta’s last win in the series came in the Big Peach by a final of 26-24 in the old Georgia Dome). The two clubs didn’t wait around long to meet as they faced off in the season opener on a Thursday night. Atlanta led 6-3 at the break before the Eagles, fresh off a Super Bowl victory over New England, would go on to outscore the Falcons 15-6 in the final 30 minutes of play, taking the lead for good with an 11-yard run by Joseph Ajayi and a two-point conversion by Ajayi with 2:19 left in regulation. Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman gave the Falcons the lead temporarily with 9:48 left in the contest before Ajayi scored his second TD of the night, sending Eagles fans home happy after Philadelphia held off a late Atlanta rally in the final seconds of the contest.

Philadelphia outrushed Atlanta 113-74 and Nick Foles, not Wentz, threw for 117 yards, while Ryan threw for 251 yards (Ryan was sacked four times, Foles was sacked twice, both threw an interception). Atlanta on third down tries went 4 of 15 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:50, while the Eagles ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 32:10, while going 50 percent on third down at 8 for 16.

In the week one meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were favored by 1 point and the over/under was a whopping 45. Philadelphia covered, winning by 6 but neither team covered the over/under, as the two clubs combined to score 30 points. In the Sunday night contest in the Deep South, Philadelphia’s a 1-point favorite again but this time the over/under’s 51. Aw, what the heck… let’s make this one “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 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal 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?”)

Philadelphia looks to go 2-0. Atlanta looks to even their record and get revenge at home for the loss to the Eagles last year. Revenge is a dish best served cold, the saying goes and the Falcons will be feasting. Atlanta covers the 1 in the Big Peach and comes away with the Sunday night win.

Arizona (0-0-1) at Baltimore (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of young singal callers meet in Charm City as the Baltimore Ravens host the Arizona Cardinals in an early afternoon (early morning Phoenix time) kick off with number one round pick Kyler Murray facing off against Lamar Jackson at M&T Bank Stadium.

Arizona trailed Detroit 17-3 at the half (the two played a scoreless first quarter), then rallied to even things up with 43 seconds left when Murray and all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches for 113 yards) connected on a 4-yard TD toss, then went for two and found success as Murray and WR Christian Kirk connected on the two-point try to tie things up at 24-24. After the Cardinals held off a late Detroit rally that would have given the Lions the win in regulation, the two clubs went to overtime and Arizona won the toss, making their way down the field. The Desert Angry Birds would get themselves as close as Detroit’s 10-yard line, coming no closer as Zane Gonzalez connected on a 28-yard field goal in the overtime. Detroit and Matthew Stafford would get the ball back in the extra period and they would make their way down the field themselves, with Arizona stopping them at their 15-yard, forcing the Lions to use Matt Prater’s leg to re-tie the contest at 27-27. Arizona got the ball back, moving as far as the Lions’ 46-yard before they had to punt, giving Detroit the ball back with 59 seconds left. Detroit’s drive sputtered in their final chance to reclaim the lead and their drive got them only to their 10-yard line, ending the contest.

Detroit barely outrushed Arizona 116-112 and Murray threw for 308 yards with five sacks and an interception, while Stafford threw for 385 yards and three sacks (Murray threw a pair of TDs, including the TD that put the Desert Angry Birds to within two, while Stafford threw three TDs, one to WR Danny Amendola). The two clubs were a combined 15 for 40 on third down tries in the desert (Arizona was 9 of 22, Detroit was 6 of 18; the Lions were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 39:23 to Arizona’s 30:37.

Baltimore manhandled Miami in the Sunshine State last Sunday, taking the Dolphins to task and the woodshed by a 59-10 final.
The Ravens led 42-10 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium and never looked back in the lopsided season opener and would score an additional 17 second-half points unchallenged. While rushing for 265 yards (Mark Ingram led the way with 107 yards and a pair of TDs), the Ravens held Miami to a dismal 21 yards. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs, connecting with fellow rookie WR Marquise Brown on two of those tosses, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 185 yards and a TD with a pair of sacks and an interception. Baltimore was 7 for 11 on third down (the Ravens were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and held on to the pigskin for 40:07, while Miami was 3 for 10 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 19:53.

The Ravens hold a 4-2 lead in the series and Baltimore has outscored the Desert Angry Birds 126-117. Their last meeting was in 2015 in the desert and the Cardinals broke a three-game losing streak against Baltimore, taking a 26-18 win at State Farm Stadium. Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City, as they would take a 30-27 win in 2011. Baltimore’s favored by 13 1/2 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. The 46 1/2 makes sense… the 13 1/2 has us scratching our heads. Baltimore is good but they’re not 13 1/2 good. Still, the Ravens prevail in Charm City and takes the win at home.

San Francisco (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers travel to the shores of the Ohio River as they face off against Andy Dalton and the Cinicnnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Both teams were on the road in their season openers, with San Francisco winning in the Sunshine State, while Cincinnati saw Seattle rally in the Pacific Northwest to fall by a point.

The 49ers trailed Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay 7-6 at the intermission at Raymond James Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Bucs 25-10 in the final 30 minutes of play to come away 31-17 in the Sunshine State. Tampa Bay did outrush San Francisco 121-98 but turned the ball over four times in the loss. Winston threw for 121 yards and a TD but was picked off three times and sacked once, while Garoppolo threw for 166 yards with a TD and an interception. Tampa Bay was 5 of 11 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:56, while the 49ers ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:04, while going 5 for 13 on third down conversions.

Cincinnati let a 17-14 halftime lead get away from them in Seattle as the Seahawks and Russell Wilson stormed back to take a 21-20 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Wilson, despite being sacked four times, threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 418 yards in the Pacific Northwest (Dalton also threw a pair of TDs; Dalton was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times, neither man threw an interception). Neither club came close to the 100-yard rushing barrier but Seattle did outrush the Bengals 72-34 and Seattle, who forced three Bengals fumbles, went 4 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:10. Cincinnati actually ruled the clock in the loss, keeping the pigskin for 35:50 and went 6 of 15 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The 49ers hold a 9-4 lead in the series and San Francisco has outscored Cincinnati 286-255. Their last meeting took place in 2015 in San Francisco at old Candlestick Park by a final of 24-14, while the 49ers’ last win in the series came in Cincinnati by a 13-8 tally in 2011. Cincinnati’s favored by a point and the over/under’s 44 1/2. These two teams struggled to keep their heads above water last year and while they’re not exactly world beaters yet, this one might be worth your time. Bengals cover the 1 along the shores of the Ohio River and takes the win at home.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit (0-0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Phililp Rivers vs. Matthew Stafford. A pair of future Hall of Fame qbs meet in the Motor City for an afternoon (early morning in Los Angeles) contest at Ford Field. Both teams played overtime contests last Sunday in their openers with the Chargers coming away winners at home, while the Lions fought for a tie in the desert.

Rivers and the Bolts led Indianapolis 17-6 at the intermisson at Dignity Health Sports Park, only to watch Jacoby Brissett and WR T.Y. Hilton connect on a 19-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in regulation before RB Austin Ekeler scored on a 7-yard run with 5:01 left in the extra period to take a 30-24 win at home. Indianapolis outrushed the Chargers 203-125 and Colts RB Marlon Mack led all rushers with 174 yards and a TD of his own, while Ekeler ran for 58 yards and the OT game-winner. Rivers threw for 333 yards and three TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 190 yards and a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks. The Chargers went 7 of 11 on third down tries on the West Coast and kept the ball for 32:50 (including the overtime), while the Colts kept the ball for 32:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Detroit led Arizona 17-3 at the half (the two played a scoreless first quarter), then watched the Cardinals rally to take a 27-27 overtime tie in the desert. Arizona would even things up with 43 seconds left when rookie QB Kyler Murray and all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches for 113 yards) connected on a 4-yard TD toss, then went for two and found success as Murray and WR Christian Kirk connected on the two-point try to tie things up at 24-24. After the Cardinals held off a late Detroit rally that would have given the Lions the win in regulation, the two clubs went to overtime and Arizona won the toss, making their way down the field. The Desert Angry Birds would get themselves as close as Detroit’s 10-yard line, coming no closer as Zane Gonzalez connected on a 28-yard field goal in the overtime. Detroit and Matthew Stafford would get the ball back in the extra period and they would make their way down the field themselves, with Arizona stopping them at their 15-yard, forcing the Lions to use Matt Prater’s leg to re-tie the contest at 27-27. Arizona got the ball back, moving as far as the Lions’ 46-yard before they had to punt, giving Detroit the ball back with 59 seconds left. Detroit’s drive sputtered in their final chance to reclaim the lead and their drive got them only to their 10-yard line, ending the contest.

Detroit barely outrushed Arizona 116-112 and Murray threw for 308 yards with five sacks and an interception, while Stafford threw for 385 yards and three sacks (Murray threw a pair of TDs, including the TD that put the Desert Angry Birds to within two, while Stafford threw three TDs, one to WR Danny Amendola). The two clubs were a combined 15 for 40 on third down tries in the desert (Arizona was 9 of 22, Detroit was 6 of 18; the Lions were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 39:23 to Arizona’s 30:37.

Including games that took place in San Diego, the Chargers lead the series 7-4 but the Lions have outscored the Bolts 250-244. Their last meeting? 2015 in San Diego and the Chargers and Rivers came away with the 33-28 win, while Detroit’s last win in the series came in the Motor City by a final of 38-10 in 2011. The Chargers find themselves being favored by 2 1/2 on the road and the over/under is 47 1/2. These teams would like nothing more than to not play another overtime game. Chargers cover the 2 1/2 and win in the Motor City.

Minnesota (1-0) at Green Bay (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC North (or NFC Norris, as Chris Berman calls it) meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as Green Bay hosts the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau. Both teams took wins in their openers last week.

Minnesota held Atlanta scoreless for three quarters at Minnesota in the season opener for both clubs, coming away 28-12 winners in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota led 21-0 at the break and Atlanta could never really get on track until the final 15 minutes of play when Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones each TD passes from Matt Ryan. Minnesota ran roughshod on Atlanta, outrushing the Falcons 172-73 (Minnesota’s Delvin Cook led all rushers with 111 yards and a rushing TD), while Ryan threw for 304 yards with the two TDs but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 98 yards with a TD toss to Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked once but did not throw an interception). While Atlanta was 2 for 8 on third down at US Bank Stadium, they struck gold on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:13, while the Vikings held the ball for 29:47, going 5 for 10 on third down tries.

Green Bay won their season opener last Thursday night against Chicago at Soldier Field. After trailing 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Packers took a 7-3 lead with them to the locker room, added a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, then held off a late Chicago rally to take a 10-3 win in the Windy City. The lone TD in the contest came when Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on an 8-yard TD toss early in the second quarter after Chicago’s Eddy Pineiro opened the scoring in the contest with a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The contest was nothing to write home about as far as rushing yardage was concerned and neither team breached the 50-yard mark, let alone the 100-yard mark. Green Bay barely outrushed Chicago 47-46 and Rodgers threw for 203 yards with the only TD in the contest, while Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards with an interception (both men were sacked five times). Green Bay was a dismal 2 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 31:03, while Chicago would keep the ball for 28:57, going 3 of 15 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Green Bay leads the series 59-53-3 and the Packers have outscored the Purple People Eaters 2,505-2,242. The Vikings have won three of the last four meetings in the series, tying in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst and taking a win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in their last two contests. Green Bay’s last win over the Vikings? 2106 on the Frozen Tundra by a final of 38-25.

Meeting number one… Lambeau Field in week two. Rodgers and Green Bay led 20-7 after three quarters of play (the Packers led 17-7 at the intermission), only to watch the Vikings outscore them in the fourth quarter 22-9 to come away with the 29-29 overtime tie. Mason Crosby kicked five field goals for the Packers, only to watch the Vikings tie things up in regulation with 31 seconds left when Cousins and Thielen connected on a 22-yard TD toss to pull themselve to within two, then tied things up when Cousins and Stefan Diggs connected on a two-point conversion. The two clubs then proceeded to play scoreless football in the overtime. Green Bay outrushed Minnesota 98-68, Rodgers would throw for 281 yards and a TD (Rodgers was sacked four times), while Cousins threw for 425 yards and four TDs (he was sacked twice and threw an interception). Minnesota was 7 of 14 on third down conversions in upstate Wisconsin and kept the ball for 31:52, while Green Bay kept the pigskin for 38:08 and went 4 for 13 on third down.

First meeting in the books, right?

Second meeting… Minneapolis and US Bank Stadium in week 12 and while the second meeting was close, the Vikings prevailed at home by a final of 24-17. Green Bay and Minnesota played to a 17-17 tie at the half, then floored the gas in the second half, outscoring Green Bay 10-3 in the final 30 minutes to take the win. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 91-82 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Rodgers threw for 198 yards and a TD (four sacks), while Cousins threw for 342 yards and three TDs (connecting with Thielen and Diggs on two of the tosses with a pair of sacks; neither man threw an interception). Minnesota was 7 of 14 on third down conversions, while the Packers struggled, going 2 of 10 (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down tries) and Minnesota ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:37 to Green Bay’s 25:23.

In the week two contest at Lambeau, Green Bay was favored by 2 but neither team covered the spread because of the tie but the 58 points that were scored were more than enough to cover the 46 over/under. In the second meeting in week 12 in the Twin Cities, the Vikings covered the 3 1/2 point spread, winning by 7 but came up short of the 48 over/under by 7. This time around, the Packers are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 44 1/2. The winner will have first place all to themselves in the NFC North. Green Bay prevails in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst, covering the 2 1/2 at Lambeau.

Jacksonville (0-1) at Houston (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of winless AFC South rivals meet in the Lone Star State as J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans host Jacksonville at NRG Stadium. Both clubs look to break into the win column after losses in their season openers.

The Jaguars lost at home 40-26 to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field last Sunday. The Chiefs led 23-13 at the break, then proceeded to floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of play to take the win in the Sunshine State. Kansas City outrushed Jacksonville 113-81, with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 81 yards. Mahomes threw for 378 yards with three TD tosses to WR Sammy Irvin without a sack or interception, while Jaguar rookie QB Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception. Both Kansas City and Jacksonville went 5 for 10 on third down conversions and the Chiefs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15 to Jacksonville’s 28:45.

Houston looks to right its ship at home after they let a 14-3 halftime lead at New Orleans get away from them as the Saints opened their 2019 campaign with a 30-28 come-from-behind last-second win over the Texans Monday night in the Big Easy. After a scoreless first quarter, the Texans took the 11-point lead at the intermission thanks to a pair of TDs from DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Watson. The Saints would go on to outscore Houston 27-14 in the last 30 minutes of action, with the game winner coming from K Wil Lutz as time expired. New Orelans set up the game winning drive, getting ball back with 37 seconds left and used a 6-play, 35-yard drive that used all of the 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Houston outrushed New Orleans 180-148 and Waston threw for 268 yards and three TDs with six sacks and an interception, while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards with a sack and an interception. Both teams did well on third down conversions in the Monday night contest (Houston was 7 of 13, the Texans were 1 of 1 on fourth down; New Orleans was 7 of 11) and New Orleans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:13, while the Texans held on to the pigskin for 29:47.

The Texans lead the series 21-13, have outscored the Jaguars 747-678 and swept last year’s two-game series (Jacksonville’s last win over Houston came in 2017 in the Sunshine State by a final of 45-7).

Meeting number one… Jacksonville in week seven and the Texans held the Jaguars to a third-quarter TD pass from Cody Keesler to T.Y. Hilton to take a 20-7 win at TIAA Bank Field. Houston led 13-0 at the intermission and was in control throughout the contest. Houston outrushed Jacksonville 141-70 with Texans RB Lamar Miller leading all rushers with 100 yards and a TD. Watson threw for 139 yards and a TD and a sack but did not throw an interception, while Keesler threw for 156 yards with the lone TD toss (Keesler was sacked four times and picked off once). Houston, forcing three Jacksonville turnovers in the Sunshine State, went 8 of 16 on third down and kept the ball for 29:35, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 30:25, going 9 of 19 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The Texans completed the sweep in the second meeting, which took place in the Lone Star State in week 17. Houston had no problem with the Jaguars, holding Jacksonville to a Kai Forbath field goal in the first quarter and scored their 20 points unchallenged to take a 20-3 win in the season finale for both clubs. Watson and Miller accounted for both Texans TDs in the win that prepared them for the post-season. Houston held Jacksonville to 30 yards rushing and sacked Blake Bortles (107 yards) three times and picked him off once, while Watson threw for 234 yards, although he was sacked six times. The Texans were 6 of 17 on third down but were perfect on fourth down in their only try, keeping the ball for 35:07, while Jacksonville kept it for 24:53, going 3 of 13 on third down tries.

Jacksonville was favored by 4 1/2 points in the week seven contest in the Sunshine State and Houston covered, winning by 13. Neither club covered the 42 1/2 over/under, as both teams combined for 27 points. In the season finale in the Lone Star State, the Texans easily covered the 7-point spread, winning by 17 but as was the case in the first meeting, neither club covered the pver/under of 40 1/2, tallying only 23 points. Houston’s favored by 8 1/2 in the Lone Star State and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Houston takes this one at home but expect the Jaguars to make things closer than 8 1/2.

New England (1-0) at Miami (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. They meet again. A pair of AFC East rivals square off in Miami as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphis in Miami Shores.

The defending Super Bowl champs raised their sixth banner last Sunday night in Foxboro, then proceeeded to hold Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger (276 yards, interception, sack) to a Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter as they manhandled the Steelers 33-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots led 20-0 at the break, then outscored their guests from the Steel City 13-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. New England rushed for 99 yards in the lopsided win, holding the Steelers to 32 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 341 yards and three TDs without an interception (he was sacked once). New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions and held the ball for 32:33, while the Dolphins went 27:27 in possession time, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Miami in the Sunshine State last Sunday, found themselves being taken to task and the woodshed by a 59-10 final at home last Sunday against Baltimore. The Dolphins trailed 42-10 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium and never looked back in the lopsided season opener and would score an additional 17 second-half points unchallenged. While rushing for 265 yards (Mark Ingram led the way with 107 yards and a pair of TDs), the Ravens held Miami to a dismal 21 yards. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs, connecting with fellow rookie WR Marquise Brown on two of those tosses, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 185 yards and a TD with a pair of sacks and an interception. Baltimore was 7 for 11 on third down (the Ravens were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and held on to the pigskin for 40:07, while Miami was 3 for 10 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 19:53.

Miami leads the series 54-50 and including games that were played in Boston’s Fenway Park and the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins have outscored New England 2,268-2,239. The two clubs split last season’s contests, with each team taking wins at home.

Meeting number one? Foxboro. Week four. Miami found themselves held to a fourth-quarter TD as the Patriots took care of Miami 38-7. Leading 24-0 at the half and 31-0 after three quarters, Brady and the Pats burned Miami for 274 yards and three TDs, despite throwing two interceptions (Ryan Tannehill threw for 100 yards with a sack and interception for Miami), while the Pats ran for 175 yards (New England’s Sony Michel led all rushers with 112 yards and a TD), holding Miami to 56 yards on the ground. New England went 10 of 15 on third down conversions in Foxboro and held on to the ball for 36:22, while the Dolphins were 3 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:38.

Round two… Miami in week 14 and the Dolphins would get some last-second revenge on Brady (358 yards, three TDs, two sacks) in the Sunshine State, erasing a 27-21 deficit at the intermission to come away 34-33 winners at Hard Rock Stadium. New England led by 6 at the break, then watched Miami chip away at the lead as the Dolphins used a 1-play, 69-yard drive that used all of the 16 seconds left in the contest with no time outs to come away with the win and send their fans home happy, thanks to a hook-and-ladder pass from Ryan Tannehill (265 yards, three TDs, 4 sacks) to DeVante Parker, who pitcher the ball to Kenyon Drake, who took it 52 yards into the end zone for the game winner. Miami outrushed New England 189-77 with Frank Gore leading the way with 92 yards on the ground. New England was 9 of 16 on third down tries and held the ball for 35:14, while Miami kept the pigskin for 24:46, including the final 16 seconds of the contest, going 1 of 7 on third down.

In the week four contest in Foxboro, New England easily covered the 7-point spread, winning by 31 but both clubs missed the 47 1/2 over/under, scoring 45 points. In the rematch in the Sunshine State, New England was favored again, this time by 8 1/2 but Miami won by a single point. Both clubs did cover the 47 1/2 over/under with 67 points. The odds makers in Vegas have made New England a 19-point road favorite with a 47 1/2 over/under. The 47 1/2 is reasonable. 19 points? Seriously? The Dolphins were a bad team last week but they’re not 19 points bad. History does have a strange way of repeating itself and while Miami’s not going to cover the 19, they will take the win in the Sunshine State.

Buffalo (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The Bills spend another week in upstate New Jersey as they square off against Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants at Met Life Stadium. The Bills come off a huge win over the Jets in their season opener, while the Giants return home from a loss against NFC East foe Dallas.

Buffalo erased a 16-3 deficit after three quarters of play (they trailed 6-0 at the half) and scored 14 fourth quarter points against Sam Darnold (175 yards, TD, four sacks) and the New York Jets unchallenged to escape Met Life Stadium with a 17-16 win. Bills QB Josh Allen (254 yards) used his arm and legs in the final 15 minutes of action, rushing for a 1-yard score early in the fourth and then connecting with WR Josh Brown with three minutes left in regulation to take the win. Buffalo outrushed the Jets 128-68, with Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary leading all rushers with 70. Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while the Jets were 32:01 in time of possession, going 7 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Manning (306 yards, sack) and TE Evan Engram gave the Giants the early lead against Dallas and Dak Prescott (405 yards, four TDs) only to see that lead get away from them as the Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half unchallenged, losing on the road 35-17. Dallas took that 21-7 lead with them to the locker room and kept the Giants in check in the second half. New York did outrush Dallas 151-75 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 120 yards for the Giants at AT&T Stadium. The Giants were 2 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:42, while Dallas ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:18, while going 6 of 10 on third down.

The series is all even at 6-6 and the Bills have outscored the Giants 220-219. However… Big Blue has won the last three meetings, including a 24-10 in 2015 in upstate New York, while Buffalo’s last win came in 2003 in the Meadowlands by a final of 24-7. The Bills are favored by 2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Giants avenge their Met Life Stadium neighors and pull the upset over the Bills, covering the 2.

Seattle (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger meet in an early Sunday afternoon contest at Heinz Field. Seattle enters the contest win a win under their belts, while the Steelers look to resotre some order in the AFC.

Seattle erased a 17-14 halftime deficit in Seattle against the Bengals as the Seahawks and Wilson stormed back to take a 21-20 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Wilson, despite being sacked four times, threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 418 yards in the Pacific Northwest (Dalton also threw a pair of TDs; Dalton was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times, neither man threw an interception). Neither club came close to the 100-yard rushing barrier but Seattle did outrush the Bengals 72-34 and Seattle, who forced three Bengals fumbles, went 4 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:10. Cincinnati actually ruled the clock in the loss, keeping the pigskin for 35:50 and went 6 of 15 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Roethlisberger (276 yards, interception, sack) and the Steelers watched New England raise their Super Bowl sixth banner last Sunday night in Foxboro, then were held to a Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter as they were manhandled 33-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots led 20-0 at the break, then outscored their guests from the Steel City 13-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. New England rushed for 99 yards in the lopsided win, holding the Steelers to 32 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 341 yards and three TDs without an interception (he was sacked once). New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions and held the ball for 32:33, while the Dolphins went 27:27 in possession time, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Seattle leads the series 9-8 and the Seahawks have outscored Pittsburgh 318-272. Their last meeting was 2015 in the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks held off Pittsburgh 39-30, while Pittsburgh’s last win came in the Steel City in 2011, as they shut out the Seahawks 24-0. Pittsburgh’s favored by 4 and the over/under is 46 1/2. Seattle will make it close but the Steelers get themselves in the win column at home and could cover the 4.

Indianapolis (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts look for their first win of the 2019 campaign as they travel to Music City to face off against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in an early AFC South matchup.

Brissett and Indianapolis trailed Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers 17-6 at the intermisson at Dignity Health Sports Park, then connected with WR T.Y. Hilton connect on a 19-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in regulation before Chargers RB Austin Ekeler scored on a 7-yard run with 5:01 left in the extra period to fall to Philip Rivers and the Chargers 30-24. Indianapolis outrushed the Chargers 203-125 and Colts RB Marlon Mack led all rushers with 174 yards and a TD of his own, while Ekeler ran for 58 yards and the OT game-winner. Rivers threw for 333 yards and three TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Brissett threw for 190 yards and a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks. The Chargers went 7 of 11 on third down tries on the West Coast and kept the ball for 32:50 (including the overtime), while the Colts kept the ball for 32:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Titans led Cleveland and Baker Mayfield 12-6 at the half at First Energy Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Browns 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming away 43-13 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. The Titans outrushed the Browns 123-102 and made life less than pleasant for Mayfield (285 yards), sacking him five times (once for a safety) and picking him off three times, while Mariota had his way with Cleveland, throwing for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, despite being sacked four times. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Tennessee was 2 of 10, the Browns were 1 of 10; Cleveland was 0 for 2 on fourth down) but the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:42 to Tennessee’s 29:18.

Including games that were played in Baltimore and Houston when the Titans were known as the Oilers, the Colts lead the series 33-15 and have outscored Tennessee 1,252-940. Indy swept the series last year, taking both wins in Nashville and Indianapolis (Tennessee’s last win in the series came in 2017, when they left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 20-16 win).

The first meeting was week 11 in the Hoosier State and the Colts got three TDs from Andrew Luck and came away with a 38-10 win in the Hoosier State. Leading 24-3 at the half, Indianapolis went on to outpace the Titans 14-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Colts outrushed Tennessee 102-87 and Luck threw for 297 yards and the three TDs without a sack or interception, while Mariota threw for 85 yards before being pulled after he was sacked four times and threw an interception. Indy went 5 of 10 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:16, while the Titans were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 28:44.

The Colts made it a clean sweep in their second meeting in week 17 in what would be Luck’s final game in an NFL uniform, as the Colts were 33-17 winners at Nissan Stadium. Leading 17-10 at the half, Indianapolis floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring Tennessee 16-7. Marlon Mack led all rushers with 119 yards and a TD as the Colts outrushed Tennessee 158-93 (Tennessee’s Derek Henry accounted for all of the Titans’ rushing yardage) and Luck threw for 285 yards and three TDs, despite being sacked once and picked off once, while Blaine Gabbert threw for 165 yards with a TD and a pair of picks. The Colts were 5 of 13 on third down (they did quite well on fourth down, going 1 of 1) and kept the ball for 40:13, while the Titans were 1 of 9 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 19:47.

In the week 11 contest at Lucas Oil, the Colts were favored by 2 1/2 and covered the spread, winning by 28 and both teams matched the 48 over/under. The Colts were favored by 3 in the Music City and covered, winning by 16 and both teams took care of the 43 1/2 over/under with 50 points. Tennessee’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Both of those numbers are reasonable. Titans cover the 3 in the Music City and takes the win at home.

Dallas (1-0) at Washington (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. Forget the records. These two teams DON’T like each other. Football’s answer to the Capulets vs. the Montagues, dogs vs. cats, Crips vs. Bloods, Hatfields vs. McCoys. See where we’re going with this? NFC East rivals Dallas and Washington meet in Landover in the first of their two meetings. Both clubs played divisional rivals in their season openers, with Dallas coming away with a win at home, while the Redskins blew a lead on the road and took a loss.

Dallas watched Eli Manning (306 yards, sack) and TE Evan Engram take the early lead against Dallas and Dak Prescott (405 yards, four TDs) only to see that lead get away from them as the Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half unchallenged, losing on the road 35-17. Dallas took that 21-7 lead with them to the locker room and kept the Giants in check in the second half. New York did outrush Dallas 151-75 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 120 yards for the Giants at AT&T Stadium. The Giants were 2 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:42, while Dallas ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:18, while going 6 of 10 on third down.

Washington watched a 20-7 lead at the half last Sunday against NFC East rival Philadelphia get away from them as the Eagles proceeded to outscore the Redskins 25-7 to come away 32-27 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz threw for 313 yards and no interceptions, while the Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28, with Case Keenum throwing for 380 yards (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked once without an interception). Philadelphia went 11 of 17 on third down tries (the Eagles were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and they would ruled the clock and keep the ball for 34:27, while the Redskins kept the ball for 25:33, going 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas holds a 71-43-2 lead in the series, which includes games that were played in the Cotton Bowl and RFK Stadium and they have outscored Washington 2,709-2,238. The two clubs split their contests last year, each taking wins at home.

Their first meeting was in Landover in week seven and the Redskins held off a late Dallas rally to come away with the 20-17 win at FedEx Field. Washington and Dallas entered the intermission tied at 7-7 and the Redskins would take a 10-7 lead with them to the start of the fourth quarter, where both teams would play even football at that point. Prescott (273 yards, TD, four sacks) would pull the Cowboys to within three with 97 seconds left to make the contest a 3-point affair. Dallas then tried the onside kick and failed, allowing Washington to get the ball back and run out the clock. Washington outrushed Dallas 130-73, with Adrian Peterson leading the way with 99 yards, while Alex Smith threw for 178 yards and a TD without an interception (he was sacked once, Prescott was sacked four times). Washington went 3 of 12 on third down (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:55, while the Cowboys, who held the ball for 29:05, went 5 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas would get their revenge at AT&T Stadium in week 12 and just like the first contest, things were close but Prescott and the Cowboys prevailed by a final of 31-23. Dallas led 10-7 at the half and took a 24-13 lead with them to the fourth quarter before Washington would make things closer than Dallas would like as Dustin Hopkins made the contest an eight-point affair with 73 seconds left but Washington would get no closer. Dallas outrushed Washington 146-80 and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 121 yards ahd a TD, while Prescott threw for 289 yards. For Washington, this time it was Colt McCoy under center, as he threw for 268 yards (McCoy was sacked three times with three interception, Prescott was sacked four times; each QB threw two TDs). In the rematch in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys were 6 of 14 on third down (Dallas was 0 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 33:23, while Washington held on to the football for 26:37, while going 4 of 11 on third down.

Washington was favored by 1 in the week seven contest and covered the spread, winning by 3. The 41 1/2 over/under was untouched as both clubs combined for 37 points. In the week 12 contest, the odds makers liked Dallas as a 7 1/2-point favorite and they barely covered, winning by 8. This time, both teams took care of the over/under (which was 41) by combining for 54 points. The spread? Dallas is favored by 5. The over/under? 46 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For Dallas, they want to be 2-0 in the NFC East. For Washington, they want to restore some order. Will Redskins fans be singing “Hail to the Redskins” or “Hell, it’s the Redskins?” Hail sounds better. Washington pulls off the upset at Landover and covers the 5.

Kansas City (1-0) at Oakland (1-0), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. As far as rivalries go, these two teams DO NOT like each other. They’re not Facebook friends, they don’t follow each other on Twitter. They meet again. Kansas City and Oakland, two former AFL teams meet on the East side of San Francisco Bay at the Oakland Coliseum. Both teams are coming off wins in their season openers last week.

Mahomes and the Chiefs took Jacksonville to task last Sunday in the Sunshine State and the Chiefs prevailed 40-26 at TIAA Bank Field last Sunday. Leading from start to finish, Kansas City led 23-13 at the break, then proceeded to floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of play to take the win in the Sunshine State. The Chiefs outrushed Jacksonville 113-81, with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 81 yards. Mahomes threw for 378 yards with three TD tosses to WR Sammy Irvin without a sack or interception, while Jaguar rookie QB Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception. Both Kansas City and Jacksonville went 5 for 10 on third down conversions and the Chiefs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15 to Jacksonville’s 28:45.

Oakland held off a late Denver rally last Monday night at home to take a 24-16 decision at Oakland Monday night. The Silver and Black led 14-0 at the half before Denver made their first dent on the scoreboard in the third when K Brian McManus kicked a pair of 26-yard field goals in the frame. Denver would pull themselves to within eight with 2:15 when Broncos QB Joe Flacco (269 yards, three sacks) and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected on a 1-yard toss. The Broncos then tried and failed on the onside kick attempt, giving Oakland the ball back and allowing them to run out the clock. Oakland outrushed Denver 98-95 and Flacco threw for 268 yards with three sacks, while Derek Carr threw for 259 yards with a TD and no sacks (both Flacco and Carr did not throw an interception).

Including the games that were played in Dallas (when the Chiefs were known as the Texans), at Swope Field and in Los Angeles, the Chiefs lead the series 63-52-2, they have outscored the Raiders 2,496-2,253 and they have won the last three meetings, including sweeping the two contests they played last year (Oakland’s last win over the Chiefs came in 2017 in Oakland, when they were 31-30 winners).

Round one… week 13 in Oakland. Kansas City led 19-7 at the half at the Coliseum and held off the Silver and Black, coming away 40-33 winners. Kansas City outrushed Oakland 174-171 (Oakland’s Jalen Richard led all rushers with 95 yards) and Mahomes threw for 295 yards with four TDs (two of them to TE Travis Kelce, who caught 12 passes for 168 yards) and no sacks or interceptions, while Carr threw for 285 yards and three TDs (Carr was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). The Chiefs were 6 of 13 on third down but went 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:14. As for the Raiders? They were 9 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:46.

Kansas City made it a clean sweep of the series in week 17 at Arrowhead, holding the Raiders to a Daniel Carlson field goal late in the first half to take the 35-3 win. Tyreek Hill had a rushing TD and a TD pass from Mahomes (281 yards, two TDs, interception), even though the Raiders did outrush Kansas City 127-99 with Doug Martin leading all rushers with 100 yards in the contest and Carr threw for 185 yards but was sacked three times and picked off twice. Kansas City went 5 of 9 on third down tries in the Show-Me State (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:04, while the Raiders kept the ball for 33:56, while they went 4 for 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

While Kansas City was favored by 15 in the week 13 contest, they would only win by 7 but both clubs covered the 55 1/2 over/under, tallying 73 points. In the season finale in the Show-Me State, the Chiefs were favored by 13 1/2 and they obliged the odds makers, covering the spread with their 32-point win. The 38 combined points between Kansas City and Oakland was no match for the 54 over/under in the contest. The Chiefs are favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 53 1/2. They’ll meet again in week 13 in Kansas City but for now, the Raiders would like to get some revenge on their AFC West rivals. Chiefs fans need not worry. Oakland will make it interesting but the Chiefs will prevail on the road, taking the win and covering the 7 1/2.

Chicago (0-1) at Denver (0-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A pair of 0-1 teams meet in the Rocky Mountains as Chicago makes their way to Denver to take on the Broncos in a late afternoon contest.

Da Bears dropped their home opener last Thursday night against Green Bay at Soldier Field. After leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, Bears fans watched with horror as the Packers took a 7-3 lead with them to the locker room, added a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, then held off a late Chicago rally to take a 10-3 win in the Windy City. The lone TD in the contest came when Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on an 8-yard TD toss early in the second quarter after Chicago’s Eddy Pineiro opened the scoring in the contest with a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The contest was nothing to write home about as far as rushing yardage was concerned and neither team breached the 50-yard mark, let alone the 100-yard mark. Green Bay barely outrushed Chicago 47-46 and Rodgers threw for 203 yards with the only TD in the contest, while Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards with an interception (both men were sacked five times). Green Bay was a dismal 2 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 31:03, while Chicago would keep the ball for 28:57, going 3 of 15 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Denver seeks its first win of the season after they dropped a 24-16 decision at Oakland Monday night. The Broncos trailed 14-0 at the half and made their first dent on the scoreboard in the third when K Brian McManus kicked a pair of 26-yard field goals in the frame. Denver would pull themselves to within eight with 2:15 when Broncos QB Joe Flacco (269 yards, three sacks) and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected on a 1-yard toss. The Broncos then tried and failed on the onside kick attempt, giving Oakland the ball back and allowing them to run out the clock. Oakland outrushed Denver 98-95 and Flacco threw for 268 yards with three sacks, while Derek Carr threw for 259 yards with a TD and no sacks (both Flacco and Carr did not throw an interception).

While the Broncos lead the series 8-7, Chicago has outscored Denver 291-250 in the series. Denver has won the last two meetings, including a 17-15 win in the Windy City in 2015, while Da Bears’ last win in the series also came in Chicago, as they were 37-34 overtime winners in 2007. Chicago’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. We’re not going to blame you for watching that “Bar Rescue” marathon (Jon Taffer blowing his gasket makes the show, ya think?) Chicago recovers from their loss to Green Bay at Soldier Field last week to take the win and covers the 2 1/2.

New Orleans (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and 717. They met twice in the Big Easy and split the two meetings, one in the regular season, one in the post-season. New Orleans travels to the West Coast for a late afternoon contest with the defending NFC champs. Both teams were victors in their season openers last week.

New Orleans erased a 14-3 halftime lead by Houston last Monday night as the Saints opened their 2019 campaign with a 30-28 come-from-behind last-second win over the Texans Monday night in the Big Easy. After a scoreless first quarter, the Texans led by 11-point lead at the intermission thanks to a pair of TDs from DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Watson. The Saints would go on to outscore Houston 27-14 in the last 30 minutes of action, with the game winner coming from K Wil Lutz as time expired. New Orelans set up the game winning drive, getting ball back with 37 seconds left and used a 6-play, 35-yard drive that used all of the 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Houston outrushed New Orleans 180-148 and Waston threw for 268 yards and three TDs with six sacks and an interception, while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards with a sack and an interception. Both teams did well on third down conversions in the Monday night contest (Houston was 7 of 13, the Texans were 1 of 1 on fourth down; New Orleans was 7 of 11) and New Orleans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:13, while the Texans held on to the pigskin for 29:47.

The Rams led Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 13-3 at the intermission after a scoreless first quarter, then held off a late Panthers rally as they would pull themselves to within a field goal with 1:58 left in the contest when Alex Armah scored on a one-yard run. The defending NFC champions outrushed Carolina 166-127, with Christian McCafferey leading the way with 128 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Rams were led by Todd Gurley with 97 yards. Newton threw for 239 yards with three sacks and an interception, while Jarred Goff threw for 186 yards with a TD, sack and interception. Carolina was 5 for 11 on third down tries at Bank of America Stadium and kept the ball for 26:44, while the Rams went 9 of 17 on third down (neither club had a fourth down attempt) and kept the ball for 33:16.

Los Angeles leads the lead series 41-33 (which includes contests that were played at old Tulane Stadium and in St. Louis) and the Rams have outscored New Orleans 1,685-1,552. New Orleans’ last regular season win in the series came last year in the Big Easy by a 45-35 final, while the Rams’ last win came in Los Angeles in 2017 by a final of 26-20.

They met twice during the 2018 season and both meetings took place in the Big Easy. Meeting number one in week nine. The Saints led 35-17 at the half, then went on to hold off the Rams 45-35. Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs, while Goff threw for 391 yards and three TDs (Goff was picked off once, neither man was sacked) for the Rams. New Orleans outrushed the Rams 141-92, with Saints RB Alvina Kamara leading the way with 82 yards and a pair of TDs (Gurley ran for 68 yards with a TD for the Rams. The Rams were 3 of 8 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:19, while the Saints took control of the ball for 33:41 and went 7 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Their second meeting? The NFC Championship game in New Orleans. The Rams trailed New Orleans 13-10 at the break before they would outscore the Saints 13-10 in regulation, then took matters into their hands as they would take advantage of a Brees’ interception in overtime to win the NFC Championship Game 26-23. New Orleans led by as much as 10 early in the third quarter before the Rams would chip away at the lead and tie things up as Lutz and Rams K Greg Zuerlein traded field goals in regulation.

The contest would be remembered not just for the Brees interception in overtime but for a penalty that was never called in regulation as Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman collided on a pass attempt by Brees. No penalty was called on the play, which angered Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. The Saints had to settle for a field goal by Lutz with 1:49 left in regulation. Los Angeles then made their way down the field after the kickoff and used a 9-play, 45-yard drive that would use 1:26 of clock and Zuerlien would tie things up at 23-23. New Orleans got the ball back after that score and knelt it down to send the contest into overtime. The Saints won the toss to start the overtime and got as far as their 34-yard line before Brees was picked off by John Johnson II, stopping whatever hopes the Saints had of going to the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles then took advantage of the New Orleans turnover when they got their chance to possess the ball, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that used only 2:12 of clock and sending Saints fans home in less than a festive mood when Zuerlein connected on a 52-yard field goal with 11:43 in the OT. Los Angeles outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Brees threw for 249 yards with a pair of sacks and the interception that ended their Super Bowl hopes, while Goff threw for 297 yards with a TD, sack and interception. The Rams were 6 of 16 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints were 6 of 14 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New Orleans covered the 1-point spread at home, winning by 10 in the week nine contest and the 80 combined points was more than enough to cover the 60 1/2 over/under. In the NFC Championship game, the Saints were again the favorite, this time by 3 1/2. The Rams’ three-point overtime win meant that they missed the spread and the 49 points that they would combine for did not come close to the 57 1/2 over/under. The odds makers have the Rams as 2 1/2 point favorites on the West Coast with a 52 1/2 over/under. For the Rams, it’s a chance to prove that they are the NFC champs; for the Saints, it’s revenge. Rams win in Los Angeles and covers the 2 1/2.

Cleveland (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week two ends in the Meadowlands as a pair of teams that are looking for their first win meet at Met Life Stadium as the Browns and Jets, the first teams to play a Monday night game in the history of the NFL, meet in upstate New Jersey.

Tennessee led Cleveland and Baker Mayfield 12-6 at the half at First Energy Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Browns 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming away 43-13 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. Tennessee outrushed the Browns 123-102 and made life less than pleasant for Mayfield (285 yards), sacking him five times (once for a safety) and picking him off three times, while Mariota had his way with Cleveland, throwing for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, despite being sacked four times. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Tennessee was 2 of 10, the Browns were 1 of 10; Cleveland was 0 for 2 on fourth down) but the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:42 to Tennessee’s 29:18.

GangGreen watched Buffalo erase a 16-3 deficit after three quarters of play (they trailed 6-0 at the half) and scored 14 fourth quarter points against Sam Darnold (175 yards, TD, four sacks) unchallenged to escape Met Life Stadium with a 17-16 win. Bills QB Josh Allen (254 yards) used his arm and legs in the final 15 minutes of action, rushing for a 1-yard score early in the fourth and then connecting with WR Josh Brown with three minutes left in regulation to take the win. Buffalo outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 128-68, with Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary leading all rushers with 70. Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while the Jets were 32:01 in time of possession, going 7 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs. Darnold will miss Monday’s contest because of a bout of mononucelosis and Trevor Siemian will take his spot.

The Browns lead the series 13-12 and have outscored GangGreen 511-503. They met last year along the shores of Lake Erie and Cleveland picked up their first win in almost two years, taking a 21-17 victory (New York’s last win in the series came in 2017 by a final of 17-14 in Cleveland).

They met in week three along the shores of Lake Erie and Cleveland erased a 14-3 deficit at the break to tie things up at 14-14 going into the finel 15 minutes of play. After Browns RB Carlos Hyde scored from from a yard out and they would go for two, New York reclaimed the lead on a 28-yard field goal by Josh Myers. That lead would not last very long as Cleveland used a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:52 to take the lead back for good when Hyde scored his second TD of the half. Cleveland then held off the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to pick up their first win in almost two years. Cleveland outrushed New York 133-107 with Hyde leading all rushers with 98 yards and the two TDs, Mayfield threw for 201 yards with a sack but did not throw an interception (Darnold threw for 169 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions). GangGreen went 6 of 15 on third down in the Thursday night week three contest (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:08, while Cleveland was 7 of 18 on third down and kept the ball for 30:52.

On Monday night, the Browns are 15-15 and have not played on MNF since 2015, where they played only one contest and took a loss in that, while the Jets are 22-31. They played only one game in 2018 but took a win in that affair. In the very first Monday night contest, which took place on September 21 of 1970, the Jets and Browns met at old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, with the game being televised by ABC (Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meridith were on the mike), the game was a sellout and Cleveland beat Joe Namath and the Jets 31-21 in that conest.

Cleveland covered the 3-point spread in the week three opener on Thursday night, winning by 4. Both clubs combined for 38 points, barely missing the 39 1/2 over/under. The Browns are favored by 3 on the road in upstate New Jersey and the over/under is 45. Both numbers are reasonable. Could history repeat? We think so. Cleveland covers the 3 and takes the Monday night win.

It’s the second half of the 2018 season.

Draft? Done.

OTA’s? Check.

Mini Camps? Done.

Preseason? Done.

Regular Season? In the books.

It’s now time for the post-season.

This time, it’s different. It’s not you lose this week, you have a bye or your next game is the following Sunday. You lose… you’re done. You win… you move on.

12 teams are left standing after a 256-game season that will see eight teams look for new coaches (Cleveland, Green Bay, Denver, Miami, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Cincinnati). 20 teams will be getting ready for the Senior Bowl, the upcoming Draft and hiring new coaches and making roster moves. Those 20 teams cleared out their locker rooms this week and with the exception of those players that are going to the Pro Bowl, their vacation started Sunday.

As for the reamining 12? Their journey gets underway Saturday. The goal for those 12 teams? To be Super Bowl champs. One team wants to repeat (Philadelphia), while the other 11 want a Lombardi of their own. Three of the four contests are rematches from regular seaosn action (Los Angeles Chargers/Batlimore, Seattle/Dallas, Indianapolis/Houston).

Win. Advance.

Lose. Next game is next year.

TURNAROUND TEAMS & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD

There are seven new playoff teams in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle.

Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

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)
2016 – 6 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

Four teams won division titles – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East) and Houston (AFC South) – after missing the playoffs last season.

The divisions with new champions in 2018:
AFC SOUTH – Houston (2018), Jacksonville (2017)
AFC NORTH – Baltimore (2018), Pittsburgh (2017)
NFC EAST – Dallas (2018), Philadelphia (2017)
NFC NORTH – Chicago (2018), Minnesota (2017)

In the 17 seasons since realignment, 29 of the 32 NFL teams (91 percent) have won a division title at least once.

How the 2018 playoff teams have fared in the 17 seasons since realignment in 2002

TEAM (DIVISION TITLES/PLAYOFF BERTHS)

New England (15/15)
Indianapolis (9/13)
Seattle (8/12)
Philadelphia (7/10)
Baltimore (5/9)
Dallas (5/7)
Houston (5/5)
Kansas City (5/8)
Los Angeles Chargers (5/7)
New Orleans (5/7)
Chicago (4/4)
Los Angeles Rams (3/4)

The 2018 field also showcases teams that have enjoyed recent postseason success. Since realignment in 2002, the New England Patriots have been to the playoffs 15 times, which is the most in the NFL.

The 2018 playoff teams with the most postseason appearances since 2002 (includes 2018):

TEAM – POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
New England – 15
Indianapolis – 13
Seattle – 12
Philadelphia – 10
Baltimore – 9

Seven of this season’s 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 1999, capturing 12 of the past 19 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI), Ravens (XXXV, XLVII), Colts (XLI), Eagles (LII), Rams (XXXIV), Saints (XLIV) and Seahawks (XLVIII).

SUPER BOWL (SEASON) – WINNER
XXXIV (1999) – St. Louis Rams*
XXXV (2000) – Baltimore*
XXXVI (2001) – New England*
XXXVII (2002) – Tampa Bays
XXXVIII (2003) – New England*
XXXIX (2004)New England*
XL (2005) – Pittsburgh
XLI (2006) – Indianapolis*
XLII (2007) – New York Giants
XLIII (2008) – Pittsburgh
XLIV (2009) – New Orleans*
XLV (2010) – Green Bay
XLVI (2011) – New York Giants
XLVII (2012) – Baltimore*
XLVIII (2013) – Seattle*
XLIX (2014) – New England*
50 (2015) – Denver
LI (2016) – New England*
LII (2017) – Philadelphia*
*In 2018 postseason

The Baltimore Ravens (.652) and New England Patriots (.630) rank first and second all-time in postseason winning percentage.

The 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:

TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Baltimore  (15-8, .652)
New England (34-20, .630)
Dallas (34-27, .557)
Seattle (16-15, .516)
Philadelphia (22-21, .512)
Indianapolis (22-23, .489)
Chicago (17-18, .486)
New Orleans (8-10, .444)
Los Angeles Rams (19-25, .432)
Houston (3-4, .429)
Los Angeles Chargers (11-17, .393)
Kansas City (9-18, .333)

YOUTH & CONSISTENCY HIGHLIGHT THE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACKS

The 2018 postseason is filled with young stars on the rise and veterans at the top of their game at the quarterback position.

Three quarterbacks – Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky and Houston’s DeShaun Watson – are expected to make their first career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend while Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who led the league with 50 touchdown passes, will make his postseason debut in the AFC Divisional round.

New England quarterback Tom Brady, who has led the Patriots to 10 consecutive division titles and five Super Bowl championships, is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (37), passing yards (10,226) and touchdown passes (71). Brady and Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles, who will make his fifth career postseason start, combined for an NFL-record 874 pass yards in Super Bowl LII last season. Foles had a 115.7 passer rating during the 2017 playoffs to help lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, a veteran of 18 NFL seasons, will make his 14th postseason start in the NFC Divisional round after leading the league with an NFL-record 74.4 completion percentage and 115.7 passer rating in 2018. Los Angeles Chargers Philip Rivers, in his 15th season, registered his 10th career 4,000-passing yard season and will make his 10th career postseason appearance.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, both selected by their teams in the 2016 NFL Draft, have led their franchises to division titles in two of their first three NFL seasons and each will be making their second career postseason start.

Both members of the 2012 NFL Draft class, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will be making his seventh career postseason start while Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has led Seattle to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, will be making his 13th career postseason start on Wild Card Weekend. Wilson led Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in 2013 and a Super Bowl XLIX appearance in 2014.

A by-the-numbers look at the 12 quarterbacks in the 2018 postseason:

Rookie or 2nd-year (4): Jackson, BAL; Mahomes, KC; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU
1st-round Draft picks (7): Goff, LAR; Jackson, BAL; Luck, IND; Mahomes, KC; Rivers, LAC; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU
Number 1 overall picks (2): Goff, LAR; Luck, IND (2012)
Drafted No. 75 overall or later or undrafted (4): Brady, NE; Foles, PHI; Prescott, DAL; Wilson, SEA
30 years old or younger (9): Foles, PHI; Goff, LAR; Jackson, BAL; Luck, IND; Mahomes, KC; Prescott, DAL; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU; Wilson, SEA
35 years old or older (3): Brady, NE; Brees, NO; Rivers, LAC

BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES (Single postseason)

PASSING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPTS – YARDS; TD/INT)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (2011; 106/163 – 1,219; 9/1)
Kurt Warner, Arizona (2008; 92/135 – 1,147; 11/3)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2012; 73/126 – 1,140; 11/0)
Tom Brady, New England (2016; 93/142 – 1,137; 7/3)
Tom Brady, New England (2017; 89/139 – 1,132; 8/0)

RUSHING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; ATTEMPTS – YARDS/TD)
John Riggins, Washington (1982; 136 – 610/4)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1997; 112 – 581/8)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1998; 78 – 468/3)
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (1983; 58 – 466/4)
Eddie George, Tennessee (1999; 108 – 449/3)

RECEIVING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RECEPTIONS – YARDS/TD)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 30 – 546/7)
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (2011; 28 – 444/4)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1988; 21 – 409/6)
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina (2003; 18 – 404/3)
Charlie Brown, Washington (1983; 14 – 401/1)

RECEPTIONS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RECEPTIONS – YARDS/TD)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 30 – 546/7)
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (2011; 28 – 444/4)
Demaryius Thomas, Denver (2013; 28 – 306/3)
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina (2015; 27 – 335/3)
Wes Welker, New England (2007; 27 – 213/2)

SCRIMMAGE TOUCHDOWNS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; TOTAL TD – RUSHING TD/RECIEVING TD)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1997; 8 – 8/0)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 7 – 0/7)
Larry Csonka, Miami (1973; 6 – 6/0)
Franco Harris, Pittsburgh (1974; 6 – 6/0)
John Riggins, Washington (1983; 6 – 6/0)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1988; 6 – 0/6)
Gerald Riggs. Washington (1991; 6 – 6/0)
Ricky Watters. San Francisco (1993; 6 – 6/0)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995; 6 – 6/0)

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 17

•NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Seven of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle. and Indianapolis. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

WORST-TO-FIRST: Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

PLAYOFF SEEDING: New Orleans won the NFC South and finished as the NFC’s 1 seed. The Saints will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Los Angeles Rams, who defeated San Francisco 48-32 and won the NFC West, are the 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

Chicago, who defeated Minnesota 24-10 and won the NFC North, are the 3 seed and will host Philadelphia in the Wild Card round. Philadelphia defeated Washington, 24-0 and combined with Minnesota’s loss to Chicago, clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.

Dallas, who defeated the New York Giants 36-35 and won the NFC East in the Meadowlands, are the 4 seed and will host Seattle in the Wild Card round.

In the AFC, Kansas City defeated Oakland 35-3 and clinched the AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

New England defeated the New York Jets 38-3, are the AFC’s 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

Houston defeated Jacksonville 20-3 and are the 3 seed, clinched the AFC South division title and will host a game on Wild Card weekend.

The Texans completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround after finishing tied for last place in the division in 2017. Houston is the sixth team in NFL history to make the postseason after beginning the season 0-3 and joined the 1992 San Diego Chargers as the only teams in league annals to win their division following an 0-3 start to a season.

Baltimore defeated Cleveland, 26-24 and clinched the AFC North division title for the first time since 2012. Baltimore, the AFC’s 4 seed, will host the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round.

•Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a 109.9 rating in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win over Oakland at Arrowhead. Mahomes has 50 touchdown passes this season and joined Peyton Manning (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and Tom Brady (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown reception, against Oakland and had a 15-yard touchdown run. Hill has 16 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (16) for the most touchdowns of at least 50 yards by a player in his first three seasons. Hill has 1,479 receiving yards in 2018 and surpassed Derrick Alexander (1,391 receiving yards in 2000) for the most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady  completed 24 of 33 attempts (72.7 percent) for 250 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 133.8 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 17 win against the New York Jets.

Brady has 6,004 career regular-season completions and is the fourth player in NFL history with at least 6,000 career regular-season completions, joining Drew Brees (6,586), Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (6,300) and Peyton Manning (6,125).

•Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield passed for 376 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Browns’ Week 17 loss at Baltimore.

Mayfield has 27 touchdown passes this season, surpassing Peyton Manning (26 touchdown passes in 1998) and Russell Wilson (26 in 2012) for the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in the common draft era.

•San Francisco tight end George Kittle had nine receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers’ Week 17 loss.

Kittle, who has 1,377 receiving yards this season, and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce (1,336 receiving yards in 2018) both surpassed Rob Gronkowski (1,327 in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

•Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans’ Week 17 win over Jacksonville. Watt has 16 sacks in 2018 and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White (five seasons) as the only players since 1982 with four seasons of at least 15 sacks.

•Three non-quarterbacks – Atlanta wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Detroit kicker Matt Prater and Miami wide receiver Kenny Stills – threw touchdown passes in Week 17. In total, there have been 13 touchdown passes thrown by non-quarterbacks in 2018, the most in a single-season since 1983 (15 touchdowns). Quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan both had touchdown catches in Week 17, marking the first week in the Super Bowl era in which multiple quarterbacks recorded a touchdown reception.

•Other notable performances from last Sunday include:

Eagles quarterback NICK FOLES recorded 25 consecutive completions against Washington, tied with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (Week 12 vs. Arizona) for the most by a quarterback in a single game in NFL history.

◦New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley had 142 scrimmage yards (109 rushing, 33 receiving) and one rushing touchdown in the Giants’ Week 17 loss.

Barkley has 2,028 scrimmage yards and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

Barkley, who had four catches against the Cowboys, has 91 receptions this season and surpassed Reggie Bush (88 catches in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen passed for 224 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills’ 42-17 win against Miami. Allen is the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to record three touchdowns passes and two rushing touchdowns in the same game, joining Miami’s David Woodley, who had three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams on November 9, 1980.

Allen has eight rushing touchdowns this season and joins Cam Newton, who had 14 rushing touchdowns in 2011, as the only rookie quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with at least eight rushing touchdowns.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WILD CARD WEEKEND

NEW YEAR, NEW TEAMS: Chicago (12-4, NFC North) and Houston (11-5, AFC South) both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first – something that has never happened before in any other major US sport.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions and appear in the Super Bowl since 2003:

SEASON: TEAM – RECORD/PRIOR SEASON RECORD (ADVANCED TO)
2003: Carolina –  11-5/7-9 (Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2009: New Orleans – 13-3/8-8 (Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2017: Philadelphia – 13-3/7-9 (Won Super Bowl LII)
2018: Chicago – 12-4/5-11 (???)
2018: Houston – 11-5/4-12 (???)*

*Tied for last place

This season, seven teams qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle – and all seven will be in action on Wild Card Weekend. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

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 six of the past 13 seasons played in 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 WAYS: Baltimore and Dallas will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend and both will be at home.

The Cowboys (34) are tied with Green Bay (34) and New England (34), the number 2 overall seed in the AFC, for the second-most postseason wins all-time. Only Pittsburgh (36) has more postseason wins in league history.

Wild Card Weekend marks the 62nd playoff game in the history of the Dallas Cowboys and surpasses Pittsburgh (61) for the most postseason games played by a franchise in league annals.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM: W-L, PCT. (SUPER BOWL WINS)
Pittsburgh: 36-25, .590 (6)
Dallas: 34-27, .557 (5)*
Green Bay: 34-22, .607 (4)
New England: 34-20, .630 (5)**
San Francisco: 30-20, .600 (5)
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

Baltimore (.652) and New England (.630) own the top two winning percentages in postseason history while Dallas (.557) ranks seventh.

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

TEAM: W-L, PCT. (SUPER BOWL WINS)
Baltimore: 15-8, .652 (2)*
New England: 34-20, .630 (5)**
Green Bay: 34-22, .607 (4)
San Francisco: 30-20, .600 (5)
Pittsburgh: 36-25, .590 (6)
Oakland: 25-19, .568 (3)
Dallas: 34-27, .557 (5)*
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

POSTSEASON DEBUTS: Several teams will feature a quarterback slated to make his first career postseason start. Among those set to debut on Wild Card Weekend are Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky and Houston’s DeShaun Watson.

The players with the most passing yards in their first career postseason start:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, ROUND – PASSING YARDS)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (2002, AFC Wild Card – 429)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2009, NFC Wild Card – 423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1988, NFC Divisional – 407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999, NFC Divisional – 391)^
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982, NFC Wild Card – 385)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOP DEFENSE: The Chicago Bears defense led the league with the fewest points allowed per game (17.7) this season. In three of the past four seasons, the teams with the top regular-season scoring defense have advanced to the Super Bowl.

The teams with the top scoring defense in the regular season to advance to the Super Bowl since 2002:

SEASON: TEAM, SUPER BOWL RESULT
2002: Tampa Bay, Defeated Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, 48-21
2003: New England, Defeated Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32-29
2008: Pittsburgh, Defeated Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23
2010: Pittsburgh, Lost to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25
2013: Seattle, Defeated Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8
2014: Seattle, Lost to New England in Super Bowl XLIX, 28-24
2016: New England, Defeated ATLANTA in Super Bowl LI, 34-28
2018: Chicago, ???

FANTASTIC FOLES: Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the 2017 NFC Championship Game against Minnesota and had 373 passing yards with three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII against New England to help lead the Eagles to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

With 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes on Sunday at Chicago at 4:40 p.m. on NBC, Foles would become the second quarterback in NFL history to record at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in three consecutive postseason games.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 300+ PASS YARDS & 3+ TD PASSES
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA (3)
Nick Foles, Philadelphia (2)*
*Active streak

RATING RIVERS: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will make his 10th career playoff start on Wild Card Weekend.

Rivers, who has recorded a passer rating of 115 or higher in each of his past two postseason starts and plays at Baltimore on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS, can become the fourth quarterback to record three consecutive postseason games with a passer rating of 115 or higher.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with a passer rating of 115 or higher in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 115+ PASSER RATING)
Joe Montana, San Francisco (5)^
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA (3)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (3)
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (2)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak
After an exciting finish to the regular season, the NFL’s second season has arrived.

The NFL postseason begins with four games on Wild Card Weekend.

AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC
NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS
NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. on NBC

Week 17 came right down to the wire. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. Three playoff spots and three divisions titles – the AFC West, AFC North and AFC South – were decided on the final day of the season.

The final 12 teams are set:

AFC

1. Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion
2. New England (11-5), AFC East champion
3. Houston (11-5), AFC South champion
4. Baltimore (10-6), AFC North champion
5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
6. Indianapolis (10-6)

NFC
1. New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion
2. Los Angeles Rams (13-3), NFC West champion
3. Chicago (12-4), NFC North champion
4. Dallas (10-6), NFC East champion
5. Seattle (10-6)
6. Philadelphia (9-7)

The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 3 with Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta at 6:30 p.m. on CBS, begin this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

Both Chicagos (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chagers and Seattle. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Both the Bears (NFC North) and Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions since 2003:

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD/PRIOR SEASON RECORD, ADVANCED TO)
2003 – Carolina (11-5/7-9, Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3/8-8, AFC Divisonal Playoffs)*
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5/5-11, NFC Championship)
2004 – San Diego (12-4/4-12, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5/5-11, NFC Divisonal Playoffs)
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5/5-11, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3/6-10, AFC Divisonal Playoffs)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6/3-13, NFC Championship)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6/6-10, NFC Divisonal Playoffs)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7/4-12, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2008 – Miami (11-5/1-15, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3/8-8, Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2010 – Kansas City (10-6/4-12, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2011 – Denver (8-8/4-12, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
2011 – Houston (10-6/6-10, AFC Divisional Playoffs)*
2012 – Washington (10-6/5-11, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2013 – Carolina (12-4/7-9, NFC Divisonal Playoffs)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6/4-12, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2015 – Washington (9-7/4-12, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2016 – Dallas (13-3/4-12, NFC Divisional Playoffs)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6/3-13, AFC Championship)
2017 – Philadelphia (13-3/7-9, Won Super Bowl LII)
2018 – Chicago (12-4/5-11, ???)
2018 – Houston (11-5/4-12, ???)*
*Tied for last place

A look at the four games on Wild Card Weekend:

Indianapolis (10-6) at Houston (11-5), Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC

•This is the first postseason meeting between the AFC South division rivals. The Texans and Colts split the season series in 2018, with Houston winning 37-34 in overtime in Week 4 and Indianapolis taking the finale 24-21 in Week 14.

•The Colts have qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014. Indianapolis had two players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: tight end Eric Ebron and rookie guard Quenton Nelson.

•Houston won the AFC South for the third time in the past four seasons (2015 and 2016). Houston had four players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, wide receiver De Andre Hopkins, linebacker Benardrick McKinney and defensive end J.J. Watt.

Seattle (10-6) at Dallas (10-6), Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on FOX

•This is the second postseason meeting between the two teams. The Seahawks defeated Dallas 21-20 in their 2006 NFC Wild Card meeting (January 6, 2007). This season, Seattle won 24-13 in their Week 3 meeting at CenturyLink Field.

•Seattle returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and have advanced to the postseason in seven of head coach Pete Carroll’s nine seasons with the team. Seattle had two players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: rookie punter Michael Dickson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

•Dallas is back in the postseason after capturing the NFC East title for the first time since 2016. Dallas had five players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, tied with Chicago and New Orleans for the most in the NFC: running back Ezekiel Elliott, cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, guard Zack Martin and tackle Tyron Smith.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6) Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS

•This is the first postseason meeting between the two teams.

•Baltimore has qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014 and won the AFC North for the first time since 2012, when they were victorious in Super Bowl XLVII. The Ravens had three players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: linebacker C.J. Mosley, safety Eric Weddle and guard Marshal Yanda.

•The Chargers have advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2013. Los Angeles had a league-best seven players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Melvin Gordon, defensive end Melvin Ingram, rookie safety Derwin James, special teamer Adrian Phillips, center Mike Pouncey and quarterback Philip Rivers.

Philadelphia (9-7) at Chicago (12-4), Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on NBC

•The teams will meet in the postseason for the fourth time, with Philadelphia holding a 2-1 edge. In their most recent postseason matchup, the Eagles won 33-19 in Chicago in the 2001 NFC Divisional Playoffs (January 19, 2002). The Bears lead the all-time series 30-13-1, including the postseason.

•Philadelphia, the defending Super Bowl champions, are in the postseason for consecutive years for the first time since the 2009-10 seasons and are seeking to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. Philadelphia had three players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: guard BRANDON BROOKS, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and tight end Zach Ertz.

•Chicago has qualified for the postseason and claimed the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010. Chicago had five players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, tied with Dallas and New Orleans for the most in the NFC: return specialist Tarik Cohen, cornerback Kyle Fuller, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Khalil Mack.

New teams making the playoffs, terrific turnarounds, consistent teams excelling again, records falling and young players making their mark. The 2018 season had it all.

Competitiveness highlighted the 2018 regular-season as 73 games were decided by three points or fewer, the most in a season in NFL history while 68% of all games played this season (175 of 256) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most in a season in NFL history. On 71 occasions, teams came back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime – an average of 4.2 teams per week – tied for second-most in a season in NFL history.

Week 17 came down to the wire, as three playoff spots and three divisions titles – the AFC West, AFC North and AFC South – were decided on the final day of the season. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.

Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The seasons with at least seven new playoff teams since 1990:

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
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)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

Both Chicago (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

OFFENSIVE TRENDS: The 2018 season will go down as one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history.

Teams combined to score 1,371 total touchdowns, the most in a single season in NFL history, while the 11,952 total points scored are the second-most in league annals (11,985 in 2013).

MOST TOUCHDOWNS, NFL HISTORY
SEASON – TOUCHDOWNS
2018 – 1,371
2013 – 1,338
2015 – 1,318
MOST TOTAL POINTS, NFL HISTORY
SEASON – TOTAL POINTS
2013 – 11,985
2018 – 11,952
2015 – 11,680

With three teams – Kansas City (35.3 points per game), the Los Angeles Rams (32.9) and New Orleans (31.5) – averaging at least 30 points per game, the 2018 season joined 1948, 1949 and 2011 as seasons with at least three teams averaging at least 30 points per game.

The Chiefs, with 565 points scored, finished as the third-highest scoring team in league annals, trailing only the 2013 Denver Broncos (606 points scored) and 2007 New England Patriots (589).

PROLIFIC PASSERS: In 2018, league-wide passing numbers trended at a record pace, as the marks for passer rating (92.9), completion percentage (64.9 percent) and touchdown passes (847) were all the highest for a single season in NFL history, while the total completions (11,462) were the third-highest in a single season in league annals.

SEASON – RATING
2018 – 92.9
2015 – 90.2
2016 – 89.3

SEASON – COMPLETION PCT.
2018 – 64.9
2016 – 63.0
2015 – 63.0

SEASON – TD PASSES
2018 – 847
2015 – 842
2014 – 807

SEASON – COMPLETIONS
2015 – 11,527
2016 – 11,526
2018 – 11,462

Twelve quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards, including five with at least 4,500 passing yards, in 2018: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (5,129), Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (5,097), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (4,924), Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff (4,688) and Indianapolis’ Andrew LuckK (4,593).

With 12 quarterbacks reaching 4,000 passing yards, the 2018 season tied the 2015 season for the second-most quarterbacks with at least 4,000 passing yards.

The seasons with the most players with at least 4,000 passing yards in NFL history:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 4,000 PASSING YARDS
2016 – 13
2018 – 12
2015 – 12
2014 – 11
2012 – 11

Nine quarterbacks threw at least 30 touchdown passes this season, including four with at least 35 touchdown passes: Mahomes (50), Luck (39), Ryan (35) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (35).

Eight quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher, including three with a 110+ passer rating in 2018: New Orleans’ Drew Brees (115.7), Mahomes (113.8) and Wilson (110.9). The eight quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher were the most in a single season in NFL history, surpassing the previous record of six in the 2015 season.

TOP BACKS: Nine players rushed for at least 1,000 yards, including three players with at least 1,200 rushing yards, this season: Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (1,434), New York Giants’ rookie Saquon Barkley (1,307) and Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley (1,251).

The 2018 season saw players average 4.42 yards per rush attempt, the highest single-season total in league history.

The seasons with the highest average yards per rush attempt in NFL history:

SEASON – AVERAGE YARDS PER RUSH ATTEMPT
2018 – 4.42
2011 – 4.29
2012 – 4.26

Six players recorded at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2018: Gurley (17), New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (14), Pittsburgh’s James Conner (12), Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (12), Saquon Barkley (11) and Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon (10).

RIDICULOUS RECEIVERS: Twenty-one players had at least 1,000 receiving yards, including six with at least 1,400 receiving yards, this season: Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,677), Houston’s De Andre Hopkins (1,572), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (1,524), Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill (1,479), Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster (1,426) and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (1,405).

Eleven players had at least 100 receptions in 2018, including seven with at least 110 catches: Thomas (125), Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz (116), Hopkins (115), Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (113), Jones (113), Green Bay’s Davante Adams (111) and  Smith-Schuster (111).

With 11 players recording at least 100 catches this season, the 2018 season surpassed the 1995 season (nine) for the most players with at least 100 catches in a single season.

The seasons with the most players with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS
2018 – 11
1995 – 9
2015 – 7

Nine players had at least 10 touchdown catches this season, including four with at least 12 touchdown receptions: Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (15), Adams (13), Indianapolis’ Eric Ebron (13) and Hill (12).

DOMINANT DEFENDERS: Twenty-two players recorded at least 10 sacks, including six with at least 14 sacks, in 2018: Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald (20.5), Houston’s J.J. Watt (16), Kansas City’s Chris Jones (15.5), Denver’s Von Miller (14.5), Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter (14.5) and Seattle’s Frank Clark (14).

With 16 players recording at least 12 sacks, the 2018 season tied the 1992 season (16 players) for the third-most players with at least 12 sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The seasons with the most players with at least 12 sacks since 1982:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 12+ SACKS
1984 – 19
1983 – 18
2018 – 16
1992 – 16

Six players recorded at least five interceptions in 2018: Chicago’s Kyle Fuller (seven), Miami’s Xavien Howard (seven), Atlanta’s Damontae Kazee (seven), Chicago’s Eddie Jackson (six), Cincinnati’s Shawn Williams (five) and New York Giants’ Alec Ogletree (five).

After two weekends of going 8-8, we got ourselves back on track by going 13-3 and for the season, we’re 145-107. Wild Card weekend gets underway in the Lone Star State as Houston and Dallas host their contests on Saturday and concludes in the Windy City as the defending Super Bowl champs open their defense of their title. As an added bonus, all of the post-season games are going to be “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?”)

It’s post-season football. It’s win and advance; lose and you’re clearing out your locker. The regular season’s done and it’s time to either defend your title or win one of your own. With that, here are the Saturday and Sunday Wild Card picks.

Indianapolis (10-6) at Houston (11-5), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. Luck vs. Watson. They meet again. This time, it’s in Houston as a pair of AFC South rivals open the 2018 wild Card round in the Lone Star State. Both clubs enter the Saturday afternoon contest at NRG Stadium with wins under their belts.

Andrew Luck and the Colts led from start to finish in their 33-17 “winner-take-all” AFC South contest at Tennessee last Sunday. Indianapolis led 17-10 at the break, then pulled away from the Titans in the second half to take the win. Luck threw for 285 yards and three TDs with an interception (he was sacked once), while Blaine Gabbert, who took over for Marcus Mariota, threw for 165 yards with a TD toss to TE Luke Stocker but was picked off twice. Indianapolis outrushed Tennessee 158-93 with Derrick Henry accounting for all of their yardage, while the Colts’ Marlon Mack led all rushers with 119 yards and a TD. The Colts were 5 of 13 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 40:13, while Tennessee kept the ball for 19:47, while going 1 of 9 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Houston held Jacksonville to a Kai Forbath field goal in the first quarter and cruised their way to the AFC South titla, taking a 20-3 win over the Jagaurs at NRG Stadium last Sunday. Houston broke a 3-3 first quarter tie, took a 17-3 lead with them to the intermission and never looked back, shutting out the Jaguars the rest of the way. Houston held Jacksonville to 30 yards rushing, while tallying 134 for themselves, with DeSean Watson leading the way with 66 of those yards. Watson threw for 234 yards and despite being sacked six times, did not throw an interception, while sacking Blake Bortles (107 yards) three times and picked him off once. Houston was 6 of 17 on third down tries but had success on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and the Texans kept the ball for 35:07, while the Jaguars were 24:53 in time of possession, going 3 for 12 on third down.

They met twice in the 2018 campaign and split the two contests, each taking wins in the other team’s building. Their first meeting was in week four in the Hoosier State and Houston used a pair of Ka’imi Fairbairn field goals in overtime to take a 38-34 win over Indianpolis and Andrew Luck in the Hoosier State in week four. Houston took a 21-10 lead with them to the half, before Indianapolis would rally to pull even with 45 seconds left in regulation when Luck and rookie RB Nyheim Hines connected on a 9-yard TD toss. The Colts, who were outrushed by the Texans 119-41, scored first in the overtime on a 44 yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to take a 3-point lead. That lead would not last very long as Fairbairn connected on a 29-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the period. Houston then got the ball back after a Colts punt and the Texans used all 24 seconds left and took the win when Fairbairn connected on a 37-yard field goal as time expired to pick up their first win of the season. Houston’s DeShaun Watson threw for 375 yards with a pair of TD but was sacked seven times, while Luck was sacked four times. Indy was 10 of 17 on third down (the Colts were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 29:56, while the Texans kept the ball for 40:04, going 8 of 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Colts evened the score, coming away 24-21 winners in Houston in week 14. In that meeting, Indianapolis broke Houston’s 9-game win streak as Luck and the Colts came away winners Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium. The Texans took a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and saw that lead vanish as the Colts scored 17 second quarter points unchallenged to take a 17-7 lead with them to the intermission. Houston would eventually make it a 3-point game with 2:37 left in regulation when WR DeAnrde Hopkins and Texans QB DeShaun Watson connected on a 7-yard TD toss to bring them closer. The Colts then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win over their AFC South rivals. While Houston outrushed Indianapolis 89-50, Luck threw for 399 yards with a pair of TDs, while Watson threw for 267 yards with a TD and no interceptions (Watson was sacked five times, Luck was sacked twice and threw an interception). The Texans were 5 of 15 on third down conversions (they were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and they would keep the ball for 31:57, while the Colts would keep the pigskin for 28:03, going 4 of 12 on third down tries.

Indianapolis was a 2-point favorite in the Hoosier State in week four and the Texans would come away 3-point overtime winners, allowing them to cover the spread and the 71 combined points in the contest allowed both teams to cove the 47 1/2 over/under. In the week 14 contest in Houston, the Texans saw themselves favored by 4 1/2 but the Colts came out with the 3-point road win. As for the 48 1/2 over/under? It was safe and sound, as both teams tallied only 45 points. This time, the boys and girls in Vegas like the Texans as 2 1/2-point favorites with a 47 1/2 over/under. The winner of this game? They get to go to Foxboro; as for the loser? They are done for the year. Houston covers the 2 1/2 in the Lone Star State and advances to the next round.

Seattle (10-6) at Dallas (10-6), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX. Saturday Wild Card action concludes in Arlington as Dallas and Seattle meet at Jerry World (AT&T Stadium). Both teams survived scares to close out regular season play last week.

Seattle broke a 24-24 tie in the final seconds at home in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, coming away 27-24 winners against NFC West rival Arizona at Century Link Field. Leading the Desert Angry Birds 14-13 at the intermission, Arizona would eventually pull themselves even with 1:49 left on a Zendalas Gonzalez field goal to tie the contest up at 24-24. Seattle would use all of the 1:49 that was on the clock, using an 8-play, 60-yard drive and sending their fan base home happy when K Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 33-yard field goal as time ran out. Seattle rushed for 182 yards in the win (Seahawks RB Chris Carson led all rushers with 122 yards and a TD), while holding Arizona to 85 yards on the ground. Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw for 152 yards, while Cardinals’ QB Josh Rosen threw for 149 yards (each threw a TD pass; Wilson connected with Todd Lockett, Rosen connected with Larry Fitzgerald, Wilson had an interception) and each man was sacked six times. Seattle was 4 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 29:09 (including the final 1:49 of the contest), while Arizona ruled the clock and held the ball for 30:51 and went 4 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas erased a 35-28 deficit in the Meadowlands and came away 36-35 winners at Met Life Stadium last Sunday. The Cowboys, who rested RB Ezekiel Elliott, rallied with 72 seconds left in regulation when Dak Prescott and WR Cole Beasley connected on a 32-yard TD pass to make it a 1-pont contest. Dallas, who used nine plays and 70 yards to score, then took the lead when Prescott and rookie WR Michael Gallup connected on the two-point conversion. Dallas then held off a last-ditch rally by the Giants to take the win in upstate New Jersey, stopping four Eli Manning passes that could have give the Giants the win. While New York did outrush Dallas 143-51 (Saquon Barkley led all rushers with 109 yards), Prescott threw for 387 yards with four TDs (Prescott was sacked four times but did not throew an interception), while Manning threw for 301 yards with a TD toss to TE Evan Engram, while he was sacked once and threw an interception. Dallas was 11 of 17 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:52, while the Giants kept the pigskin for 29:08 and went 7 of 15 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Dallas and Seattle met in the Pacific Northwest in week 3 and the Seahawks prevailed 24-13. In the Seahawks win, Dallas was held in check by Russell Wilson and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks took the 11-point win at Century Link Field in the late Sunday afternoon contest. Dallass trailed 17-3 at the half and could never really get on track, even though they did outscore Seattle 10-3 in the second half. Dallas did outrush Seattle 166-113, with Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 127 yards, while Seattle was paced by Chris Carson, who ran for 102 yards and a rushing TD. wilson threw for 192 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dak Prescott threw for 168 yards with five sacks and picked off twice by CB Earl Thomas. Seattle was 7 of 16 on third down tries and held the ball for 32:44, while the Cowboys kept the ball for 27:16, going 3 of 13 on third down conversions, 1 of 2 on fourth down tries.

In the week three contest in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, Seattle was favored by 1 1/2 points and covered, winning by 11 points. The 41 1/2 over/under was untouched, as the two teams mustered a mere 37 points. The Cowboys are favored by 2 1/2 in the Lone Star State and the over/under’s 43. Seattle’s looking to repeat history, Dallas is looking for revenge and the winner of this one gets to go to the Big Easy and a date with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. They may not cover the 2 1/2 but Seattle prevails in Jerry World, taking the win on the road.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6), 1 p.m. Sunday on CBS. Sunday Wild Card action gets underway in Charm City as the Ravens host Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Chargers got revenge from a week 11 loss to Denver at Stub Hub and came away 23-9 winners at Broncos Stadium at Mile High last Sunday. After a scoreless first quarter, Los Angeles led 7-3 at the break, took a 14-3 lead with them to the final 15 minutes of action and held the Broncos in check the rest of the way. The Chargers outrushed Denver 116-82 and Rivers threw for 176 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions, while Denver’s Case Keenum threw for 292 yards with a TD, a sack and was picked off once. The Chargers, who got a defensive two-point conversion from CB Casey Heyward, went 4 for 11 on third down tries in the Mile High City and kept the ball for 28:12, while Denver actually ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 31:48, going 4 of 14 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

The Ravens held off a late Cleveland rally at home in Charm City and came away 26-24 winners last Sunday, taking the AFC North title at M&T Bank Stadium.

They met in Los Angeles in week 16 at Stub Hub Centre and the Chargers watched Baltimore keep their playoff hopes alive on the West Coast as the Ravens held off the Chargers 22-10 at Stub Hub Centre. The Ravens led 6-3 at the half against Rivers and the Chargers, then floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, reclaiming the lead after the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon scored on a 1-yard run with 13:18 left in the third.

Baltimore would then go on to score their final 16 points of the game unchallenged, with the final tally coming when CB Tavon Young scored on a 62-yard fumble return with 2:40 left as the Chargers were driving to tie the contest up. Baltimore outrushed Los Angeles 159-51, with Jackson throwing for 204 yards and a TD, while Rivers threw for 181 yards (Rivers was sacked four times and picked off twice, Jackson was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). Baltimore went 4 of 14 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Ravens held on to the ball for 31:25, while the Chargers held on to the ball for 28:35, going 4 for 13 on thir down tries in the Saturday night contest on the West Coast.

In the week 16 Saturday night contest on the West Coast, the Bolts were favored by 5 and the Ravens covered, winning by 12. The 44 1/2 over/under was untouched as they combined for 32 points. This time? The Ravens are favored by 2 in Charm City and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Baltimore’s looking to prove that the first meeting was not a fluke; as for the Chargers, they’re looking for revenge from their loss at home to the Ravens in week 16. The winner of this one? They get to face some guy named Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro.Revenge wins out here. Bolts cover the 2 in Charm City and takes the win.

Philadelphia (9-7) at Chicago (12-4), 4:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC. Wild Card weekend comes to an end in the Windy City as the Monsters of the Midway, Da Bears, host the defending Super Bowl champs at Soldier Field. Both clubs won their regular season finales on the road last week.

Philadelphia got help from Chicago as Da Bears beat Minnesota 24-10 in the Twin Cities, then shutout Washington 24-0 at FedEx Field. The defending Super Bowl champs scored all of their points in the contest unchallenged and led 10-0 at the half against their NFC East rivals. Philadelphia held Washington to 21 yards rushing, while they tallied 129 yards of their own. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor each caught TD passes from Nick Foles (221 yards, three sacks, interception; Agholor also caught a TD pass from backup QB Nate Sudfeld), while Washington’s Josh Johnson threw for 91 yards, four sacks and an interception. The Eagles were 8 for 14 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and were ball hogs, keeping the pigskin away from Washington for 43:19, while the Redskins were a dismal 0 for 9 on third down (2 for 4 on fourth down) and held the ball for 16:41.

Chicago ended Minnesota’s hopes for a playoff spot as Da Bears would leave the Twin Cities 24-10 winners at US Bank Stadium. Chicago led 13-3 at the intermission in the Land of 10,000 Lakes thanks to a pair of rushing TDs by Jordan Howard before the Vikings made it a 7-point game with 1:51 left in the third quarter when WR Stefon Diggs caught a 2-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins. Chicago would put the contest on ice in the fourth quarter, with Tarik Cohen rushing for a 3-yard TD run with 7:46 left in the contest. Chicago would then go for two and found success when Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Kwiatkoski connected on the conversion. Cody Parkey would then put the nail in Minnesota’s coffin when he connected on a 42-yard field goal to seal the win. Da Bears outrushed Minnesota 169-63, with Howard leading the way with 109 yards and the two TDs. Trubisky threw for 163 yards without a sack or interception, while Cousins threw for 132 yards with four cats and no interceptions. Chicago went 8 for 14 on third down (they were 0 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball in hibernation for 37:08, while the Vikings were 1 of 11 and 1 of 4 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 22:52.

While Chicago and Philadelphia did not meet in the 2018 regular season, Da Bears lead da regular season series 28-12-1 and they have outscored the Eagles 873-617. The Eagles have won the last three regular season meetings, including taking a 31-3 win in the City of Brotherly Love in 2017, while Chicago’s last win over the Eagles in regular season action came in 2011 when da Bears left Philadelphia 30-24 winners.

The two teams were know for their last post-season contest in Chicago, which took place in 2001 in the NFC Divisonal Playoffs in Chicago and the Eagles were 33-19 winners but the two teams are best known for the “Fog Bowl” that was played at Solider Field in 1988 (also a Divisonal Playoff game) which da Bears braved the elements and a fog that was coming off Lake Michigan to take a 20-12 win. The contest started with sunny weather in the Windy City and then the fog became the star of the show. According to WGN-TV and the Chicago Tribune, as the fog continued into the start of the second half, the broadcast (CBS televised the contest) was shown from the field cameras instead of the ones overhead due to the conditions. Terry Bradshaw, who was working with Vern Lundquist, even moved from the booth to the field in an effort to provide better commentary.

As for that regular season meeting… it took place in week 12 in the City of Brotherly Love and the Eagles scored 24 first half points unchecked and held Da Bears to a 38-yard field goal by Carlos Santos in the third quarter. LeGarrett Blount ran for 97 of Philadelphia’s 176 yards, while the Bears were held to a somewhat dismal 6 yards on the ground and Carson Wentz threw for 227 yards and three TDs without an interception, while Trubisky threw for 147 yards with a pair of interceptions and a pair of sacks. Philadelphia was 7 of 16 on third down but struck paydirt on fourth down, going 3 for 4 and kept the ball for 37:08, while Chicago went 3 of 13 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 22:52.

The Eagles easily covered the 13 1/2-point spread in the week 12 2017 contest, winning by 28 but the 44 over/under stayed in tact, as both teams scored 34 points. Chicago’s favored by 5 1/2 in the Windy City and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Both numbers make a ton of sense. The winner gets to go to Los Angeles and play the Rams again. The loser… their season is done. Long live the king. Bears take the win at home in the Windy City, even though the Eagles could make it closer than the 5 1/2.

The NFL returns to the Land of the Mouse.

We hear he’s a big football fan, ya know.

When the 2018 NFL PRO BOWL returns to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, the NFL is bringing back a week-long celebration to unite and inspire the entire football community. Leading up to the game, the NFL is hosting a series of PRO BOWL WEEK events, including free interactive fan experiences, youth and high school football competitions, and a series of community events with nonprofit organizations and military personnel to positively impact thousands of local residents, children and their families.

One of the new additions this year is the PRO BOWL KIDS STADIUM TAKEOVER. For the first time, after the Pro Bowl postgame ceremony, all kids ages 14 and under with parents at Camping World Stadium will be invited to run around the very same field as some of the NFL’s biggest stars. On Pro Bowl Sunday, participants can check in at a Pro Bowl Kids Stadium Takeover check-in table located on either the field level near section 145 or on the plaza level near section 149. More information is available at ProBowl.com.

Additional Pro Bowl Week activities will include the NFL FLAG CHAMPIONSHIPS; PLAY FOOTBALL HIGH SCHOOL DAY; PRO BOWL SKILLS SHOWDOWN; free access to AFC & NFC TEAM PRACTICES; NFL PRO BOWL EXPERIENCE, a free, football-themed fan festival and NFL PLAY 60 events. The NFL will also work with the You Can Play Project on an event for NFL Legends, local LGBT youth and allies, and with Raliance and Break the Cycle on a summit for local young leaders, with the goal of empowering and equipping youth with strategies to combat gender-based violence.

As part of the “THANK YOU, COACH!” initiative, Pro Bowl players will invite a high school coach, who most impacted their life and NFL career, and a guest to celebrate Pro Bowl Week in Orlando. With the PRO BOWL GIVEBACK PROGRAM, players will compete for more than bragging rights – each member of the winning team may apply for a $10,000 NFL Foundation grant to be donated to the high school or youth football program of their choice, help leave a lasting legacy on the community, and increase opportunities for the next generation of football players.

The week-long celebration will culminate with the Pro Bowl game, featuring 88 of the NFL’s best players, on Sunday, January 28 at Camping World Stadium that will air on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN and ABC at a new start time of 3 p.m. Eastern. Tickets to the 2018 Pro Bowl game are on sale now at ProBowl.com.

All fans will also be able to stream the game live with the NFL and Yahoo Sports mobile apps. Live audio coverage of the Pro Bowl will be provided by Westwood One and will also be available on SiriusXM and the TuneIn app.

ESPN is the League’s media partner for the Pro Bowl and will provide live coverage of the game and many of the events during Pro Bowl Week across the ESPN, ABC and Disney platforms, in addition to NFL Media.

Genesis, the Official Luxury Vehicle of the NFL, will award the Most Valuable Player on offense and defense with a brand-new Genesis model of their choice.

The Pro Bowl is an all-inclusive event for fans on gameday. The 2017 Pro Bowl marked the first autism-friendly game hosted by a professional sports league. Working with KultureCity, Camping World Stadium’s sensory-inclusive partner, the NFL will offer families who attend the 2018 Pro Bowl with support, including sensory accessibility resources and two dedicated sensory rooms located in the stadium to enable them to enjoy the game with more confidence and comfort.

The following are ways the NFL is celebrating the football community, providing fans access to a range of free football activities, and positively impacting Orlando and the surrounding region during Pro Bowl Week.

PRO BOWL WEEK KICKOFF AND COMMUNITY GRANT EVENT: On Tuesday, January 23, the NFL will join the City of Orlando and LIFT Orlando at Orange Center Elementary School (2043 Jacobs Place), to kick off Pro Bowl Week festivities and host a tree planting project as part of an Orlando-based neighborhood revitalization project.

Among those who will take part in the event are Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan, NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O’Reilly, Pro Bowl Legends Captains Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson and local high school football teams from Maynard Evans High School and Jones High School.

The NFL seeks to improve the surrounding communities and leave a positive legacy in the host city beyond the Pro Bowl game. The tree planting project alongside Orange Center Elementary School is one of three NFL Environmental Program events planned, as part of efforts to enhance the Orlando community’s environment.

The event will kick off at 11 a..m  with brief remarks from attendees and a media availability with the Pro Bowl Legends Captains. Following the press event, at approximately 11:30 a.m., participants will plant trees alongside community residents and NFL volunteers.

THANK YOU, COACH!: Pro Bowl players will be saying “Thank You, Coach!” to that special high school coach who most impacted their life and NFL career. Each Pro Bowl player attending may invite their high school coach and a guest to celebrate Pro Bowl Week in Orlando.

On Friday, January 26, high school coaches will enjoy a special welcome reception, and on Saturday, January 27 at ESPN Wide World of Sports, coaches and Pro Bowlers will lead the “Thank You, Coach!” clinic and High School Skills Challenge. On Sunday, January 28, the coaches will attend the Coaches Tailgate at the Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium before kickoff and be recognized on-field alongside their Pro Bowl player.

NFL FOUNDATION PRO BOWL GIVEBACK: This year, Pro Bowl players will compete for more than bragging rights – players on the winning team may apply for a $10,000 NFL Foundation grant to be donated to the high school or youth football program of their choice. The Pro Bowl Giveback Program ensures the NFL and its players will leave a lasting legacy on the youth and high school football community and increase opportunities for the next generation of football players.

2018 NFL PRO BOWL EXPERIENCE: The NFL Pro Bowl Experience will be open to fans Wednesday, January 24 – Thursday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday, January 26 – Saturday, January 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort.

The free-admission, family-friendly football fan festival will bring fans closer to the NFL through interactive games and sponsor activations. New activities to this year’s Pro Bowl Experience include some of the same challenges that AFC & NFC Pro Bowlers will compete in during the Skills Showdown, such as: Kick-Tac-Toe, in which three footballs must be kicked in a row on a giant tic-tac-toe board, and the Best Hands competition to catch as many different passes as possible.

Leading up to Pro Bowl Week, the NFL will launch its official companion app: Pro Bowl – Fan Mobile Pass. It guides visitors through Pro Bowl Week and provides exclusive chances to win prizes, including tickets to the game, autographed footballs, and more. The app will also feature gameday content, including real time updates of which players are on the field. Fans are encouraged to register in advance at NFL.com/PBFanMobilePass.

​An assortment of free fan activities at the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl Experience are detailed below. No tickets are required.

•40-Yard Dash: Race down the field against your opponents and virtual NFL players on a giant 40-yard long LED wall.

•Airbrush Tattoos: Show your team spirit through NFL and Pro Bowl themed airbrush tattoos and face painting.

•Best Hands: Catch as many different passes as possible like an NFL all-star.

•Family Football Zone: An interactive area for kids and families to play together. Play catch in the field or take part in a range of football and tailgate-themed games.

•Kick-Tac-Toe: Kick 3 in a row on a giant tic-tac-toe board. The Kick-Tac-Toe challenge will also occur doing the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, where AFC & NFC Pro Bowlers will attempt to do the same.

•Long Snap Accuracy Challenge Presented by Verizon: Test your aim by long snapping footballs through a variety of obstacles.

•NFL Pro Bowl Trophy: Take a photo with the official NFL Pro Bowl Trophy.

•NFL Shop at Pro Bowl: Shop for your favorite NFL and Pro Bowl gear at the NFL Shop trailer located inside NFL Pro Bowl Experience.

•Obstacle Course: Navigate through obstacle courses and train like an NFL player.

•Panini: The exclusive physical trading card licensee of the NFL, Panini is an Official Sponsor of the NFL Pro Bowl. Stop by the Panini booth for a chance to win NFL trading cards.

•Precision Passing presented by EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18: Pass to as many targets as possible while on the clock.

•Run-A-Route: Test your wide receiver skills and run a see-and-react route to catch a pass down field.

•Vertical Jump: Jump as high as you can and hit the corresponding flag to discover your vertical reach just like at the NFL Scouting Combine.

•Virtual Reality Experience: Get inside the NFL with virtual reality technology and experience what it is like to be on-the-field on an actual NFL game.

AFC & NFC TEAM PRO BOWL PRACTICES

The AFC and NFC teams will practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports from Wednesday, January 24 through Saturday, January 27. All media availabilities will take place on the field at the conclusion of each practice.

Practices are free and open to the public, and entry to the seating areas is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To attend practice, fans must register for Fan Mobile Pass via the Pro Bowl – Fan Mobile Pass app or on NFL.com/PBFanMobilePass. Visit ProBowl.com for more details.

Wednesday, January 24
10:30 a.m. – NFC team practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 16
10:45 a.m. – AFC team practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 17

Thursday, January 25
11:30 a.m. – NFC team practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 16
11:45 a.m. – AFC team practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 17

Friday, January 26
11:30 a.m. – NFC team practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 16
11:30 a.m. – AFC team practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 17

Saturday, January 27
11:30 a.m. – NFC team walk-through at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 16
11:30 a.m. – AFC team walk-through at ESPN Wide World of Sports – Field 17

special olympics UNIFIED FLAG FOOTBALL game: For the second year, the NFL will team up with Special Olympics in Orlando during Pro Bowl Week to host a Unified Flag Football game with Special Olympics Florida athletes. The NFL and Special Olympics are committed to building inclusive communities and providing opportunities for athletes of all abilities to participate in sports through the expansion of Special Olympics Unified Sports flag football, where individuals with and without intellectual disabilities play flag football together on the same team. The Unified Flag Football game will take place on Wednesday, January 24 from Noon to 1 p.m. on Field 21 at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Current Pro Bowl players will serve as coaches and cheer athletes on during the game.

The NFL and Special Olympics kicked off their national partnership at the 2017 Pro Bowl. With, contributions from the NFL Foundation, Special Olympics provided grants to local Special Olympics Programs in eleven NFL team markets. This year, the NFL and Special Olympics will expand those efforts to five new markets that will receive NFL Foundation funding. The grants will be used to help enhance Unified Sports programming and increase participation of athletes, Unified partners, and coaches across the country. NFL teams will continue to work with local Special Olympics Programs to help grow and expand opportunities for Special Olympics Unified Flag Football.

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5 million athletes and Unified partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, Finish Line and Safilo Group. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium.

NFL WOMEN’S CAREERS IN FOOTBALL FORUM: The NFL will host the Women’s Careers in Football Forum Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27 at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Fifty women were selected from among more than 400 applicants to attend the second annual forum. The event will feature panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking sessions aimed to educate and prepare women for careers in Football Operations, including coaching, officiating, scouting and football front office positions.

Featured speakers and panelists will include Canadian Football League (CFL) Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, NFL Chief Football Administration Officer Dawn Aponte, Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Women’s Leaders in College Sports Chief Executive Officer Patti Phillips, Atlanta Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli, CFL Toronto Argonauts General Manager Jim Popp, NFL Director of Football Development Samantha Rapoport, Stanford University Head Coach David Shaw, and Minnesota Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren.

Twenty-two of the female participants at the inaugural Forum in 2017 went on to secure internships and full-time positions in coaching and scouting at the professional, collegiate and high school levels, including nine with the NFL.

NFL PLAY 60 CHARACTER CAMP: On Thursday, January 25 at 10 a.m., the NFL will host a free Character Camp on Field 23 at ESPN Wide World of Sports. The event will include 300 predominantly-Hispanic youth from the Orlando area. The non-contact football camp will be led by Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Muñoz.

The NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps program is a partnership between the NFL and the Muñoz Agency.  The mission of the camps is to make a positive impact on youth through teaching football skills, emphasizing exercise, and reinforcing the importance of character in athletics and life. The camp is part of a series of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps hosted as part of the NFL’s year-round Hispanic outreach initiative, focused on offering youth opportunities to play and experience the game of football. Since the inception of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps in 2012, over 60 camps have been held impacting more than 20,000 youth across the country.

NFL PLAY 60 FIELD DAY: On Thursday, January 25 from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m., the NFL will host a PLAY 60 Field Day with current NFL players, local youth and students from local schools enrolled in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. In addition, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host community groups from their regions at the PLAY 60 Field Day, which will take place on Field 21 at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Prior to the PLAY 60 Field Day, local community groups attending the PLAY 60 Field Day will have the opportunity to view Pro Bowl practice.

The event will consist of different physical activity stations ranging from relay races to ‘fuel up’ healthy eating stations and Quarterback Challenge drills.

The NFL is celebrating 10 years of getting kids active and healthy through NFL PLAY 60, the league’s youth health and wellness campaign encouraging kids to get active for 60 minutes a day. For more information, visit NFL.com/PLAY60.

NFL FLAG YOUTH MEDIA NIGHT: Members of the NFL FLAG Championship teams will experience what it feels like to be in the spotlight as an NFL player at NFL FLAG Youth Media Night on Thursday, January 25 at 6:00 PM ET at ESPN Wide World of Sports. At the event, NFL FLAG participants will take part in media interviews with current Pro Bowl players, NFL Legends and members of the media.

In addition to being interviewed like the stars, NFL FLAG competitors will enjoy food and entertainment, photo opportunities, walk the Play Football Red Carpet like the NFL’s best, and have an opportunity to mix and mingle before the competition kicks off on Friday, January 26.

NFL & USA FOOTBALL AMBASSADOR PROGRAM: The NFL/USA Football High School Ambassador Program Coaching Initiative offers former NFL players interested in understanding the Youth Football landscape and currently coaching or interested in coaching youth football, an opportunity to network and participate in in-person Heads Up Football training sessions.

Former NFL players who are a part of the year-round program, which is a Play Football initiative, will participate in weekend-long Pro Bowl activities. Activities include: interviewing NFL FLAG competitors during NFL FLAG Youth Media Night; a day-long seminar led by the NFL and USA Football; viewing Pro Bowl practice and various Play Football High School Day activities; and attending the USA Football National Conference.

USA FOOTBALL NATIONAL CONFERENCE: The fifth annual USA Football National Conference, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 attendees, is the largest annual gathering of high school and youth football administrators and coaches in the United States.

Speakers addressing National Conference attendees include Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, former Pro Bowl quarterback and Super Bowl XXXV Champion Trent Dilfer, Villanova University Director of Athletics Mark Jackson, National High School Hall of Fame coach Chuck Kyle of Cleveland St. Ignatius H.S., four-time state champion head coach Jason Mohns of Scottsdale Saguaro H.S., University of Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker and Super Bowl XX Champion Mike Singletary.

National Conference speakers will address a range of topics, including coach education, player safety, program development and key trends. This year’s conference will take place from Friday, January 26 to Sunday, January 28 at the Orange County Convention Center.

USA Football National Conference Schedule:
•Friday, January 26 from Noon to 8 p.m.
•Saturday, January 27 from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
•Sunday, January 28 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

NFL FLAG CHAMPIONSHIPS AT PRO BOWL POWERED BY USA FOOTBALL: The NFL FLAG Championships powered by USA Football are returning to Pro Bowl. The NFL FLAG Championships will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports from Friday, January 26 – Saturday, January 27 and are part of the NFL’s weeklong celebration of football at all levels. All teams will kick off the week at NFL FLAG Youth Media Night on Thursday, January 25. Live coverage will occur on ESPN and ABC during “Postseason NFL Countdown” at 1 p.m.

Sixty-six teams from across the country – ten regional champions in four divisions plus 26 teams selected by NFL Clubs – will compete. An additional five international teams from Canada, China and Mexico will participate in the exhibition games. Divisions include: 9-10 coed, 11-12 coed, 13-14 boys and 13-14 girls. NFL Pro Bowl players and Legends will serve as guest coaches, encouraging the teams as they compete for the national title.

The 13-14 Girls Championships will take place on Saturday, January 27 after Pro Bowl practice during Play Football High School Day. ESPN and ABC will televise the 13-14 Boys Championship Game on Sunday, January 28 as part of the network’s “Postseason NFL Countdown” show.

NFL FLAG powered by USA Football promotes physical fitness and teaches the sport’s values and life skills on and off the field to more than 410,000 young people. A non-contact version of traditional football offered for boys and girls ages 5-17 in cities across the country, NFL FLAG emphasizes fun, safety, teamwork, self-esteem, discipline and goal-setting. USA Football is the sport’s national governing body in the United States.

YOU CAN PLAY PROJECT: HI-FIVE INITIATIVE: On the morning of Saturday, January 27, the NFL will team with the You Can Play Project to host Orlando-area LGBT youth from local organizations, including the Hope Community Center, Our Fund and the Zebra Coalition, for a special event at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Students will attend Pro Bowl practice and then sit down with current NFL players and NFL Legends for a conversation on LGBT rights and inclusion in sports. The session will be facilitated by former NFL player and You Can Play Project Executive Director, Wade Davis. Additionally, youth participating in the event will attend the Pro Bowl on Sunday, January 28 at Camping World Stadium.

The You Can Play Project is an advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and gender identify. The organization’s Hi-Five initiative aims to create meaningful connections between LGBT youth and leaders within the professional sports community. The NFL was the first professional sports league to join the initiative when it launched in 2013.

PLAY FOOTBALL HIGH SCHOOL DAY: On Saturday, January 27, during Play Football High School Day, the best will meet the next! The NFL will host approximately 200 local high school football players and celebrate both male and female football participants as well as coaches. These student-athletes will participate in numerous exclusive, invite-only activities throughout the day.

The day kicks off with an opportunity to learn and polish their skills during the High School Skills Challenge which will be led by the high school coaches of current Pro Bowl players in attendance as part of the NFL’s “Thank You, Coach!” initiative. After viewing Pro Bowl practice, the student-athletes will attend a character development session led by an NFL Legend and will have a chance to explore the Pro Bowl Experience.

Additionally, during High School Football Day, the spotlight will not only be placed on tackle football participants but the flag athletes will have an opportunity to compete with an emphasis on Girls Flag with the NFL Girls 13-14 FLAG Championships and a Florida High School Girls Varsity game occurring simultaneously after Pro Bowl practice.

DON SHULA NFL HIGH SCHOOL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD: The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award honors an exemplary football coach at the high school level who displays the integrity, achievement, and leadership demonstrated by Coach Shula. Coaches are nominated for the national award by all 32 NFL teams, and the winner is selected by a panel of judges including Peyton Manning, Willie McGinest, Condoleezza Rice and Michael Strahan.

The Don Shula Award winner will be announced during the Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m. and will be covered on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ABC. Two finalists will each receive $15,000 from the NFL Foundation, $10,000 of which will go to their high school’s football program. The 2017 winner will receive an additional $10,000 from the NFL Foundation, $5,000 of which will go to his high school’s football program and attend the Super Bowl.

All NFL club-selected Don Shula Award nominees will be invited and recognized in special ways during the NFL’s week-long celebration of football in Orlando. The coaches will participate in a special coaches’ clinic, enjoy a VIP visit to Pro Bowl practices and attend the USA Football National Conference.

To learn more about this year’s nominees, click here.

MAKE-A-WISH®: Through the assistance of the NFL, Make-A-Wish will grant the wishes of five children to attend the 2018 Pro Bowl. Wish children and their families will attend a Pro Bowl practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports and will attend the game at Camping World Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 28. Every year since 1982, the NFL and Make-A-Wish have teamed to grant one or more wish kids to attend either the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl.

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 33,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 34 minutes. It has granted more than 285,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; more than 15,300 in 2016 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.

MILITARY OUTREACH: The following is a sampling of events planned for service members and their families in Orlando during Pro Bowl Week as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service:

•Following Pro Bowl practice on Saturday, Jan. 27 the NFL and Wounded Warrior Project will host a flag football game for 50 wounded warriors from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Field 21 at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Following the game, warriors will join 100 individuals from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) for a special Military Appreciation Luncheon from 1 to 2 p.m. NFL Legends, cheerleaders, and mascots will be in attendance to meet and greet TAPS families and wounded warriors and their families as they enjoy a complimentary meal provided by MISSION BBQ.

•The NFL will host members of TAPS and Wounded Warrior Project at Pro Bowl practices throughout the week at ESPN Wide World of Sports and on gameday.

•Family members from TAPS will enjoy complimentary admittance to Disney’s theme park.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 70,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information, visit http://www.taps.org.

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects warriors with one another, their families, and communities. It serves warriors through lifesaving programs and services targeting mental and physical health, career and benefits counseling, and support for the most severely wounded. And WWP empowers warriors to mentor other veterans and live life on their terms. To learn more, visit: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
THE COLLEGE CATCH: For the first time at Pro Bowl, the NFL will host “The College Catch,” a conversation with leaders in football that is aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation of sports business professionals.

Occurring at 10 a.m. on Sunday, January 28 at Harry Buffalo’s on Church Street, “The College Catch” provides college students with the opportunity to learn from and network with the best in the sports business. Attendees will get access to the speaker session as well as a ticket to the NFL 2018 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium at 3 p.m.

PRO BOWL SKILLS SHOWDOWN: For the second consecutive year, players from the AFC and NFC will compete against each other in unique competitions at the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, which will air on Thursday, January 25, at 9 p.m. on ESPN. The event will also re-air across ESPN, ABC and Disney XD, as well as NFL Network.

The 2018 Pro Bowl Legends Captains, Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson of the AFC and Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn of the NFC, will lead their respective squads. Each Skills Showdown team will feature a mix of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linemen, linebackers, defensive backs and kickers.

Taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World in Orlando, the competition will include:

•Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball presented by Pepsi: Pro Bowlers will compete in a game of dodgeball, with every member of each team participating. The team with the last person on the court wins.

•Kick-Tac-Toe: A new challenge that tests the accuracy of placekickers from both conferences with a version of the classic game, as they attempt to hit a 3×3 grid of targets inside the uprights.

•Gridiron Gauntlet: Five players from each team will participate in a relay race designed to showcase strength, speed and agility. Among other surprises, the challenge will include a 40-yard dash with an inflated parachute that is attached to the first player on each team who will sprint before tagging in teammates.

•Best Hands presented by EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18: Four receivers – two from each conference – will catch a series of passes at a sequence of downfield targets as quickly as possible. Designated targets require a specific style of catch – diving, one-handed, over the shoulder, etc. – which must be executed before the receiver can move on to the next target.

•Precision Passing presented by EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18: Each conference’s quarterbacks will battle it out in an accuracy competition, as they attempt to hit targets of varying size and distance.

•Drone Drop Challenge: A bonus event during which one player from each team will attempt to catch footballs dropped from drones from increasing heights above the field. The player who makes the highest catch wins money for the charity of his choice.

Fans are encouraged to join the conversation surrounding the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown on social media using the hashtag #ProBowl. A limited number of free tickets to the Skills Showdown taping will be made available to fans. Fans may register for tickets here.

EA SPORTS: THE MADDEN NFL 18 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP: From Thursday, January 25 to Saturday, January 27, EA SPORTS will host The Madden NFL 18 Club Championship tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. The Madden NFL 18 Club Championship, the third EA Major Series event of the $1 million Madden NFL 18 Championship Series, will bring together the top 32 players from across the country representing each NFL club to compete during Pro Bowl Week. These elite competitive players advanced through a grueling online elimination process featuring millions of Madden players in pursuit of the Club Championship title and their share of over $400,000.

The competitions will take place:
•Thursday, January 25 from 2 to 10 p.m.
•Friday, January 26 from 2 to 10 p.m.
•Saturday, January 27: 2 p.m. to Midnight

PRO BOWL FUN RUN SERIES: Grab the family and your favorite team jersey for the 2018 Pro Bowl Fun Run Series located at the Track & Field Complex at ESPN Wide World of Sports beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 27.

From Kids Dashes to a Half Mile Run, there is a distance for football fans of any age. Participants can look forward to appearances from Disney characters, Pro Bowl cheerleaders and mascots and a one-of-a-kind finisher medal! Click HERE to register.

Race packet pick-up begins at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, January 27 at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

PRO BOWL ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM: The NFL is teaming with the City of Orlando, Verizon, Sabra and local community partners to reduce the environmental impact of the Pro Bowl and leave a positive “green” legacy in the Orlando host community.

Below is a sampling of environmental initiatives taking place during Pro Bowl Week:

•Rosemont Community Center Gardens: Students and community volunteers will join with the NFL, the City of Orlando, Verizon and Sabra to create community gardens at the Rosemont Community Center (4782 Rose Bay Drive, Orlando) on Friday, January 26. Students from Annunciation Middle School, Rosemont Elementary, student athletes from the University of Central Florida and Verizon volunteers will build and plant new garden boxes for vegetables. They will also add plants that attract pollinators. There will be a brief ceremony with NFL Legends to kick off the project at 9 a.m. The gardens will be cared for by the children and seniors who use the Community Center and will provide an opportunity for education about healthy eating and cooking. In addition to providing food, and teaching the children to care for the environment, the plantings also promote NFL PLAY 60, the league’s youth health and wellness campaign, by encouraging children to enjoy outdoor activities.

•Parramore Garden Rebuild: Orlando’s oldest community gardens, the Parramore gardens (654 West Robinson Street, Orlando) will be rebuilt with funding from the NFL Foundation’s Pro Bowl Community Grant project in partnership with NFL sponsors Verizon and Sabra.

•Food Recovery: The NFL is teaming with Second Harvest Food Bank and Disney Harvest to recover unserved, prepared food from kitchens and minimize food waste. Unserved, prepared food will be distributed to local shelters and community kitchens in Orlando.

•Materials Recovery: There will be an intensive drive to collect and donate all items left over from Pro Bowl events. In partnership with A Gift For Teaching and Salvation Army, the NFL will donate decorative materials, office supplies and other items to local nonprofit organizations that can reuse, repurpose or remanufacture the material. This project keeps material out of local landfills and turns it into valuable items for resale or reuse.

•Renewable Energy Project: Camping World Stadium, the site of Pro Bowl 2018, will be powered using “green energy” to reduce the climate impact of Pro Bowl. In addition to game day, renewable energy credits will power Camping World Stadium during the entirety of the two-week set up and breakdown of Pro Bowl.

•Solid Waste Management/Recycling: Comprehensive solid waste management is implemented at all major Pro Bowl facilities including Camping World Stadium and ESPN Wide World of Sports. Effective waste management and recycling efforts significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills. PepsiCo is providing recycle bins to Camping World Stadium and Wide World of Sports to help maximize recycling.

The NFL Environmental Program has incorporated environmental projects into the management of Pro Bowl events for seventeen years. The NFL Environmental Program is one of a significant number of community initiatives developed each year by the NFL to leave a positive legacy in the Pro Bowl host community.

PRO BOWL FAN CENTRAL: Come early to the 2018 Pro Bowl to enjoy Pro Bowl Fan Central, the hub of fan excitement on gameday at Camping World Stadium. Music, food, beverages and football fun will welcome fans from Noon to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 28 before entry into the stadium. Some of the activations include:

•Bud Light: We all know Bud Light is Famous Among Friends. That’s why, at the 2018 Pro Bowl, attendees can share a beer with their friends at the Bud Light Bar at Pro Bowl Fan Central

•Panini: The exclusive physical trading card licensee of the NFL, Panini is an Official Sponsor of the NFL Pro Bowl. Stop by the Panini booth for a chance to win NFL trading cards.

•Pepsi Zero Sugar: PepsiCo will be sampling its zero-calorie soda at the fan plaza.

SATURDAY NIGHT PEP RALLY & PRE-GAME ACTIVATION ZONE: The Church Street Pep Rally – on Saturday, January 27 at 5 to 9 p.m. – and the Church Street Pregame – on Sunday, January 28 at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – will provide free fun for all football fans. Featuring an NFL Shop, music, games, player appearances, prizes, food and drink specials, and more, Church Street is located a short four-minute shuttle ride away from Camping World Stadium. On Sunday, free shuttle rides will begin at 10 a.m. to take NFL fans from the Church Street Pregame to Camping World Stadium for the 2018 Pro Bowl.

The National Football League announced on Monday that the coaching staffs of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints were selected to lead the 2018 Pro Bowl teams in Orlando, Florida.

The 2018 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 28, at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. Tickets to the game, which will kickoff at 3 p.m. Eastern and be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ABC, are on sale now at ProBowl.com.​

Mike Tomlin and the coaches from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Sean Payton and the coaches from the New Orleans Saints will lead the AFC and NFC teams, respectively.

Each conference will also be led by two Legends Captains – one offensive and one defensive. Pro Football Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson (offense) and Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor (defense) will lead the AFC, while three-time Pro Bowl running back Warrick Dunn (offense) and Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks (defense) will lead the NFC.

For additional information on the game or week-of festivities, fans are encouraged to visit ProBowl.com.

In other Pro Bowl News…

The National Football League announced on Tuesday that actor, recording artist and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Jordan  Fisher will sing the National Anthem and perform as part of halftime festivities at the 2018 Pro Bowl at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium on Sunday, January 28.

Fisher’s career has spanned television, music, film and Broadway. In 2017, he took home the Mirrorball trophy, alongside partner Lindsay Arnold, on the 25th season of Dancing with the Stars. His first single with Hollywood Records – “All About Us” – became the second most-added song on pop radio, and his self-titled EP debuted at #18 on the Billboard Heatseeker album chart. In addition to his recent roles on “Grease Live” and “Moana,” Fisher joined the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton.”

The Pro Bowl will be televised live at 3 p.m. Eastern on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ABC. Tickets to the game are now available at ProBowl.com. Fans are encouraged to follow and join the Pro Bowl conversation on social media by using the hashtag #ProBowl.

Leading up to the game, the NFL will host PRO BOWL WEEK festivities at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort and across the Orlando area, including free experiences for fans and an extraordinary number of events focused on commemorating all levels of football – from youth to high school to the NFL’s best. Some of the many Pro Bowl Week activities will include:

PRO BOWL KIDS STADIUM TAKEOVER: For the first time, after the Pro Bowl postgame ceremony, all kids ages 14 and under accompanied by their parents at Camping World Stadium will be invited to run around on the very same field as the NFL’s biggest stars.

PRO BOWL EXPERIENCE: A free admission family-friendly football fan festival will bring fans closer to the NFL through a variety of activities including interactive games, a virtual reality experience, photo opportunities with the Pro Bowl Trophy and more.

PRO BOWL PRACTICES: AFC and NFC team practices – which are free and open to the public – will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, allowing fans to watch their favorite players as they get ready for the game.

PRO BOWL SKILLS SHOWDOWN: For the second straight year, the athletic prowess of the NFL’s best players will be tested in unique competitions, including Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball presented by Pepsi, Precision Passing presented by EA SPORTS Madden 18 and the new Kick Tac Toe challenge.

The Pro Bowl is an all-inclusive event for fans on gameday. The 2017 Pro Bowl marked the first autism-friendly game hosted by a professional sports league. Working with KultureCity, Camping World Stadium’s sensory-inclusive partner, the NFL will offer support to families who attend the 2018 Pro Bowl, including sensory accessibility resources and two dedicated sensory rooms located in the stadium to enable them to enjoy the game with more confidence and comfort.

Additional information on the game and Pro Bowl Week festivities is available at ProBowl.com.

The National Football League announced that Pro Football Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson will serve as 2018 Pro Bowl Legends Captains. The Pro Bowl will once again feature a match-up between the AFC and NFC, with each conference led by two Legends Captains – one offensive and one defensive.

Tomlinson (offense) and Taylor (defense) will lead the AFC, while Dunn (offense) and Brooks (defense) will lead the NFC. The four Legends Captains, who were collectively selected to 25 Pro Bowls, will serve as mentors for the Pro Bowl players and be present on the sidelines on gameday.

With a new start time of 3 p.m., the Pro Bowl will be televised live on Sunday, January 28 from Orlando’s Camping World Stadium on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ABC. Tickets to the game start at $45 and are on sale now at ProBowl.com. Pro Bowl rosters will be revealed Tuesdat evening on NFL Network.

Derrick Brooks: A member of the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, Brooks was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion (XXXVII) during his 14-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brooks, the 2000 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, never missed a game in his career and was the NFL’s 2002 Defensive Player of the Year. Brooks had a 44-yard interception-return touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVII to help propel the Buccaneers to a 48-21 victory.

Warrick Dunn: A three-time Pro Bowl selection in 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons, Dunn was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 and named the 2004 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year. Dunn, who has 10,967 career rush yards and 4,339 receiving yards, continues to be active in the community and established Warrick Dunn Charities, including the Home for the Holidays program, which is dedicated to combating poverty, hunger and improving the quality of life for families and children.

Jason Taylor: Taylor, who starred for the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and New York Jets during his 15 NFL seasons, stands as Miami’s all-time leader in sacks and forced fumbles. The 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was a three-time First Team All-Pro, was selected to six Pro Bowls and was named the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. Taylor was named the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year, recognizing his work on and off the football field.

LaDainian Tomlinson: A five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time First Team All-Pro, Tomlinson played for the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets during his 11-year NFL career and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017. Tomlinson was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2006, the same year in which he won the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He ranks second in NFL history in rushing touchdowns (145) and sixth in rushing yards (13,684). Tomlinson is the Chargers’ all-time leader in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and scrimmage yards.

For the second consecutive year, the NFL will host PRO BOWL WEEK festivities at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World® Resort and across the Orlando area, bringing free experiences and activities to fans as well as an extraordinary number of events focused on commemorating all levels of football – from youth to high school to the NFL’s best. Some of the Pro Bowl Week events will include:

Pro Bowl Experience: A free football festival located at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where fans can participate in immersive exhibits, take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, attend player autograph sessions and more.

Pro Bowl Practices: AFC and NFC team practices – which are free and open to the public – will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, allowing fans to watch their favorite players as they get ready for the game. Pro Bowl Skills Showdown: For the second straight year, this unique competition will test the athletic prowess of the NFL’s best players in unique competitions.

For additional information on the game or week-of festivities, fans are encouraged to visit ProBowl.com.

In other Pro Bowl news

For the second consecutive year, Pro Bowlers from the AFC and NFC will compete against each other in unique competitions at the PRO BOWL SKILLS SHOWDOWN, which airs on Thursday, January 25, at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

The Skills Showdown is one of the many events occurring during PRO BOWL WEEK, culminating with the 2018 Pro Bowl on Sunday, January 28, at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. Tickets to the game, which will kickoff at 3 p.m. and be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ABC, are on sale now at ProBowl.com.

“We received tremendous feedback from our fans and players about last year’s Skills Showdown, which became one of our most popular Pro Bowl Week events,” Peter O’Reilly, NFL Senior Vice President of Events told WISH-TV, USA Today and the Orlando Sentinel. “With new competitions and special surprises this year, we are raising the bar even higher for both teams and are excited to see which conference ends up victorious.”

The 2018 Pro Bowl Legends Captains, Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson of the AFC and Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn of the NFC, will lead their respective squads. Each Skills Showdown team will feature a mix of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linemen, linebackers, defensive backs and kickers.

Taking place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, the Skills Showdown will be produced by A. Smith and Company Productions, producers of shows such as American Ninja Warrior and Hell’s Kitchen.

Competitions at the Skills Showdown include:

Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball: Pro Bowlers will compete in a game of dodgeball, with every member of each team participating. The team with the last person on the court wins.

Kick Tac Toe: A new challenge that tests the accuracy of placekickers from both conferences with a version of the classic game, as they attempt to hit a 3×3 grid of targets inside the uprights.

Gridiron Gauntlet: Five players from each team will participate in a relay race designed to showcase strength, speed and agility. Among other surprises, the challenge will include a 40-yard dash with an inflated parachute that is attached to the first player on each team who will sprint before tagging in teammates.

Best Hands: Four receivers – two from each conference – will catch a series of passes at a sequence of downfield targets as quickly as possible. Designated targets require a specific style of catch – diving, one-handed, over the shoulder, etc. – which must be executed before the receiver can move on to the next target.

Precision Passing: Each conference’s quarterbacks will battle it out in an accuracy competition, as they attempt to hit targets of varying size and distance.

Drone Drop: A bonus event during which one player from each team will attempt to catch footballs dropped from drones from increasing heights above the field. The player who makes the highest catch wins money for the charity of his choice.

Fans are encouraged to join the conversation surrounding the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown on social media using the hashtag #ProBowlSkills. For additional information or to find out more about week-of festivities, fans are encouraged

17 weeks of regular season football done.

Weeks of OTA’s, training camp, the draft, done.

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

The NFL postseason begins with four games on Wild Card Weekend. Below is the Playoff schedule (All times Eastern)

Wild Card Round

Saturday, January 6
AFC – Tennessee at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC
NFC – ATLANTA at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, January 7
AFC – Buffalo at Jacksonville, 1:05 p.m. on CBS
NFC – Carolina at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. on FOX

Divisonal Round

Saturday, January 13
NFC: New Orleans/Carolina/Atlanta at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. on NBC
AFC: Kansas City/Tennessee/Buffalo at New England, 8:15 p.m. on CBS

Sunday, January 14
AFC: Jacksonville/Kansas City/Tennessee at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. on CBS
NFC: Los Angeles Rams/New Orleans/Carolina at Minnesota, 4:40 p.m. on FOX

Championship Round
AFC: 3:05 p.m. on CBS
NFC: 6:40 p.m. on FOX

Week 17 came right down to the wire. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. Three playoff berths (Atlanta, Buffalo and Tennessee) and one division (NFC South) were decided on the last day of the regular season.

The final 12 teams are now set. It doesn’t matter how you got here. All that matters is that you’re here. Here is the seeding for both the AFC and NFC.

AFC
1. New England (13-3, AFC East champion)
2. Pittsburgh (13-3, AFC North champion)
3. Jacksonville (10-6, AFC South champion)
4. Kansas City (10-6, AFC West champion)
5. Tennessee (9-7)
6. Buffalo (9-7)

NFC
1. Philadelphia (13-3, NFC East champion)
2. Minnesota (13-3, NFC North champion)
3. Los Angeles Rams (11-5, NFC West champion)
4. New Orleans (11-5, NFC South champion)
5. Carolina (11-5)
6. Atlanta (10-6)

The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 4 with Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota on NBC at 6:30 p.m, begins this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

The Eagles and Jaguars both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Five of the eight division winners – Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints and Jaguars – finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year.

And there are eight new teams in this year’s playoff field – Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints and Panthers in the NFC and Jaguars, Titans and Bills in the AFC – which is tied for the most in a season (2003) since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990. Since 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

For 12 teams that are taking part in the 2017 NFL playoffs, it’s their second season. Forget what you did in the past. It’s what you do now. It’s a different season. In the regular season, you lose, you play next week. Here, it’s win and you advance; lose and your next game is next year.

While that’s going on, there are six coaching positions that are now open. The New York Giants, Arizona, Chicago Oakland, Indianapolis and Detroit have hung their “Now Hiring” signs out. Get those resumes ready.

Of the 12 teams that are in the post-season, Atlanta, New England, Pittsburgh and Kansas City are repeat customers from last year, while the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, Carolina, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Minnesota return to the post-season, with the Bills breaking the longest drought, as they are in for the first time since the Clinton adminstration (1999).

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 17: New England, who defeated the New York Jets, 26-6 clinched, the Number 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Pittsburgh, who won the AFC North, are the Number 2 seed in the AFC and will have a first-round bye.

Jacksonville, who won the AFC South, are the Number 3 seed and will host Buffalo in the Wild Card round at 1:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon on CBS. Buffalo, who defeated Miami 22-16, clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 1999.

Kansas City, who won the AFC West, are the Number 4 seed and will host Tennessee in the Wild Card round Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC. Tennessee clinched a playoff berth with a 15-10 win over Jacksonville Sunday afternoon in Nashville.

In the NFC, Philadelphia will enter the postseason as the Number 1 seed and have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Minnesota, who won the NFC North, clinched a first-round bye with a 23-10 win over Chicago and will be the number 2 seed.

The Los Angeles Rams, who won the NFC West, are the Number 3 seed and will host Atlanta in the Wild Card round Saturday evening at 8:15 p.m. on NBC. The Falcons clinched the number 6 seed and a playoff berth with a 22-10 win over Carolina Sunday in Atlanta.

New Orleans, despite losing at Tampa, won the NFC South division title and are the Number 4 seed and they will host Carolina in the Wild Card round Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on FOX.

•Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had a 35-yard rushing touchdown on his only carry in the Chiefs’ win at Denver. Hunt finished the season with 1,327 rushing yards and is the second rookie not selected in the first round to lead his league in rushing yards in the common draft era (since 1967). Cincinnati’s Paul Robinson led the AFL with 1,023 rushing yards in 1968.

•New Orleans running backs Alvin Kamara (1,554) and Mark Ingram (1,540) became the first running back teammates in NFL history to each record at least 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season. Kamara, who had 128 scrimmage yards with a rushing touchdown and returned four kickoffs for 155 yards, including a 106-yard touchdown in Sunday’s loss at Tampa Bay, finished the season with eight rushing touchdowns, five receiving touchdowns and one kickoff-return touchdown. He joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five rushing touchdowns, five receiving touchdowns and a kickoff-return touchdown.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ win over the New York Jets. Brady, who turned 40 years old earlier this year, finished the season with 4,577 passing yards and is the oldest player in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards. The previous record was held by Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (38 years old), who led the NFL with 3,468 passing yards in 1978.

•Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith finished the season with 4,042 passing yards, five interceptions and a league-best 104.7 passer rating. Smith is the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards and throw fewer than 10 interceptions in five consecutive seasons. New England’s Tom Brady, who finished the season with an NFL-best 4,577 passing yards with eight interceptions, joined Smith as the only players to accomplish the feat in four consecutive seasons. Smith did not play in the Chiefs’ win at Denver Sunday afternoon.

•Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 317 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ win over Carolina in Atlanta. Ryan has 41,796 career passing yards and passed Peyton Manning (41,626) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 10 seasons in NFL history. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had five catches for 80 yards in Sunday’s victory. Jones, who has 9,054 career receiving yards, reached the 9,000-yard mark in his 95th game and is the fastest in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth held the previous record (98 games).

•Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown finished the season with an NFL-best 1,533 receiving yards. Brown, who also led the league in receiving yards (1,698) in 2014, is the first player in franchise history to lead the NFL in receiving yards multiple times. Brown has 582 receptions and 7,848 receiving yards over the past five seasons, the most in NFL history over any five-year span for both categories.

Pittsburgh rookie Ju Ju Smith-Schuester had nine catches for 143 yards with a touchdown and added 122 kickoff-return yards, including a 96-yard touchdown, in the Steelers’ 28-24 win over Cleveland at Heinz Field. Smith-Schuster, who turned 21 in November, finished the season with 1,157 all-purpose yards (917 receiving, 240 kickoff-return) and is the youngest player in NFL history to record 1,000 all-purpose yards in a season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: FROM WILD CARD ROUND TO SUPER BOWL: Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times. At least one Super Bowl participant in six of the past 12 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)

NEW YEAR, NEW TEAMS: Philadelphia (13-3, NFC East) and Jacksonville (10-6, AFC South) both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Five of the eight division winners – Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints and Jaguars – finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year.

Eight new teams are in this year’s playoff field – Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints and Panthers in the NFC and Jaguars, Titans and Bills in the AFC – which is tied for the most in a season (2003) since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990. Since 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Six of the eight new teams in the playoffs this year will play on Wild Card Weekend: Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, and Tennessee.

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)
2016 – 6 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)

POSTSEASON QUARTERBACKS: Quarterbacks Drew Brees of New Orleans and Matt Ryan of Atlanta have enjoyed postseason success in their careers. They both rank among the leaders in many postseason passing categories, including passer rating, completion percentage and 300-yard games.

Ryan (102.4) and Brees (100.7) are two of only four quarterbacks in NFL history to have a passer rating of at least 100 in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts). The other two – Bart Starr (104.8) and Kurt Warner (102.8) – are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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

QUARTERBACK (COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPS – YARDS; TD-INTERCEPTIONS, RATING)

Bart Starr (130/213 – 1,753; 15-3, 104.8)^
Kurt Warner (307/462 – 3,952; 31-14, 102.8)^
Matt Ryan (194/285 – 2,244; 18-7, 102.4)*
Drew Brees (306/464 – 3,539; 24-6, 100.7)*
Aaron Rodgers (378/595 – 4,458; 36-10, 99.4)
*Active in 2017 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Ryan (68.1 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in NFL history (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fourth.

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

QUARTERBACK (COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPTS – PERCENTAGE)
Matt Ryan (194/285 – 68.1)*
Kurt Warner (307/462 – 66.5)^
Ken Anderson (110/166 – 66/3)
Drew Brees (306-464 – 65.9)*
Warren Moon (259-403 – 64.3)^
*Active in 2017 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards in six postseason games in his career. With 300 passing yards against Carolina on Sunday, Brees would join Tom Brady (12) and Peyton Manning (nine) as the only quarterbacks to have at least seven 300-yard passing games in NFL postseason history.

The quarterbacks with the most 300-yard passing performances in NFL postseason history:

PLAYER – MOST 300-YARD PASSING GAMES IN POSTSEASON
Tom Brady – 12*
Peyton Manning – 9
Drew Brees – 6*
Joe Montana – 6^
Aaron Rodgers – 6
Kurt Warner – 6^
*Active in 2017 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

NEW FACES: Several teams will feature a quarterback making his first career playoff start. Among those slated to start on Wild Card Weekend are Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota.

The players with the most passing yards in their first career postseason start:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, ROUND – PASSING YARDS)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (2002, AFC Wild Card – 429)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2009, NFC Wild Card – 423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1988, NFC Divisional – 407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999, NFC Divisional – 391)^
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982, NFC Wild Card – 385)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SAFE SMITH: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith passed for a career-high 4,042 yards with five interceptions in the regular season, his NFL-record fifth consecutive season with at least 3,000 passing yards and fewer than 10 interceptions.

Smith has made six career postseason starts, completing 132 of 220 passes (60 percent) for 1,481 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions for a 94.5 passer rating.

Smith’s 0.9 interception percentage is the lowest by a quarterback in postseason history (minimum 150 attempts). New Orleans’ DREW BREES ranks third all-time with a 1.3 interception percentage in the postseason (464 attempts, six interceptions).

The lowest career interception percentages in postseason history (minimum 150 attempts):

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (INTERCEPTION PERCENTAGE)
Alex Smith – San Francisco and Kansas City (0.9)*
Tony Romo – Dallas (1.1)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (1.3)*
Bart Starr – Green Bay (1.4)^
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (1.7)
*Active in 2017 postseason
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

ALL-AROUND ROOKIES: Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (1,782 scrimmage yards), New Orleans’ ALVIN KAMARA (1,554), Jacksonville’s LEONARD FOURNETTE (1,342) and Carolina’s Christian McCaffery (1,086) were the only rookies with 1,000+ scrimmage yards in 2017 and all four will take the field on Wild Card Weekend.

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in a single postseason in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis (2006, 412)
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2000, 378)
Duane Thomas, Dallas (1970, 358)
Timmy Smith, Washington (1987, 351)
James Starks, Green Bay (2010, 330)

The rookies with the most scrimmage touchdowns in a single postseason in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – SCRIMMAGE TOUCHDOWNS)
William Floyd, San Francisco (1994 – 5)
Norm Standlee, Chicago (1941 – 4)
Tony Dorsett, Dallas (1997 – 4)^
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2000 – 4)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SCORING CHAMPS TO CONFERENCE CHAMPS: The Los Angeles Rams, who scored the fewest points in the league in 2016 (14 points per game), led the NFL averaging 29.9 points per game and became the second team in NFL history (1964-65 San Francisco) to lead the league in scoring after scoring the fewest points in the previous season. Three of the past four regular-season scoring champions – Atlanta (33.8 in 2016), Carolina (31.3 in 2015) and Denver (37.9 in 2013) – advanced to the Super Bowl.

The postseason results of the team with the highest scoring average in the regular season in the past five seasons:

TEAM – SEASON (REGULAR SEASON POINTS/GAME, PLAYOFF RESULT)
Denver – 2013 (37.9, Advanced to SB XLVIII)
Green Bay – 2014 (30.4, Advanced to NFC Championship)
Carolina – 2015 (31.3, Advanced to SB 50)
Atlanta – 2016 (33.8, Advanced to SB LI)
Los Angeles Rams – 2017 (29.9, ???)

New teams making the playoffs and winning divisions… consistent teams excelling once again… records falling… young players making their mark… and so much more.

The 2017 season had it all, including a fantastic finish.

Week 17 came right down to the wire as three playoff spots and one division title – the NFC South – were decided on the last day of the season. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.

Philadelphia (NFC East) and Jacksonville (AFC South) both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

Five of the eight divisions were won by a team that finished in third or fourth place in the division last year – Jacksonville (AFC South), the Los Angeles Rams (NFC West), Minnesota (NFC North), New Orleans (NFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East).

Each of the 12 teams still in Super Bowl LII contention can look back at the eventful and unpredictable 2017 regular season and appreciate how challenging the road to the playoffs was.

Philadelphia (13-3) captured the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the first time since 2004, while New England, who finished atop the AFC with a 13-3 record, won their ninth consecutive AFC East title, extending their NFL-record streak. The Patriots are the only team in NFL history with at least 12 wins in eight consecutive seasons.

“We have to beat good teams no matter what. That’s what the playoffs are,” Eagles defensive end Chris Long told USA Today. “Thirteen wins is great, but we have to make it worth something. That means playing our best in the playoffs.”

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. Eight teams that missed the postseason in 2016 – Buffalo (9-7), Carolina (11-5), Jacksonville (10-6), Los Angeles Rams (11-5), Minnesota (13-3), New Orleans (11-5), Philadelphia (13-3) and Tennessee (9-7) – accomplished the feat this year, tied with the 2003 season for the most such teams since 1990.

“There are a lot of happy guys in that locker room, a lot of emotions running pretty wild, guys just happy to be a part of it,” said Bills head coach Sean McDermott after clinching the team’s first postseason berth since 1999. “This is a team; these guys play as a team. We’re nowhere near where we need to be, but we are very grateful for this opportunity and it’s a well-earned opportunity, and so my hat goes off to everyone involved.”

The NFL is never short on surprises, and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2017:

TERRIFIC TURNAROUNDS

•Philadelphia (NFC East) and Jacksonville (AFC South) both clinched respective division titles after finishing in last place in 2016. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

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 Orleans (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)
2016 – Dallas (13-3, 4-12)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6, 3-13) and Philadelphia (13-3, 7-9)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

•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.

This season, eight teams – Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, the Los Angeles Rams, Minneosta, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Tennessee – qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason last year, tied with the 2003 season for the most such teams since 1990.

PASSING

•NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2017.

The league-wide completion percentage (62.1) and passer rating (86.9) both rank as the fourth-highest totals in league history. The league-wide interception percentage of 2.5 percent was the third-lowest of any season in NFL history.

•Eight quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards in 2017: New England’s Tom Brady (4,577), Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers (4,515), Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (4,446), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (4,334), Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (4,251), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (4,095), Washington’s Kirk Cousins (4,093) and Kansas City’s Alex Smith (4,042).

Brees (4,334) extended his NFL-record streak to 12 consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards, while Stafford (4,446) and Ryan (4,095) each recorded their seventh consecutive season with 4,000+ passing yards, tied for second-longest streak in league annals.

Five quarterbacks finished the season with a passer rating of at least 100: Smith (104.7), Brees (103.9), Brady (102.8), Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz (101.9) and Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff (100.5).

•New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees led the NFL with 386 completions this season and has 6,222 career completions, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (6,300) and Peyton Manning (6,125) as the only players in NFL history with at least 6,000 completions. Brees reached the milestone in his 240th career game and is the fastest in NFL history to accomplish the feat (Manning, 259 games and Favre, 286). Brees completed 386 of 536 attempts this season for an NFL-record 72.0 completion percentage, surpassing Sam Bradford’s record of 71.6 percent set in 2016. Brees owns three of the top four single-season completion percentages in NFL history.

Brees, who has 70,445 career passing yards, joined Manning (71,940) and Favre (71,838) as the only players in league history with at least 70,000 career passing yards. Brees reached the milestone in his 248th career game and is the fastest in league history to accomplish the feat.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady, who turned 40 years old earlier this year, led the NFL with 4,577 passing yards and is the oldest player in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards. The previous record was held by Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (38 years old), who led the NFL with 3,468 passing yards in 1978. Brady’s 4,577 passing yards and 32 touchdown passes in 2017 are both the most by a quarterback in a single season at the age of 40 or older. Brady has 66,159 career passing yards and became the fourth player in NFL history to reach 65,000 career passing yards, joining Peyton Manning (71,940), Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (71,838) and Drew Brees (70,445).

Brady, who has won 89 career regular-season road starts, surpassed Manning (85) for the most regular-season road victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady had four games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions in 2017. In 18 career seasons, Brady has 55 games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, surpassing Peyton Manning (51) for the most such performances in NFL history.

•The New York Giants’ Eli Manning (51,682), Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (51,065) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers (50,348) each reached 50,000 career passing touchdowns during the season, becoming the seventh, eighth and ninth quarterbacks in NFL history, respectively, to reach the mark. Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger, who were all selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, are the first trio from the same draft class to each record 50,000 career passing yards. Rivers (4,171) and Roethlisberger (4,164) became the eighth and ninth players in league annals, respectively, to reach 4,000 career completions.

•Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (313) became the 11th player in NFL history to record 300 career touchdown passes and reached the mark on his 4,742nd career attempt, the fewest attempts at the time of a player’s 300th touchdown pass in NFL history.

•Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers ranked second in the NFL with 4,515 passing yards and reached the 3,500-yard mark for the 10th consecutive season (2008-17). Rivers is the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,500 yards in 10 consecutive seasons, joining Peyton Manning (13, 1998-2010) and Drew Brees (13, 2005-17).

•Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith finished the season with 4,042 passing yards, five interceptions and a league-best 104.7 passer rating. Smith is the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,000 yards and throw fewer than 10 interceptions in five consecutive seasons. New England’s Tom Brady, who finished the season with an NFL-best 4,577 passing yards with eight interceptions, joined Smith as the only players to accomplish the feat in four consecutive seasons.

•Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has 41,796 career passing yards and passed Peyton Manning (41,626) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 10 seasons in NFL history.

•Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes and threw 19 fourth-quarter touchdowns, surpassing Eli Manning (15 in 2011) for the most in a single season in NFL history.

•Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz, who set a single-season franchise record with 33 touchdown passes, became the third quarterback in NFL history to have at least 25 touchdown passes (28) and five or fewer interceptions (five) through his team’s first 11 games, joining Tom Brady (2007, 2015, 2017) and Aaron Rodgers (2011, 2014).

•Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum posted a passer rating of at least 100 in four consecutive games from Weeks 10-13, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (2009) and Daunte Culpepper (2000 and 2004) for the longest streak in franchise history.

•San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo won each of his five starts with the 49ers and is one of five quarterbacks since 1970 to win each of his first seven NFL starts.

RUSHING

•Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2017:

Nine players registered at least 1,000 rushing yards this season – Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (1,327), Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley (1,305), Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell (1,291), Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy (1,138), New Orleans’ Mark Ingram (1,124), Chicago’s Jordan Howard (1,122), Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon (1,105), Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (1,040) and Denver’s C.J. Anderson (1,007). Two players registered at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2017 – Gurley (13) and Ingram (12).

•Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt led the NFL with 1,327 rushing yards and was the second rookie not selected in the first round to lead his league in rushing yards in the common draft era (since 1967). Cincinnati’s Paul Robinson led the AFL with 1,023 rushing yards in 1968. Hunt is the sixth rookie since 1970 to lead the league in rushing.

•Indianapolis running back Frank Gore (14,026) surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (13,259), Jerome Bettis (13,662) and LaDanian Tomlinson (13,684) to move into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. The only players with more career rushing yards are Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726), Barry Sanders (15,269) and Curtis Martin (14,101).

•Arizona running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 159 yards on a career-high 37 carries in Week 9. Peterson has 19 career games with at least 150 rushing yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (18) and Emmitt Smith (18) for the fourth-most games with at least 150 rushing yards in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers Barry Sanders (25), Jim Brown (22) and Walter Payton (20) have more such games in their careers. Peterson, at 32 years old, became the third-oldest player in NFL history with at least 150 rushing yards in a game, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers John Riggins (35 years old) and John Henry Johnson (34 years old).

•Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy reached 10,000 career rushing yards on his 2,145th carry and became the fifth-fastest player in NFL history to achieve the milestone. The only players to reach 10,000 career rushing yards in fewer attempts are JIM BROWN (1,936), Adrian Peterson (2,004), Barry Sanders (2,020) and O.J. Simpson (2,085). Brown, Sanders and Simpson are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

RECEIVING

•Five players registered at least 100 receptions in 2017: Miami’s Jarvis Landry (112), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (109), New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (104), Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen (102) and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown  (101).

Six players recorded at least 1,200 receiving yards in 2017: Brown (1,533), Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,444), Allen (1,393), Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins (1,378), Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (1,276) and Thomas (1,245). Three players had at least 10 touchdown catches in 2017: Hopkins (13), Green Bay’s Davante Adams (10) and Seattle’s Jimmy Graham (10).

•Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown led the NFL with 1,533 receiving yards and has 7,848 receiving yards since 2013, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (7,594 from 1999-2003) for the most receiving yards by a player over any five-year span in NFL history. Brown, who has 582 receptions since 2013, also surpassed Harrison (563 from 1999-2003) for the most catches by a player over any five-year span in NFL history. Brown ranked fifth in the NFL with 101 catches and is the first player in league history with at least 100 catches in five consecutive seasons. Brown, who has 733 career catches since entering the league in 2010, reached 700 career receptions in the fewest games in NFL history (111).

•Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has 15,545 career receiving yards, moved into third place in NFL history in receiving yards. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (22,895) and Terrell Owens (15,934) have more career receiving yards in league history. Fitzgerald, who has played his entire career with Arizona, and Rice (19,247 with San Francisco) are the only players in NFL history to reach 15,000 career receiving yards with a single team. Fitzgerald, who was 34 years, 70 days old when he reached 15,000 receiving yards, became the second-youngest player in NFL history to accomplish the milestone, trailing only Rice (33 years, 72 days old).

Fitzgerald has five career seasons with at least 100 catches, tied for the second-most in NFL history behind Brandon Marshall (six). Fitzgerald, who recorded his 14th consecutive season with 50+ catches, tied Anquan Boldin (14 consecutive seasons from 2003-16) for the longest such streak to begin a career.

•Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the NFL with 112 catches and has 400 catches since entering the league in 2014, the most by a player in his first four seasons in NFL history. Landry had at least five receptions in all 16 of Miami’s games this season and joined Antonio Brown (2013, 2014), Pierre Garcon (2013) and Jimmy Smith (2001) as the only players in league annals to accomplish the feat. Landry, who entered the league as a second-round pick in 2014, is the only player in NFL history with at least 80 catches in each of his first four seasons.

•Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones, who has 585 career receptions, reached 500 catches in his 80th career game, tying Anquan Boldin for the fewest games to reach the milestone in NFL history. Jones had 12 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ Week 12 win against Tampa Bay in Atlanta. Jones has three career games with at least 250 receiving yards and is the only player in NFL history to have multiple 250+ yard receiving games.

•Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen recorded at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in Weeks 11-13 and became the first player in NFL histo​ry to have at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in three consecutive games.

•Dallas tight end Jason Witten (12,448 receiving yards) joined Tony Gonzalez (15,127) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 12,000 career receiving yards. Witten, who has spent the entirety of his 15 career seasons with the Cowboys, passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11,904) for the most career receiving yards in franchise history.

•Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has 114 career touchdown catches and passed Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history.

•Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends with 1,084 receiving yards and joined Tony Gonzalez (four) and Jason Witten (four) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least four seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards.

•Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green had 1,078 receiving yards this season and became the first player in NFL history with at least 950 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons.

•New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. recorded his 300th career reception in his 45th career game and became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 300 career receptions (Anquan Boldin, 47 games).

•New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas ranked third in the NFL with a franchise-record 104 catches this season and has 196 catches since entering the league in 2016, the most by any player in his first two career seasons. Thomas, who had 92 catches as a rookie in 2016, joined Odell Beckham, Jr. as the only players in NFL history to record at least 90 receptions in each of their first two seasons.

•Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans had 1,001 receiving yards and has at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. Evans joined Randy Moss (six) and A.J. Green (five) as the only players in NFL history with at least four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to begin a career.

VERSATILE PERFORMANCES

•Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley led the NFL with 2,093 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns (13 rushing, six receiving), becoming the third different player in NFL history to have at least 2,000 scrimmage yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and more than five touchdown catches in a single season. The other two players to accomplish the feat are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: O.J. Simpson (1975) and Marshall Faulk (2000 and 2001).

•Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell ranked second in the NFL with 1,946 scrimmage yards, the third-most in a single season in franchise history. Bell recorded 6,286 scrimmage yards in his first 50 career games, trailing only Edgerrin James (6,506) and Pro Football Hall of Famers LaDanian Tomlinson (6,425) and Eric Dickerson (6,294) for the most by a player in his first 50 games in NFL history.

•New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (1,554) and Mark Ingram (1,540) became the first running back teammates in NFL history to each record at least 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season.

•Indianapolis running back Frank Gore, who finished the season with 1,206 scrimmage yards (961 rushing, 245 receiving) is the only player in NFL history to record at least 1,200 scrimmage yards in 12 consecutive seasons. Gore (77 rushing, 17 receiving) became the sixth player in NFL history with at least 75 rushing touchdowns and 15 receiving touchdowns in his career, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Walter Payton and LaDanian Tomlinson.

•Kansas City wide receiver-return specialist Tyreek Hill led the NFL with six touchdowns of at least 50 yards (five receiving, one punt return). Since entering the league in 2016, Hill has 11 touchdowns of 50+ yards (five receiving, three punt return, two rushing and one kick return), tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (11) for the second-most in a player’s first two seasons in NFL history. Only Devin Hester (13) had more such touchdowns in his first two seasons.

•Chicago rookie running back Tarik Cohen became the first player since Terry Metcalf (1975) and the first rookie since Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) to have a punt-return touchdown, rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and passing touchdown in a single season.

•Carolina quarterback Cam Newton recorded his sixth career game with at least three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in Week 4, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young, Drew Brees, Jack Kemp, Tobin Rote and Billy Wade for the most such games in NFL history. Newton, who threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 95 yards in Week 10, is the only quarterback in NFL history with two career games with at least four touchdown passes and 95 rushing yards.

Newton, who has 4,320 career rushing yards, became the fourth quarterback in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards, joining Michael Vick (6,109), Randall Cunningham (4,928) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young (4,239). Newton has 54 career rushing touchdowns and is the only quarterback in NFL history with 50 rushing touchdowns.

•New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown, who turned 38 years old in July, became the third player in NFL history with at least two rushing touchdowns in a single game at the age of 38 or older.

•Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins had 4,093 passing yards and rushed for four touchdowns, becoming the only player in NFL history to have at least 4,000 passing yards and four rushing touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.

•Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas extended his consecutive snaps played streak to 10,363 before leaving the Browns’ Week 7 game against Tennessee with an injury.

KICKING

•There were 107 field goals of at least 50 yards converted in 2017, the most in a single season in NFL history.

•Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri scored 109 points in 2017 and has 2,487 career points, surpassing Gary Anderson (2,434) for the second-most points scored in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Morten Andersen (2,544) has more career points. Vinatieri is the only player in NFL history to score 100+ points in 20 different seasons.

Vinatieri has 24 game-winning field goals in the regular season in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime and 10 game-winners in overtime, both the most in NFL history.

•Buffalo’s Stephen Hauschka and Detroit’s Matt Prater both converted four field goals of at least 55 yards in 2017, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history. Hauschka converted an NFL-record 13 consecutive 50+ yard field-goal attempts dating back to 2015.

•Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein converted all seven of his field-goal attempts and both of his PAT attempts in the team’s win at Dallas in Week 4. Zuerlein became the eighth player to make at least seven or more field goals in a single game, and his 23 total points scored are tied for the third-highest single-game total by a kicker in NFL history.

•San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould converted all 15 field-goal attempts from Weeks 13-15 and is the first player in NFL history to make at least 15 field goals over a three-game span. The three contests were at Chicago (week 13), at Houston (week 14) and at home against Tennessee (week 15) and the 49ers won all three contests.

•Oakland kicker Giorgio Tavecchio converted all four of his field-goal attempts in the Raiders’ victory at Tennessee on Kickoff Weekend. Tavecchio, who connected on two 52-yard field goals in the contest, became the first player in league history to make two field goals of at least 50 yards in his NFL debut.

DEFENSE

•With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. Four of the top five NFL teams in scoring defense qualified for the playoffs – Minnesota (15.8), Jacksonville (16.8), Philadelphia (18.4) and New England (18.5). Those four clubs combined for a winning percentage of .766.

•Ten players recorded at least 12 sacks in 2017: Arizona’s Chandler Jones (17), Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell (14.5), Dallas’ Demarcus Lawrence (14.5), Minnesota’s Everson Griffen (13), New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan (13), Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan (13), Los Angeles Chargers’ Joey Bosa (12.5), Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah (12), Pittsburgh’s Cameron Heyward (12) and Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue (12).

Eleven players had at least five interceptions this season: Tennessee’s Kevin Byard (eight), Detroit’s Darius Slay (eight), Jacksonville’s A.J. BOUYE (six), Baltimore’s Eric Weddle (six), Arizona’s Antoine Bethea (five), Los Angeles Chargers’ Tre Boston (five), Buffalo’s Micah Hyde (five), New Orleans’ Marshon Lattimore (five), Kansas City’s Marcus Peters (five), Buffalo’s Jordon Poyer (five) and Minnesota’s Harrison Smith (five).

•Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers had 11 sacks in 2017 and moved into fourth place on the NFL’s all-time sack list with 154.5 career sacks. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers Bruce Smith (200), Reggie White (198) and Kevin Greene (160) have more.

Peppers is the fourth player in​ NFL history to have at least 10 seasons with 10+ sacks, joining Smith (13 seasons), White (12) and Greene (10). Peppers, at 37 years old, became the third player with at least 10 sacks in a single season at the age of 37 or older since the sack became an official statistic in 1982, joining Smith (10 sacks in 2000) and Greene (12 sacks in 1999).

•San Francisco linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who led the 49ers with 6.5 sacks this season, has 105.5 career sacks and is the fourth active player to record at least 100 career sacks.

•Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen recorded at least one sack in each of the Vikings’ first eight games this season and became the third player to record a sack in each of his team’s first eight games of a season since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982, joining Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney (2009) and Robert Mathis (2005).

•Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones had a franchise-record 17 sacks in 2017 and has 40.5 sacks since 2015, the most in the NFL over the span.

•Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa recorded 19 sacks in his first 20 career games, the most sacks by a player in his first 20 games to begin a career since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982.

•Tennessee safety Kevin Byard recorded five interceptions over a two-game span in Weeks 7 and 9 (Titans had a bye in Week 8), tied for the most by an NFL player in consecutive games since the 1970 merger. The week 7 contest was at Cleveland and Tennessee won in overtime and the week 9 contest was against Baltimore in Nashville, which Tennessee also won.

•Atlanta defensive end Adrian Claybord set a single-game franchise record with six sacks in the Falcons’ Week 10 game against Dallas, tied for the second-most in a game since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas (seven on November 11, 1990) had more sacks in a single game.

REMARKABLE ROOKIES

•​In 2017, rookies accumulated 22,219 yards from scrimmage, the second-most in a single season since 1970, excluding the 1987 season.

SEASON – MOST SCRIMMAGE YARDS BY ROOKIES*
2014 – 25,944
2017 – 25,787
2012 – 23,244
2013 – 22,651
2015 – 21,887
*Excludes 1987 season

Rookies also totaled 177 touchdowns this season, tied for the second-most in a single season since 1970, excluding the 1987 season.

SEASON – MOST TOUCHDOWNS BY ROOKIES*
2014 – 184
2017 – 177
2013 – 177
2010 – 163
2012 – 157
1983 – 157

*Excludes 1987 season

•Four rookies recorded at least 1,000 scrimmage yards this season: Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt (1,782), New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (1,554), Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (1,342) and Carolina’s Chirstian McCaffery (1,086).

Four rookies had at least eight total touchdowns in 2017: Kamara (14), Hunt (11), Fournette (10) and Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuester (eight).

•Houston rookie quarterback DESHAUN WATSON threw 19 touchdown passes in his first seven games this season, the most by a player in his first seven games in NFL history, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (18).

Watson became the first rookie quarterback to throw at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive games (Weeks 4-8, Texans had a bye in Week 7) and his 16 touchdown passes from Weeks 4-8 were the most in league history by a rookie in any four-game span. In Week 8 at Seattle (Seattle won that contest), Watson became the first player in league annals with at least 400 passing yards (402), four touchdown passes (four) and 50 rushing yards (67) in a single game. (Week 4 was a win against Tennessee at home, week 5 was a Sunday night loss against Kansas City in Houston, week 6 was a win over Cleveland in Houston, week 7 was a bye week and week 8 was a loss at Seattle.)

•Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt scored a touchdown of at least 50 yards in three consecutive games to start his career, becoming the only player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Hunt had at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first seven games this season and became the only rookie in NFL history with 100 or more scrimmage yards in each of his team’s first seven games of a season. Hunt became the only rookie in NFL history to have two games with at least 200 scrimmage yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, accomplishing the feat in Weeks 1 and 15. (Kansas City beat New England in Foxboro in week one, then beat the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead in week 15)

•Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, including a 90-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, in Week 5 at Pittsburgh. Fournette (22 years, 263 days old) became the youngest player in NFL history with a touchdown run of at least 90 yards and the fifth rookie in league annals with a 90+ yard rushing touchdown.
Fournette, who scored a touchdown in each of his first five games this season, became the fifth rookie to score at least one touchdown in each of his team’s first five games of a season.

•Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara had 826 receiving yards and 728 rushing yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Charlie Taylor (1964) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least 700 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards. Kamara, who had eight rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns this year, is the fourth rookie in NFL history with at least five rushing and five receiving touchdowns, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Doak Walker (1950), Taylor (1964) and Gale Sayers (1965). Kamara, who had a 106-yard kickoff-return touchdown in Week 17 at Tampa Bay, joined Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five rushing touchdowns, five receiving touchdowns and a kickoff-return touchdown.

•New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (81 catches, five receiving touchdowns) and Carolina’s Christian McCaffery (80 catches, five receiving touchdowns) are the only rookie running backs in NFL history with at least 80 receptions and five touchdown catches. Kamara (81) and McCaffrey (80) rank third and fourth among rookie running backs in NFL history, respectively, in receptions. The two will square off against each other Sunday in New Orleans in the NFC Wild Card game.

•Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (20 years old) became the youngest player to score a touchdown in the NFL since 1964 (Chicago’s Andy Livingston) and the youngest NFL player to catch a touchdown pass since 1930 (Green Bay’s Arnie Herber). Smith-Schuster finished the season with 1,157 all-purpose yards (917 receiving, 240 kickoff-return) and is the youngest player in NFL history to record 1,000 all-purpose yards in a season.

•Cleveland rookie defensive end Myles Garrett, who was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, became the only player selected first overall to record multiple sacks in his NFL debut since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

•Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt had two sacks and an interception in the Steelers’ Kickoff Weekend win at Cleveland. Watt is the first player to record at least two sacks and an interception in an NFL debut on Kickoff Weekend since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

•New Orleans’ Marshon Lattimore (Weeks 14-16) and Indianapolis’ Malik Hooker (Weeks 2-4) both recorded an interception in three consecutive games. Lattimore led all rookies with five interceptions and tied with Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White for the rookie lead with 18 passes defensed.

•Philadelphia rookie kicker Jake Elliott converted a 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired in the Eagles’ Week 3 win against the New York Giants. Elliott’s 61-yard field goal is the longest by a rookie in NFL history and tied for the third-longest game-ending field goal in league annals, trailing only Tom Dempsey (63 yards, November 8, 1970) and Matt Bryant (62, October 22, 2006).

After two weeks of going 11-5, we came back to Earth and went 8-8 and for the season, we’re 154-103. Still not bad but things could have been a lot better and because this is the post-season, every game that will be played will 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 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?”

With all that in mind, here are Saturday and Sunday’s playoff games.

Tennessee (9-7) at Kansas City (10-6), 4:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC. The first contest of Wild Card Weekend takes place in the Show-Me State as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead. Both clubs enter the contest with close wins under their belts.

Tennessee survived a 15-10 scare from Jacksonville last Sunday at Nissan Stadium in a contest that determined their playoff fate. After a scoreless first quarter, Tennessee took a 6-0 lead with 14:04 left before halftime when RB Derrick Henry and Marcus Mariota connected on a 66-yard TD strike. Ryan Succop’s PAT try was blocked but he would make up for it, connecting on three field goals and after Jacksonville’s Josh Lambo put his team on the board with a 41-yard field goal with 10:14 before the intermission, the Titans took a 12-3 lead with them to the intermission. Succop would then add his third field goal of the day, a 38-yarder with 7:42 left in the third before the Jaguars would make things close when DE Yannick Ngakoue lived out a linesman’s dream and recovered a fumble and took it back 67 yards for a TD with 10:48 left in regulation. Jacksonville had a chance to take the lead and knock the Titans out of the playoff picture but their hope fell short when Blake Bortles was picked off by Kevin Byard, giving the Titans the ball and allowing them to run out the clock.

Tennessee outrushed Jacksonville 116-83 and rookie RB Leonard Fournette led all rushers with 69 yards, while Mariota led Tennessee with 60 yards. Mariota threw for 134 yards with a pair of sacks, while Bortles threw for 158 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. Jacksonville on third down went 6 of 16 and kept the ball for 26:33, while the Titans kept the pigskin for 33:27, going 3 of 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Kansas City took a 27-24 last second win at Denver last Sunday in the AFC West finale for both clubs. The Chiefs, who won back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in their history, led 14-10 at the half at Sports Authority Field, before the Broncos stormed back late in the game to tie things up at 24-24 with 2:53 left in regulation when WR Demaryius Thomas and QB Paxton Lynch connected on a 6-yard TD pass. Kansas City then got the kickoff and used an 11-play, 67-yard drive that used all of the 2:53 left in the contest and gave the Chiefs the win when K Hank Butker sent a 30-yard field goal try through the uprights for the road win.

Both teams rushed for 110 yards in the AFC West affair in the Rocky Mountains, while Pat Mahomes, who took over for Alex Smith (rest), threw for 284 yards for Kansas City and Lynch threw for 254 yards for the Broncos (Lynch was sacked five times and threw a pair of interceptions, while Mahomes threw an interception and was sacked twice). Kansas City was 4 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:03 (including the final 2:53 of the contest), while the Broncos were 5 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and actually ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 30:57.

The Chiefs not only lead the regular season series 27-22 and have outscored the Titans 1,049-884 (which includes games that were played when the Chiefs were in Dallas and known as the Texans and the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers), they are 2-0 in playoff games with Tennessee.

They last met last year in their last regular season contest and the Titans were 19-17 winners at Arrowhead in week 15. The Chiefs led 17-0 at the break and took that lead with them into the fourth quarter (the third quarter was scoreless) before the Titans outscored Kansas City 12-0 and took the win on a 53-yard field goal by Succop as time expired.

In that meeting, Kansas City outrushed Tennessee 158-148 and Smith threw for 163 yards, while Mariota threw for 241 yards (each had a sack and each threw an interception) at Arrowhead. The Chiefs on third down tries went 4 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down tries and held the ball for 29:25, while the Titans were 6 of 14 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 30:35, including the final seconds of the contest. Their last playoff meeting took place in 1993 in Houston and the Chiefs left the Lone Star State 28-20 winners in the AFC Divisional Playoff.

The Chiefs in that week 15 meeting at Arrowhead were favored by 5 1/2 and the Titans came away with the 2-point win on the road. Both teams missed the 42 1/2 over/under by combining for 36 points. The oddsmakers like the Chiefs as an 8-point favorite at home with a 44 1/2 over/under. The winner of this one gets a date with either Pittsburgh or New England next week. As for the loser? They’ll get a long plane ride home and have to clear out their lockers. Everything’s up to date in Kansas City and while the Titans will make this one close, the Chiefs prevail in the Show-Me State.

ATLANTA (11-5) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5), 8:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC. The defending NFC champs make their way to the Left COast for a face off with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Falcons took care of business at home last Sunday against Carolina, taking Cam Newton and the Panthers to task by a 22-10 final in the Big Peach. RB DeVonta Freeman and Matt Ryan opened the scoring in the contest as the Falcons took the opening drive and marched down field, using a 10-play, 75 yard drive that took 4:28 when they connected on a 19-yard TD pass. That lead would last for the entire first quarter and nearly all of the second when Carolina tied things up with a 4-yard TD pass from Newton to WR Darren Funchess with 50 seconds left. The two teams took a 7-7 tie with them to the locker room and Atlanta would take control in the second half, using five Matt Bryant field goals in the second half (Bryant’s longest field goal was 56 yards), while the Panthers were held to a 42-yard field goal by Graham Gano in the third quarter.

Carolina did outrush Atlanta 87-60 but Ryan outpaced Newton, throwing for 317 yards, with Newton throwing for 180 (Ryan was sacked once but did not throw an interception, while Newton was sacked twice and threw three interceptions). Atlanta on third down was 6 of 16 in the revenge game and kept the ball for 34:42, while the Panthers were 5 of 15, 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 25:18.

The Rams rested some of their starters against San Francisco in Los Angeles and the 49ers made them pay for that mistake, as San Francisco left the Coliseum with a 34-13 win. Trailing 20-6 at the intermission, the Rams were burned by two TD passes by Jimmy Garafalo (292 yards) and were held to 102 yards rushing, while the 49ers ran for 171 with Los Angeles QB Sean Manion, who took over for Jared Goff, threw for 169 yards with three sacks and no interceptions. Los Angeles was 5 of 15 on third donw, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:51, while the 49ers were 6 of 12 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:09.

They’ve met only once in the post-season and the Falcons were 47-17 winners in the Big Peach in the 2004 NFC Divisonal Playoff. As far as overall meetings go, the Rams lead the series 47-28-2 and have outscored the Falcons 1,810-1,321. Atlanta did win the last meeting between the two teams, coming away 42-14 winners in the Coliseum in week 14. Atlanta led 42-0 after 45 minutes of play (they led 21-0 at the half) and held the Rams to a pair of fourth-quarter TDs, one by Todd Gurley and the other by Goff, in a contest that would eventually cost Jeff Fisher his job. While the Rams did outrush Atlanta 104-66, Ryan threw for 237 yards and three TDs and Goff threw for 235 yards with a pair of sacks and three interceptions. Atlanta was 4 of 13 on third down on the West Coast and kept the ball for 27:08, while the Rams ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 32:52, going 6 of 14 on third down conversions.

In the week 14 contest on the Left Coast, the Falcons’ 28-point win was good enough to cover the 6-point spread and the 56 combined points were more than enough to cover the 45 over/under. This time, the Rams are the darlings of the boys and girls in Vegas and they’ve made them 6 1/2 point favorites with a 49 over/under. Both numbers make sense. The Rams are in the playoffs for the first time since they were in St. Louis in 2001, while the Falcons are the defending NFC champs. The Falcons are like Kathy Bates… they’re older and have more experience in the post-season and that will propel them into the next round. Atlanta pulls off the upset on the West Coast and covers the 6 1/2.

Buffalo (9-7) at Jacksonville (10-6), 1 p.m. on CBS. One team hasn’t been to the post-season since the Clinton administration. The other hasn’t been in a decade. They meet in northern Florida on Sunday afternoon as the Buffalo Bills return to the Sunshine State for an AFC Wild Card meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Buffalo backed their way into the post-season after they took care of Miami 22-16 at Hard Rock Stadium last Sunday in the Sunshine State. The Bills led 10-0 at the intermission in Miami Gardens, then led 19-3 at the end of the third quarter before the Dolphins managed to outscore them in the final 15 minutes of action 13-3. Miami made it a 6-point contest with 1:56 left in regulation when QB David Fales, who took over for Jay Culter, scored from a yard out. Miami then recovered the onside kick and were in business to end the hopes of the Bills and their fans but things changed for the better for Buffalo, as S Jordan Poyer picked off Fales, giving the Bills the ball back and running out the clock.

The contest had its moments of chippiness when Miami’s Jarvis Landry and Buffalo’s Ryan Groy exchanged punches in the final quarter of play. Both were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and Landry’s day was over, as he was asked by the officials to leave the contest with 6:21 after Landry scored on a 1-yard run. Buffalo outrushed Miami 126-93, despite losing RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) and Tyrod Taylor threw for 204 yards with a TD and four sacks, while Fales threw for 265 yards with a TD, a sack and an interception. The Bills on third down went 5 of 12 and kept the ball for 31:04, while the Dolphis kept the pigskin for 28:56, going 5 of 13 and 1 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Then after their win over Miami, they waited in their locker room to see if they would make it into the post-season and got that much needed help from Cincinnati, who were trailing in Baltimore late before Andy Dalton and WR Tyler Boyd connected on a 49-yard TD pass with 44 seconds left to give the Bengals a 31-27. The Bengals then stopped Baltimore’s attempt to take the lead back, Cincinnati got the ball and the Bills got into the playoffs.

Jacksonville comes back to EverBank Field after their 15-10 loss to Tennesee in the Music City last Sunday. While the Jaguars already secured their playoff spot, for Tennessee, it was a contest at Nissan Stadium that determined their playoff fate. After a scoreless first quarter, Tennessee took a 6-0 lead with 14:04 left before halftime when RB Derrick Henry and Marcus Mariota connected on a 66-yard TD strike. The Jaguars then blocked Ryan Succop’s PAT try but he would make up for it, connecting on three field goals and after Jacksonville’s Josh Lambo put his team on the board with a 41-yard field goal with 10:14 before the intermission, the Titans took a 12-3 lead with them to the intermission. Succop would then add his third field goal of the day, a 38-yarder with 7:42 left in the third before the Jaguars would make things close when DE Yannick Ngakoue lived out a linesman’s dream and recovered a fumble and took it back 67 yards for a TD with 10:48 left in regulation. Jacksonville had a chance to take the lead and knock the Titans out of the playoff picture but their hope fell short when Blake Bortles was picked off by Kevin Byard, giving the Titans the ball and allowing them to run out the clock.

Tennessee outrushed Jacksonville 116-83 and rookie RB Leonard Fournette led all rushers with 69 yards, while Mariota led Tennessee with 60 yards. Mariota threw for 134 yards with a pair of sacks, while Bortles threw for 158 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. Jacksonville on third down went 6 of 16 and kept the ball for 26:33, while the Titans kept the pigskin for 33:27, going 3 of 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Buffalo and Jacksonville have met only once in the post-season and it was in their very first meeting in 1996 in upstate New York and the Jaguars left what was then Rich Stadium with a 30-27 win in the AFC Wild Card game. Otherwise, the Bills lead the series 8-6, Buffalo has outscored Jacksonville 314-299 and were 28-21 winners in Orchard Park last year (Jacksonville’s last win over the Bills came in London in 2015, when they came away with a 34-31 win on the other side of the pond).

In that week 12 meeting along the shores of Lake Erie, the Bills trailed 7-6 at the half, then pulled away from Jacksonville in the final 30 minutes of play, scoring the game winner with 10:46 left in the contest when WR Josh Hunter and QB Tyrod Taylor connected on a 16-yard TD pass to send Bills fans home happy, if not warm (game time temperature? 42 degrees with a 35 degree wind chill). Jacksonville outrushed the Bills 183-153 and McCoy led all rushers with 103 yards and a pair of TDs, while Taylor threw for 166 yards with five sacks and Blaine Bortles throwing for 126 yards, with a pair of TDs and two sacks. Jacksonville was 8 of 15 on third down (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Jaguars ruled the clock and kept the ball for 33:35, while the Bills were 26:25 in time of possession, going 5 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

In the week 12 contest, Buffalo just missed the 7 1/2-point spread, winning by 7 but both teams covered the 45 1/2 over/under with 49 points. Jacksonville’s the favorite of the boys and girls in Vegas and they’re favored by 8 with a 39 1/2 over/under. Both of those numbers make a lot of sense. Both haven’t been in the post-season in a while, so things could very well be close. However, Jacksonville will keep their fan base happy and take this one in the Sunshine State, even though the Bills could make it closer than the 8.

Carolina (11-5) at New Orleans (11-5), 4:30 p.m. on FOX. Newton vs. Brees, Round 3. They’re back. This time, it’s for a chance to advance to the next round of the NFC playoffs. Both teams limp into the Big Easy with road losses under their belts to close out the 2017 regular season.

Cam Newton and the Panthers were taken to task at Atlanta, falling 22-10 in the Big Peach. RB DeVonta Freeman and Matt Ryan opened the scoring in the contest as the Falcons took the opening drive and marched down field, using a 10-play, 75 yard drive that took 4:28 when they connected on a 19-yard TD pass. That lead would last for the entire first quarter and nearly all of the second when Carolina tied things up with a 4-yard TD pass from Newton to WR Darren Funchess with 50 seconds left. The two teams took a 7-7 tie with them to the locker room and Atlanta would take control in the second half, using five Matt Bryant field goals in the second half (Bryant’s longest field goal was 56 yards), while the Panthers were held to a 42-yard field goal by Graham Gano in the third quarter.

While Carolina did outrush Atlanta 87-60, Ryan outpaced Newton, throwing for 317 yards, with Newton throwing for 180 (Ryan was sacked once but did not throw an interception, while Newton was sacked twice and threw three interceptions). Atlanta on third down was 6 of 16 in the revenge game and kept the ball for 34:42, while the Panthers were 5 of 15, 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 25:18.

New Orleans let a 24-23 lead at Tampa Bay get away from them as the Bucs roared back to take a 31-24 win at Raymond James Stadium. The Saints led 14-13 at the half and took a 17-13 into the start of the final 15 minutes of play before Tampa Bay took the lead for the first time with 14:04 left in regulation when S Isiah Johnson picked up a Saints’ fumble and returned it seven yards for a 20-17 lead. That lead would not last very long as New Orleans took the lead back when Drew Brees and WR Zach Line connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 7:07 left. Tampa Bay would chip away at the lead with a 42-yard field goal to make things a 1-point contest with 4:31 left to play, then take the lead back for good when Jameis Winston and WR Chris Goodwin connected on a 39-yard TD pass with nine seconds left. Winston and Mike Evans would then connect on the two-point conversion to make it a 7-point contest. New Orleans then got the kickoff and moved the ball to their 33-yard line but time ran out on the Saints and Tampa Bay took the win.

Tampa Bay outrushed New Orleans 110-92 and Brees threw for 245 yards, while Winston threw for 363 yards in the rematch (both men threw a TD pass, Winston threw three interceptions) for the Buccaneers. Both clubs did reasonably well on third down tries at Raymond James Stadium; the Saints were 6 of 12 (0 of 1 on fourth down), while Tampa Bay went 13 of 18 (the Bucs were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and time was on the side of Tampa Bay, who held on to the ball for 31:33 to New Orleans’ 28:27.

The teams will meet in the postseason for the first time but they met twice in regular season play. New Orleans swept the season series this year, winning 34-13 at Carolina in Week 3 (September 24) and 31-21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 13 (December 3).

In the week three contest in Charlotte, the Saints took a 17-6 lead with them to the intermission at Bank of America Stadium and never looked back, as Brees threw three TDs in the game in the Tar Heel State. New Orleans outrushed Carolina 149-132, Brees threw for 220 yards with no interceptions, while Newton struggled, throwing for 167 yards with four sacks and three interceptions. Both teams were 50 percent on third down tries (New Orleans was 6 of 12, Carolina was 7 of 14) and New Orleans ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:09 to Carolina’s 28:51.

New Orleans pulled the sweep in front of the home folkes in the Big Easy in week 13, taking the 10-point NFC South win over their rivals. This time, it was the Kamara/Ingram show as the two scored three rushing TDs (Kamara with two) and Brees threw for 269 yards, while Newton had a little better outing, throwing for 183 yards and a pair of TDs (each QB was sacked twice and did not throw an interception), connecting with Christian McCafferty and Darren Funchess on both tosses. The Saints again outrushed Carolina, this time tallying 148 yards (Ingram led all rushers with 85 yards), while Carolina tallied 112, with Newton accounting for 51 of those yards. As well as both teams did on third down in the first meetings, such was not the case in the second contest, as Carolina was 3 of 10 on third down tries (the Panthers were 0 of 2 on fourth down), while the Saints were 6 of 15 but found success on fourth down, going 1 of 1. Time was once again the BFF of the Saints, as they kept the ball for 33:21, while the Panthers held the pigskin for 26:39.

In the week three contest in the Tar Heel State, the Panthers were favored by 6 and the Saints covered the spread, winning by 21. The two clubs combined for 47 points, barely missing the 48 over/under. As for the second meeting, which took place in week 13, the oddsmakers in Vegas liked the Saints as 4 1/2-point favorites and they did kept the boys and girls in Vegas happy, winning by 10 in the Big Easy and both teams covered the 48 over/under with 52 points. The Saints are favored again, this time by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 48 1/2. Both numbers make sense. Both teams have QBs that can light up scoreboards. This time, it’s for a chance to move on to the Divisonal Round that starts next Saturday and that’s for the winner. The loser? They’ll have an entire offseason to think things through as they’re clearing thelr lockers and getting ready for OTAs and the draft. They say the third time’s the charm. That’s not going to be the case for New Orleans. Cam and the Panthers get revenge for the two losses and comes out of the Big Easy with the upset and could cover the 6 1/2 in the process.

 

Saturday and Sunday Playoff Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

Oakland at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC: TBD. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Oakland), 82 (Houston). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Oakland), 82 (Houston).

Detroit at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya, Heather Cox (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Detroit), 82 (Seattle). XM: 88 (WetsWood1), 225 (Detroit), 82 (Seattle).

Miami at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: TBD. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Miami), 82 (Pittsburgh). XM: 88 (WestWood1),
225 (Miami), 82 (Pittsburgh).

New York Giants at Green Bay, 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX: TBD. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (New York Giants), 82 (Green Bay). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (XM), 82 (Green Bay).

Saturday and Sunday Officials
Oakland at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday – Ronald Torbert
Detroit at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. Saturday – Brad Allen
Miami at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday – Craig Wrolstad
New York Giants at Green Bay, 4:40 p.m. Sunday – Ed Hochuli

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite         Spread       Underdog         O/U
HOUSTON          –  3 1/2     Oakland          36 1/2
SEATTLE          –  8         Detroit          42 1/2

Sunday’s Games
Favorite         Spread       Underdog         O/U
PITTSBURGH       – 10         Miami            47
GREEN BAY        –  4 1/2     New York Giants  44

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report  Oakland at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday

Oakland
OUT: QB Derek Carr (Ankle), T Donald Penn (Knee)

Houston
OUT: QB Thomas Savage (Concussion), LB John Simon (Chest)

Detroit at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Detroit
QUESTIONABLE: LB DeAndre Levy (Knee), T Riley Reiff (Hip), WR Andre Roberts (Shoulder), C Travis Swanson (Concussion)

Seattle
OUT: DT Anthony McDaniel (Concussion), RB C.J. Prosise (Shoulder)

Miami at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday

Miami
DOUBTFUL: CB Byron Maxwell (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Tony Lippett (Thigh), LB Jelani Jenkins (Knee), S Bacarri Rambo (Chest)

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: LB Vince Williams (Shoulder), TE Ladarius Green (Concussion), S Robert Golden (Ankle)

New York Giants at Green Bay, 4:40 p.m. Sunday

New York Giants
DOUBTFUL: DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Core Muscle)

Green Bay
OUT – CB Quinten Rollins (Neck), RB James Starks (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Damarious Randall (Knee), C Joseph Tretter (Knee), T Bryan Bulaga (Abdomen), WR Randall Cobb (Ankle), LB Jayrone Elliott (Hand), LB Nicholas Perry (Hand), LB Joe Thomas (Back)

Saturday and Sunday Weather
Oakland at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday (Game indoors)
Detroit at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. Saturday (Cloudy and 35 degrees)
Miami at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday (Cloudy and 18 degrees)
New York Giants at Green Bay, 4:35 p.m. Sunday (Mostl cloudy and 14 degrees)

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel