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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.

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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

Saturday and Sunday Wild Card Broadcast Information (All times listed are Eastern)

ATLANTA (11-5) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5), 8:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Scott Kaplan; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Atlanta), 82 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Atlanta), 82 (Los Angeles Rams)

Tennessee (9-7) at Kansas City (10-6), 4:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter), Adam Schefter (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Dan Miller, Trent Green, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Tennessee), 82 (Kansas City); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Tennessee), 82 (Kansas City)

Buffalo (9-7) at Jacksonville (10-6), 1 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter), Jay Feely (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Ian Eagle, Mike Mayock, Steve Tasker; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Buffalo), 82 (Jacksonville); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Buffalo), 82 (Jacksonville)

Carolina (11-5) at New Orleans (11-5), 4:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Chris Myers (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Dan Fouts; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Carolina), 82 (New Orleans); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Carolina), 82 (New Orleans)

Saturday and Sunday Officials
ATLANTA at Los Angeles Rams, 8:30 p.m. Saturday: Ed Hochuli
Tennessee at Kansas City, 4:30 p.m. Saturday: Jeff Triplette
Buffalo at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. Sunday: John Hussey
Carolina at New Orleans, 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Tony Corrente

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home teams in Caps)

Saturday

Favorite           Spread  Underdog       O/U
KANSAS CITY        – 8     Tennessee      44 1/2
LOS ANGELES RAMS   – 6 1/2 Atlanta        49

Sunday

Favorite           Spread  Underdog       O/U
JACKSONVILLE       – 8     Buffalo        39 1/2
NEW ORLEANS        – 6 1/2 Carolina       48 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

ATLANTA at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

ATLANTA – Atlanta reports no injuries

Los Angeles Rams
DOUBTFUL – WR Michael Thomas (Ankle)

Tennessee at Kansas City, 4:35 Saturday

Tennessee
OUT: RB DeMarco Murray (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: G Quinton Spain (Back)

Kansas City
OUT: DB Phillip Gaines (Elbow)
DOUBTFUL: DE Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Tamba Hall (Knee), DE Jarvis Jenkins (Knee), WR Albert Wilson (Hamstring)

Buffalo at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. Sunday

Buffalo
OUT: CB Shareece Wright (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: RB LeSean McCoy (Ankle), LB Matt Milano (Hamstring), T Jordan Mills (Ankle), WR Deonte Thompson (Shoulder), QB Joe Webb (Ankle)

Jacksonville
QUESTIONABLE: WR Marquise Lee (Ankle), RB T.J. Yeldon (Illness)

Carolina at New Orleans, 4:35 p.m. Sunday

Carolina
QUESTIONABLE: WR Devin Funchess (Shoulder), T Matt Kalil (Illness), G Trai Turner (Concussion), QB Derek Anderson (Illness)

New Orleans
QUESTIONABLE: DT Trey Hendrickson (Ankle), T Terron Armstead (Thigh)

Saturday and Sunday Weather
ATLANTA at Los Angeles Rams, 8:30 p.m. Saturday: Mostly cloudy and 64 degrees
Tennessee at Kansas City, 4:30 p.m. Saturday: Mostly sunny and 29 degrees
Buffalo at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. Sunday: Mostly cloudy and 54 degrees
Carolina at New Orleans, 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Game indoors

Broadcast Information, Officials and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League; odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel

 

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 FAVRE (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.

 

Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information (All times Listed are Eastern)

ATLANTA at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: John Sadak, Al Groh; SIRIUS: 137 (Atlanta), 82 (New Orleans); XM: 380 (Atlanta), 82 (New Orleans)

Cleveland at Chicago, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 119 (Cleveland), 135 (Chicago); XM: 383 (Cleveland), 227 (Chicago)

Miami at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jenny Dell (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Miami), 113 (Kansas City); XM: 388 (Miami), 230 (Kansas City)

Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 108 (Buffalo), 83 (New England); XM: 385 (Buffalo), 83 (New England)

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter)
SIRIUS: 93 (Los Angeles Chargers), 133 (New York Jets); XM: 382 (Los Angeles Chargers), 225 (New York Jets)

Denver at Washington, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta; SIRIUS: 138 (Denver), 121 (Washington); XM: 381 (Denver), 229 (Washington)

Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 112 (Tampa Bay), 132 (Carolina); XM: 384 (Tampa Bay), 228 (Carolina)

Detroit at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter)
SIRIUS: 157 (Detroit), 81 (Cincinnati); XM: 386 (Detroit), 81 (Cincinnati)

Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 136 (Los Angeles Rams), 145 (Tennessee); XM: 387 (Los Angeles Rams), 226 (Tennessee)

Jacksonville at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton; NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Brady Poppinga; SIRIUS: 138 (Jacksonville), 81 (San Francsico); XM: 381 (Jacksonville), 81 (San Francisco)

New York Giants at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth; SIRIUS: 93 (New York Giants), 83 (Arizona); XM: 382 (New York Giants), 83 (Arizona)

Seattle at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 137 (Seattle), 82 (Dallas); XM: 380 (Seattle), 82 (Dallas)

Pittsburgh at Houston, 4:30 p.m. Monday on NBC and NFL Network: Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner, Heather Cox (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Dan Fouts, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Pittsburgh), 83 (Houston); XM: 88 (WestWwood1), 82 (Pittsburgh), 83 (Houston)

Oakland at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ian Eagle, Boomer Esiason, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Oakland), 83 (Philadelphia); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (Oakland), 83 (Philadelphia)

Sunday and Monday Oficials
ATLANTA at New Orleans, 1 p.m.: Pete Morelli
Cleveland at Chicago, 1 p.m.:  Terry McAulay
Miami at Kansas City, 1 p.m.: Brad Allen
Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m.: Craig Wrolstad
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
Denver at Washington, 1 p.m.: Ed Hochuli
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Detroit at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Gene Steratore
Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Walt Anderson
Jacksonville at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.: Jeff Triplette
New York Giants at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.: John Parry
Seattle at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.: John Hussey
Pittsburgh at Houston, 4:30 p.m. Monday: Bill Vinovich
Oakland at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. Monday: Ronald Torbert

Sunday and Monday Odds (Home Teams in Caps)

Sunday’s Games
Favorite                  Spread      Underdog          O/U
NEW ORLEANS               –  5 1/2    Atlanta           52
Detroit                   –  5        CINCINNATI        43
Los Angeles Rams          –  6 1/2    TENNESSEE         48 1/2
Los Angeles Chargers      –  7        NEW YORK JETS     42 1/2
CHICAGO                   –  6 1/2    Cleveland         38 1/2
CAROLINA                  –  9 1/2    Tampa Bay         46 1/2
WASHINGTON                –  3 1/2    Denver            41
KANSAS CITY               – 10        Miami             43 1/2
NEW ENGLAND               – 11 1/2    Buffalo           47
Jacksonville              –  4 1/2    SAN FRANCSICO     42 1/2
ARIZONA                   –  4 1/2    New York Giants   40
DALLAS                    –  4 1/2    Seattle           47

Monday’s Games
Favorite                  Spread      Underdog          O/U
Pittsburgh                – 10        HOUSTON           44
PHILADELPHIA              –  9        Oakland           47 1/2

Sunday and Monday Injury Report

ATLANTA at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

ATLANTA
QUESTIONABLE: G Andrew Levitre (Triceps)

New Orleans
OUT: TE Garrett Griffin (Foot), DE Collins Hendrickson (Ankle), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (Concussion)

Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay
OUT: DE Robert Ayers (Shoulder), WR DeSean Jackson (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: CB Ryan Smith (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Cameron Brate (Hip), LB Lavonte David (Hamstring), DT Gerald McCoy (Biceps), DE Ryan Russell (Shoulder)

Carolina
OUT: G Trai Turner (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Mario Addison (Hip), WR Devin Funchess (Shoulder), WR Russell Shepard (Shoulder), G Tyler Larsen (Foot), LB Sha’Quille Thompson (Foot)

Cleveland at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Cleveland
QUESTIONABLE: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Knee), WR Charles Hazel (Hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (Foot)

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: G Josh Sitton (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: T Thomas Compton (Concussion), S Christopher Prosinski (Concussion), TE Adam Shaheen (Chest)

Detroit at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Detroit
OUT: Travis Swanson (Concussion)
DOUBTFUL: G Thomas Lang (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: T Richard Wagner (Ankle)

Cincinnati
OUT: T Cedric Ogbuehi (Shoulder), T Andre Smith (Knee), LB Nicholas Vigil (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: S George Iloka (Shoulder)

Miami at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Miami
DOUBTFUL: QB Matt Moore (Foot), RB Damien Williams (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR DeVante Parker (Ankle), S Micheal Thomas (Knee), DE Orlandus Branch (Knee), DE Terrence Fede (Knee), S Tim MoDonald (Shoulder), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Ankle)

Kansas City
QUESTIONABLE: LB Justin Houston (Illness)

Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m.

Buffalo
OUT: WR Andre Holmes (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Kyle Williams (Groin), WR Kelvin Benjamin (Knee), CB Edwin Gaines (Knee), G John Miller (Ankle), TE Nick O’Leary (Back)

New England – New England reports no injuries

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

Los Angeles Chargers
OUT: DT Corey Liuget (Knee), LB Denzel Perryman (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: T Joseph Barksdale (Hip), T Russell Okung (Groin), RB Austin Ekeler (Hand)

New York Jets
OUT: G Brian Winters (Abdomen)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Matt Forte (Knee), RB Elijah McGuire (Illness), C Wesley Johnson (Hip)

Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams
OUT: LB Matt Longacre (Back)

Tennessee
QUESTIONABLE: CB Logan Ryan (Ankle)

Denver at Washington, 1 p.m.

Denver
QUESTIONABLE: WR Emmanuel Sanders (Ankle), WR Cody Latimer (Thigh), QB Paxton Lynch (Ankle)

Washington
OUT: LB Orlando Anderson (Knee), LB Zach Brown (Achilles), T Trent Williams (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Maurice Harris (Back), WR Jamison Crowder (Hamstring), CB Kendall Fuller (Foot), DE Terrell McClain (Toe),
T Morgan Moses (Illness), RB Samaje Perine (Groin)

Jacksonville at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.

Jacksonville
OUT: WR Marqise Lee (Ankle), WR Larry Pinkard (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Lerentee McCray (Neck), WR Allen Hurns (Ankle)

San Francisco
DOUBTFUL: CB Gregory Mabin (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Garrett Celek (Knee)

New York Giants at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.

New York Giants
OUT: LB B.J. Goodson (Ankle), WR Tavarres King (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: S Landon Collins (Ankle), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Finger), S Natneal Berhe (Hamstring)

Arizona
OUT: LB Joshua Bynes (Ankle), TE Troy Niklas (Ankle), G Earl Watford (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Chad Williams (Illness), S Antoine Bethea (Knee), WR John Brown (Toe), LB Karlos Dansby (Knee), LB Gabriel Martin (Hamstring), DT Olsen Pierre (Illness), RB Kerwynn Williams (Quadricep)

Seattle at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.

Seattle
OUT: LB Donell Alexander (Concussion)
DOUBTFUL: DT Nazar Jones (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: S Bradley McDougald (Knee), TE Nicholas Vannett (Shoulder), DE Frank Clark (Toe)

Dallas
OUT: DE David Irving (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Richard Ash (Shoulder), DE Benson Mayowa (Back), T Tyron Smith (Back), WR Brice Butler (Foot), T La’el Collins (Back), CB Orlando Scandrick (Back)

Pittsburgh at Houston, 4:30 p.m. on Monday

Pittsburgh
OUT: WR Antonio Brown (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: G Ramon Foster (Concussion), CB Coty Sensabaugh (Shoulder)

Houston
OUT: G Jeffery Allen (Concussion), T Kendall Lamm (Concussion), LB LaTroy Lewis (Shoulder)

Oakland at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. on Monday

Oakland
OUT: DT Treyvon Hester (Ankle), DE Mario Edwards (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: CB David Amerson (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: C Rodney Hudson (Ankle), DE Denico Autry (Hand), WR Amari Cooper (Ankle), LB Bruce Irvin (Concussion), S Keith McGill (Knee)

Philadelphia
QUESTIONABLE: LB Marvin Kendricks (Foot), CB Jalen Mills (Ankle), G Stefen Wisniewski (Ankle)

Sunday and Monday Weather
ATLANTA at New Orleans, 1 p.m.: Game Indoors
Cleveland at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Overcast with a 20 percent chance of snow and 23 degrees
Miami at Kansas City, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 25 degrees
Buffalo at New England, 1 p.m.: Mostly cloudy and 35 degrees
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: Mostly cloudy and 41 degrees
Denver at Washington, 1 p.m.: Cloudy and 43 degrees
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 1 p.m.: Overcast and 55 degrees
Detroit at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Cloudy and 37 degrees
Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Cloudy and 44 degrees
Jacksonville at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.: Cloudy and 57 degrees
New York Giants at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 64 degrees
Seattle at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 45 degrees
Pittsburgh at Houston, 4:30 p.m. Monday: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 47 degrees
Oakland at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. Monday: Clear and 33 degrees

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

 

PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Three more spots have been filled in the NFL post-season party.

Jacksonville, Minnesota and New England got their dance cards punched last Sunday (Jacksonville won a playoff spot after their win over Houston at EverBank Field, while New England won the AFC East and the Vikings took the NFC North). They join Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as being playoff bound.

There’s still room at the party, there are seven spots left in the post-season. For those teams that were eliminated, there’s still a chance to ruin someone else’s party, spiking their egg-nog, if you will.

Two more weeks of regular season football. When that ends, the outcomes will be different. Unlike the regular season, it’s you lose, your next game is next week. You lose, your next game is next year. You win, you advance. It’s so simple even a first-grader gets it.

For those teams that were eliminated, there’s selecting a new head coach and general manager, if they choose that route, then prepare for the draft and the upcoming 2018 season, which gets underway on Thursday, September 6th. Mark those calendars now.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: The Philadelphia Eagles, already clinching the NFC East, defeated the New York Giants 34-29 to secure a first-round bye. The Eagles have started 12-2 or better for the second time in franchise history (13-1 in 2004).

The Minnesota Vikings, who knocked off Cincinnati 34-7, locked up the NFC North division title. It marks the second division title for the Vikings in the past three seasons.

The New England Patriots, who defeated Pittsburgh 27-24, secured the AFC East division title. It marks the ninth consecutive division title for the Patriots (2009-17), the longest streak in NFL history.

The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated Houston 45-7 at EverBank Field and clinched a playoff berth. It marks the Jaguars’ first playoff berth since 2007.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 298 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ win at Pittsburgh. Brady (five Super Bowl wins) and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger (two) have combined for seven Super Bowl victories, the most by opposing starting quarterbacks in a game in NFL history.

•Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles, making his first start of the season, threw four touchdown passes in the Eagles’ win over the Giants. Last week, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz threw four touchdown passes against the Los Angeles Rams before leaving with a knee injury.

The Eagles are the first team since the 2011 Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn, Weeks 16-17) to have different starting quarterbacks throw at least four touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks. It is also the first time in franchise history that different Eagles starting quarterbacks have accomplished the feat in consecutive weeks. Philadelphia’s Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz each had a touchdown catch in the victory. Jeffery (nine touchdown catches), Agholor (eight) and Ertz (eight) each have at least eight touchdown catches this season.

The Eagles are the fourth team in NFL history to have at least three players with eight or more receiving touchdowns through their team’s first 14 games of a season, joining the 1961 Houston Oilers, 2004 Indianapolis Colts and 2013 Denver Broncos.

Buffalo running back Le Sean McCoy rushed for 50 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Bills’ 24-16 win over Miami. 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.

•Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards with three touchdowns and added three catches for 28 yards with a touchdown in the team’s 42-7 win at Seattle. Gurley joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (October 20, 2002) as the only Rams in franchise history to have at least 150 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in a single game.

•New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas had nine catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ 31-19 win over the New York Jets. Thomas, who had 92 catches as a rookie last season, has a career-high 94 receptions this year. He joins Odell Beckham, Jr. as the only players in NFL history to record at least 90 receptions in each of their first two seasons. Beckham accomplished the feat in each of his first three seasons (2014-16).

•Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 58 yards in the Panthers’ 31-24 victory against Green Bay. Newton, who leads all quarterbacks with 643 rushing yards this year, has four career seasons with at least 600 rushing yards, tied with Michael Vick (four) for the most such seasons by a quarterback in NFL history.

Panthers running back Christian McCaffery had six catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in the win. McCaffrey, who has 73 catches and five receiving touchdowns this season, is the only rookie running back in NFL history with at least 70 receptions and five touchdown catches.

Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers recorded a half-sack on fourth-and-14 with 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter in today’s victory. Peppers, who has 10 sacks this season, is the fourth player in NFL history to have at least 10 seasons with 10+ sacks, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Bruce Smith (13 seasons), Reggie White (12) and Kevin Greene (10).

2017 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 16

AFC

CLINCHED: New England – AFC East division title

Pittsburgh – AFC North division title

Jacksonville – Playoff berth

New England (11-3) vs. Buffalo (8-6), Sunday

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1) New England win + Pittsburgh loss + Jacksonville loss or tie

New England clinches a first-round bye with:

1) New England win + Pittsburgh loss OR

2) New England win + Jacksonville loss or tie OR

3) New England tie + Jacksonville loss

Pittsburgh (11-3) at Houston (4-10), Monday

Pittsburgh clinches a first-round bye with:

1) Pittsburgh win + Jacksonville loss or tie OR

2) Pittsburgh tie + Jacksonville loss

Jacksonville (10-4) at San Francisco (4-10), Sunday

Jacksonville clinches AFC South division title with:

1) Jacksonville win or tie OR

2) Tennseeee loss or tie

Kansas City (8-6) vs. Miami (6-8), Sunday

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title with:

1) Kansas City win OR

2) Los Angeles Chargers loss OR

3) Kansas City tie + LAC tie

Tennessee (8-6) vs. Los Angeles Rams (10-4), Sunday

Tennessee clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Tennessee win + Baltimore loss + Buffalo loss

NFC

CLINCHED: Philadelphia – NFC East division title and first-round bye

Minnesota – NFC North division title

Philadelphia (12-2) vs. Oakland (6-8), Monday night

Philadelphia clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

1) Philadelphia win OR

2) Minnesota loss OR

3) Philadelphia tie + Minnesota tie

Los Angeles Rams (10-4) at Tennessee (8-6), Sunday

Los Angeles Rams clinch NFC West division title with:

1) Los Angeles Rams win or tie OR

2) Seattle loss or tie

Los Angeles Rams clinch a playoff berth with:

1) Detroit loss or tie + Carolina loss + Atlanta loss

New Orleans (10-4) vs. Atlanta (9-5), Sunday

New Orleans clinches NFC South division title with:

1) New Orleans win + Carolina loss

New Orleans clinches a playoff berth with:

1) New Orleans win or tie OR

2) Dallas-Seattle tie

Carolina (10-4) vs. Tampa Bay (4-10), Sunday

Carolina clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Carolina win or tie OR

2) Dallas-Seattle tie

Atlanta (9-5) at New Orleans (10-4), Sunday

Atlanta clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Atlanta win OR

2) Atlanta tie + Dallas-Seattle tie + Detroit loss or tie (Atlanta has the tiebreakers head to head with Dallas, Seattle and Detroit)

THE WEEK THAT WAS WEEK 15

TERRIFIC TURNAROUNDS: Philadelphia (NFC East, first-round bye), Minnesota (NFC North) and Jacksonville (playoff berth) have clinched at least a playoff berth. All three teams finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year and missed the postseason.

Entering Week 16, five of the eight divisions have a team either in or tied for first place that finished in third or fourth place in the division last season.

This weekend, four clubs – Carolina, the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans and Tennessee – have a chance to join Philadelphia, Minnesota and Jacksonville as teams who clinched a playoff spot after not qualifying for the postseason in 2016.

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.

KANDID KAMARA: New Orleans rookie running back Alvin Kamara had 89 scrimmage yards (45 receiving, 44 rushing) and a receiving touchdown in the Saints’ 31-19 win over the New York Jets last week.

Kamara, who has seven 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), Charley Taylor (1964) and Gale Sayers (1965).

The rookies with at least five rushing and five receiving touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON) (RUSHING TOUCHDOWN)(RECIEVEING TOUCHDOWNS)
Doak Walker, Detroit (1950) (5)(6)^
Charley Taylor, Washington (1964) (5)(5)^
Gale Sayers, Chicago (1965)(14)(6)^
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (2017)(7)(5)*
*Through Week 15
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BIG GAME HUNTING: Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 206 scrimmage yards (155 rushing, 51 receiving), one rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the Chiefs’ 30-13 win against the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

Hunt, who had 246 scrimmage yards (148 rushing, 98 receiving), one rushing touchdown and two receiving touchdowns in Week 1, is the only rookie in NFL history to have two games with at least 200 scrimmage yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown.

RISING ROOKIES: Through the first 15 weeks of the season, rookies have accumulated 22,219 yards from scrimmage, the second-most through Week 15 since 1970, excluding the 1987 season.

The seasons with the most yards from scrimmage by rookies through Week 15 since 1970 (excluding the 1987 season):

SEASON – MOST SCRIMMAGE YARDS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 15*
2014 – 22,229
2017 – 22,219
2013 – 19,771
2012 – 19,523
2015 – 19,086
*Excludes 1987 season

The rookies with the most scrimmage yards in 2017:

PLAYER, TEAM (SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (1,641)
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (1,336)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (1,136)
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina (974)
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (804)

Rookies have also totaled 157 touchdowns through Week 15, the second-most through the first 15 weeks of a season since 1970, excluding the 1987 season.

The seasons with the most touchdowns by rookies through Week 15 since 1970 (excluding 1987 season):

SEASON – MOST TOUCHDOWNS BY ROOKIES THROUGH WEEK 15*
2014 – 160
2017 – 157
2013 – 154
1983 – 142
2010 – 135
*Excludes 1987 season

The rookies with the most touchdowns in 2017:

PLAYER, TEAM (TOTAL TOUCHDOWNS)
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (12)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (9)
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City (9)
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina (7)
Many tied with 6

MARVELOUS MC COY: Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy rushed for 50 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Bills’ 24-16 win over Miami in Week 15.

McCoy reached 10,000 career rushing yards on his 2,145th carry, becoming 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.

The players with the fewest attempts to reach 10,000 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (FEWEST ATTEMPTS TO REACH 10,000 RUSHING YARDS)
Jim Brown – Cleveland (1,936)^
Adrian Peterson – Minnesota (2,004)
Barry Sanders – Detroit (2,020)^
O.J. Simpson – Buffalo (2,085)^
LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia and Buffalo (2,145)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

GRON-K: New England tight end Rob Gronkowski had nine receptions for 168 yards in the Patriots’ 27-24 win at Pittsburgh in Week 15.

Gronkowski, who leads all NFL tight ends with 1,017 receiving yards, reached 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth time in his career. Gronkowski tied Tony Gonzalez (four) and Jason Witten (four) for the most seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards among tight ends in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most 1,000+ receiving yard seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS WITH 1,000+ RECEIVING YARDS)
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (4)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (4)*
Jason Witten, Dallas (4)*
Todd Christensen, Los Angeles Raiders (3)
Greg Olsen, Carolina (3)*
Shannon Sharpe, Denver (3)^
Kellen Winslow, San Diego (3)^
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FOOTBALL IS FAMILY: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passed for 434 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s Week 15 loss to Philadelphia.

Manning’s first touchdown pass of the day, the 336th of his career, gave the Manning family 1,000 total combined regular-season touchdown passes over their careers. Eli’s brother, Peyton, threw 539 touchdown passes in his 17-year career, the most in NFL history. Their father, Archie, recorded 125 touchdown passes during his 14-year career.

PLAYER – TEAM (CAREER TD PASSES)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (539)
Eli Manning – New York Giants (338)*
Archie Manning – New Orleans, Houston Oilers and Minnesota (125)
Total – 1,002
*Active

TOSS IT TO THOMAS: New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas had nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ win against the Jets.

Thomas, who had 92 catches as a rookie last season, has a career-high 94 receptions in 14 games this year. He joins Odell Beckham, Jr. as the only players in NFL history to have at least 90 catches in each of their first two NFL seasons. Beckham (2014-16) reached 90+ receptions in each of his first three NFL seasons.

The players to record at least 90 catches in each of their first two seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON-RECEPTIONS)
Michael Thomas, New Orleans (2016-82)(2017-94)*
Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (2014-91)(2015-96)(2016-101)
*Through Week 15

BLOCK PARTY: Philadelphia rookie defensive end Derek Barnett blocked a PAT, linebacker KAMU GRUGIER-HILL blocked a punt and safety MALCOLM JENKINS blocked a field goal in the Eagles’ 34-29 win over the Giants in Week 15.

The Eagles are the first team since the 1979 Minnesota Vikings (November 25, 23-22 win at Tampa Bay) to block all three types of kicks in a win.

GOOD AS GOULD: San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould converted all six field-goal attempts, including the game-winning 45-yard field goal as time expired, in the 49ers’ 25-23 win over the Titans last week.

Gould, who made five field goals at Chicago in Week 13 and four at Houston in Week 14, is the first player in NFL history to make at least 15 field goals over a three-game span.

The most made field goals over a three-game span in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)(WEEKS)(FIELD GOALS MADE)
Robbie Gould, San Francisco (2017)(13-15)(15)
Neil Rackers, Arizona (2005)(2-4)(14)
Olindo Mare, Miami (1989)(4-6)(14)
John Carney, San Diego (1992-93)(16-17, 1)(14)
Jim Turner, New York Jets (1968)(9-11)(14)
Gino Cappelletti, Boston Patriots (1964)(2-4)(14)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 16:

TERRIFIC TURNAROUNDS: Philadelphia (NFC East, first-round bye), Minnesota (NFC North) and Jacksonville (playoff berth) have clinched at least a playoff berth. All three teams finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year and missed the postseason.

Entering Week 16, five of the eight divisions have a team either in or tied for first place that finished in third or fourth place in the division last season.

This weekend, four clubs – Carolina, the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans and Tennessee – have a chance to join Philadelphia, Minnesota and Jacksonville as teams who clinched a playoff spot after not qualifying for the postseason in 2016.

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.

Jacksonville can secure the AFC South division this weekend with a win or a Tennessee loss and join Philadelphia as teams to go from “worst-to-first” this season.

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 – Philadelphia (12-2, 7-9)*
2017 – Jacksonville (10-4, 3-13)*
* Through Week 15
** Tied for last place
*** Won Super Bowl

THE BELL TOLLS: Pittsburgh Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell, who leads the NFL with 1,849 scrimmage yards this season, has 7,899 scrimmage yards in 61 career games.

Bell, who plays at Houston on Monday, can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (64 games) for the fewest games to reach 8,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

The players to reach 8,000 career scrimmage yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (FEWEST GAMES TO 8,000 SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (64)^
Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (65)
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (65)^
Jim Brown, Cleveland (67)^
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (68)^
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh (61)*
*Has 7,899 career scrimmage yards
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

JONES-ING FOR MORE: Atlanta Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones ranks third in the NFL with 1,215 receiving yards this season.

With 85 yards on Sunday at New Orleans, Jones will record his fourth consecutive season with at least 1,300 receiving yards, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Demaryius Thomas for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only TORRY HOLT (six) from 2000-05 has a longer streak in league annals.

The players with the most consecutive seasons with at least 1,300 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS) (MOST CONSECUTIVE 1,300 RECEIVING YARD SEASONS)
Torry Holt, (St. Louis Rams, 2000-2005) (6)
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1999-2002) (4)^
Demaryius Thomas, Denver (2012-2015) (4)
Julio Jones, ATLANTA (2014-2016) (3)*
*Has 1,215 rec. yards through Week 15
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

KEEP IT 100: Arizona Pro Bowl wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD ranks second in the NFC with 92 receptions this season.

With eight receptions against the New York Giants on Sunday, Fitzgerald will record his fifth career season with at least 100 receptions, tying ANTONIO BROWN, ANDRE JOHNSON and WES WELKER for the second-most 100-catch seasons in NFL history.

Brown, who leads the NFL with 101 receptions this season, reached the 100-catch mark for the fifth time and trails only BRANDON MARSHALL (six) for the most such seasons all-time.

The players with the most 100-catch seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (SEASONS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS)
Brandon Marshall – Denver, Chicago and New York Jets (6)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (5)
Andre Johnson – Houston (5)
Wes Welker – New England (5)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (4)*
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (4)^
Jerry Rice –  San Francisco (4)^
Reggie Wayne – Indianapolis (4)
*Has 92 receptions through Week 15
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

CLIMBING THE CHARTS: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning ranks seventh in NFL history with 51,287 career passing yards.

With 189 passing yards at Arizona on Sunday, Manning would pass Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway (51,475) for the sixth-most passing yards in NFL history.

The players with the most passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (CAREER PASSING YARDS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (71,940)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (71,838)^
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (69,961)*
Tom Brady – New England (65,745)*
Dan Marino, Miami (61,361)^
John Elway, Denver (51,475)^
Eli Manning – New York Giants (51,287)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Fame

New Orleans Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees, who plays against Atlanta on Sunday, has 69,961 career passing yards and needs 39 yards to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre (71,838) and Peyton Manning (71,940) as the only players in NFL history with at least 70,000 career passing yards.

PLAYER – TEAMS (CAREER PASSING YARDS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (71,940)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (71,838)^
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (69,961)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Fame

ACE OF THE STAFF: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, who plays at Cincinnati on Sunday, has thrown at least 25 pass attempts and completed 75 percent or better of his passes in each of his past three games. He can join Tom Brady (2007) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with four consecutive games with at least 25 pass attempts and a 75 or better completion percentage.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least 25 pass attempts and a 75 or better completion percentage in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON; WEEKS)(CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 25+ PASSES AND 75% COMPLETION PERCENTAGE)
Tom Brady – New England (2007; 1-4)(4)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (2017; 13-15) (3)*
*Active streak

PROLIFIC PASSERS: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford ranks third in the NFL with 3,920 passing yards and New Orleans Pro Bowl quarterback DREW BREES ranks fourth in the league with 3,850 passing yards.

With 80 passing yards this weekend, Stafford will reach 4,000 passing yards for the seventh consecutive season and surpass Peyton Manning (six seasons, 1999-2004) and Matt Ryan (six, 2011-16) for the second-longest streak in NFL history.

Ryan, who has 3,490 passing yards this season, has recorded at least 4,000 passing yards in each of the past six seasons and can extend his streak to seven consecutive seasons with 510 passing yards over the next two weeks.

Brees needs 150 passing yards to extend his NFL-record streak to 12 consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards.

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

PLAYER – TEAMS (SEASONS) (SEASONS WITH 4,000+ PASSING YARDS)
Drew Brees – New Orleans (2006-16) (11)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (1999-2004) (6)
Matt Ryan – ATLANTA (2011-16) (6)*
Matthew Stafford – Detroit (2011-16) (6)*
*Active streak

LIGHTS, KAMARA, ACTION: New Orleans Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara leads all NFL rookies and ties for second in the league with 12 total touchdowns this season.

With a touchdown reception on Sunday, Kamara, who has seven rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns, can join Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history with at least six rushing and six receiving touchdowns.

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS/RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS)
Gale Sayers, Chicago (1965, 14/6)^
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (2017, 7/5)*
*Through Week 15
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

GO THE DISTANCE: Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill had a 64-yard touchdown catch in the Chiefs’ Week 15 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Since entering the league in 2016, Hill has 11 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards.

With a 50+ yard touchdown on Sunday against Miami, Hill would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (11) for the second-most touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a player’s first two seasons in NFL history. Only Devin Hester (13) had more such touchdowns in his first two seasons.

The players with the most touchdowns of at least 50 yards in their first two seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (50+ YARD TOUCHDOWNS IN 1ST 2 SEASONS)
Devin Hester, Chicago (13)
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City (11)*
Gale Sayers, Chicago (11)^
*In second season
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

Week 16 got underway in Baltimore as the Ravens edged Indianapolis 23-16 Saturday afternoon and the Saturday action finished in Green Bay as the Packers were shutout by Minnesota 16-0 at chilly Lambeau Field. Action in week 16 continues on Sunday with a near full slate of contests and the Sunday action concludes in Dallas when the Dallas Cowboys welcome the Seattle Seahawks to AT&T Stadium on Christmas Eve afternoon. The next-to-last week of the season concludes with a pair of Christmas games when the Steelers travels to Houston to face the Texans and the Eagles host the Oakland Raiders in the final Monday night contest of the season.

Time is running out. With two weeks to go in the NFL regular season, it’s time for teams to make their final playoff push.

Through the first 15 weeks, five postseason berths have been clinched. Philadelphia (NFC East, first-round bye), Minnesota (NFC North), New England (AFC East) and Pittsburgh (AFC North) have each won its division. Jacksonville has secured a playoff berth. And with two weeks left in the regular season, there are still 19 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LII.

In the AFC, New England (11-3, clinched AFC East) can secure a first-round bye and home-field advantage. Pittsburgh (11-3, clinched AFC North) can lock up a first-round bye. Jacksonville (10-4, clinched playoff berth) can win the AFC South. Kansas City (8-6) can clinch the AFC West. And Tennessee (8-6) can secure a playoff berth.

In the NFC, Philadelphia (12-2, clinched NFC East and first-round bye) can lock up home-field advantage. Minnesota (11-3, clinched NFC North) can secure a first-round bye. The Los Angeles Rams (10-4) can clinch the NFC West or a playoff berth. New Orleans (10-4) can lock up the NFC South or a playoff berth and Carolina (10-4) and Atlanta (9-5) can each clinch a playoff berth.

By winning the NFC East, the Eagles have completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround 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. Both the Jaguars (lead AFC South by two games) and Panthers (tied for NFC South lead) are either in or tied for first place entering Week 16 and can join the Eagles as teams making a “worst-to-first” turnaround. If both Jacksonville and Carolina match Philadelphia as teams accomplishing the feat, 2017 would tie the 2005 and 2006 seasons for the most such “worst-to-first” clubs in NFL history.

As for last week… 11-5 is pretty good and for the season, 135-90. That’s not bad and there’s still a lot of football left, including the playoffs (PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?). Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 16 (be sure to leave milk and cookies for Santa and hay for the reindeer… we hear he likes Chocolate chip).

ATLANTA (9-5) at New Orleans (10-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Matt Ryan.

Drew Brees.

They meet again and this time, it’s Peach Pie squaring off against Gumbo as the Falcons travel to the Big Easy for an important NFC South matchup for both clubs.

Atlanta erased a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter at Tampa Bay and came away 24-21 winners last Monday evening at Raymond James Stadium. The defending NFC champs took a 17-7 lead with them to the locker room and held off two Tampa Bay rallies as the Bucs pulled to within 7 with 4:07 left in regulation when Jameis Winston and WR Adam Humphries connected on a 16-yard TD pass. Tampa Bay then had a chance to tie the contest up with five seconds left but saw their playoff hopes come to an end when Pat Murray’s 54 yard field goal sailed wide right, giving Atlanta the win and sweeping the series in the process. Atlanta outrushed Tampa Bay 201-84 and DeVonta Freeman led the way with 126 yards and a 32-yard TD run that all but sealed the deal for the Falcons, while Ryan threw for 212 yards and a TD, with Winston throwing for 299 yards and three TDs. Both clubs did reasonably well on third down, as the Falcons were 9 of 15, while Tampa Bay was 4 of 8 (neither team went for it on fourth down) and time was on the side of Atlanta, who kept the ball for 33:15 to Tampa Bay’s 26:45.

New Orleans ended the New York Jets’ hopes of a playoff spot as they came away 31-19 winners in the Superdome last Sunday. New Orleans led 17-10 at the half before the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! pulled to within 5 with 1:51 left in the contest when Bryce Petty (who took over for Josh McCown) connected on a 2-yard TD pass but missed the two-point conversion. GangGreen then tried an onside kick, which New Orleans recovered and it would be Mark Ingram that would seal the Jets’ fate with a 50-yard run with 93 seconds left in regulation to take the win when he scored his second TD of the day. New Orleans outrushed the Jets 131-124 and Brees threw for 285 yards and a pair of TDs, one to RB Alvin Kamara, who returned from a concussion he suffered against Atlanta, while Petty threw for 179 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions. New Orleans was 3 of 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:10, while the Jets actually ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:50, going 5 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries in the Big Easy.

The meeting in the Big Easy is a rematch of the week 14 contest in Atlanta that saw the Falcons take a 20-17 win in the Big Peach. New Orleans broke a 10-10 tie at the intermission and took a 17-10 lead into the fourth quarter before Atlanta would score their last 10 points of the contest unchallenged in that quarter. While Ryan did throw three interceptions, he did manage to throw for 221 yards and connect with WR Mohammed Sanu on an 8-yard TD strike with 9:55 left in the contest. Matt Bryant then added a 52-yard field goal with 3:49 left to play to take the lead back for good.

Atlanta then held off a late New Orleans rally in the closing minutes of the game when Brees (271 yards, two TDs) was picked off by LB Deion Jones in the end zone. The Falcons then secured the win after Sean Payton was penalized for being on the field, which moved the ball up and allowed Atlanta to run out the clock. Atlanta outrushed New Orleans 132-50, with Falcons RB DeVonta Freeman leading the way with 91 yards and a TD and the Falcons went 7 of 12 on third down conversions at Mercedes Benz Stadium, keeping the ball for 34:41, while New Orleans held the ball for 25:19, going 3 of 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week 14 contest on a Thursday night, New Orleans was favored by 1 and the Falcons covered, winning by 3. The 52 1/2 over/under was untouched, as both teams combined for 37 total points. The odds makers this time like the Saints again, this time as 5 1/2 point favorites with a 52 over/under. There is a lot at stake here, which makes 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 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?”

History has a way of repeating itself. For the Falcons, all they have to do is run the table and they repeat as NFC South champs. The Saints are trying to be “Grinches” and stop their plans and take the NFC South for themselves. Sorry, Saints fans. you’re about to get a lump of coal in your stocking. Falcons complete the sweep and cover the 5 1/2 in the Big Easy.

Cleveland (0-14) at Chicago (4-10), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. It’s the NFL’s version of the “Pit of Misery” as the winless Cleveland Browns travel to the Windy City for a Christmas Eve afternoon contest with Chicago at Soldier Field. Both teams are coming off losses

The winless Cleveland Browns’ season continued into a tailspin last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie as they came out on the short end of a 27-10 loss to Baltimore at at First Energy Field. Baltimore led 17-10 at the half, then pulled away from the Browns and scored their final 10 points of the contest unchallenged. Although the Browns outrushed Baltimore 130-97, Joe Flacco burned the Browns for 288 yards and a TD to TE Benjamin Watson, while Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer threw for 146 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. The Ravens on third down conversions went 7 of 16 and kept the ball for 36:48, while the Browns were 5 of 14, holding the pigskin for 23:12 (both clubs were 0 of 1 on fourth down tries).

Da Bears were outmanned by Detroit last Saturday at Ford Field as the Lions took them to task, coming away on the short end of a 20-10 loss in the Motor City. Chicago trailed 13-3 at the intermission and could never really get on track in the NFC North rematch, as the Lions outrushed them 91-43 and picked off Mitch Trubisky (314 yards, TD) three times. For Detroit, Matt Stafford suffered no ill effects from the hand injury he suffered in Baltimore, throwing for 237 yards and a pair of TDs in the win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Chicago on third down went 5 of 12 (Da Bears were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:55, while the Lions went 6 of 13 on third down, holding the ball for 29:05.

Chicago’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 38 1/2. You might want to take a pass on this one and watch that “Grumpy Cat” movie on Lifetime. Chicago covers the 6 1/2 and wins in the Windy City.

Miami (6-8) at Kansas City (8-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of old AFL/AFC rivals meet in the Show-Me State as the Kansas City Chiefs host the struggling Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead.

Miami saw their playoff hopes damaged in Orchard Park as they fell to Buffalo 24-16. Although they trailed 21-6 at the half, Miami managed to outscore the Bills 10-3 in the final 30 minutes of play, pulling to within 8 with 39 seconds left when Chris Parkey connected on a 26-yard field goal. Miami then managed to get the ball back thanks to a successful onside kick but turned the ball over one play later when Jay Cutler’s pass was picked off by Tre’Davious White. The Bills got the ball back, ran out the clock and took the win. Buffalo outrushed Miami 116-100 and LeSean McCoy scored a pair of TDs in the contest (one on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, the other coming from a 16 yard TD pass from Tyrod Taylor). Cutler threw for 274 yards but was sacked three times and picked off three times, while Taylor threw for 224 yards and the lone TD toss. Miami on third down tries went 5 of 16 (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:25, while the Bills were 27:35 in time of possession, going 7 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Kansas City all but secured their chance of winning the AFC West title after their 30-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers Saturday night at Arrowhead. The Chiefs led 13-6 at the half, trailed 13-10 with 9:20 left in the third, then took the lead back for keeps with 2:07 left in the quarter when Kareem Hunt and Alex Smtih connected on a 3-yard TD pass. After Heath Butker connected on a pair of field goals for Kansas City, Hunt sealed the Chargers’ fate with a 5-yard run with 3:57 left in regulation. Kansas City outrushed Los Angeles 174-98, with Hunt leading the way with 155 yards. Smith threw for 231 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Kansas City defense picked off Philip Rivers (227 yards) three times (he had a TD pass to TE Antonio Gates in the contest), taking the ball away four times. The Chiefs were 6 of 14 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:21, while the Chargers, who held the pigskin for 26:39, went 4 of 11, 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The series between these two AFC foes is even at 13-13 (which includes games that were played at Swope Field and the Orange Bowl), the Chiefs have outscored Miami 538-501 and Kansas City won the last meeting in the series, taking a 34-15 win in the Sunshine State in 2014, while the Dolphins were 31-3 winners in 2011 at Arrowhead. Kansas City’s favored by 10 at Arrowhead and the over/under’s 43 1/2. The Chiefs are starting to get their groove back, while the Dolphins are looking to cause chaos in the AFC West. Groove wins this one. Miami makes it closer than the 10 but the Chiefs pull themselves closer to the AFC West title with the win at Arrowhead.

Buffalo (8-6) at New England (11-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. The defending Super Bowl champs return to Foxboro for an AFC East matchup with the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.

Buffalo put a dent in Miami’s playoff hopes as they held off the Dolphins 24-16 at New Era Stadium. Buffalo led 21-6 at the half, before Miami managed to outscore the Bills 10-3 in the final 30 minutes of play, pulling to within 8 with 39 seconds left when Chris Parkey connected on a 26-yard field goal. The Dolphins then found new life and managed to get the ball back thanks to a successful onside kick but Buffalo forced a turn over one play later when Jay Cutler’s pass was picked off by Tre’Davious White. The Bills got the ball back, ran out the clock and took the win. Buffalo outrushed Miami 116-100 and LeSean McCoy scored a pair of TDs in the contest (one on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, the other coming from a 16 yard TD pass from Tyrod Taylor). Cutler threw for 274 yards but was sacked three times and picked off three times, while Taylor threw for 224 yards and the lone TD toss. Miami on third down tries went 5 of 16 (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:25, while the Bills were 27:35 in time of possession, going 7 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Brady and the Pats erased a 17-10 deficit against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers and left Heinz Field with a 27-24 win last Sunday to clinch the AFC East title. The Steelers led 24-19 with 56 seconds left in regulation when New England’s Deion Lewis scored on an 8-yard run and took the lead when Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski, coming off his one-game suspension, hooked up on the two-point try to take the 3-point lead. Steelers fans had their hopes dashed twice in the contest. Pittsburgh got the ball back and marched downfield, getting as close as New England’s 10-yard line when Ben Roethlisberger and TE Jesse James connected on what they thought would be the game-winning score. The play was reviewed and the call was changed from catch to no catch. After that, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a short pass to New England’s 7-yard line and the Steelers scrambled to the line without any times and Roethlisberger threw a pass into the endzone that was deflected and picked off by Duron Harmon. New England ran out the clock and took the win.

Pittsburgh outrushed New England 143-77, with LeVeon Bell leading all rushers with 117 yards, while Roethlisbeger threw for 281 yards and a TD. Pittsburgh also lost the services of All-Pro WR Antonio Brown, who had 24 yards on two catches before leaving the contest with a torn calf muscle (Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster had 114 yards on six catches for the Steelers), while Brady threw for 298 yards and a TD (both were sacked twice and both threw an interception). Pittsburgh on third down went 10 of 16 and kept the ball for 35:07, while the Pats were 24:53 in time of possession, going 3 of 9 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down at Heinz Field.

They met in week 13 along the shores of Lake Erie in upstate New York and the Pats were 23-3 winners in that meeting. New England held Buffalo to a 49-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka with 3:05 left before the intermssion and got a pair of rushing TDs in the second half by RB Rex Burkhead to seal Buffalo’s fate. While the Pats outrushed Buffalo 191-183, Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy led all rushers with 93 yards, while Brady threw for 258 yards despite getting sacked four times. The Pats on third down conversions went 5 of 12 (the Bills were 5 of 13, 0 of 3 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:01 to Buffalo’s 25:59.

In the week 13 contest in Orchard Park, New England covered the 8 1/2-point spread, winning by 20 but neither club touched the 46 over/under, scoring only 26 points. This time, the Pats are favored by 11 1/2 and the over/under is 47. Buffalo’s wanting to go to the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton adminstration, while the Pats look to stay home for as long as they’re in the playoffs. New England wins this one but expect Buffalo to make things closer than 11 1/2.

Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) at New York Jets (5-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of struggling AFC meet in upstate New Jersey as the New York Jets host the Los Angeles Chargers at Met Life Stadium.

The Chargers saw their hopes of winning the AFC West get damaged by Kansas City last Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium, falling 30-13 to the Chiefs. The Chiefs led 13-6 at the half before the Chargers would take the lead for the first and only time of the contest when Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates connected on a 10-yard TD strike with 9:20 left in the third, then watched the Chiefs take the lead back for keeps with 2:07 left in the quarter when Kareem Hunt and Alex Smtih connected on a 3-yard TD pass. After Heath Butker connected on a pair of field goals for Kansas City, Hunt sealed the Chargers’ fate with a 5-yard run with 3:57 left in regulation. Kansas City outrushed Los Angeles 174-98, with Hunt leading the way with 155 yards. Smith threw for 231 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Kansas City defense picked off Philip Rivers (227 yards) three times (he had a TD pass to TE Antonio Gates in the contest), taking the ball away four times. The Chiefs were 6 of 14 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:21, while the Chargers, who held the pigskin for 26:39, went 4 of 11, 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

New York’s hopes of a playoff spot were ground as the Jets were 31-19 losers in New Orleans to the Saints at Superdome last Sunday. GangGreen trailed 17-10 at the half before they would pull themselves to within 5 with 1:51 left in the contest when Bryce Petty (who took over for Josh McCown) connected on a 2-yard TD pass but missed the two-point conversion. GangGreen then tried an onside kick, which New Orleans recovered and it would be Mark Ingram that would seal the Jets’ fate with a 50-yard run with 93 seconds left in regulation to take the win when he scored his second TD of the day. New Orleans outrushed the Jets 131-124 and Brees threw for 285 yards and a pair of TDs, one to RB Alvin Kamara, who returned from a concussion he suffered against Atlanta, while Petty threw for 179 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions. New Orleans was 3 of 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:10, while the Jets actually ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:50, going 5 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries in the Big Easy.

Including games that were played at Shea and Qualcomm Stadiums and when the Jets were known as the Titans, the Chargers lead the series 21-12-1, they have outscored GangGreen 982-698 and won the last two meetings in the series, including a 24-0 win in 2014 at Qualcomm, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!’ last win over the Chargers came in 2011 in the Meadowlands by a final of 27-21.

The Chargers are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. While this one is not exactly “DRILL WORTHY,” it’s worth watching as both teams have had decent seasons if not great seasons. The Chargers may not cover the 7 but they take the win in upstate New Jersey.

Denver (5-9) at Washington (6-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of teams that once met in a Super Bowl meet in Landover as the Redskins and Broncos, both out of the playoff picture, meet at FedEx Field on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Denver erased a 7-3 halftime lead against Indianapolis last Thursday night and took control of things at Lucas Oil Stadium, outscoring the Colts 18-3 in the final 30 minutes of play, taking a 25-13 win out of the Hoosier State in the process. Denver’s C.J. Anderson ran amok, leading all rushers with 158 yards in the contest, as his team outrushed Indy 213-70, while Brock Osweiler, who took over for Trevor Siemian (Siemian left the contest with an injury), threw for 194 yards and a pair of TDs (Indy’s Jacoby Brissett threw for 158 yards with no TDs or interceptions but had a sack). Denver on third down tries went 7 of 15 (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down tries) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:51, while the Colts kept the pigskin for 23:09, going 6 of 13, 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

While the Redskins saw their playoff hopes vanish, they made sure that Arizona didn’t leave Landover with a victory as they held off the Cardinals 20-15 at FedEx Field. Washington led 14-9 at the half and held Arizona in check the rest of the way. The Desert Angry Birds would eventually pull themselves to within 2 with 13:37 left in the third on a 34-yard field goal by Pat Dawson before the Redskins took control of things in the contest. While Arizona outrushed Washington 141-31, Kirk Cousins threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Arizona Blaine Gabbard threw for 189 yards with five sacks and an interception. The Redskins were 1 of 9 on third down and kept the ball for 23:44, while Arizona kept the pigskin for 36:16, going 4 of 19 on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Denver leads the series 7-5, Washington has outscored the Broncos 271-243 and the Broncos were 45-21 winners in their last meeting at Mile High Stadium in 2013, while Washington’s last win came in 2009 by a final of 27-17. The odds makers like the ‘Skins as 3 1/2 point favorites with a 41 over/under. Redskins fans got to sing “Hail to the Redskins” last week, instead of “Hell, it’s the Redskins.” They’ll get to sing “Hail” again this time. Washington covers the 3 1/2 in Landover and takes the win.

Tampa Bay (4-10) at Carolina (10-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. It’s round two of a pair of former Heisman QBs as Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers host Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay pulled even with Atlanta at Raymond James Stadium last Monday, going into the second quarter tied at 7-7 tie, only to see their slim playoff hopes melt like a sunburned snowman, as the Faclons were 24-21 winners. The defending NFC champs took a 17-7 lead with them to the locker room and held off two Tampa Bay rallies as the Bucs pulled to within 7 with 4:07 left in regulation when Winston and WR Adam Humphries connected on a 16-yard TD pass. Tampa Bay then had a chance to tie the contest up with five seconds left but saw their playoff hopes come to an end when Pat Murray’s 54 yard field goal sailed wide right, giving Atlanta the win and sweeping the series in the process. Atlanta outrushed Tampa Bay 201-84 and DeVonta Freeman led the way with 126 yards and a 32-yard TD run that all but sealed the deal for the Falcons, while Ryan threw for 212 yards and a TD, with Winston throwing for 299 yards and three TDs. Both clubs did reasonably well on third down, as the Falcons were 9 of 15, while Tampa Bay was 4 of 8 (neither team went for it on fourth down) and time was on the side of Atlanta, who kept the ball for 33:15 to Tampa Bay’s 26:45.

Newton and Carolina held off the return of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers 31-24 at Bank of America Stadium last Sunday afternoon. After ewton threw a 7-yard TD pass to Christian McCaffery to open the scoring in the contest. Rodgers threw his first of three TD passes of the afternoon as time expired in the first quarter when he and WR DaVonte Adams connected on a 13-yard TD strike to tie things up. Green Bay would eventually take a 14-10 into the intermission when Rodgers and RB Randall Cobb hooked up on a 33 yard TD strike before Carolina took control of things, outscoring the Packers 21-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Green Bay would eventually pull to within a touchdown with 2:43 left in the contest when WR Richard Rodgers caught a 24-yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay then recovered the onside kick and got the ball as far as the Panthers’ 38-yard line when Geronimo Allison caught a 10-yard pass from Rodgers but fumbled the ball, which Carolina promptly recovered. Carolina then ran the clock out and took the win at home.

They met in the Sunshine State in week eight and the Bucs were held ot a 41-yard field goal by Patrick Murray to fall to Carolina 17-3 at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina led 10-0 at the intermission and never looked back, holding the Bucs to 85 yards rushing (the Panthers ran for 100 yards) and sacking Winston (210 yards) three times and picking him off twice, while Newton threw for 154 yards and a TD (Newton threw an interception in the contest). Carolina was 8 of 17 on third down and kept the pigskin for 32:11, while Tampa Bay was 2 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 27:49.

In the week eight affair on Florida’s west coast, the Bucs were favored by 2 1/2 and the Panthers covered, winning by 14 but neither club touched the 44 over/under, as both tallied only 20 points. This time, the Panthers are favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. The Bucs would love nothing more than to ruin Carolina’s playoff party, while Caroline would like nothing more than to put Tampa Bay out of their misery. Tampa Bay makes this one interesting but Carolina’s finer and sweeps the series with the win.

Detroit (8-6) at Cincinnati (5-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. It’s a battle for the Litter Box as the Cincinnati Bengals host Detriot with the Lions fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC, while the Bengals look to play the role of spoiler.

Detroit officially knocked Chicago out of the post-season party last Saturday at Ford Field as they took Da Bears to task, winning 20-10 in the Motor City. Detroit led from start to finish and took a 13-3 lead at the intermission in the NFC North rematch, outrushing Chicago 91-43 and picking off Mitch Trubisky (314 yards, TD) three times. For Detroit, Matt Stafford suffered no ill effects from the hand injury he suffered in Baltimore, throwing for 237 yards and a pair of TDs in the win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Chicago on third down went 5 of 12 (Da Bears were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:55, while the Lions went 6 of 13 on third down, holding the ball for 29:05.

Cincinnati found themselves out of the playoffs and saw Minnesota clinch the NFC North title with a 38-7 loss against the Vikings at US Bank Stadium. The Vikings shut out Cincinnati for the first three quarters as they scored their first 27 points unchallenged (they led 20-0 at the half), then held the Bengals to a 6-yard run by HB Giovanni Bernard with 6:22 left in the contest, when the game was all but settled. Minnesota outrushed the Bengals 124-46 and sacked Andy Dalton three times and picked him off twice, while Case Keenum threw for 236 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with WR Sean Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph on both tosses. Minnesota was 4 of 12 on third down tries in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, while keeping the ball for 35:52. As for the Bengals? They were a somewhat dismal 1 of 13 on third down, went 1 of 3 on fourth down and held the ball for 24:08.

Cincinnati leads the series 8-3, which includes contests that took place at the Silverdome, Riverfront and Tiger Stadiums, they have outscored Detroit 274-222 and have won the last five meetings, including taking a 27-24 win in the Motor City in 2013, while Detroit’s last win came in Cincinnati in 1992 by a final of 19-13. Detroit’s favored by 5 in Cincy and the over/under’s 43. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Cincinnati is not going to the post-season, while the Lions are hoping that they have a spot at the post-season party. If nothing else, things could get a little catty in Cincy. Lions cover the 5 and win along the shores of the Ohio River.

Los Angeles Rams (10-4) at Tennessee (8-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Hollywood meets Dollywood as the Los Angeles Rams travel to the Music City for a showdown at Nissan Stadium with Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans.

The Rams got revenge on Seattle last Sunday in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, taking down the Seahawks 42-7 at CenturyLink Field. Los Angeles scored the first 40 points of the game unchallenged, leading 34-0 at halftime and 40-0 lat in the third quarter before Seattle ended the Rams’ dreams of a shutout when Russell Wilson and TE Luke Willson hooked up on a 26-yard toss with 87 seconds left in the period. Los Angeles then put Seahawks fans out of their misery when Wilson was sacked in the endzone for a safety. Seattle was outrushed by the Rams 244-78 and Todd Gurley led everyone with 152 rushing yards and three TDs, the longest being 57 yards with 28 seconds left before the half. Wilson threw for 142 yards and the lone TD but was sacked seven times, while Jared Goff threw for 120 yards and a pair of TDs (one toss going to Gurley, the other going to WR Robert Woods). The Rams went 6 of 16 on third down (1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:46, while the Seahawks, who lost three of their last five games, kept the pigskin for 23:14 and went 4 of 14 on third down conversions in the Paciifc Northwest.

The Titans checked themselves into the Heartbreak Hotel after their 25-23 loss to San Francisco last Sunday in Santa Clara with a game-winning field goal as time expired. San Francisco led 16-10 at the intermission before allowing the Titans to storm back in the second half, outscoring the 49ers 10-9. Tennessee led 23-22 with 67 seconds lefr thanks to a 50-yard field goal by Ryan Succop before San Francisco went to work to take the win, using a 7-play, 48-yard drive that took all of the 67 seconds and ended with Gould’s 45-yard effort. Tennessee managed to outrush San Francisco 90-51 but 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 381 yards and a TD, while Marcus Mariota threw for 341 yards and a pair of TDs. Both clubs were 50 percent on third down tries (Tennessee was 6 of 12, San Francisco was 7 of 14) and the Titans were 1 of 1 on fourth down, holding the ball for 27:25, while the 49ers ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 32:35.

Including games in St. Louis and Houston, when the Titans were known as the Oilers, Los Angeles leads the series 6-5, while the Titans have outscored the Rams 247-229, taking wins in the last two meetings, including a 28-21 win in St. Louis in 2013, while the Rams were 31-27 winners in the Gateway City in 2005. The Rams are favored by 6 1/2 in the Music City and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Both numbers make sense. Both clubs are looking for an invite to the playoff party in two weeks. The Titans are trying to catch Jacksonville in the AFC South, while the Rams want to remain as king of the mountain in the NFC  West. Rams take a huge step toward winning the NFC West and wins in Music City, covering the 6 1/2.

Jacksonville (10-4) at San Francisco (4-10), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. A pair of improving teams meet in wine country as Jacksonville travels to Santa Clara for a late-afternoon contest with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Jaguars advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 when they took Houston to the woodshed last Sunday in Jacksonville, taking a 45-7 win over the Texans at EverBank Field. Jacksonville clawed their way to a 31-0 lead at the break and held the Texans to a third quarter TD with 8:12 left in that quarter when Tyler Yates and WR DeAndre Hopkins connected on a 25-yard strike. Jacksonville outrushed Houston 138-87 and sacked Yates (128 yards) four times and picked him off once. Jacksonville, led by Blake Bortles’ 326 yards of passing (three TDs), went 3 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:18, while the struggling Texans kept the pigskin for 26:42 and went 4 of 16 on third down tries in the Sunshine State.

Robbie Gould sent 49ers fans home happy after their 25-23 win over Tennessee last Sunday in Santa Clara with a game-winning field goal as time expired. San Francisco, who doubled their win total from 2016 (they were 2-14) led 16-10 at the intermission before allowing the Titans to storm back in the second half, outscoring the 49ers 10-9. Tennessee led 23-22 with 67 seconds lefr thanks to a 50-yard field goal by Ryan Succop before San Francisco went to work to take the win, using a 7-play, 48-yard drive that took all of the 67 seconds and ended with Gould’s 45-yard effort. Tennessee managed to outrush San Francisco 90-51 but 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 381 yards and a TD, while Marcus Mariota threw for 341 yards and a pair of TDs. Both clubs were 50 percent on third down tries (Tennessee was 6 of 12, San Francisco was 7 of 14) and the Titans were 1 of 1 on fourth down, holding the ball for 27:25, while the 49ers ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 32:35.

They’ve only met four times and the series is even at 2-2. San Francisco has outscored the Jaguars 74-64 and the 49ers have won the last two meetings, including a 42-10 win in 2013 in London, while the Jaguars’ last win came in the Sunshine State by a final of 10-9 in 2005. Jacksonville’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under is 42 1/2. San Francisco’s played some pretty decent football of late, while the Jaguars want to make history and at least host one playoff game in the Sunshine State. Jacksonville covers the 4 1/2 in wine country and takes the win.

New York Giants (2-12) at Arizona (6-8), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. A pair of teams that will not make the playoff party meet in the desert as Eli Manning and the New York Giants travel to Glendale for a late afternoon contest with the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Both teams enter the contest with losses on the East coast under their belts.

After leading Philadelphia 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, Philly took a 21-20 at the intermisison, outscored the Giants 13-6 in the final 30 minutes of action and then held off a late New York rally that would have given interim head coach Steve Spagnola the win at home and took the win when Eagles K Josh Elliott connected on a 20-yard field goal with 3:56 left in the contest, dropping a 34-29 NFC East decision to the Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Philadelphia outrushed the Giants 108-75 and Nick Foles, who took over for Carson Wentz (knee), threw for 237 yards and three TDs, while Manning, in his second contest after he was benched, threw for 434 yards and four TDs (each man was sacked once and Manning threw an interception). The Eagles were 6 of 13 on third down tries in the Meadowlands and kept the ball for 30:53, while the Giants held the ball for 29:07, going 10 of 18 on third down tries (both clubs were 0 of 1 on fourth down).

Arizona’s playoff hopes were crushed in Landover by the Redskins as Washington came away 20-15 winners at FedEx Field. Washington led 14-9 at the half and held Arizona in check the rest of the way. The Desert Angry Birds would eventually pull themselves to within 2 with 13:37 left in the third on a 34-yard field goal by Pat Dawson before the Redskins took control of things in the contest. While Arizona outrushed Washington 141-31, Kirk Cousins threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Arizona Blaine Gabbard threw for 189 yards with five sacks and an interception. The Redskins were 1 of 9 on third down and kept the ball for 23:44, while Arizona kept the pigskin for 36:16, going 4 of 19 on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Including games that were played at Yankee Stadium and New Haven when the Giants played in those stadiums and games played in Chicago and St. Louis when the Cardinals called those cities home, the Giants lead the series 80-43-2 and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 2,760-2,151. Arizona won the last meeting with Big Blue, taking a 25-14 win in 2014 in the Meadowlands, while New York’s last win came in the desert in 2011 by a final of 31-27. Arizona’s favored by 4 1/2 in the desert and the over/under’s 40. Take a pass on this one and make that last-minute trip to get that ugly sweater for your cousin Larry. Arizona puts Giants fans a little closer out of their misery and wins at home, covering the 4 1/2 in the process.

Seattle (8-6) at Dallas (8-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. It’s basically an elimination game in the Lone Star State as the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys meet in a game of football “Survivor,” with the winner still having some playoff hope, while the loser is done for the year.

Seattle found themselves being taken to task by the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, as the Rams took down the Seahawks 42-7 at CenturyLink Field. Los Angeles took control of things early and scored the first 40 points of the game unchallenged, leading 34-0 at halftime and 40-0 lat in the third quarter before Seattle ended the Rams’ dreams of a shutout when Russell Wilson and TE Luke Willson hooked up on a 26-yard toss with 87 seconds left in the period. Los Angeles then put Seahawks fans out of their misery when Wilson was sacked in the endzone for a safety. Seattle was outrushed by the Rams 244-78 and Todd Gurley led everyone with 152 rushing yards and three TDs, the longest being 57 yards with 28 seconds left before the half. Wilson threw for 142 yards and the lone TD but was sacked seven times, while Jared Goff threw for 120 yards and a pair of TDs (one toss going to Gurley, the other going to WR Robert Woods). The Rams went 6 of 16 on third down (1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:46, while the Seahawks, who lost three of their last five games, kept the pigskin for 23:14 and went 4 of 14 on third down conversions in the Paciifc Northwest.

Dallas, who gets RB Ezekiel Elliott back from his 6-game suspension, led Oakland 10-0 at the half last Sunday night on the West Coast, then survived a late Raiders rally and escaped northern California with a 20-17 win. Oakland rallied in the second half and managed to tie things up at 17-17 with 10:35 left in regulation when Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree connected on a 2-yard TD pass. Later in the quarter, the Cowboys used an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 4:46 to take the lead back when K Dan Bailey connected on a 19-yard field goal with 1:44 left. The Raiders were not about to go away, got the ball back and got as close as the Cowboys’ 8-yard line, when Carr tried to run the ball in to take the lead with 39 seconds left but fumbled the pigskin through the endzone, giving Dallas the ball back on their 20-yard line. Dallas then ran out the clock and took the win. Dallas outrushed Oakland 126-122 and Dak Prescott threw for 212 yards and had a rushing TD in the contest, while Carr threw for 171 yards and the two TDs tosses to Crabtree. Dallas was 2 of 10 on third down tries but was successful on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 32:20, while the Silver and Black went 8 of 15 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:40.

Dallas leads the series 10-6 and they have outscored Seattle 399-283. Seattle did come away with a win in their last meeting with Dallas in the Lone Star State, coming away 13-12 winners in 2015, while Dallas won in the Pacific Northwest in 2014 by a final of 30-23.

The boys and girls in Vegas like the Cowboys as 4 1/2 point favorites in the Lone Star State and the over/under’s 47. The winner’s hopes are still alive and will get more hope in their stocking. As for the loser? They’ll get knocked out of the playoffs and a lump of coal in their stockings. Both are trying to catch Atlanta for that last playoff spot (Atlanta has the tiebreaker with both teams) and both know they’re on the football naughty list. Seahawks get themselves off the list and pulls the upset in the Lone Star State.

Pittsburgh (11-3) at Houston (4-10), 4:30 p.m. Monday on NBC and NFL Network. It’s the first of two Christmas Day games as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Houston to face off against the struggling Texans at NRG Stadium.

Pittsburgh comes into the Christmas Day contest in less-than Jolly mood after blowing a 17-10 lead against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and came up on the short end of a 27-24 loss at Heinz Field last Sunday. The Steelers led 24-19 with 56 seconds left in regulation when New England’s Deion Lewis scored on an 8-yard run and took the lead when Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski, coming off his one-game suspension, hooked up on the two-point try to take the 3-point lead. Steelers fans had their hopes dashed twice in the contest. Pittsburgh got the ball back and marched downfield, getting as close as New England’s 10-yard line when Ben Roethlisberger and TE Jesse James connected on what they thought would be the game-winning score. The play was reviewed and the call was changed from catch to no catch. After that, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a short pass to New England’s 7-yard line and the Steelers scrambled to the line without any times and Roethlisberger threw a pass into the endzone that was deflected and picked off by Duron Harmon. New England ran out the clock and took the win.

Pittsburgh outrushed New England 143-77, with LeVeon Bell leading all rushers with 117 yards, while Roethlisbeger threw for 281 yards and a TD. Pittsburgh also lost the services of All-Pro WR Antonio Brown, who had 24 yards on two catches before leaving the contest with a torn calf muscle (Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster had 114 yards on six catches for the Steelers), while Brady threw for 298 yards and a TD (both were sacked twice and both threw an interception). Pittsburgh on third down went 10 of 16 and kept the ball for 35:07, while the Pats were 24:53 in time of possession, going 3 of 9 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down at Heinz Field.

The dismal season for the Texans continued in the Sunshine State as Jacksonville took them to task last Sunday at EverBank Field, dropping a 45-7 AFC South decision. Houston had a problem and trailed Jacksonville 31-0 lead at the break, as the Jaguars held the Texans to a third quarter TD with 8:12 left in that quarter when Tyler Yates and WR DeAndre Hopkins connected on a 25-yard strike. Jacksonville outrushed Houston 138-87 and sacked Yates (128 yards) four times and picked him off once. Jacksonville, led by Blake Bortles’ 326 yards of passing (three TDs), went 3 of 10 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:18, while the struggling Texans kept the pigskin for 26:42 and went 4 of 16 on third down tries in the Sunshine State.

The Steelers lead the series 3-2, Pittsburgh has outscored Houston 111-88 and won their last meeting with the Texans, coming away 30-23 winners in the Steel City in 2014, while the Texans were 17-10 winners in 2011 at then-Reliant Stadium.  Pittsburgh’s favored by 10 and the over/under’s 44. The 44 makes sense. The 10 is a little high. While the Texans have at times played some pretty good football, they’re not the same without Watt or Watson. Pittsburgh takes the win but expect Houston to give the Steelers a hard time in the Lone Star State.

Oakland (6-8) at Philadelphia (12-2), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The final Monday night game of the season takes place on Christmas Night in the City of Brotherly Love as Philadelphia hosts the Oakland Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field.

Oakland trailed Dallas 10-0 at the half last Sunday night on the West Coast, then rallied to even things up, only to see their playoff hopes wither away as the Cowboys survived a late Raiders rally, taking a 20-17 loss. Oakland rallied in the second half and managed to tie things up at 17-17 with 10:35 left in regulation when Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree connected on a 2-yard TD pass. Later in the quarter, the Cowboys used an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 4:46 to take the lead back when K Dan Bailey connected on a 19-yard field goal with 1:44 left. The Raiders were not about to go away, got the ball back and got as close as the Cowboys’ 8-yard line, when Carr tried to run the ball in to take the lead with 39 seconds left but fumbled the pigskin through the endzone, giving Dallas the ball back on their 20-yard line. Dallas then ran out the clock and took the win. Dallas outrushed Oakland 126-122 and Dak Prescott threw for 212. yards and had a rushing TD in the contest, while Carr threw for 171 yards and the two TDs tosses to Crabtree. Dallas was 2 of 10 on third down tries but was successful on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 32:20, while the Silver and Black went 8 of 15 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:40.

The Eagles have an NFL-best 12-2 record and have already clinched the NFC East and a first-round bye and got that bye thanks to a 34-29 win over the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium last Sunday. After erasing a 14-7 deficit at the end of the first quarter, Philly took a 21-20 at the intermisison, outscored the Giants 13-6 in the final 30 minutes of action and then held off a late New York rally that would have given interim head coach Steve Spagnola the win at home and took the win when Eagles K Josh Elliott connected on a 20-yard field goal with 3:56 left in the contest. Philadelphia outrushed the Giants 108-75 and Nick Foles, who took over for Carson Wentz (knee), threw for 237 yards and three TDs, while Eli Manning, in his second contest after he was benched, threw for 434 yards and four TDs (each man was sacked once and Manning threw an interception). The Eagles were 6 of 13 on third down tries in the Meadowlands and kept the ball for 30:53, while the Giants held the ball for 29:07, going 10 of 18 on third down tries (both clubs were 0 of 1 on fourth down).

While the Eagles lead the series 6-5 (which includes games that were played in Los Angeles when the Raiders called that city home), the Raiders have outscored the Eagles 232-209. Philly won the last meeting with the Silver and Black in 2013, taking a 49-20 win in Oakland, while the Raiders were 13-9 winners in Oakland in 2009. The Eagles are favored by 9 and the over/under is 47 1/2. Both numbers make sense. While the Eagles have a Monday night win under their belts this year, taking Washington to task in week seven at home, Oakland is 38-27-1 under the primetime lights and won their only meeting last year. The Raiders are all but out of the post-season, while the Eagles want to stay home for the post-season. There’s no place like home for the playoffs and the Eagles can cancel that trip to the airport. Philly covers the 9 like cheese on a cheesesteak sandwich and takes the win at home.