Archives for category: NFL Playoffs

Championship Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

AFC Championship: Tennessee at Kansas City, 3:05 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter), Jay Feely (field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin (field reporter); SIRIUS: 82 (Tennessee), 83 (Kansas City); XM: 226 (Tennessee), 225 (Kansas City)

NFC Championship: Green Bay at San Francisco, 6:40 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter), Chris Myers (field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Kurt Warner, Ross Tucker (field reporter); SIRIUS: 82 (Green Bay), 83 (San Francisco); XM: 226 (Green Bay), 225 (San Francisco)

Officials
Tennessee at Kansas City, 3:05 p.m.: Tony Corrente
Green Bay at San Francisco, 6:40 p.m.: John Hussey

Odds (Home teams in Caps)
KANSAS CITY – 7 1/2 vs. Tennessee (52)
SAN FRANCISCO – 7 vs. Green Bay (45)

Injury Report

Tennessee at Kansas City, 3:05 p.m.

Tennessee
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jayon Brown (shoulder), T Jack Conklin (shoulder), LB Rashaan Evans (foot), WR Cody Hollister (ankle), WR Adam Humphries (ankle), CB Adoree’ Jackson (foot), LB David Long (knee)

Kansas City
QUESTIONABLE: DT Chris Jones (calf), RB LeSean McCoy (illness), QB Matt Moore (illness)

Green Bay at San Francisco, 6:40 p.m.

Green Bay
QUESTIONABLE: RB Dan Vitale (knee)

San Francisco: San Francisco reports no injuries

Sunday Weather
Tennessee at Kansas City, 3:05 p.m.: Sunny and 18 degrees
Green Bay at San Francisco: 6:40 p.m.: Cloudy and 53 degrees

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

And there were four.

The NFL’s answer to the NCAA’s Final Four is here. When the 2019 playoffs got underway, there were 12 teams in the group.

The group has now been narrowed to four and when play concludes Sunday night, two teams will be fighting for the right to win a Lombardi Trophy.

As we’ve said before, we’ll say again.

You win, you move on.

You lose, your next game is next September.

The two winners? They’ll get a week off to prepare and have microphones in their faces, answering the same questions over and over and over again. It’s the nature of the beast and for the other teams that aren’t in the post-season party, they will look at their seasons and wonder what they could have done to be in that spot.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

NEW FACES ON CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND: The NFL will have a new Super Bowl Champion for a 15th consecutive season as four teams vie to secure their place in Super Bowl LIV. In the AFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, Tennessee (11-7) takes on Kansas City (13-4), while Green Bay (14-3) travels west to Levi’s Stadium to take on San Francisco (14-3) in the NFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax.

Of the teams appearing on Championship Sunday, three teams – Green Bay, San Francisco and Tennessee – missed the postseason in 2018, marking the sixth time that at least three teams have advanced to the Championship games after failing to make the postseason the previous year since the NFL instituted the 12-team playoff format in 1990 and the second time in the past three seasons.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: With a 28-12 victory over the number 1 seed Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, Tennessee (11-7) became the sixth number 6 seed to advance to a Conference Championship since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990 and first since the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets in 2010.

With a win over Kansas City on Sunday, Tennessee would join the 2010 GREEN BAY PACKERS and the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers as the only number 6 seeds to appear in the Super Bowl since 1990 when the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format. Both the Packers and Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl in those seasons.

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Super Bowl since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990:

SEASON – TEAM (CONFERENCE; ADVANCED TO)
2010 – Green Bay (NFC; Won Super Bowl XLV)
2005 – Pittsburgh (AFC; Won Super Bowl XL)
2019 – Tennessee (AFC; ??)

Additionally, Tennessee could also join the 2010 Green Bay Packers and 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers as the only teams to defeat each of the top three seeds in their conference in a single postseason since 1990.

KING HENRY CONTINUES HIS REIGN: Tennessee running back Derrick Henry rushed for a postseason franchise-record 195 yards in the Titans’ Divisional Playoff win last week. After rushing for 182 yards and a touchdown on Wild Card Weekend against New England, Henry became the first player with at least 180 rushing yards in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

With at least 150 rushing yards on Sunday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis (1998-99) as the only players with at least 150 rushing yards in three consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

With at least 123 rushing yards on Sunday against Kansas City, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers John Riggins (610 rushing yards in 1982) and Terrell Davis (581 in 1997) as the only players with at least 500 rushing yards in a single postseason in NFL history.

The players with the most rushing yards in a single postseason in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RUSHING YARDS)
John Riggins, Washington (1982 – 610)(HOF)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1997 – 581)(HOF)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1998 – 468)(HOF)
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (1983 – 466)(HOF)
Eddie George, Tennessee (1999 – 449)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee (2019 – 377)*
*Entering Sunday

Henry has 561 rushing yards in four career postseason games. With at least 112 rushing yards on Sunday, he would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis (672 yards) for the most rushing yards through a player’s first five career postseason games in NFL history.

Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in the regular season in 2019. With a win on Sunday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers Terrell Davis (1998) and Emmitt Smith (1992-93, 1995), as well as Shaun Alexander (2005) as the only single-season rushing leaders to reach the Super Bowl in the same season.

The single-season rushing leaders to reach the Super Bowl in the same season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RUSHING YARDS; SUPER BOWL)
Shaun Alexander, Seattle (2005 – 1,880; XL)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1998 – 2,008; XXXIII)(HOF)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995 – 1,773; XXX)(HOF)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1993 – 1,486; XXVIII)(HOF)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1992 – 1,713; XXVII)(HOF)

AFC GOES THROUGH CHIEFS KINGDOM: Kansas City advanced to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history with a 51-31 win over Houston in the Divisional Playoffs. In the victory, Kansas City became the first team to win a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 20 points in the same game in NFL history.

Kansas City’s comeback in the Divisional Playoffs marked the second comeback of at least 16 points in the postseason this year after Houston erased a 16-point deficit in an overtime win over Buffalo on Wild Card Weekend. This marks the second time in which there have been two comebacks of at least 16 points in a single postseason in NFL history (2002).

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the comeback with 321 passing yards and five touchdowns without an interception for a 134.6 passer rating and added 53 yards on the ground, becoming the first player with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdown passes, and 50 rushing yards in a single postseason game in NFL history.

If Mahomes, who has eight touchdown passes in three career postseason games, has at least three touchdown passes on Sunday against Tennessee, he would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (11) for the most touchdown passes through a player’s first four career postseason games in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes in their first four postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAMS (TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (11)(HOF)
Dan Marino, Miami (10)(HOF)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (10)
Alex Smith, San Francisco and Kansas City (10)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (8)*
*In three games

Additionally, with at least four touchdown passes, Mahomes would become the first player with at least four touchdown passes in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce recorded postseason career-highs in receptions (10), receiving yards (134) and receiving touchdowns (three) last week, becoming the third tight end with at least three touchdown receptions in a single postseason game in the Super Bowl era.

If Kelce, who has three career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards, has at least 100 receiving yards against Tennessee, he would tie for the most such career postseason games by a tight end in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAMS (GAMES WITH 100+ RECEIVING YARDS)
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (4)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (4)
Keith Jackson, Philadelphia, Miami and Green Bay (4)
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis (3)
Travis Kelce, Kansas City (3)*
Greg Olsen, Chicago and Carolina (3)

HUNTING MORE TITLES IN TITLETOWN: Green Bay advanced to their first Conference Championship since 2016 with a 28-23 victory over Seattle in the Divisional Playoffs. With the victory, Green Bay tied Dallas (35 wins) for the third-most postseason victories in NFL history.

With a win against the 49ers, who rank fifth on the all-time list with 31 postseason wins, on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, FOX), the Packers would tie Pittsburgh (36 wins) for the second-most postseason victories in NFL history.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM (WINS, SUPER BOWL WINS
New England (37, 6)
Pittsburgh (36, 6)
Dallas (35, 5)
Green Bay (35, 4)
San Francisco (31, 5)

Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur became the first head coach to reach a Conference Championship in his first season since JIM HARBAUGH led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game in 2011.

With a win on Sunday, LaFleur would become the sixth rookie head coach to appear in the Super Bowl.

The rookie head coaches to appear in the Super Bowl:

HEAD COACH, TEAM (SEASON – RESULT)
Don McCafferty, Baltimore Colts (1970 – W 16-13, Super Bowl V)
Red Miller, Denver (1977 – L 27-10, Super Bowl XII)
George Seifert, San Francisco (1989 – W 55-10, Super Bowl XXIV)
Bill Callahan, Oakland (2002 – L 48-21, Super Bowl XXXVII)
Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis (2009 – L 31-17, Super Bowl XLIV)
Matt LaFleur, Green Bay (2019 – ??)

With LaFleur (40 years, 66 days old) and San Francisco head coach KYLE SHANAHAN (40 years, 36 days old), Sunday’s NFC Championship Game will be the first Conference Championship Game featuring two head coaches under the age of 41 since 1970.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a 113.7 passer rating last week, marking Rodgers’ sixth consecutive postseason game with at least two touchdown passes.

With at least two touchdown passes on Sunday, Rodgers would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw (seven games) and Joe Montana (seven), as well as Drew Brees (seven), for the second-longest streak of postseason games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history. Only Joe Flacco (eight games) had a longer such streak in league history. Additionally, with two touchdown passes, Rodgers would tie Peyton Manning (40) for the fourth-most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Tom Brady, New England (73)
Joe Montana, San Francisco and Kansas City (45)(HOF)
Brett Favre, Green Bay and Minnesota (44)(HOF)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis and Denver (40)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (38)*
*Entering Sunday

(HOF) Hall of Fame

Rodgers, who has 4,700 passing yards in 17 career postseason starts, needs at least 300 passing yards on Sunday to become the sixth player with at least 5,000 career postseason passing yards in NFL history, joining Tom Brady (11,388), Peyton Manning (7,339), Pro Football Hall of Famers Brett Favre (5,855) and Joe Montana (5,772) and Ben Roethlisberger (5,256).

NEW GOLDEN ERA: With a 27-10 win over Minnesota in the Divisional Playoffs, San Francisco became the fifth team since 1990 to advance to a Championship Game after winning four-or-fewer games the previous season, and the second team in three years, joining Jacksonville in 2017.

With a victory on Sunday against Green Bay, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan, whose father – Mike Shanahan – won Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII as head coach of the Denver Broncos, would become the first father-son duo to each appear in a Super Bowl as a head coach in NFL history. In their Divisional Playoff victory, the 49ers defense tallied six team sacks, tied for the second-most in a single postseason game in franchise history.

With at least six sacks on Sunday against Green Bay, the 2019 San Francisco 49ers would join the 1984 San Francisco 49ers as the only teams with at least six sacks in two consecutive postseason games in the Super Bowl era. 49ers rookie defensive lineman Nick Bosa recorded two sacks in his postseason debut last week. With at least two sacks on Sunday, Bosa would join Lamarr Woodley as the only players with at least two sacks in each of their first two postseason games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Bosa would also become the first rookie to accomplish the feat since 1982.

As is the case for the playoffs and the Super Bowl, this weekend’s games are “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

Championship Sunday begins with the AFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, between Tennessee (11-7) and Kansas City (13-4), followed by the NFC Championship Game, presented by Intuit TurboTax, featuring Green Bay (14-3) and San Francisco (14-3). For the 15th consecutive season, there will be a new Super Bowl champion.

Three of the four remaining teams – Green Bay, San Francisco and Tennessee – are making a Championship game appearance after missing the playoffs last season. This marks the sixth time that at least three teams have advanced to the Championship games after failing to make the postseason the previous year since the NFL instituted the 12-team playoff format in 1990 and the second time in the past three seasons. Additionally, San Francisco is the fifth team since 1990 to advance to a Championship Game after winning four-or-fewer games the previous season and the second in three years, joining Jacksonville in 2017.

In the NFC, this marks the third consecutive year in which the Championship Game features the conference’s top-two seeds. The AFC, meanwhile, sees the number six seed Titans traveling to the two-seeded Chiefs. The Titans are the first six seed to reach the Conference Championship since the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers in 2010. The Chiefs join New England (2011-12, 2016-17) as the only teams to host the AFC Championship in consecutive seasons since 2000.

Each game features a quarterback making his first career appearance in a Conference Championship, as both Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill and San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo take center stage for the first time on Sunday. Tannehill led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating in 2019, the fourth-highest single-season mark in NFL history among qualified passers. Garoppolo has compiled a 22-5 record, including postseason, as a starting quarterback in his career.

Both Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers are making a return to Championship Sunday as starting quarterbacks. After leading the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game last season, Mahomes will become the eighth quarterback to start two Championship games in his first three seasons since 1970. Rodgers, meanwhile, makes his fourth Championship Game appearance, the third-most among active quarterbacks.

Each contest is a rematch of a memorable 2019 regular-season game. In Week 10, Tennessee defeated Kansas City in Nashville, 35-32, as the two teams combined for over 900 yards of total offense. The game featured five lead changes and the Titans overcame a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Chiefs, thanks to Tannehill’s touchdown pass in the final minute and a blocked potential game-tying Kansas City field goal as time expired. In their Week 12 meeting at Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco defeated Green Bay, 37-8, on Sunday Night Football, as the 49ers’ defense held the Packers to their lowest point total of the season. For the winners in the first meeting, it’s a chance to prove that it was not a fluke or luck; for the losers, it’s revenge.

Last week was a pretty good week, going 3-1 and for the season 146-118. With that, here are this weekend’s championship picks.

AFC Championship: Tennessee (9-7, 2nd Wild Card, 6th seed) at Kansas City (12-4, AFC West champion, 2nd seed), 3:05 p.m. on CBS. They met in week 10 in the Music City. They meet again in the Show-Me State and this time, a trip to Miami’s on the line. Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes hosts Tennesee and Ryan Tannehill for the AFC Championship.

Tennessee first shocked the football world by beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro in the AFC Wild Card round, then proceeded to shock the football world again by taking Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to task last Saturday evening in Charm City, taking a 28-12 AFC Divisional Round win at M&T Bank Stadium.

Holding the number-one seeded Ravens to a pair of Jeff Tucker field goals in the first half, Tennessee took a 14-6 lead with them to the break, proceeding to score 14 third-quarter points unchallenged to seal the Ravens’ fate before Jackson would finally get his team into the end zone, connecting with TE Hayden Hurst on a 15-yard TD toss early in the fourth quarter.

In the contest that featured five Heisman winners, Tennessee’s Derrek Henry and Jackson were in Heisman form, as Henry rushed for 195 yards and had a TD pass, while Jackson tallied 143 in the Saturday night contest; Tennesee would out-rush Baltmore 217-185 and Jackson threw for 365 yards with the fourth quarter TD (Jackson was sacked four time and picked off twice), while Tannehill threw for 88 and a pair of TDs. The Titans were 7 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:54, while the Ravens actually ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 32:06, going 11 of 18 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In a comeback that would have made Lazarus jealous, Kansas City rallied from 24 points down in the first half, then proceeded to score 41 points unchallenged to take the 51-31 win over Houston in the AFC Divisional Round game at Arrowhead. The Chiefs trailed 24-0 with 9:55 left before the half before the Chiefs went to work, denting the scoreboard when Mahomes and RB Damien Willams hooked up on a 17-yard TD toss. Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce would then connect on three TD passes in the half (a pair of 5-yard tosses and one from 6 yards) to take the lead for keeps. Williams would then add a pair of rushing TDs in the third quarter to all but ice the contest away, with a Mahomes to TE Blake Bell and a Harrison Butker field goal to close the scoring out.

Kansas City out-rushed Houston (the fourth seed in the AFC playoffs) 118-95 and Mahomes threw for 321 yards with the five TDs without a sack, while Houston’s DeSean Watson threw for 388 yards with four TDs (connecting with TE Darren Fells on one of the tosses) and was sacked four times (neither Mahomes or Watson threw an interception). Kansas City was 2 of 8 on third down tries at Arrowhead, keeping the ball for 25:25, while the Texans were rulers of the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:35, while going 5 of 15 on third down, 1 for 5 on fourth down.

The two clubs meet in Nashville in week 10 and the Titans held off a late Chiefs rally in that contest to come away 35-32 winners at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee and Kansas City went into the intermission tied at 13-13 before the Chiefs took a 32-27 lead when Butker connected on a 39-yard field goal with 3:14 left in the contest.

Tennessee did not waste a lot of time on their drive to reclaim the lead, getting the ball back with 81 seconds after a Chiefs’ field goal try failed, using 4 plays, 61 yards and 58 seconds to reclaim the lead when WR Adam Humphries and Tannehill connected on a 23-yard TD toss. Tannehill then took matters into his own feet when he scored on the two-point conversion.

The Chiefs were not going away and got the ball back with 23 seconds left in the contest and made their way down the field, getting as close as Tennessee’s 34-yard and stayed there after Mahomes threw an incompletion, setting the Chiefs up for what they hoped would be the score that would have sent the contest into overtime.

Kansas City fans would get their hearts broken as Kalu broke through the line, blocked the kick and ended the Chiefs threat. Henry led all rushers with 188 yards and a pair of TDs as the Titans out-rushed Kansas City 225-97 and Mahomes threw for 446 and three TDs (connecting with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on two of the passes), while Tannehill threw for 181 yards and a pair of TDs (including the game-winner) to go with his two-point try (neither threw an interception; Mahomes was sacked twice, while Tannehill was sacked four times). Kansas City was 7 of 14 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 37:51, including the final 23 seconds of the game, while the Titans, keeping the ball for 22:09, went 2 of 8 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In the week 10 contest in the Music City, the Chiefs were favored by 3 1/2 and the Titans would win by 2. The two clubs did manage to cover the 48 1/2 over/under by tallying 67 points. This time, the Chiefs are favored again, this time by 7 1/2 with a 52 over/under. They’ve met only three times in the post-season and the Chiefs have prevailed in two of the contests, winning 28-20 in Houston when the Titans were known as the Oilers in the AFC Wild Card Round. Tennessee’s lone win in the series came in 2017 at Arrowhead by a final of 22-21 in the AFC wild Card round.

The winner will be going to Miami in two weeks. The loser will be second-guessed from the end of the game until the start of the 2020 season. Titans fans, it was fun while it lasted. The carriage is about to turn back into a pumpkin and the horsemen go back to being white mice. Tennessee makes it closer than 7 1/2 but the Chiefs prevail and return to the Super Bowl as AFC champs.

NFC Championship: Green Bay (13-3, NFC North champion, 2nd seed) at San Francisco (13-3, NFC West champion, 1st seed), 6:40 p.m. on FOX. Championshsip weekend concludes in wine country as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers make their way to Santa Clara to square off against Jimmy Garroppolo and the San Francisco 49ers at Levis Stadium Sunday afternoon. Both teams were winners at home to advance to the championship round.

Green Bay held off a late Seattle rally at Lambeau Field last Sunday afternoon as the Packers prevailed 28-23. The Packers led 21-3 at the intermission in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst before Seattle rallied in the second half, outscoring Green Bay 20-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, pulling to within 5 with 9:33 left in the contest when Marshawn Lynch scored from a yard out.

Seattle out-rushed Green Bay 110-109 and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson leading all rushers with 64 yards, while Packers RB Aaron Jones tallied 62 yards with a pair of rushing TDs (Lynch had a pair of rushing TDs for Seattle). Rodgers threw for 243 yards, connecting with WR DeVonte Adams (eight catches for 160 yards) twice, while Wilson threw for 277 yards and a TD to WR Tyler Lockett (Rodgers was sacked twice, Wilson was sacked five times and neither threw an interception). Green Bay was 9 of 14 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 29:29, while Seattle ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:31, going 3 of 9 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

San Francisco erased a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter against Minnesota last Saturday afternoon at Levis Stadium, coming away 27-10 Divisional Round winners. 49ers RB Tevin Coleman gave his team the lead for keeps with 7:10 left before the intermission before Vikings K Dan Bailey pulled Minnesota to within 4 with 39 seconds left, booting a 39-yard field goal. Coleman would add a second rushing TD in the third quarter and 49ers K Robbie Gould would add to the home team’s scoring as they tallied their final 13 points of the game unchallenged to take control of the contest.

Coleman rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries as San Francisco out-rushed Minnesota 186-21 and Garoppolo threw for 131 yards and a TD to WR Kendrick Bourne, while Kirk Cousins threw for 172 yards and a TD toss to Stefon Diggs (Cousins was sacked six times, Garoppolo was sacked twice and neither threw an interception). San Francisco went 5 of 12 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and the 49ers ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 38:27, while the Vikings, who kept the ball for 21:33, went 2 of 12 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down.

They met in Santa Clara in week 12 and the 49ers prevailed 38-7 at Levis’ Stadium. San Francisco scored 23 first-half points unchallenged to lead 23-0 at the break. The Packers would score their only points in the contest when Rodgers and DeVante Adams connected on a 2-yard TD pass and a two-point conversion late in the third quarter before San Francisco floored the gas in the half, using a 61-yard TD pass from Garoppolo to TE George Kittle and a 15-yard run by Mostert to seal the win.

While Green Bay out-rushed San Francisco 117-112, Garoppolo threw for 253 yards with a pair of TDs, with Rodgers throwing for 104 yards and a TD (Rodgers was sacked five times, Garoppolo sacked three times, neither threw an interception). Green Bay was a dismal 1 of 15 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock, as kept the ball for 35:16, while the 49ers held on to the pigskin for 24:44, going 3 of 9 on third down tries.

In the week 12 contest in Santa Clara, the 49ers easily covered the 3-point spread, winning by 31 but Green Bay and San Francisco barely missed the 46 over/under, tallying 45 points. They’ve met seven times in post-season play and Green Bay has won four of the meetings, outscoring San Francisco 188-154. San Francisco has won the last two meetings in the post-season, including a 23-20 win in 2013 at Lambeau in the NFC Wild Card Round; Green Bay’s last playoff win also came at Lambeau in 2001 in the NFC Championship by a final of 25-15. In this meeting in wine country, the 49ers are favored by 7 with the over/under at 45. Both numbers make sense. San Francisco is looking to go back to the Super Bowl, while the Packers are hoping for a return to the big game and perhaps a meeting with Kansas City in a rematch of the very first Super Bowl. GO PACK GO! San Francisco keeps it close but Green Bay prevails in wine country and takes the win.

Black Monday has come and gone. Teams not in the post-season have made changes in the front office and coaching staffs and are preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft. 20 teams are at home, clearing out lockers, getting ready for next season, their dreams of holding the Lombardi Trophy shattered because of injuries, bad decisions on and sometime off the field damaging those hopes. 256 games in the regular season have been played. The regular season is over and in the books and the second season begins this Saturday.

For the 12 teams that are left standing, either as champions of their divisions or winners of that coveted Wild Card spot, it’s their second season. It’s a chance to hit the reset button and extend their season, even if it means by one game. There’s a SMALL plot twist in all of this.

You win this week, you’re playing next week.

You lose…. you’re clearing out your locker and your next game is September of 2020.

The NFL’s 100th season has reached the playoffs and the playoff field is as strong as it’s ever been. Six playoff teams – Baltimore (14-2), Kansas City (12-4) and New England (12-4) from the AFC and San Francisco (13-3), Green Bay (13-3) and New Orleans (13-3) from the NFC – won at least 12 regular-season games, tied for the most such teams in a single postseason in NFL history.

The seasons with the most playoff teams that won 12-or-more regular-season games:

SEASON – TEAMS
2019 – 6
2011 – 6
2003 – 6
Many – 5

The combined winning percentage (.708, 136-56) of this season’s field is the highest in 14 years, since it was .719 (138-54) in 2005.

The playoffs continue with the Divisional round on January 11-12, the Conference Championship Games on January 19 and Super Bowl LIV on February 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on FOX at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

It’s football’s version of the children’s game of “Musicial Chairs.” As long as there’s a chair and the music is playing, everyone has a chance. It’s when the music stops and everyone scrambles for a chair that there’s chaos. One by one you take a chair out and start over until there’s a winner. It’s finality but it makes the NFL worth watching, even if your team is not in the mix.

New teams making the playoffs, terrific turnarounds, consistent teams excelling again, records falling and young players making their mark. The 2019 season had it all.

Youth and success at the quarterback position highlighted the 2019 regular season as 208 games featured at least one starting quarterback under the age of 27, the most in a single season in NFL history. In total, quarterbacks under the age of 27 started 287 games and recorded 144 wins in those starts this season, both the highest single-season totals since 1970. Three quarterbacks under the age of 25 – Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson (2018 NFL Draft), Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (2017 NFL Draft) and Houston’s DeShaun Watson (2017 NFL Draft) – have led their respective teams to division titles in each of the past two seasons.

Competitiveness was a constant theme throughout the regular season as 68 percent of games (174 of 256) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, tied for the fifth-most such games in a single season in NFL history, while 52.3 percent of games (134 of 256) were decided by eight-or-fewer points, also tied for the fifth-most such games in single season in league annals. Additionally, 57 games saw a team come back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter.

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

Five of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2019: Buffalo, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco and Tennessee and since 1990 – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Both Green Bay (NFC North) and San Francisco (NFC West) won their division after missing the postseason in 2018 and at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.

Teams to win their division a season after missing the postseason since 2003:

SEASON – NEW DIVISION WINNERS AFTER MISSING POSTSEASON THE PREVIOUS SEASON
2019 – Green Bay, San Francisco
2018 – Baltimore, Chicago*, Dallas, Houston*
2017 – Jacksonville*, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, Minnesota, Philadelphia*
2016 – ATLANTA, Dallas*
2015 – Houston, Minnesota, Washington*
2014 – Dallas, Pittsburgh
2013 – Carolina*, Philadelphia*
2012 – Washington*
2011 – Denver*, Houston*, New York Giants, San Francisco
2010 – ATLANTA, Chicago, Kansas City*, Pittsburgh, Seattle
2009 – Cincinnati, Dallas, New England, New Orleans*
2008 – Arizona, Carolina, Miami*, Minnesota
2007 – Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay*
2006 – Baltimore*, New Orleans*, Philadelphia*, San Diego
2005 – Chicago*, Cincinnati, New York Giants, Tampa Bay*
2004 – ATLANTA*, Pittsburgh, San Diego*
2003 – Baltimore, Carolina*, Kansas City*, New England, St. Louis Rams
*Worst to first

OFFENSIVE TRENDS: The 2019 season will go down as one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history.

Teams combined to score 1,332 total touchdowns, the third-most in a single season in NFL history, while the 11,680 total points were tied for the third-most in league annals.

MOST TOUCHDOWNS, NFL HISTORY

SEASON – TOUCHDOWNS
2018 – 1,371
2013 – 1,338
2019 – 1,332
2015 – 1,318

MOST TOTAL POINTS, NFL HISTORY

SEASON – TOTAL POINTS
2013 – 11,985
2018 – 11,952
2019 – 11,680
2015 – 11,680

With five teams – Baltimore (33.2 points per game), San Francisco (29.9), New Orleans (28.6), Tampa Bay (28.6) and Kansas City (28.2) – averaging at least 28 points per game, the 2019 season joined 2014 (six teams) as the only seasons with at least five teams averaging at least 28 points per game since 1970.

The Ravens, who scored at least 40 points in five different games this season, led the NFL with 3,296 rushing yards and surpassed the 1978 New England Patriots (3,165) for the most rushing yards by a team in a single season in NFL history.

PROLIFIC PASSERS: In 2019, league-wide passing numbers continued to trend at a historic pace, as the marks for passer rating (90.4 – second), completion percentage (63.5 percent – second), total completions (11,331 – fourth) and touchdown passes (797 – fifth) were all ranked in the top five for highest in a single season in NFL history.

SEASON – RATING
2018 – 92.9
2019 – 90.4
2015 – 90.2
2016 – 89.3
2014 – 88.9

SEASON – COMPLETION PCT.
2018 – 64.9
2019 – 63.5
2016 – 63.0
2015 – 63.0
2014 – 62.6

SEASON – COMPLETIONS
2015 – 11,527
2016 – 11,526
2018 – 11,462
2019 – 11,331
2014 – 11,200

SEASON – TD PASSES
2018 – 847
2015 – 842
2014 – 807
2013 – 804
2019 – 797

Eleven quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards in 2019, including four with at least 4,500 passing yards: Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston (5,109), Dallas’ Dak Prescott (4,902), the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff (4,638) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers (4,615).

Twelve quarterbacks threw at least 25 touchdown passes this season, including four with at least 30 touchdown passes: Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON (36), Winston (33), Seattle’s Russell Wilson (31) and Prescott (30).

Three rookie quarterbacks – New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew and Arizona’s Kyler Murray – each passed for at least 20 touchdowns this season, marking the second season in league annals in which at least three rookie quarterbacks each passed for at least 20 touchdowns (2012 – Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson).

Nine quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher in 2019, including three with a passer rating of at least 110: Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill (117.5), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (116.3) and Jackson (113.3). The nine quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher were tied with the 2018 season for the most in a single season in NFL history.

The seasons with the most quarterbacks having a passer rating of 100 or higher in NFL history:

SEASON – QUARTERBACKS WITH 100+ PASSER RATING
2019 – 9
2018 – 9
2013 – 7

ALL-PURPOSE BACKS: Sixteen players rushed for at least 1,000 yards, including four players with at least 1,300 rushing yards, this season: Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (1,540), Cleveland’s Nick Chubb (1,494), Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey (1,387) and Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (1,357).

Seven players recorded at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2019: Henry (16), Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (16), McCaffrey (15), Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook (13), Elliott (12), the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley (12) and Baltimore’s Mark Ingram (10).

Twenty-six running backs totaled at least 1,000 scrimmage yards, including eight with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards, this season: McCaffrey (2,392), Elliott (1,777), Chubb (1,772), Henry (1,746), Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette (1,674), Cook (1,654), Jones (1,558) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekeler (1,550).

Three running backs – Jones (19 scrimmage touchdowns), McCaffrey (19) and Henry (18) – each recorded at least 18 scrimmage touchdowns this season.

2019 was the third season in NFL history with three players totaling at least 18 scrimmage touchdowns each, joining 2005 (Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson and Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson) and 1962 (Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Jim Taylor and Abner Haynes).

RIDICULOUS RECEIVERS: Twenty-nine players had at least 1,000 receiving yards, including five with at least 1,200 receiving yards this season: New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (1,725), Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,394), Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin (1,333), Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (1,229) and Miami’s Devante Parker (1,202).

Five players had at least 100 receptions in 2019: Thomas (single-season NFL record 149), Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey (116), the Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen (104), Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins (104) and New England’s Julian Edleman (100).

Three players had at least 10 touchdown catches this season: Detroit’s Kenny Golladay (11), Baltimore’s Mark Andrews (10) and the Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp (10).

Five rookies recorded at least seven touchdown receptions in 2019: Tennessee’s A.J. Brown (eight), the New York Giants’ Darius Slayton (eight), Baltimore’s Marquise Brown (seven), Washington’s Terry McLaurin (seven) and Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf (seven). In total, rookies combined for 110 touchdown receptions in 2019 and surpassed 2014 (109 touchdown catches) for the most combined touchdown receptions by rookies in a single season since 1970.

DOMINANT DEFENDERS: Eighteen players recorded at least 10 sacks, including five with at least 14 sacks, in 2019: Tampa Bay’s Shaquil Barrett (19.5), Arizona’s Chandler Jones (19), New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan (15.5), Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter (14.5) and Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt (14.5).

Five players registered at least five forced fumbles this season: Jones (eight), Watt (eight), Barrett (six), Washington’s Ryan Anderson (five) and Chicago’s Khalil Mack (five). 2019 was the first season since 2002 (Dwight Freeeney and Leonard Little) that two players had at least eight forced fumbles in the same season.

Ten players recorded at least five interceptions, including three with six interceptions, this season: New England’s Stephon Gilmore (six), Minnesota’s Anthony Harris (six) and Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White (six).

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 17: Five of the 12 teams to qualify for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2019, having missed the playoffs a year ago: Buffalo, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco and Tennessee.

Since 1990 – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Baltimore won the AFC North and finished as the AFC’s number 1 seed and the Ravens will have home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs. Kansas City won the AFC West, are the number 2 seed and the Chiefs clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. New England won the AFC East. The Patriots are the number 3 seed and will host number 6 seed Tennessee in the Wild Card round. The Titans clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three seasons. Houston won the AFC South, are the number 4 seed and the Texans will host number 5 seed Buffalo in the Wild Card round. The Bills clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three seasons.

San Francisco defeated Seattle and became the number 1 seed and have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Green Bay won the NFC North and clinched the numbere 2 seed and a bye in the first round of the NFC playoffs. New Orleans won the NFC South and became the number 3 seed in the post-season tournament. They will face number 6 seed Minnesota in New Orleans. Philadelphia won the NFC East for the second time in the past three seasons, are the number 4 seed and the Eagles will host either Seattle in the NFC Wild Card round.

Three rookie quarterbacks – New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew and Arizona’s Kyler Murray – each passed for at least 20 touchdowns this season, marking the second season in league annals in which at least three rookie quarterbacks each passed for at least 20 touchdowns (2012 – Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson).

Jones led all rookie quarterbacks with 24 touchdown passes in 2019, the fourth-most by a rookie quarterback in a single season in NFL history. Only Baker Mayfield (27 in 2018), Peyton Manning (26 in 1998) and Russell Wilson (26 in 2012) had more.

Murray passed for 3,722 yards and rushed for 544 yards this season and joined Cam Newton (2011) as the only rookies with at least 3,500 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in NFL history.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 123.3 rating in the Saints’ 42-10 win at Carolina. Brees has 93 career games with at least three touchdown passes, tied with Peyton Manning (93) for the most in NFL history. Brees recorded his fourth consecutive game with at least three touchdown passes and zero interceptions and joined Russell Wilson (five games in 2015), Tom Brady (four in 2007) and Aaron Rodgers (four in 2014) as the only players with at least four consecutive games of at least three touchdown passes and zero interceptions in a single season in league annals.

In 2019, Brees recorded a 74.3 completion percentage (281 of 378), the second-highest single-season completion percentage in NFL history, trailing only the mark he set in 2018 (74.4 percent).

Carolina running back Christian McCAaffery recorded seven receptions and 98 scrimmage yards (72 receiving, 26 rushing) with a rushing touchdown on Sunday. McCaffrey led the NFL with 2,392 scrimmage yards this season, the third-most scrimmage yards in a single season in NFL history, trailing only Chris Johnson (2,509 in 2009) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (2,429 in 1999).

McCaffrey totaled 1,387 rushing yards and 1,005 receiving yards in 2019 and joined Roger Craig (1985) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (1999) as the only players with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season in league annals. McCaffrey has 303 receptions since entering the NFL in 2017 and joined Michael Thomas (321 receptions) as the only players with at least 300 receptions in their first three seasons in NFL history.

Tennessee rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown had a 51-yard touchdown reception in the Titans’ Week 17 win. Brown has four touchdown catches of at least 50 yards in 2019 and joined Isaac Curtis (five in 1973), Willie Gault (four in 1983) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (five in 1998) as rookies with at least four touchdown receptions of 50-or-more yards since 1970.

Kansas City rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman recorded a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win. Hardman, who also had an 83-yard touchdown reception in 2019, is the fourth player and first rookie in NFL history with a kick return touchdown of at least 100 yards and touchdown reception of at least 80 yards in the same season in NFL history.

Detroit rookie quarterback David Blough, New England linebacker Elandon Roberts and Atlanta tackle Ty Sambrailo each recorded touchdown receptions in Week 17. Blough, who caught a 19-yard touchdown pass against Green Bay, joined Marcus Mariota (December 13, 2015) as the only rookie quarterbacks to register a touchdown reception since 1970.

Roberts caught a 38-yard touchdown pass against Miami, the longest touchdown reception by a linebacker since 1970.

Sambrailo recorded a 35-yard touchdown reception against Tampa Bay, the longest touchdown reception by an offensive lineman since 1970.

Other notable performances from Sunday include:

Batlimore led the NFL with 3,296 rushing yards in 2019 and surpassed the 1978 New England Patriots (3,165) for the most rushing yards by a team in a single season in NFL history.

New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for two touchdowns with one interception in Week 17 against Miami. Brady has 541 career touchdown passes and surpassed Peyton Manning (539) for the second-most touchdown passes in NFL history. Only Drew Brees (547) has more.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards in 2019 and became the eighth different quarterback to throw for at least 5,000 yards in a single season in league annals.

Denver running back Phillip Lindsay had 1,011 rushing yards in 2019 and became the first undrafted player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons since 1967.

Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones registered a game-winning 27-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play of overtime in the Falcons’ 28-22 win at Tampa Bay. Jones is the seventh player with a game-winning interception return for a touchdown in overtime since 2002 and the first since Robert Alford (October 11, 2015).

Buccaneers rookie linebacker Devin White recorded a 91-yard fumble return for a touchdown in Week 17. White, who also had a 14-yard fumble return for a touchdown in Week 13, is the first rookie to return two opponent fumble recoveries for a touchdown in a single season since 1970.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WILD CARD WEEKEND

NEW YEAR, NEW TEAMS: This season, five teams qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2018 – Buffalo, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco and Tennessee – three of which will be active on Wild Card Weekend (Buffalo at Houston, Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC; Tennessee at New England, Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on CBS and Minnesota at New Orleans, Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on FOX).

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990 – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

POSTSEASON DEBUTS: Three quarterbacks – Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill – are expected to make their first-career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend.

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) (HOF)
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982 – NFC Wild Card – 385)

YOUNG QUARTERBACKS KICK OFF WILD CARD WEEKEND: Saturday afternoon’s game featuring Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen (23 years, 228 days old) and Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson (24 years, 112 days old) marks the sixth postseason matchup between two quarterbacks under the age of 25 in the Super Bowl era.

In four of the five such matchups in the Super Bowl era, the quarterback of the home team has won.

Postseason matchups between starting quarterbacks under the age of 25 in the Super Bowl era:

SEASON – ROUND (HOME TEAM, QUARTERBACK; VISITOR, QUARTERBACK)(RESULT)
1985 – AFC Divisional (Miami, Dan Marino; Cleveland, Bernie Kozar)(Miami 24, Cleveland 21)(HOF)
2000 – NFC Wild Card (Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb; Tampa Bay, Shaun King)(Philadelphia 21, Tampa Bay 3)
2000 – NFC Divisional (Minnesota, Daunte Culpepper; New Orleans, Aaron Brooks)(Minnesota 34, New Orleans 16)
2011 – AFC Wild Card (Houston, T.J. Yates; Cincinnati, Andy Dalton)(Houston 31, Cincinnati 10)
2012 – NFC Wild Card (Washington, Robert Griffin III; Seattle, Russell Wilson)(Seattle 24, Washington 14)

CLASH OF THE TITANS: Saturday night’s matchup between Tennessee (9-7) and AFC East Champion New England (12-4) pairs the league’s top-rated quarterback Ryan Tannehill (117.5 passer rating) and the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry (1,540 rushing yards), against a Patriots defense that led the NFL in total defense (275.9 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.1 points against per game) in 2019.

Tennessee is the fourth team since 1970 to have the league’s top-rated quarterback and league-leading rusher in the same season.

New England is the first team to allow an average of 15 or fewer points per game since the 2013 Seattle Seahawks (14.4). Seattle would go on to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has led New England to 11 consecutive division titles and six overall Super Bowl championships, is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (40), passing yards (11,179) and touchdown passes (73).

New England running back Sony Michel led the NFL with six rushing touchdowns in the 2018 postseason – tied for the second-most in a single postseason in league history. If Michel, who had at least one rushing touchdown in each of his first three career postseason games, has a rushing touchdown against Tennessee, he would join Pro Football Hall of Famers Terrell Davis and Curtis Martin, as well as Arian Foster, as the only players with a rushing touchdown in each of their first four career postseason games in NFL history.

New England wide receiver Julian Edelman has 115 receptions for 1,412 receiving yards in 18 career postseason games – both the second-most in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (151 receptions, 2,245 receiving yards) has more.
In Super Bowl LIII, Edelman had 10 receptions for 141 receiving yards and was named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player, marking his sixth-career postseason game with at least 100 receiving yards.

With at least 100 receiving yards against Tennessee, Edelman would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six games) for the second-most career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (8) (HOF)
Julian Edelman, New England (6)
Michael Irvin, Dallas (6) (HOF)

EASY BREESY: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees will make his 16th career postseason start on Sunday against Minnesota. Brees currently ranks in the top five in both postseason completion percentage and passer rating (minimum of 150 attempts) in league history.

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

QUARTERBACK (COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPTS – YARDS; TD/INTERCEPTIONS, RATING)
Bart Starr (130/213 – 1,753; 15/3, 104.8)(HOF)
Kurt Warner (307/462 – 3,952; 31/14, 102.8)(HOF)
Matt Ryan (237/351 – 2,672; 20/7, 100.8)
Drew Brees (408/615 – 4,759; 33/11, 100.0)*
Aaron Rodgers (378/595 – 4,457; 36/10, 99.4)*
*Active in 2019 playoffs

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

QUARTERBACK (COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPTS, PCT.)
Nick Foles (143/210, 68.1)
Matt Ryan (237/351, 67.5)
Kurt Warner (307/462, 66.5)(HOF)
Drew Brees (408/615, 66.3)*
Ken Anderson (110/166, 66.3)

*Active in 2019 playoffs

Additionally, Brees has 4,759 career postseason passing yards. With at least 241 passing yards on Sunday, he would become the sixth player in NFL history with at least 5,000 career postseason passing yards, joining Tom Brady (11,179), Peyton Manning (7,339), Pro Football Hall of Famers Brett Farve (5,855) and Joe Montana (5,772), as well as Ben Roethlisberger (5,256).

BATTLE OF THE BIRDS: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 4,110 passing yards this season and joined Peyton Manning and Cam Newton as the only players with at least 3,000 passing yards in each of their first eight seasons in NFL history. Wilson also became the first quarterback in league history to finish with a winning record in each of his first eight seasons.

Wilson has 94 career wins (including postseason) since entering the NFL in 2012, the second-most in a player’s first eight seasons in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the most career wins, including postseason, in their first eight seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS; WINS)
Tom Brady, New England (2000-07; 100)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-19; 94)*
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (2004-11; 90)
*In eighth season

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has recorded at least 100 rushing yards in six of his 11 career postseason appearances. With at least 100 rushing yards against Philadelphia, Lynch would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers Terrell Davis (seven games) and Emmitt Smith (seven games) for the most career postseason games with at least 100 rushing yards in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason games with at least 100 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – GAMES WITH 100+ RUSHING YARDS
Terrell Davis – 7 (HOF)
Emmitt Smith – 7 (HOF)
Marshawn Lynch – 6*
John Riggins – 6 (HOF)
Thurman Thomas – 6 (HOF)
(HOF)- Hall of Fame
*Entering postseason

Since this is the post-season, we’re going to make every post-season contest (including the Super Bowl) “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

As good as things were in week 16 (12-4), we kinda slipped in week 17, going 7-9 and for the season, 141-115. Wild Card weekend gets underway in the Lone Star State as Houston welcomes the return of DL J.J. Watt as they host the Buffalo Bills and concludes in the City of Brotherly Love as Philadelphia and Seattle meet in a week 12 rematch at Lincoln Financial Field. Here are the Saturday and Sunday picks for Wild Card Weekend.

Buffalo (10-6, 1st Wild Card) at Houston (10-6, AFC South champion), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN, with simulcast on ABC. The AFC gets center stage all to themselves as a pair of 10-6 teams meet in the Lone Star State Saturday afternoon. Houston, winners of the AFC South, host the Buffalo Bills, who circled their wagons and won the 1st AFC Wild Card spot, meet at NRG Stadium. Both clubs enter the contest with home losses under their belts last Sunday.

The Bills, seeking their first playoff win since 1995, watched Sam Darnold and the New York Jets erase a 3-3 tie at the end of the third quarter in Orchard Park, taking a 13-6 loss to their AFC East rival in upstate New York. Buffalo trailed 3-0 at the intermission as Jets K Steve Ficken opened the scoring in the contest with a 30-yard field goal (the two clubs played a scoreless first quarter). The Bills’ Stephen Hauschka would even things up in the third quarter, connecting on a 28-yard field goal with 89 seconds left in the third. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would reclaim the lead for keeps early in the fourth quarter as Darnold and WR Jamison Crowder connected on a 1-yard TD toss. Ficken would boost GangGreen’s lead to 10 with 2:05 left before Hauscka connected on a 29-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in the contest. Buffalo then went for the onside kick, which the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would recover and the vistors would run the clock out to take the win.

Neither club would breach the 100-yard barrier in upstate New York but the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would out-rush Buffalo 86-73 with LeVeon Bell leading the way with 41 yards in the contest. Darnold threw for 199 yards with the TD in the third quarter (he was sacked twice and threw an interception), while Josh Allen threw for 5 yards before backup QB Matt Barkley took over, throwing for 232 yards with a sack and a pair of interceptions. Buffalo went 4 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 28:39, while GangGreen ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:21, while going 5 of 14 on third down.

Houston found themselves on the short end of a 35-14 loss against Tennessee in the Lone Star State. The Titans, needing to win to get into the post-season party, broke a 7-7 after the first quarter and proceeded take a 14-7 lead into the intermission on a 1-yard TD toss from Ryan Tannehill to TE MyCole Pruitt with 9:42 left in the half. Titans RB Derrick Henry would give Tennesee a 2-TD lead early in the third on the first of his three TDs in the contest before Texans backup QB A.J. McCarron (taking over over DeShaun Watson) scored from a yard out with 69 seconds left in the quarter to narrow the gap to seven. Henry was not finished, as he would score on a 1-yard run early in the final 15 minutes of play, then put a dagger in the hearts of Texans fans, as he would run 53 yards untouched for his final TD of the afternoon.

Henry led all rushers with 211 yards and the three TDs as Tennessee out-rushed Houston 245-109 with Tannehill throwing for 198 yards with a pair of TDs, no sacks or interceptions, while McCarron threw for 225 yards with four sacks and an interception. Tennessee went 5 of 10 on third down tries and they held the ball for 28:21, while the Texans actually were rulers of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:39, while going 3 of 12 on third down, 2 of 4 on fourth down.

This is the first playoff meeting between the two teams in the history of the franchises and for the Bills, it’s their second trip in the last three seasons, while the Texans will be making their fourth consecutive trip to the post-season party. Houston is favored by 3 with a 42 1/2 over/under. For the Bills, they would like to at least move on to the next round; for the Texans, they have the same goal. The winner advances… the loser is done. Texans cover the 3 at home in the Lone Star State and advance to the Divisional Round.

Tennessee (9-7, 2nd Wild Card) at New England (12-4, AFC East champion), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Saturday Wild Card action concludes in Foxboro as Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions host the Tenneseee Titans at Gillette Stadium. The Titans look to knock off the champs in their building, while the Patriots look to right their ship from last week against Miami.

Breaking a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, Tennesse floored the gas in Houston and came away 35-14 winners in the Lone Star State. The Titans, needing to win to get into the post-season party, broke a 7-7 after the first quarter and proceeded take a 14-7 lead into the intermission on a 1-yard TD toss from Ryan Tannehill to TE MyCole Pruitt with 9:42 left in the half. Titans RB Derrick Henry would give Tennesee a 2-TD lead early in the third on the first of his three TDs in the contest before Texans backup QB A.J. McCarron (taking over over DeShaun Watson) scored from a yard out with 69 seconds left in the quarter to narrow the gap to seven. Henry was not finished, as he would score on a 1-yard run early in the final 15 minutes of play, then put a dagger in the hearts of Texans fans, as he would run 53 yards untouched for his final TD of the afternoon.

Henry led all rushers with 211 yards and the three TDs as Tennessee out-rushed Houston 245-109 with Tannehill throwing for 198 yards with a pair of TDs, no sacks or interceptions, while McCarron threw for 225 yards with four sacks and an interception. Tennessee went 5 of 10 on third down tries and they held the ball for 28:21, while the Texans actually were rulers of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:39, while going 3 of 12 on third down, 2 of 4 on fourth down.

New England lost their chance to have a first-round bye as AFC East rival left Foxboro and Gillette Stadium 27-24 winners in the season finale. The Patriots trailed 17-10 at the intermission before tying things up with 4:26 left in the third when Brady and LB Elandon Roberts connected on a 38-yard TD pass. Miami reclaimed the lead with 8:29 left in the contest on a 32-yard field goal by Jason Sanders to lead by 3 before New England took the lead back, as Brady and RB James White connected on a 13-yard TD pass with 3:53 left in regulation. Miami would respond and reclaim the lead on a 5-yard TD pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to WR Mike Gesicki with 24 seconds left. New England got the ball on their 25-yard line with the 24 seconds left and got as close as their 37-yard line with 2 seconds left when they tried several lateral passes in hope of either scoring a TD or getting a defensive penalty. Neither of those two things came to pass as Miami would hold off their efforts.

New England did manage to out-rush Miami 135-63 with Patriots RB Sony Michel leading the way with 74 yards and a TD; Brady threw for 221 yards and the two TDs (Brady was picked off once and sacked once), while Fitzpatrick threw for 320 yards with a rushing TD of his own in addition to the Gesicki TD (he was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). New England was 3 of 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:09, while Miami was 5 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:51.

The Titans/Patriots game is the sixth playoff meeting in the history of the NFL where an opposing coach has played for another coach (Titans coach Mike Vrabel played for Bellicheck from 2001 to 2008). They’ve met in the post-season three times and the Patriots lead the series 2-1 and including games that were played in Houston and at Fenway Park, the Patriots have outscored Tennessee 66-59. Their last post-season meeting took place in 2017 in Foxboro and the Patriots came away with the 35-14 win in the Divisonal round, while Tennessee’s lone win in post-season came in 1978, when the team was known as the Oilers and they left Foxboro 31-14 (also in the Divisional round) winners. New England’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Tennessee would like nothing more than to knock off New England in their back yard. The Patriots? They have other plans and look to right their ship from the loss in the season finale at home. New England may not cover the 4 1/2 but the Pats get their ducks in a row and move on to the next round.

Minnesota (10-6, 2nd Wild Card) at New Orleans (13-3, NFC South champion), 1:05 p.m. Sunday on FOX. It’s the NFC’s turn to have the stage as Minnesota and New Orleans meet in the NFC’s Wild Card round in the Big Easy. The Saints, the number 3 seed in the post-season, take on the 6th-seeded Vikings, with Minnesota coming off a loss at home to Chicago, while the Saints manhandled Carolina in the Tar Heel State in their regular-season finales.

The Vikings dropped a 21-1 decision to NFC North rival Chicago at US Bank Stadium last Sunday. Minnesota trailed 11-6 at the intermission, then took a 19-18 lead with 4:53 left in the contest on a 34-yard field goal by Dan Bailey before Chicago reclaimed the lead for good with 10 seconds left on a 22-yard field goal by Eddie Pinerio.

Minnesota out-rushed Da Bears 174-158 with Viking RB Mike Boone leading all rushers with 148 yards, while Chicago was led by David Montgomery with 113 yards (both men had a rushing TD in the contest). Sean Mannion, taking over for Kirk Cousins (rest) threw for 126 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Mitchell Trubisky threw for 207 yards and was sacked four times (neither threw a TD pass). Minnesota went 4 of 9 on third down tries in the Twin Cities and held on to the ball for 22:20, while Da Bears kept the pigskin in hibernation for 37:40, going 7 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The Saints gave Carolina their eighth loss in a row in Charlotte, coming out of the Tar Heel State 42-10 winners at Bank of America Stadium. Saints running back Alvin Kamara (39 rushing yards) opened the scoring with a pair of first-quarter TDs as the Saints would go on to lead 35-3 at the break. New Orleans out-rushed Carolina 115-41 as Drew Brees threw for 253 yards and three TDs without a sack or interception (he would be replaced by Teddy Bridgewater), while Kyle Allen threw for 295 yards with a sack and an interception. The Saints were 4 of 11 on third down and held on to the pigskin for 35:40, while the Panthers, keeping the pigskin for 24:20, went 5 of 16 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

In post-season play, the Vikings lead the series 3-1 and Minnesota has outscored the Saints 135-81. New Orleans’ lone win in the post-season series came in the Big Easy in 2009 as the Saints needed overtime to win 31-28 in the Superdome. It was their last meeting in the Twin Cities in 2017 that was a classic as the Vikings rallied to win 29-24 in the NFC Divisional playoff.

In that meeting, Minnesota and New Orleans played in a manner that not even Hollywood could have expected, with the plot line turning Minnesota’s way as the Vikings rallied to take the win over Drew Brees and the Saints at US Bank Stadium. The Vikings led 17-0 at the intermission against New Orleans before the Saints’ Michael Thomas ended Minnesota’s bid for a shutout when he and Drew Brees connected on a 14-yard TD pass with 1:18 left in the third quarter. Brees and Thomas would connect again with 13:09 left in the contest when they connected on a 3-yard toss.

After Kyle Horbath gave the Vikings a 20-14 lead with 10:12 left to play, New Orleans took the lead for the first time in the game when rookie RB Alvin Kamara caught a 14 yard TD pass from Brees with 3:01 left to. That lead would not last long, as once again it was Horbath putting the Vikings back on top with a 52-yard field goal with 89 seconds left.

New Orleans was not about to be outdone as they would use an 11-play, 50-yard drive that used 64 seconds of clock and took the lead back when K Wil Lutz connected on a 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds left. Minnesota, without time outs, engineered a drive that almost didn’t see the light of day as Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs opened with a 19-yard pass to their 39-yard line. After two Keenum passes were incomplete, the Vikings needed and got a miracle when Diggs caught Keenum’s desparation pass and took it into the end zone for a 61-yard TD pass as time expired for a walk-off TD to send Minnesota fans home happy and the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

Minnesota out-rushed New Orleans 95-80 and Keenum threw for 318 yards, while Brees threw for 294 (both men were sacked twice, Keenum threw an interception, while Brees threw two) and Diggs led all recievers with 137 yards on six catches, including the game-winner. Minnesota on third down was 10 of 17 and held the ball for 33:17, including the game-winning drive, while the Saints held the pigskin for 26:43, going 2 of 9 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Minnesota in the 2017 Divisional was favored by 3 1/2 and the Vikings covered with their 5-point last-second win and the 44 1/2 over/under was taken care of, as the two clubs combined for 53 points. The Saints are favored by 8 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 48. The winner gets to go to Green Bay next week and the Saints would like to make travel plans for next week, while the Vikings could get another shot at their NFC North rival with a win. Minnesota pulls off the upset in the Big Easy and could cover the 8.

Seattle (11-5, 1st Wild Card) at Philadelphia (9-7, NFC East champion), 4:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC. They met in the regular season. They meet again. Starbucks vs. Cheesesteak. Carson Wentz and the Eagles host Russell Wilson and Seattle in the late afternoon Wild Card game in the City of Brotherly Love.

A Seattle rally in the final seconds in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks fell short as San Francisco held off the Seahawks 26-21 at Century Link Field last Sunday night, in a contest that gave the 49ers the NFC West title and revenge for their week 10 overtime loss in Santa Clara.

Seattle, 5-0 against Philadelphia since 2010 when Pete Carroll took over, trailed 13-0 at the break as the 49ers scored their first half points unchallenged before the home team would break San Francsico’s bid for a shutout when Wilson and WR Tyler Lockett connected on a 14-yard TD toss late in the third quarter.
San Francisco made it a 19-7 contest when RB Raheem Mostert scored from 2 yards away but the 49ers would miss the two-point conversion with 3:25 left in the quarter. Newly re-accquired RB Marshawn Lynch then pulled his team to within five with 9:55 left in the contest when he scored on a 1-yard run. Mostert pushed the 49ers lead back up to 12 with 5:51 left when he scored on a 13-yard run before Seattle stormed back again, trailing by only 5 with 3:36 left when Wilson and WR DK Metcalf connected on a 14-yard scoring pass.

Seattle would get the ball back with 2:27 left after a 49ers punt and made their way downfield, getting as close as San Francsico’s 1-yard line when Wilson tried to spike the ball to stop the clock. The Seahawks, out of time outs, were then flaggled for a delay of game penalty and passes to Lockett and Josh Hollister fell incomplete. With 12 seconds left, Wilson and Hollister would connect on a 4-yard pass but Hollister did not cross the goal line, as 49ers LB Dre Greenlaw tackled Hollister at the one-foot line. Replay would confirm that Hollister did not break the plane, which meant that Seattle did not score. San Francisco would then run out the clock and take the win in the Pacific Northwest.

San Francisco out-rushed Seattle 128-125 and Mostert led all rushers with 57 yards and the two TDs, while Seattle was led by RB Travis Homer with 62 yards (Lynch had 34 yards on 12 carries with the TD). Wilson threw for 233 yards with a pair of TDs and a sack, while Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 285 yards with a pair of sacks (neither qb threw an interception). Seattle was 8 of 14 on third down (the Seahawks were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and were rulers of the clock, keeping the ball for 32:56, while the 49ers held on to the pigskin for 27:04, going 4 of 8 on third down.

The Eagles, in a need-to-win situation in the Meadowlands last Sunday, erased a 17-17 tie at the end of the third quarter, scoring 14 fourth-quarter points unchallenged to win the East against the New York Giants by a final of 34-17 at Met Life Stadium. Philadelphia led 10-3 at the half after taking that lead when Wentz and TE Josh Perkins connected on a 24-yard TD toss with 1:52 left in the half. New York would tie the contest halfway through the third quarter when WR Golden Tate and QB Daniel Jones connected on a 20-yard TD toss. Philadelphia then took the lead back on a 7-yard run with 2:21 left in the quarter but the Giants re-tied the contest on a 68-yard run by RB Sequan Barkley with 2:05 left in the quarter. Perkins would then chip in with a 50-yard run and Scott would add a pair of 2-yard runs to seal New York’s fate and take the NFC East title.

Big Blue BARELY out-rushed the Eagles 122-121 with Barkley leading all rushers with 92 yards and Scott tallying 54 for the Eagles with the three TDs. Wentz threw for 289 yards and the Perkins TD (Wentz was sacked once but did not throw an interception), while Jones tallied 301 yards with the Tate TD pass (Jones was sacked four times and threw an interception). The Eagles were 4 of 15 on third down conversions at Met Life Stadium and ruled the clock, as they held the ball for 31:25, while the Giants kept the pigskin for 28:35 (both clubs were at the 50 percent mark on fourth down; Philadelphia was 1 of 2, the Giants were 2 of 4).

While this is their first meeting in post-season play, they did meet in the City of Brotherly Love in week 12 and the Seahawks would prevail, leaving Lincoln Financial Field 17-9 winners. Seattle erased a 3-0 lead with a Wilson TD pass to WR Malik Turner, then took a 10-3 at the half on a Justin Myers field goal late in the second quarter. Seattle RB Rashaad Penny then gave his team a 10-point lead with 11:56 left in the contest on a 58-yard run before the Eagles would rally, pulling themselves to within 8 with 20 seconds left when Wentz and TE Zach Ertz connected on a TD toss. The Eagles then went for two in hopes of knocking the deficit down to six but the try failed. Philadelphia then tried an onside kick, which Seattle promptly recovered. Seattle then ran out the clock and took the win on the East Coast in the late afternoon affair.

Penny led all rushers with 129 yards and the TD as Seattle out-rushed the Eagles 174-106 (Miles Sanders led the Eagles with 63 yards) and Wilson threw for 200 yards with the Turner TD toss (he was sacked six times and threw an interception), while Wentz was good for 256 yards with the Ertz TD toss (Wentz was sacked three times and threw a pair of interceptions). Seattle was 5 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 28:07, while the Eagles actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:53, while going 4 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week 12 contest, Philadelphia was favored by 2 1/2 in the late afternoon contest in the Keystone State and Seattle would cover, winning by 8. The 49 over/under? It went untouched, as the two clubs combined for only 26 points. In the rematch, the Seahawks are a 1 1/2-point favorite in the City of Brotherly Love and the over/under’s 46. Both numbers make a lot of sense and both teams can score points if need to and this one could be a repeat of their last meeting. The only difference will be the result. The winner gets to play next weekend, while the loser gets to go home. Fly, Eagles, Fly! Like a cheesesteak with peppers, Philadelphia covers the 1 1/2 and wins in the City of Brotherly Love.

Sunday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Chris Myers (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Los Angeles Rams), 82 (New Orleans); XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Los Angeles Rams), 82 (New Orleans)

AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (New England ), 83 (Kansas City); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (New England ), 225 (Kansas City)

Sunday Officials
NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m.: Bill Vinovich
AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m.: Clete Blakeman

Sunday’s Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)

Sunday’s Games
Favorite         Spread   Underdog                 O/U
NEW ORLEANS      – 3 1/2  Los Angeles Rams         57 1/2
KANSAS CITY      – 3      New England              56
Sunday’s Injury Report

NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

New Orleans
OUT: WR Keith Kirkwood (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Ben Watson (Illness)

AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m.

New England – New England reports no injuries
OUT: LB Dorian O’Daniel (Ankle)

Sunday Weather
NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m.: Game indoors
AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m.: Cloudy and 26 degrees

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

And then there were four.

It’s the NFL’s Final Four. The last four teams standing before Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in two weeks. These are the survivors and at the end of the day, there will be two teams making their way toward the Big Peach, while the other two teams will be clearing out their lockers come Monday. While the other 28 teams are getting ready for the Senior Bowl, the 2019 NFL draft and OTA’s, the remaining four teams are playing a meaningful football game and these games are important.

The formula stays pretty much the same and it’s so easy, even a five-year old gets it.

You win… you get to go to Atlanta.

Lose… your next game is next year.

32 teams started the year fighting for the Lombardi Trophy, fighting heat, bugs, sweat, sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, reading playbooks that make War and Peace look like the Sunday funnies. Four pre-seaason games, 16 regular season games and the postseason. All that comes to an end in two weeks. When Super Bowl LIII comes to an end in Atlanta, someone’s going to be holding the Lombardi Trophy and yelling into a camera “I’m going to Disney World!” The losers? They’re going to be second-guessed and picked apart like a turkey at Thanksgiving the entire off-season. Second meetings are all about revenge for the losers and a chance for the winners to make a statement.

What’s at stake, you ask? Trophies and cash, for openers, as well as a chance to go to Atlanta. The AFC winner will be the American Football Conference Championship and the Lamar Hunt Trophy, while the NFC winner will be the proud owners of the George Halas Trophy. Each player will be paid $54,000 (which breaks down to $13,500 a quarter) for their participation in the championship games.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

HIGH OCTANE OFFENSES: On Championship Sunday, the Super Bowl LIII participants will be decided. In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams take on New Orleans at 3:05 p.m. on FOX, while New England travels to Arrowhead Stadium to face Kansas City at 6:40 p.m. on CBS in the AFC. The Conference Championships feature the four highest-scoring teams from the regular season for the first time in the Super Bowl era.

With victories by the Rams and Chiefs on Sunday, the Super Bowl would feature the two highest-scoring teams from the regular season for the fifth time since 1970 and the first time since 1997.

The Super Bowls featuring the two highest-scoring teams from the regular season since 1970:

SEASON: NO. 1 OFFENSE – NO. 2 OFFENSE (SUPER BOWL)
1997: Denver – Green Bay (XXXII)
1996: Green Bay – New England (XXXI)
1991: Washington – Buffalo (XXVI)
1984: Miami – San Francisco (XIX)

THE PATRIOT WAY: The New England Patriots have reached the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons. With a win against Kansas City on Sunday, the Patriots would join the Buffalo Bills (1990-93) and Miami Dolphins (1971-73) as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls.

The teams to appear in at least three consecutive Super Bowls in the Super Bowl era:

TEAM (SEASONS / CONSECUTIVE SUPER BOWLS; SUPER BOWLS)
Buffalo (1990-93 / 4; XXV-XXVIII)
Miami (1971-73 / 3; VI-VIII)
New England (2016-17 / 2; LI-LII)*
*Active streak

HIGH SEED ADVANTAGE: With victories by top seeds Kansas City (AFC) and New Orleans (NFC) on Sunday, it would mark the 14th time since the NFL began seeding teams in 1975 that both top seeds faced off in the Super Bowl and the fifth time in the past six seasons (2013-15, 2017).

With wins on Sunday by both the Chiefs and Saints, it would mark the fifth time since 1975 that consecutive seasons have featured a Super Bowl matchup of the No. 1 seeds.

The Super Bowls featuring both No. 1 seeds in consecutive seasons since the NFL began seeding teams in 1975:

SEASONS: SUPER BOWLS
2013-15: XLVIII-50
1983-84: XVIII-XIX
1976-77: XI-XII​

With a win, the Chiefs can become the sixth consecutive number seed to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, surpassing five consecutive Super Bowls featuring the AFC’s number one seed (1987-1991) for the longest streak by the conference since 1975.

A victory by Kansas City would also mark the second time that either conference has had a streak of six consecutive seasons with a Super Bowl featuring their number one seed since 1975 (NFC – six consecutive seasons from 1981-86).

MAGICAL MAHOMES: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 278 yards in his postseason debut last weekend and ranked second in passing yards (5,097) during the regular season.

With a Chiefs victory against New England, Mahomes would become the fourth quarterback to pass for at least 5,000 yards and reach the Super Bowl in the same season.

The quarterbacks to pass for at least 5,000 yards and reach the Super Bowl in the same season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON: PASSING YARDS – SUPER BOWL)
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013: 5,477 – XLVIII)
Tom Brady, New England (2011: 5,235 – XLVI)
Dan Marino, Miami (1984: 5,084 – XIX)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

EASY BREESY: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 301 yards with two touchdowns in the Saints’ Divisional Playoffs win against Philadelphia.

With 300 passing yards on Sunday, Brees would tie Peyton Mannign (nine games) for the second-most playoff games with at least 300 passing yards.

The players with the most postseason games with at least 300 passing yards:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (POSTSEASON GAMES WITH 300+ PASS YARDS)
Tom Brady – New England (15)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (9)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (8)*
*Active in Conference Championships

GREAT GURLEY: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ Divisional round victory against Dallas.

Gurley, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his first two postseason appearances, can join Arian Foster as the only players in postseason history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of their first three playoff games.

The players with at least 100 rushing yards in each of their first three postseason games:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATES)(GAMES)
Arian Foster, Houston (1/7/12-1/5/13)(3)
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (1/6/18-1/12/19)(2)*
*Active streak

CATCH & RUN: New England running back JAMES WHITE had 15 receptions in the Divisional Playoffs, tied with Darren Sproles  (January 14, 2012 with New Orleans) for the most receptions by a player in a single postseason game in the Super Bowl era.

With at least 10 receptions on Sunday at Kansas City, White would become the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to record consecutive postseason games with at least 10 catches.

The players with consecutive postseason games with at least 10 receptions in the Super Bowl era:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATES)(CONSECUTIVE GAMES)
Tony Nathan, Miami (1/20/85-1/4/86)(2)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1/29/95-1/6-96)(2)^
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina (1/8/06-1/15/06 (2)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Patriots running back Sony Michel rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s Divisional Playoffs victory. With one rushing touchdown on Sunday, Michel can tie the postseason record for the most rushing touchdowns by a rookie.

The rookies with the most rushing touchdowns in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RUSH TDS)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (2017 – 4)
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2000 – 4)
William Floyd, San Francisco (1994 – 4)
Tony Dorsett, Dallas (1997 – 4)^
Norm Standlee, Chicago (1941 – 4)
Sony Michel, New England (2018 – 3)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

As was the case for the entire playoffs and the Super Bowl, everything is going to be “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 58 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

We struggled in the Wild Card round, going 1-3 but bounced back in the Divisional round, going 3-1, which for the year makes us 149-111. Both games are rematches from the 2018 regular season schedule (New England and Kansas City met in Foxboro in week six, the Rams and Saints met in New Orleans in week nine), which means that there are no secrets. One seeds playing at home against two seeds. Playoff football at its finest. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script.

Two games left in the post-season. We can’t say it enough but it bears repeating.

Win… you go to Atlanta in two weeks.

Lose… your next game is next year.

With that, here are the Sunday championship picks.

NFC – Los Angeles Rams (13-3, 2nd seed) at New Orleans (13-3, 1st seed), 3:05 p.m. on FOX. Championship Sunday gets underway in the Big Easy as the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints meet in a week nine rematch to decide who will be the NFC’s representative to Super Bowl LIII. Both teams were at home last week after their first round byes and both clubs had close wins at home.

The Rams, winners of the NFC West, held off a late Dallas rally last Saturday night in Los Angeles as they came away with the 30-22 win at the Coliseum in the NFC Divisional Game. Los Angeles erased a 7-3 deficit at the end of the first 15 minutes of play, took a 20-7 lead with them to the intermission and held off a late Cowboys rally in the second half that saw Dallas outscore the Rams 15-10 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Rams outrushed Dallas 273-50 and Rams’ running backs Todd Gurley (115 yards, TD) and C.J. Anderson (123 yards, 2 TDS) each tallied 100 yards for their team, while Jared Goff threw for 186 yards with no sacks (Dallas’ Dak Prescott threw for 266 yards with a TD to Amari Cooper with a sack; neither Goff or Presscott threw an interception). The Rams were 5 of 11 on third down (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:13, while the Cowboys held on to the ball for 23:47, going 1 for 10 on third down, 3 for 4 on fourth down.

New Orleans trailed Philadelphia 14-0 early in their contest at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, then rallied to take a 20-14 win over the Eagles to advance to the championship round. The Saints proceeded to chip away at Philadelphia’s lead and trailed 14-10 at the half before scoring their final 10 points of the contest unchallenged, taking the lead for keeps with 1:40 left in the third when Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas connected on a 2-yard TD pass, part of an 18-play, 92-yard drive that took 11:29 of playing time (17 minutes of actual time). Saints K Wil Lutz would add a 39-yard field goal early in the final 15 minutes of play to make the contest a 6-point affair. Philadelphia would later get the ball back in the final minutes of the game and got as close as the Saints’ 27-yard line when Nick Foles’ pass intended for Alshon Jeffery deflected off Jeffery’s hands and was intercepted by Marshawn Lattimore, The Saints then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win in front of the home folks. New Orleans outrushed Philadelphia 137-49, with Saints RB Alvin Kamara leading all rushers with 71 yards and Brees throwing for 301 yards with a pair of TDs to go with a pair of sacks and an interception, while Foles threw for 201 yards with a TD and two sacks. New Orleans went 8 for 15 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down (including a fake punt run by backup QB Taysom Hill) and kept the ball for 37:50, while the Eagles were 2 of 7 on third downs, holding on to the ball for 22:10.

In the week nine contest in the Big Easy, New Orleans broke a 35-35 fourth quarter tie in the Big Easy and took a 45-35 decision against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday afternoon to end the Rams’ 8-game win streak. New Orleans led 35-14 going into the intermission before the Rams would pull themselves to within 11 as K Greg Zuerlein connected on a 56-yard field goal as time expired. Los Angeles then scored 10 third quarter points without a challenge, then opened the fourth quarter, tying things up at 35-35 thanks to a pair of TD passes from Jared Goff (one to RB Malcon Brown, the other to WR Cooper Kupp) and a Zuerlein field goal before New Orleans took control in the fourth quarter to take the lead back and for keeps. New Orleans outrushed the Rams 141-92 and Goff threw for 391 yards with three TDs an an interception, while Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs, including a TD that drew the ire of the game officials when WR Michael Thomas pulled out a cell phone from underneath the goal post padding, paying homage to former Saints player Joe Horn (neither man was sacked, Goff threw the only interception in the contest). The Rams were 3 for 8 on third down conversions (they were 0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:19, while the Saints ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 33:41, going 7 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week nine contest in the Big Easy, the Saints were a 1-point favorite and they covered, winning by 10 and both teams took care of the 60 1/2 over/under, as both teams combined for 80 points. This time, the Saints are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 56. There’s a good chance the over/under could be reached by halftime. The Saints want to prove that the first meeting was not a fluke while the Rams are seeking revenge. Revenge wins out here. Hooray for Hollywood! Rams pull the upset in the Big Easy and covers the 3 1/2.

AFC – New England (11-5, 2nd seed) at Kansas City (12-4, 1st seed), 6:40 p.m. on CBS. Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes. They meet again, this time in central America. The Chiefs host the Patriots in a week six rematch at Arrownhead to become the AFC’s representative to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Both teams were winners at home in last week’s action.

New England led the Los Angeles Chargers 35-7 at the break at Foxboro and came out on top 41-28 at Gillette Stadium. New England broke a 7-7 tie early in the first quarter as rookie RB Sony Michel would give the Patriots the lead back for keeps, scoring the first of his three rushing TDs late in the period (Michel would then add a second rushing score before halftime). New England outrushed the Bolts 155-19, with Michel leading the eay with 129 yards and Brady threw for 343 yards and a TD without being sacked or picked off, while Philip Rivers threw for 331 yards and three TDs (two of the passes coming late in the contest) and was scked twice and picked off once. While New England was 50 percent on third down tries (the Pats were 7 of 14), they were perfect on fourth down tries, going 1 for 1 and held the ball for 38:20, while the Chargers kept the pigskin for 21:40, going 5 of 13 on third down, 1 for 1 on fourth down.

The Chiefs opened Divisonal Weekend in chilly snowy Kansas City and took care of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 at Arrowhead Saturday afternoon. Kansas City led 17-0 early in the contest before the Colts got their first score thanks to a Chiefs’ special teams blunder when Zeke Pascal recoveed a blocked punt in the end zone to put themselves on the scoreboard. Mahomes then took matters into his own feet, scoring on a four-yard romp late in the second quarter to take a 24-7 lead with them to the intermission. Luck and T.Y. Hilton would pull the Colts to within 11 late in the fourth quarter before Kansas City would seal Indianapolis’ fate when RB Damien Williams, who opened the game’s scoring, closed it out with a six-yard run to take the win. Williams accounted for 129 yards to lead all rushers as the Chiefs outrushed the Colts 180-87 and Mahomes threw for 278 yards and despite being sacked four times, did not throw an interception, while Luck threw for 203 yards with three sacks and the lone TD toss to Hilton. While Kansas City floundered on third down tries at 4 of 14, they struck oil on fourth down, going 3 of 4 and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 39:49, while the Colts were a dismal 0 for 9 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 20:11.

The Patriots knocked Kansas City out of the ranks of the unbeatens in the week six Sunday night contest in Foxboro, coming away 43-40 last second winners over the Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. Brady and New England led 24-13 at the intermission before the Chiefs would rally in the second half, outscoring New England 31-19 in the final 30 minutes of action. Kansas City took a 33-30 lead with 8:38 left when Tyreek Hill and Mahomes (352 yards, four TDs, two interceptions) connected on a 1-yard TD pass. That lead would not last long as Brady took matters into his own hands and feet, scoring from 4 yards out and the Pats would add to that lead when Stephen Gostkowski booted a 52-yarder to lead 40-33. The Chiefs were not going away quietly as Hill and Mahomes hooked up again with 3:03 left to re-tie the contest. New England went into a surgeon-like mode in the final 3:03, using a 7-play, 65-yard drive that used all the available time left in regulation when Gostkowski booted a 28-yard field goal as time expired. Brady threw for 340 yards with a TD toss to Josh Edelman as New England outrushed Kansas City 173-94 (New England rookie RB Sony Michel led everyone with 106 yards on the ground with a pair of TDs). New England was 7 of 13 on third down (the Pats were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:09 (including the final drive), while the Chiefs were 4 of 10 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:51.

New England in the week six Sunday night contest was favored by 3 1/2 but won by 3. Both clubs manged to wipe the 60 over/under off the face of the Earth, combining to score 83 points in Foxboro. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Chiefs as a 3-point favorite with a 56 over/under. For the Pats, they look to go back to the Super Bowl and erase the memory of what happened to them in Minneapolis; for the Chiefs, it will be their first trip to the big game since Hank Stram wore that blazer as he and Len Dawson took Minnesota to task in New Orleans. Everything’s up to date in Kansas City and so are the Chiefs. Pats make this one close but Chiefs prevail at Arrowhead.

Saturday and Sunday Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Ryan Radtke, Trent Green, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Indianapolis), 83 (Kansas City); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Indianapolis), 225 (Kansas City)

NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Kurt Warner, Scott Kaplan; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Dallas), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Dallas), 225 (Los Angeles Rams)

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (New England) | XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Los Angeles Chargers), 225 (New England)

NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver, Peter Schrager; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, James Lofton, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Philadelphia), 83 (New Orleans); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Philadelphia), 225 (New Orleans)

Saturday and Sunday Officials
AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: John Hussey
NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: John Parry
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Ron Torbert
NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Carl Cheffers

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite          Spread    Underdog           O/U
KANSAS CITY       –  6      Indianapolis       57
LA RAMS           –  7      Dallas             49 1/2

Sunday’s Games
Favorite          Spread    Underdog           O/U
NEW ENGLAND       –  4 1/2  LA Chaargers       48
NEW ORLEANS       –  9      Philadelphia       51 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday

Indianapolis
DOUBTFUL: DE Tyquan Lewis (Knee)
OUT: WR Ryan Grant (Toe)
QUESTIONABLE: S Malik Hooker (Foot), DT Denico Autry (Shoulder)

Kansas City
DOUBTFUL: LB Dorian O’Daniel (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: S James Berry (Heel), RB Spencer Ware (Hamstring), WR Sammy Watkins (Foot)

NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Dallas
OUT: DE David Irving (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Cole Beasley (Ankle), TE Blake Jarwin (Anke), DT Maliek Collins (Illness), G Xavier Su’a-Filo (Ankle), S Darian Thompson (Groin)

Los Angeles Rams
QUESTIONABLE: DT Ethan Westbrooks (Thigh)

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday

Los Angeles Chargers
QUESTIONABLE: CB Brandon Facyson (Concussion), TE Hunter Henry (Knee), RB Derek Watt (Shoulder), LB Kyle Wilson (Concussion)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: DE Deatrich Wise (Ankle)

NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday
Sunday, January 13th

Philadelphia
OUT: QB Carson Wentz (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Donell Alexander (Hamstring), CB Sidney Jones (Hamstring), DE Michael Bennett (Foot), WR Shelton Gibson (Hamstring), T Jason Peters (Quadricep), WR Mike Wallace (Ankle)

New Orleans
OUT: WR Simmie Cobbs (Knee)

Saturday and Sunday Weather
AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Overcast with a 40 percent chance of snow and 31 degrees
NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Partly cloudy and 58 degrees
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Partly cloudy and 27 degrees
NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Game indoors

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

 

Wild Card Weekend Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC: Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Adam Schefter, Lisa Salters; WESTWOOD ONE: Mike Tirico, Brian Griese, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Indianapolis), 83 (Houston); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Indianapolis), 225 (Houston)

NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Seattle), 83 (Dallas); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Seattle), 225 (Dallas)

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli, Ben Leber; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (Baltimore); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Los Angeles Chargers), 225 (Baltimore)

NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, James Lofton, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Philadelphia), 83 (Chicago); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Philadelphia), 225 (Chicago)

Wild Card Officals
AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Bill Vinovich
NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Walt Anderson
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Clete Blakeman
NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Tony Corrente

Wild Card Odds (Home Teams in Caps)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite         Spread    Underdog             O/U
HOUSTON          –  2 1/2  Indianapolis         47 1/2
DALLAS           –  2 1/2  Seattle              43

Sunday’s Games
Favorite         Spread    Underdog             O/U
BALTIMORE        –  2      Los Angeles Chargers 41 1/2
CHICAGO          –  5 1/2  Philadelphia         41 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report
AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Indianapolis and Houston report no injuries

NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Seattle and Dallas report no injuries

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore report no injuries

NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Philadelphia and Chicago report no injuries

Saturday and Sunday Weather
AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Roof Closed
NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Roof Closed
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Sunny and 50 degrees
NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Overcast and 38 degrees

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

It’s the second half of the 2018 season.

Draft? Done.

OTA’s? Check.

Mini Camps? Done.

Preseason? Done.

Regular Season? In the books.

It’s now time for the post-season.

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

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

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

Win. Advance.

Lose. Next game is next year.

TURNAROUND TEAMS & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD

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

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

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

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (ATLANTA, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (ATLANTA, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (ATLANTA, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 – 6 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

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

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

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

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

TEAM (DIVISION TITLES/PLAYOFF BERTHS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:

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

YOUTH & CONSISTENCY HIGHLIGHT THE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES (Single postseason)

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

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

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

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

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

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Other notable performances from last Sunday include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WILD CARD WEEKEND

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

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

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

*Tied for last place

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

FROM WILD CARD TO SUPER BOWL: Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times. At least one Super Bowl participant in six of the past 13 seasons played in a Wild Card game.

The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:

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

WINNING WAYS: Baltimore and Dallas will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend and both will be at home.

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

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

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final 12 teams are set:

AFC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A look at the four games on Wild Card Weekend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After two weekends of going 8-8, we got ourselves back on track by going 13-3 and for the season, we’re 145-107. Wild Card weekend gets underway in the Lone Star State as Houston and Dallas host their contests on Saturday and concludes in the Windy City as the defending Super Bowl champs open their defense of their title. As an added bonus, all of the post-season games are going to be “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 58 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday and Sunday Broadcast Information (All times listed are Eastern, Records are regular season)

ATLANTA (10-6) at Philadelphia (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: John Sadak, Tony Boselli, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Atlanta), 82 (Philadelphia); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Atlanta), 82 (Philadelphia)

Tennessee (9-7) at New England (13-3), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter), Jay Feely (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Tennessee), 82 (New England); XM: 88 (Westwood1), 83 (Tenneessee), 82 (New England)

Jacksonville (10-6) at Pittsburgh (13-3), 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Steve Tasker; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Jacksonville), 82 (Pittsburgh); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Jacksonville), 82 (Pittsburgh)

New Orleans (11-5) at Minnesota (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Sunday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Chris Myers (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (New Orleans), 82 (Minnesota); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (New Orleans), 82 (Minnesota)

Saturday and Sunday Officials
ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Bill Vinovich
Tennessee at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Ronald Torbert
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Brad Allen
New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:35 Sunday: Gene Steratore

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite          Spread     Underdog               O/U
Atlanta           –  3       PHILADELPHIA           41 1/2
NEW ENGLAND       – 13 1/2   Tennessee              48

Sunday’s Games
Favorite          Spread     Underdog               O/U
PITTSBURGH        –  7       Jacksonville           41
MINNESOTA         –  5       New Orleans            44 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. Saturday

ATLANTA – Atlanta reports no injuries

Philadelphia
QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (Hamstring), CB Sidney Jones (Hamstring)

Tennessee at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Tennessee
OUT: RB DeMarco Murray (Knee)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: DT Alan Branch (Knee), RB Michael Burkhead (Knee), LB Marquis Flowers (Illness), RB Mike Gillslee (Knee), DE Eric Lee (Ankle), RB James White (Ankle)

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

Jacksonville
QUESTIONABLE: LB Blair Brown (Ankle), WR Jaydon Mickens (Hamstring)

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: WR Antonio Brown (Calf)

New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:40 p.m. Sunday

New Orleans
OUT: WR Brandon Coleman (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Taysom Hill (Illness), LB Michael Mauti (Illness)

Minnesota
QUESTIONABLE: CB Terrance Newman (Foot)

Saturday and Sunday Weather
ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Sunny and 31 degrees
Tennessee at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Mostly clear and 24 degrees
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Sunny and 15 degrees
New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:35 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

 

And then there were eight. The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs with a slate of four key games on tap.

Among the final eight are the Eagles and Jaguars, who both completed “worst-to-first” turn-arounds. 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. Half of the remaining eight clubs – Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Jaguars – finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year. And with the addition of the Titans, five of the final eight clubs are new teams in this year’s playoff field.

It’s round 2.

The second season of the 2017 NFL season (also known as the playoffs) gets underway in earnest as the four teams that got byes in the first round will be at home. New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota return to play after a week off and now they know who they will play and when.

It’s Divisional Playoff time!

Like we said before, it’s not like the regular season where you lose this week you play next week.

Win this week, you’re in the championship round.

Lose and your next game is next year.

When the 2017 season got underway, 32 teams had hopes and dreams of winning the Lombardi Trophy. Now we’re down to eight teams and when the dust settles Sunday in Minneapolis, we’ll be down to the Final Four.

There are NO do-overs. Mistakes kill.

Bringing your A game is important to the teams that are still in the hunt is a good idea. In fact, it’s a GREAT idea.

For Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo and Carolina, they’ll have an entire off season to second-guess themselves as will their fan base. Let’s not forget the 20 teams that didn’t make the playoff party at all. They’ll be playing the “what if” game as well.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: FROM “WORST TO FIRST”: Philadelphia and Jacksonville both advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after completing “worst-to-first” turnarounds this season. 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.

In the previous 14 seasons, four teams that went from “worst-to-first” in their divisions have advanced to the conference championship game and two earned Super Bowl berths – the 2003 Carolina Panthers (Super Bowl XXXVIII) and the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who won Super Bowl XLIV.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions and advance to at least the conference championship game since 2003:

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD/PRIOR SEASON RECORD, ADVANCED TO)
2003 – Carolina (11-5/7-9, Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5/5-11, NFC Championship)
2006 – New Orleans (10-6/3-13, NFC Championship)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3/8-8, Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6/3-13, ???)
2017 – Philadelphia (13-3/7-9, ???)

Five of the remaining eight clubs – the Eagles, Saints and Vikings in the NFC and the Jaguars and Titans in the AFC – missed the postseason in 2016, marking the fifth time since 1990 – and the first since 2000 – that five teams advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after missing the postseason in the previous year.

The seasons which had five teams advance to the Divisional Playoffs after missing the postseason in the previous season since 1990:

SEASON – TEAMS TO ADVANCE TO DIVISIONAL ROUND WHO MISSED PLAYOFFS IN PREVIOUS SEASON
1990 – 5 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, Washington)
1992 – 5 (Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1999 – 5 (Indianapolis, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 5 (Baltimore, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2017 – 5 (Jacksonville, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)

TOP BILLING: New England’s Bill Belichick has appeared in 36 postseason games as a head coach and has 26 career playoff wins, the most wins all-time by a head coach.

Belichick, who coaches against Tennessee on Saturday night, will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famers Tom Landry (36) and Don Shula (36) for the most postseason games as a head coach in league history.

The most postseason games as a head coach in NFL history:

HEAD COACH – TEAMS (PLAYOFF GAMES)
Bill Belichick – Cleveland and New England (36)
Tom Landry – Dallas (36)^
Don Shula – Baltimore Colts and Mimai (36)^
Joe Gibbs – Washington (24)^
Mike Holmgren – Green Bay and Seattle (24)
Chuck Noll – Pittsburgh (24)^
Andy Reid – Philadelphia and Kansas City (24)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

WHEN IT COUNTS: New England quarterback Tom Brady has 25 career postseason victories, the most playoff wins all-time by a starting quarterback, while Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is tied for sixth with 13 career postseason wins.

Roethlisberger, who plays against Jacksonville on Sunday, can tie Pro Football Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and John Elway and Peyton Manning for the third-most playoff victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady can also extend his NFL record on Saturday.

The starting quarterbacks with the most career playoff wins in NFL history:

QUARTERBACK – TEAMS (PLAYOFF WINS)
Tom Brady – New England (25)
Joe Montana – San Francisco and Kansas City (16)^
Terry Bradshaw – Pittsburgh (14)^
John Elway – Denver (14)^
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (14)
Brett Favre – Green Bay and Minnesota (13)^
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (13)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England’s Tom Brady (40 years, 163 days old on Saturday) and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota (24 years, 75 days old) will face off in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday.

Brady and Mariota have an age difference of 16 years and 88 days, the largest age difference between opposing starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history. ​

The largest age differences between opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game:

DATE – OLDEST (TEAM)/YOUNGEST (TEAM)(AGE DIFFERENCE; RESULT)
January 13, 2018 – Tom Brady (New England)/Marcus Mariota (Tennessee)(16 years, 88 days; ???)
December 28, 1991 – Steve DeBerg (Kansas City)/Todd Marinovich (Los Angeles Raiders)(15 years, 166 days; Kansas City, 10-6)
December 31, 1972 – Earl Morrall (Miami)/Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburgh)(14 years, 108 days; Miami, 21-17)^
January 3, 2009 – Kurt Warner (Arizona)/Matt Ryan (Atlanta)(13 years, 329 days; Arizona, 30-24)^
December 24, 1972 – Earl Morrall (Miami)/Mike Phipps (Cleveland)(13 years, 186 days; Miami, 20-14)
^Morrall, Bradshaw and Warners are Pro Football Hall of Famers

MATTY ICE IN THE POSTSEASON: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 218 yards and a touchdown for a 101.8 passer rating in the Falcons’ 26-13 win at the Los Angeles Rams on Wild Card Weekend.

Ryan, who plays at Philadelphia on Saturday, has recorded a passer rating of at least 100 in five consecutive postseason games, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana (eight) has a longer such streak.

The most consecutive postseason games with a 100+ passer rating:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS; CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF GAMES WITH 100+ RATING)
Joe Montana – San Francisco (1988-1990; 8)^
Matt Ryan – ATLANTA (2012, 2016-17; 5)*
Joe Flacco – Baltimore (2012, 2014; 5)
Troy Aikman – Dallas (1992-93; 5)^
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Ryan has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in five consecutive postseason games and can tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman (six) for the longest streak in postseason annals.

The most consecutive postseason games with a 70+ completion percentage:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS; CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 70+ COMPLETION PERCENTAGE)
Troy Aikman – Dallas (1992-94; 6)^
Matt Ryan – Atlanta (2012, 2016-17; 5)*
Warren Moon – Houston Oilers (1991-93; 4)^
Joe Montana – San Francisco (1989-1990; 4)^
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BIG-GAME BREES: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns for a 115.2 passer rating in the Saints’ 31-26 Wild Card Weekend win over Carolina.

Brees, who plays at Minnesota on Sunday, has thrown for at least 375 yards in four career postseason games and can tie Peyton Manning (five) for the most such games in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason games with at least 375 passing yards:

PLAYER – TEAMS (PLAYOFF GAMES WITH 375+ PASS YARDS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (5)
Drew Brees – New Orleans (4)
Kurt Warner – St. Louis, Arizona (4)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HUSTLING HENRY: Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown in the Titans’ 22-21 win at Kansas City on Wild Card Weekend. Henry, who will appear in his second career postseason game on Saturday, can join some elite company with another strong performance.

The players with the most rushing yards in their first two postseason games:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS; RUSHING YARDS)
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh (2016; 337)
Arian Foster, Houston (2011; 285)
Duane Thomas, Dallas (1970; 278)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1996-97; 275)^
Eddie George, Tennessee (1999; 268)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee (2017; 156)*
*Entering second game
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

As was the case last week, every game this week and throughout the playoffs and the Super Bowl are automatically “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?”

Of the four matchups this weekend, two are rematches from the 2017 regular season (New Orleans at Minnesota – Week 1; Jacksonville at Pittsburgh – Week 5).

As for last week… 2-2 wasn’t great but it was better than nothing and for the season, we’re 156-105. Four games are in the books, four more are on the docket for this weekend. Here are the Saturday and Sunday picks for Divisional Playoff weekend.

ATLANTA (10-6) at Philadelphia (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC. The 6th-seeded Falcons travel to the City of Brotherly Love to open the second round of the playoffs as they take on the top-seeded Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Atlanta enters the contest with a 26-13 first round win over the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday night on the West Coast. The defending NFC champs used a pair of Matt Bryant field goals and a 3-yard run by DaVonta Freeman to take an early lead before the Rams stormed back in the second quarter as WR Cooper Kupp and QB Jarred Goff connected on a 14-yard strike and K Scott Ficken connected on a 35-yard field goal with 3 seconds left before intermission.

Leading 13-10 at the half, the Falcons proceeded to keep Los Angeles in check, holding the Rams to a fourth-quarter field goal by Ficken, using two more Bryant field goals and an 8-yard TD strike from Matt Ryan to WR Julio Jones to seal Los Angeles’ fate. Atlanta outrushed the Rams 124-115, with Rams RB Todd Gurley leading all rushers with 101 yards on 14 carries. Ryan threw for 218 for Atlanta, while Goff threw for 259 for Los Angeles (each man was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). Atlanta was 5 of 15 on third down but found success on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and kept the ball for 37:35, while the Rams were 5 of 14 and 1 of 3 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 22:25.

The Eagles limp into the post-season after their 6-0 loss to Dallas to close out the regular season. The two teams went scoreless for the first 45 minutes of action before Dallas’ Brice Butler and QB Dak Prescott connected on a 20-yard TD pass with 12:19 left in regulation. Philadelphia had one last chance to either tie things up or take the win at home but could do nothing to make that a possibilty. Dallas, who went 5 of 16 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, outrushed the Eagles, who had already won the NFC East title, 129-70, as Ezekiel Elliott led all rushers with 103 yards. As for the Eagles, they were 2 of 11 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down tries in the loss in the city of Brotherly Love. Dallas ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:05, while the Eagles kept the pigskin for 29:55.

Atlanta had two players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: wide receiver Julio Jones and center Alex Mack, while the Eagles tied a franchise record with 13 wins (2004) and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the fourth time since 2002  and had six players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: guard Brandon Brooks, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, tight end Zach Ertz, safety Malcom Jenkins, tackle Lane Johnson and quarterback Carson Wentz.

As far as regular season games go, the Eagles lead the series 16-13-1 and have outscored Atlanta 652-562. In the post-season, the Eagles lead that series 2-1, outscoring Atlanta 60-50. Philly’s last regular season win over Atlanta came in 2016 in the City of Brotherly Love by a final of 24-16, while Atlanta’s last win in regular season action came in 2015 in the Big Peach by a 26-24 final.

Philly’s last win in the post-season against Atlanta came in 2004, as they were 27-10 winners in the NFC Championship Game in the City of Brotherly Love, while Atlanta’s last post-season win against Philly came in the Big Peach in 1978 at Fulton County Stadium by a 14-13 final in the Wild Card Round.

In that week 10 contest, the Eagles led 7-6 at the intermission before they pulled away from Atlanta in the second half. Atlanta led briefly at 15-13 with 13:15 left in the contest when Ryan and Taylor Gabriel connected on a 76-yard TD pass before the Eagles took the lead back for keeps when RB Ryan Matthews picked up his second TD and scored on a 5-yard run with 6:49 left. The Eagles were then successful on their two-point try and added a Caleb Sturgis field goal to take the win. Philadelphia outrushed Atlanta 208-48 and Matthews led all rushers with 109 yards in the contest. Ryan threw for 267 yards for Atlanta, while Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz threw for 231 yards (both were sacked twice and Ryan threw an interception). Atlanta on third down went 2 of 11 and held the ball for 21:50, while the Eagles ruled the clock and kept the ball for 38:10, going 5 of 14 on third down (both clubs were 0 of 1 on fourth down).

Philadelphia covered the 1-point spread in the week 10 matchup, winning by 8 but both clubs missed the 50 over/under, scoring only 40 points. This time around, the oddsmakers like the Falcons and they are favored by 3, with the over/under at 41 1/2. There’s a lot at stake here. The Falcons would like to play their next game in a dome, even if it’s not theirs, while the Eagles would like to stay in the great outdoors. Atlanta takes this one but expect the Eagles to make it closer than the 2 1/2.

Tennessee (9-7) at New England (13-3), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Tennessee makes their way to Foxboro for a AFC Divisonal contest with the defending Super Bowl champions at Gillette Stadium.

The Titans scored 19 second half points unchallenged, erasing a 21-3 deficit at Arrowhead to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in the AFC Wild Card game in the Show-Me State. Kansas City opened the scoring in the contest in the first quarter when rookie RB Kareem Hunt scored on a 1-yard run with 7:25 left in the first, then added a second TD in the quarter when TE Travis Kelce and QB Alex Smith connected on a 13-yard TD strike.

Tennessee ended Kansas City’s bid for a shutout when K Ryan Succop connected on a 49-yard field goal with 1:55 left before halftime. Trailing 17-3 at the intermission, things started to go the Titans’ way in the final 30 minutes when Marcus Mariota attempted a pass on third down deep in Chiefs’ territory that was blocked by Derrell Revis. The ball then fell into Mariota’s hands and he would run it back to the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass to himself. Tennessee would strike again with 14:08 left to play when Derrick Henry scored on a 35-yard TD run but the Titans missed the two-point conversion and then take the lead for good with 6:06 left when Mariota threw a TD pass to someone other than himself when he and WR Eric Decker connected on a 22-yard toss. Tennessee then proceeded to hold off the Chiefs and stopped a late Kansas City rally that would have given the home team the win. Mariota is the only player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass to himself in a postseason game.

Henry ran for 156 yards to lead all rushers as the Titans outrushed Kansas City 202-69, sacking Smith (264 yards) four times, while Mariota threw for 205 yards for the road win. Tennessee went 8 of 13 on third down tries at Arrowhead Stadium, keeping the ball for 32:28, while the Chiefs, who held the ball for 27:32, went 4 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The defending champions held the New York Jets to a pair of field goals in Foxboro as they came away 26-6 winners at Gillette Stadium to close out the regular season. New England led 21-3 at the break and held GangGreen in check in the final 30 minutes of play. New England outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 147-40 and sacked Bryce Petty (232 yards) four times, including a sack for a safety, while Tom Brady threw for 190 yards with a pair of TDs. New England was 4 of 15 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 34:49, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were a dismal 0 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the pigskin for 25:11.

The Pats in regular season play lead the series 23-15-1, outscoring Tennessee 993-778, which includes contests that were played when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers and the Patriots played their home games at Fenway Park. Their last regular season meeting took place in 2015 in Foxboro and the Patriots were 33-16 winners, while Tennessee’s last regular season win came in the Music City in 2002 by a final of 24-7 at Nissan Stadium.

In the post-season, the series is even at 1-1 and the Titans have outscored New England 45-31. Both meetings took place in Foxboro and both were AFC Divisional Playoff contests. The Pats took a 17-14 win in 2003, while the Titans were 31-14 winners in 1978, when they were known as the Houston Oilers.

Tennessee had three players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, punter Brett Kern and tackle Taylor Lewan. The Patriots had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: Brady, fullback James Develin, tight end Rob Gronkowski and special teamer Matthew Slater.

Vegas likes the Patriots in this one, making them 13 1/2 point favorites with a 48 over/under. The 47 makes sense. The 13 1/2 is a little steep, even though this is a playoff game. Tennessee’s a lot better than people think they are but the Pats right now are kings of the NFL mountain. The Titans could make it closer than 13 1/2 but New England comes through in Foxboro to take the win.

Jacksonville (10-6) at Pittsburgh (13-3), 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS. They meet again in the Steel City. Jacksonville and Pittsburgh square off at Heinz Field in a week five rematch in Sunday’s AFC Divisonal Playoff action.

The Jaguars survived a scare from Buffalo last Sunday at EverBank Field, taking a 10-3 win over the Bills in the Sunshine State in the AFC Wild Card round. After a scoreless first quarter, the second quarter was a battle of field goals as Buffalo opened the scoring with a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Hauschka with 1:49 left before the half. Jacksonville then mounted their own drive, using a 6-play, 27-yard drive that used only 38 second of clock and the legs of starting QB Blake Bortles, who had two runs of 10 yards or more in that drive, to tie things up on a 44 yard field goal by Josh Lambo with two seconds left.

Taking the 3-3 tie into the locker room, the Jaguars took the lead for keeps with 42 seconds left in the third when Bortles and TE Ben Koyack connected on a 1-yard TD pass for the 10-3 lead. Things would stay that way into the fourth quarter and Buffalo threatened twice in the period to tie things up but could do nothing to change things and the Jaguars held off a final Bills’ rally when first they knocked QB Tyrod Taylor out of the contest with a head injury, which forced them to use backup QB Nathan Peterman for the final drive. Jacksonville then sealed Buffalo’s fate with 26 seconds left when CB Jalen Ramsey picked Peterman off. Jacksonville then ran out the clock and took the win at home.

Jacksonville outrushed Buffalo 155-130 and Bortles accounted for 88 of those yards to lead all rushers, while throwing for 87 yards passing. Taylor threw for 134 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception, while LeSean McCoy led Buffalo with 75 yards on the ground. Jacksonville was 2 of 12 on third down and held the ball for 27:23, while the Bills ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 32:37, going 7 of 18 on third down tries (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Pittsburgh comes back to action after they survived a 28-24 scare from Cleveland in the regular season finale for both clubs. The Steelers led 21-14 at the intermission at Heinz Field before Cleveland stormed back in the third quarter to make the contest closer than Steeler fans wanted, outscoring Pittsburgh 10-7 in the quarter (the teams played a scoreless fourth quarter). Pittsburgh outrushed Cleveland 124-102, with Steelers RB Sean Ridley leading everyone with 80 yards and a TD, while Landry Jones, who took over for Ben Roethlisberger, threw for 239 yards and a TD to rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steeler defense sacked DeShone Kizer (314 yards, 2 TDs) six times and picked him off once. Pittsburgh went 3 of 10 on third down tries, 0 of 2 on fourth down in snowy Pittsburgh (game time temp? 11 degrees with a wind chill of 5) and kept the ball for 29:05, while the Browns, who went 0 for the 2017 campaign, went 7 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:55.

The Jaguars had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Malik Jackson. The Steelers had an NFL-best eight players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: running back Le’Veon Bell, kicker Chris Boswell, wide receiver Brown, guard David de Castro, center Maurice Pouncey, Roethlisberger, linebacker Ryan Shazier and tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

In the post-season, they’ve met only once and the Jaguars won that contest, coming away 31-29 winners in the 2007 AFC Wild Card Game at Heinz Field.

Jacksonville and Pittsburgh met in week five in Pittsburgh and the Jaguars won 30-9. Jacksonville led 7-6 at halftime, then outscored the Steelers 23-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. Fournette ran for 181 yards and a pair of TDs, Jaguars outrushed Pittsburgh 231-70, picked off Roethlisberger (312 yards, 2 sacks) five times. Jacksonville was 6 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 28:52, while the Steelers held the pigskin for 31:08, going 7 of 15 on third down conversions.

Although Jacksonville was an 8 1/2 point underdog in the week five contest in the Steel City, they covered the spread, winning by 21. Both clubs combined for 39 points, missing the 44 over/under by 5. In the revenge match, the Steelrs are once again favored, this time by 7 and the over/under’s 41. For Pittsburgh, it’s revenge; for Jacksonville, it’s a chance to prove that the first time was not a fluke. Revenge wins out. Steelers advance in the Steel City and covers the 7.

New Orleans (11-5) at Minnesota (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Sunday on FOX. Divisional weekend closes out in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as the Minnesota Vikings welcome the New Orleans Saints to US Bank Stadium.

The Saints survived a last-second scare from Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at home last Sunday in an NFC South rematch, taking a 31-26 win in the Big Easy. New Orleans took a 21-9 lead with them to the break before the Panthers roared back in the final 30 minutes of action, making it a 6-point contest with 4:09 left in regulation when Newton and TE Collin MCCaffery connected on a 58-yard TD pass. The Saints then got the ball back and got as far as Carolina’s 47 yard line before Drew Brees (349 yards, TD) was picked off by S Matt Adams, who brought the ball back to their 31 yard line. Carolina then proceeded to move the ball and got as close as the Saints’ 21 yard line, when Newton (349 yards, four sacks) was called for intentional ground, much to the anger and chagrin of Panther fans. Newton then threw an interception that was intended for WR Darren Funches and then ended Carolina’s hopes of avenging the two earlier losses when Newton was sacked by Vonn Bell. New Orleans ran out the clock and took the win at home.

Carolina actually outrushed New Orleans 107-51 and went 8 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down, while ruling the clock and keeping the ball for 33:49. The Saints on third down? 2 of 8. Fourth down? They were 0 of 1 and kept the ball for 26:11.

Minnesota returns from their bye week, shutting down Chicago 23-10 in the NFC North season finale. Minnesota led Da Bears 16-3 at the break and never looked back, sacking Mitch Trubisky (178 yards) in the end zone for a safety late in the second quarter. Vikings RB Latavius Murray set the tone in the contest, scoring a pair of TDs in the first half and WR Stefon Diggs chipped in with a catch from Case Keenum to send Vikings fans home happy. Minnesota outrushed Chicago 147-30 and Murray led all rushers with 111 yards and the two TDs on the ground, while Keenum threw for 189 yards in the win. The Vikings were 5 of 13 on third down and held on to the ball for 35:55, while Da Bears were a dismal 1 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 24:05.

New Orleans had six players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: Brees, running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, defensive end Cameron Jordan, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and wide receiver Thomas. The Vikings had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Everson Griffen, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Adam Thielen.

They met in week one in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the Vikings were 29-19 winners at US Bank Stadium. Minnesota led 16-6 at the half and were never threatened, using four Kai Horbath field goals for the win. Minnesota outrushed New Orleans 129-60 in the contest that saw Adrian Peterson return to face his old team (Peterson was held to 18 yards rushing and traded to Arizona the following week), while rookie RB Dalvin Cook led all rushers with 127 yards, while Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three TDs, two to Diggs (Brees threw for 291 yards and a TD; both men were sacked once and neither threw an interception). The Vikings were 9 of 14 on third down tries in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and kept the ball for 31:16, while New Orleans kept the ball for 28:44, going 4 of 11 on third down (neither club had a fourth down try).

As far as the post season goes… they’ve met three times and the Vikings hold a 2-1 lead there, outscoring the Saints 106-57. The last time they met in post-season was in 2009 in the Big Easy in the NFC Championship Game, which was later known as “Bountygate” and the Saints were 31-28 overtime winners; as for Minnesota, their last playoff win over New Orleans came in the Twin Cities in 2000 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs by a final of 34-16.

Minnesota covered the 3-point spread in the Monday night opener with the 10-point win and the two teams covered the 48 over/under exactly (the Vikings were favored in that contest). In the last game of Divisional Weekend, the oddsmakers like the Vikings again, this time as 5 point favorites at US Bank Stadium and the over/under this time around is 46 1/2. Whoever wins this game will have the upper hand toward Super Bowl LII; as for the loser, they will have an entire year to think about what happened and what they could have done to prevent it. Vikings cover the 3 1/2 at home and wins in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.