Archives for posts with tag: AFC Wild Card

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 Playoff Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For 20 NFL teams, their seasons came to an end Sunday afternoon. While those teams are preparing for the upcoming draft and hiring new coaches, 12 other teams have made it to their goal of getting to the playoffs. It’s this time of year that becomees a little different. In a 16-game schedule, you lose a game, your next game is next week. Here, you lose and your next game is next year. Win and advance. That’s the goal for the 12 that are left standing. Eight of those teams get underway this weekend, while the other four (Dallas, Atlanta, New England and Kansas City) get to prepare for the next round because they have byes and will host next Saturday and Sunday.

ICYMI: The road to the AFC Championship goes through Foxoboro! New England, with their 35-14 win at Miami, clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated San Diego 37-27, allowing them to win the AFC West and earned a first-round bye due to today’s victory combined with Oakland’s 24-6 loss at Denver.

Oakland enters the postseason as the number 5 seed and travels to Houston, who won the AFC South title.

Pittsburgh needed overtime to beat the Cleveland Browns and will host the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round at Heinz Field on Sunday.

In the NFC, Dallas secured the top seed in the NFC and has home-field advantage throughout the the NFC playoffs.

Atlanta, already with the NFC South title in hand, secured the number two seed with their 38-32 win over their NFC South rivals from New Orleans. The contest was the 199th and final regualr-season contest for the Georgia Dome and the Falcons will be moving to the Mercedes-Benz Dome next door.

The NFC North champion was determined Sunday as Green Bay defeated Detoit 31-24 at Ford Field in the Motor City. Both teams clinched a playoff berth earlier in the day with the NEW YORK GIANTS’ 19-10 win at Washington. Green Bay secured the number 4 seed and host the Giants in the Wild Card round.

The Seattle Seahawks have clinched the NFC West, taking the 3rd seed and will host Detroit Saturday afternoon.

New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 25 of 33 passes (75.8 percent) for 276 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 130.4 passer rating in the Patriots’ 35-14 win at Miami. Brady finished the regular season with 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, recording the highest touchdown/interception ratio in NFL history.

Brady has 51 career games with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions, tying Peyton Manning for the most such games in league history.

Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott finished the regular season with a 104.9 passer rating and surpassed Robert Griffin III (102.4 in 2012) for the highest single-season passer rating by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.

Prescott completed 311 of 459 passes (67.8 percent) for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. His 0.9 interception percentage is the lowest by a rookie quarterback in NFL history (minimum 200 passing attempts).

Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott leads the league with 1,631 rushing yards. Elliott, who has the third-highest rushing total by a rookie in NFL history, would be the fifth rookie since 1970 to lead the league in rushing yards and the first since Edgerrin James (1,553 yards) in 1999.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 27 of 36 passes (75.0 percent) for 331 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.9 passer rating in the Falcons’ 38-32 win over New Orleans.

Ryan completed 373 of 534 passes (69.9 percent) for 4,944 yards with 38  touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 117.1 passer rating, the fifth-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history.

Ryan’s opponent, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 350 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta. Brees has 5,208 passing yards this season, the fourth-highest single-season passing total in NFL history.

Brees, who also recorded 5,000 passing yards in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013, owns five of the NFL’s nine all-time 5,000-yard passing seasons and is the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 5,000 yards in multiple seasons.

Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford completed 25 of 33 passes (75.8 percent) for 250 yards with three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 38-10 victory over NFC North rival Chicago. Bradford completed 395 of 552 passes for a 71.6 completion percentage this season, the highest single-season completion percentage in NFL history, surpassing Drew Brees’ mark of 71.2 percent (468 of 657) in 2011.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 202 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers’ 17-16 win over Carolina. Winston, who passed for 4,042 yards as a rookie last year, finished this season with a career-high 4,090 passing yards. He is the first player in NFL history to record at least 4,000 passing yards in each of his first two seasons. Winston has 50 career touchdown passes and is the fifth player in league history to throw at least 50 touchdown passes in his first two seasons.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had five receptions, including a touchdown, in the Cardinals’ 44-6 win at Los Angeles. Fitzgerald leads the NFL with 107 catches and at 33 years, 123 days old, would be the oldest player to lead the league in receptions since Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (34 years, 71 days) in 1996.

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

“The only thing that matters is what we do now,” says Dallas head coach Jason Garrett, who led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the number 1 seed in the NFC. “We’ve put ourselves in a great position. It’s time to get back to work.”

“We’ve got four games left to win it all,” Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell told KDKA-TV. “We’re on a nice winning streak now, so I know we can do it. We’ve got a lot of work to do but the road is getting very narrow. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to finish and execute. That’s what these games are about.”

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. Two divisions (AFC West and NFC North) wound up being “winner-take-all” situations and were decided on the last day of the regular season, including the NFC North in game No. 256 of 256 as Green Bay defeated Detroit to claim the division title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment to win the NFC North,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Now we get a home game and can keep this playoff atmosphere and vibe that we’ve had for the past six weeks going. We didn’t want to limp into the playoffs. We finished strong. Now that we’re in the playoffs, it’s all about taking it to the next level.”

The final 12 teams are now set. It doesn’t matter how you got here. All that matters is that you’re here.

“Playing in the postseason is a great tribute to the way we’ve played all season and found ways to win games,” says New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Manning told the New York Times, WCBS Sports and USA Today, “We’re excited about the opportunity to be in the playoffs and having a chance to win a championship.”

The Giants are one of six new teams in this year’s playoff field, joining Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami and Oakland. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Let’s not forget the regular season, kids…

Close games and great comeback victories… new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions… consistent teams excelling once again… records falling… young players making their mark… and so much more.

The 2016 season had it all, including a fantastic finish.

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

Six of the NFL’s eight divisions featured new champions in 2016, the most in a season since 2011.

The 2016 season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as 57 percent were decided by one score – 146 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.

Each of the 12 teams still in Super Bowl LI contention can look back at the wild ride that was the 2016 regular season and appreciate how challenging the road to the playoffs was.

Dallas (13-3), led by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookierunning back Ezekiel Elliott, wrapped up the Number 1 seed in the NFC for the first time since 2007.

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

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Six teams that missed the postseason in 2015 – Atlanta (11-5), Dallas (13-3), Detroit (9-7), Miami (10-6), the New York Giants (11-5) and Oakland (12-4) – accomplished the feat this year.

“It’s so much fun when you get a playoff game at home in front of your own crowd and the energy that kind of comes along with that,” says Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, who helped guide the Falcons to the NFC South title. Quinn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV, WXIA-TV and WAGA-TV, “It’s a byproduct of winning your division, where you’re guaranteed a home game. And then if you have a chance to go past that where better things can happen, then you go from there. It’s a significant thing and a really cool experience.”

The 2016 season also proved that consistency is difficult but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL. New England won their eighth consecutive AFC East division title (2009-present), surpassing the 1973-79 Rams for the most consecutive division championships in NFL history. The Patriots, who finished with a 14-2 record, tied the 2003-09 Colts as the only teams in NFL history with at least 12 wins in seven consecutive seasons.

Pittsburgh at 11-5 earned the 600th regular-season victory in franchise history this season, becoming the fourth franchise is NFL history to reach 600 wins. The Steelers (601) joined the Chicago Bears (744), Green Bay Packers (730) and New York Giants (684) as the only franchises with at least 600 regular-season victories.

The NFL is never short on surprises and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2016:

COMPELLING COMPETITION: Games continued to be close, as more than half of all games were decided by one score.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE SCORE

POINTS – GAMES (PCT.)
8 or Fewer – 146 of 256 (57)
7 or Fewer – 135 of 256 (52.7)

This season, 146 of 256 games (57.0 percent) were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY EIGHT OR FEWER POINTS
2016 – 146
2015 – 140
2002 – 137
2011 – 132
2003 – 132

In 2016, 135 of 256 games (52.7 percent) were decided by seven or fewer points, also the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN OR FEWER POINTS
2016 – 135
2015 – 131
2002 – 126
2011 – 125
2003 – 124

Seventy-two percent of games (184 of 256) were within eight points in the fourth quarter, the highest percentage since the institution of the two-point conversion in 1994.

The 184 games are the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN FOURTH QUARTER
2016 – 184
2002 – 177
2004 – 175
2015 – 174
2013 – 174

170 of the season’s 256 games (66.4 percent) were within seven points in the fourth quarter, the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN FOURTH QUARTER
2016 -170
2013 – 168
2010 – 167
2004 – 167
2002 – 167

Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as tight contests frequentlycame down to the wire.

In 2016, the average margin of victory was 10.23 points per game, the third-smallest margin in NFL history and the lowest figure since 1935 (10.08 points per game).

The lowest single-season margins of victory in NFL history:

SEASON – MARGIN OF VICTORY

1932 – 9.13
1935 – 10.08
2016 – 10.23
1994 – 10.42
1938 – 10.58

There were 72 games won by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most such games in a season in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of 70 in 1989.

SEASON – GAMES WON AFTER TRAILING IN 4TH QUARTER
2016 – 72
1989 – 70
2013 – 69
2015 – 67
2008 – 67
2001 – 67

THESE CATS HAVE MORE THAN NINE LIVES: The Detroit Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most in a single season in NFL history.

The teams with the most wins after trailing in the fourth quarter in a single season in NFL history:

SEASON – TEAM (GAMES WON AFTER TRAILING IN 4TH QUARTER)
2016 – Detroit (8)
2009 – Indianapolis (7)
Many Tied with 6

Dallas clinched the NFC East division title, which marked the 13th time in the past 14 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

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

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD / PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5 / 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3 / 8-8)*
2004 – Atlanta (11-5 / 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4 / 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5 / 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5 / 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5 / 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3 / 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6 / 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6 / 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7 / 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5 / 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3 / 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6 / 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8 / 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6 / 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6 / 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4 / 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6 / 4-12)
2015 – Washington (9-7 / 4-12)
2016 – Dallas (13-3 / 4-12)

* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

New England captured their eighth consecutive division title, the longest streak in NFL history, breaking a tie with the 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams (seven). The Patriots are the only team in NFL history to win 13 division titles in a 14-year span.

SCORING: A total of 11,661 points were scored during the 2016 season, the third-highest total all-time (11,985 points in 2013 and 11,680 points in 2015). Games averaged 45.55 points per game, the third-highest average since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and trailing only the 46.82 points per game average in 2013 and the 45.63 average in 2015. In all, 1,306 total touchdowns were scored, also the third-most all-time.

Nine teams scored at least 400 points this season – Atlanta (540), New Orleans (469), New England (441), Green Bay (432), Dallas (421), Arizona (418), Oakland (416), Indianapolis (411) and San Diego (410) – tying the 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2015 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .601 winning percentage and five qualified for the playoffs.

PASSING: NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2016.

The league-wide completion percentage (63.0) tied the previous record set in 2015, while the league-wide passer rating (89.3) ranked second behind only the 2015 season (90.2). There were 786 touchdown passes thrown in 2016, the fourth-highest total in NFL history.

The league-wide interception percentage of 2.3 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.4 in 2015.

Games averaged 700.8 total net yards per game, the second-best mark in NFL annals (705.3 in 2015). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 483.0 net passing yards per game, the second-highest total all-time (487.6 in 2015).

There were 57 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2016, the third-highest of any season in NFL history (59 in 2015, 58 in 2014).

New England quarterback Tom Brady (205) surpassed Peyton Manning (200) as the all-time wins leader (including playoffs) in NFL history.

Brady finished the regular season with 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, recording the highest touchdown/interception ratio in NFL history.

Quarterbacks Drew Brees of New Orleans and Tom Brady of New England both climbed higher on the all-time list for career passing yards. Brees ranks third all-time in passing yards (66,111), while Brady ranks fourth (61,582), as both players surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) during the 2016 season. Only Peyton Manning (71,940) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (71,838) have more career passing yards.

The New York Giants’ Eli Manning (320), San Diego’s Philip Rivers (314) and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (301) each reached 300 career passing touchdowns during the season, becoming the eighth, ninth and tenth quarterbacks in NFL history, respectively, to reach the mark.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan recorded a 117.1 passer rating in 2016, the fifth-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees led the NFL with 5,208 passing yards in 2016, the fourth-highest passing yardage total in league history. Brees is the first player to lead the league in passing yards seven times, extending his NFL record.

Brees (2008, 2011-13, 2016) has five of the nine individual 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history and is the only quarterback in league history to pass for at least 5,000 yards in multiple seasons. Brees also has 53,763 passing yards in his 11 seasons with the Saints, is the sixth quarterback to pass for 50,000 yards with one team.

Brees had two 400-yard passing games in 2016. In 16 seasons, Brees has 15 career 400-yard passing games, surpassing Peyton Mannig (14) for the most such games in NFL history.

Brees had a league-leading 10 300-yard passing games in 2016 and his 106 career 300-yard passing games are the most in NFL history.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the NFL with 40 passing touchdowns in 2016. Rodgers, who passed for 45 touchdowns in 2011, became the fourth player in NFL history with at least 40 touchdown passes in multiple seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan MArino (two), Peyton Manning (two) and Drew Brees (two).

Brees ranked third in the NFL with 37 touchdown passes, joining Tom Brady (four), Manning (four) and Rodgers (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four different seasons.

Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in nine consecutive seasons, extending his NFL-record streak.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Lions on eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in 2016, the most such drives by a quarterback in a single season since 1970.

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston had 4,090 passing yards and became the irst player in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards in each of his first two seasons.

Winston (50) is one of only five quarterbacks to pass for at least 50 touchdowns over his first two seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (68), Derek Carr (53), Peyton Mannign (52) and Russell Wilson (52).

Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford completed 395 of 552 attempts for an NFL-record 71.6 completion percentage, surpassing Drew Brees’ record of 71.2 percent in 2011.

Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott passed for 3,667 yards with 23  touchdowns and four interceptions for a 104.9 rating in 2016. Prescott joined Tom Brady (2010, 2016) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 3,500 passing yards and fewer than five interceptions in a season and is the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

RUSHING & RECEIVING: Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2016:

Seven players registered at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2016 – New England’s Le Garrette Blount (18), Arizona’s David Johnson (16), Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (15), Buffalo’s Le Sean McCoy (13), Oakland’s Latavius Murray (12), Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman (11) and San Diego’s Melvin Gordon (10).

Twelve players registered at least 1,000 rushing yards this season – Elliott (1,631), Chicago’s Jordan Howard (1,313), Tennessee’s De Marco Murray (1,287), Miami’s Jay Ajayi (1,272), Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell (1,268), McCoy (1,267), Johnson (1,239), Blount (1,161), Freeman (1,079), Houston’s Lamar Miller (1,073), New Orleans’ Mark Ingram (1,043) and Indianapolis’ Frank Gore (1,025).

Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards this season, becoming the fifth rookie since 1970 to lead the league in rushing yards and the first since Edgerrin James (1,553 yards) in 1999.

Elliott had 1,994 scrimmage yards (1,631 rushing, 363 receiving) this season, the third-highest total by a rookie in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 in 1983) and James (2,139 in 1999). Indianapolis running back Frank Gore (13,065) became the eighth player in NFL history to reach 13,000 career rushing yards.

Gore, who had 1,025 rushing yards this season, became the fifth player in NFL history with at least nine seasons of 1,000 rushing yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), Walter Payton (10) and Barry Sanders (10).

Three players registered at least 100 receptions in 2016 – Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (107), Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (106) and the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. (101).

Six players recorded at least 1,200 receiving yards in 2016 – Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton (1,448), Atlanta’ Julio Jones (1,409), Beckham (1,367), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (1,321), Brown (1,284) and Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson (1,257).

Five players had at least 10 touchdown catches in 2016 – Nelson (14), GreenBay’s Davante Adams (12), Brown (12), Evans (12) and Beckham (10).

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald led the NFL with 107 catches and at 33 years, 123 days old, became the oldest player to lead the league in receptions since Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (34 years, 71 days) in 1996.

Fitzgerald has four career seasons with at least 100 catches, trailing only Brandon Marshall (six), Andre Johnson (five) and Wes Welker (five) all-time.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio BrownN ranked second in the NFL with 106 catches this season and has 481 receptions over the past four seasons, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (469 from 1999-2002) for the most catches in any four-year span in NFL history.

Brown has four consecutive seasons with at least 100 catches, tying Harrison (four from 1999-2002) for the most consecutive 100-catch seasons in NFL history.

Wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona and ANQUAN BOLDIN of Detroit each played in their 200th career games in Week 16. Fitzgerald (1,116) has the most career receptions in a player’s first 200 games in NFL history, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,115).

Boldin had 1,067 career receptions through 200 career games, the fourth-highest total in NFL history. The only players with more are Fitzgerald (1,116), Rice (1,115) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (1,102).

Boldin had 67 catches this season, the 14th consecutive season he has caught 50+ passes since entering the league in 2003. That is the longest streak to begin a career in NFL history.

Fitzgerald, who recorded his 13th consecutive season with 50+ catches, has the second-longest such streak to begin a career.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. finished third in the NFL with a career-high 101 catches. Beckham has 288 receptions through his first three seasons, tied with Miami’s JARVIS LANDRY for the most through a player’s first three seasons in NFL history.

Beckham has 4,122 receiving yards through his first three seasons and is one of only two players in NFL history to record at least 4,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons (Randy Moss, 4,163 from 1998-2000).

Beckham and Landry are the only two players in NFL history with at least 80 catches in each of their first three seasons in the NFL.

Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr., who has 1,031 career catches, became the 14th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions.

Smith (14,731) climbed to seventh place in NFL history in receiving yards, while Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (14,389) moved into ninth place all-time.

San Diego tight end Antonio Gates had seven receiving touchdowns in 2016 and has 111 career touchdown catches, tying Tony Gonzalez for the most by a tight end in NFL history.

Gates brought his career receiving yards total to 11,192, becoming the third tight end in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards, joining Gonzalez (15,127) and Jason Witten (11,888).

Carolina tight end Greg Olsen, who had 1,073 receiving yards this season, became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards.

VERSATILE PERFORMANCES: Arizona running back DAVID JOHNSON led the league with 2,118 scrimmage yards (1,239 rushing, 879 receiving) and became the fourth different player with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 800 receiving yards in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall (1998-2000), Steven Jackson (2006) and Le’Veon Bell (2014).

Johnson recorded at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first 15 games this season, becoming the first player in NFL history to start a season with 15 consecutive games with 100+ scrimmage yards.

Johnson tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (15) as the only players in NFL history to record 15 consecutive games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in a single season.

Indianapolis running back Frank Gore, who has 13,065 rushing yards and 414 receptions in his career, became the fifth player in NFL history with at least 13,000 rushing yards and 400 receptions. Gore joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Curtis Martin, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith and La Dainian Tomlinson as the only players to accomplish the feat.

Gore had 1,302 scrimmage yards (1,025 rushing, 277 receiving) this season, becoming the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,200 scrimmage yards in 11 consecutive seasons.

Philadelphia’s Darren Sproles had two receiving touchdowns in 2016, bringing his career total to 30 touchdown catches. Sproles is the only player in NFL history with at least 30 receiving touchdowns (30), 20 rushing touchdowns (22) and five punt-return touchdowns (seven).

Kansas City rookie wide receiver-return specialist Tyreek Hill became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965 to have a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and kickoff-return touchdown in the same game in the Chiefs’ Week 12 overtime victory at Denver.

Hill is the only player in NFL history to record at least three receiving touchdowns (six), three rushing touchdowns (three) and three total kick-return touchdowns (three) in a single season.

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri converted 43 consecutive field-goal attempts dating back to 2015, the longest streak in NFL history, surpassing Mike Vanderjagt’s previous record of 42.

With 125 points this season, Vinatieri became the only player in NFL history to score 100+ points in 19 different seasons.

Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who has converted 55 career 50+ yard field goals, surpassed Jason Hanson (52) for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker converted 10 50+ yard field goals in 2016, tying Blair Walsh (10) for the most 50-yard field goals in a single season in NFL history.

Tucker converted 38 of 39 field goal attempts (97.4 percent) in 2016, the third-highest single-season field-goal percentage in NFL history (minimum 20 attempts). Only Gary Anderson (35 of 35 in 1998) and Mike Vanderjagt (37 of 37 in 2003) have higher single-season field-goal percentages.

DEFENSE: With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. Four of the top fiveNFL teams in scoring defense qualified for the playoffs – New England (15.6), the New York Giants (17.8), Seattle (18.3) and Dallas (19.1). Those four clubs had a combined winning percentage of .758.

Four of the top five teams in turnover margin advanced to the postseason and won at least 10 games each – Kansas City (+16), Oakland (+16), New England (+12) and Atlanta (+11). Those four clubs had a combined .766 winning percentage.

Green Bay linebacker Julius Peppers had 7.5 sacks and climbed to fifth place on the NFL’s all-time sack leaderboard with 143.5 career sacks. Denver linebacker De Marcus Ware had four sacks and has 138.5 sacks in his career, the eighth-most in the NFL since the statistic became official in 1982.

Kansas City safety Eric Berry became the first player to return an interception for both a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the same game in the Chiefs’ Week 13 win at Atlanta.

Berry intercepted a two-point conversion attempt and returned it for the go-ahead score with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter in the Chiefs’ 29-28 victory over the Falcons, marking the first game-winning defensive two-point conversion scored when his team was trailing since the rule was adopted in 2015. He also added a 37-yard interception-return touchdown in the contest.

The Arizona Cardinals (Markus Golden, 12.5; Chandler Jones, 11) and Seattle Seahawks (Cliff Avril, 11.5; Frank Clark, 10) were the only teams with two players who each had double-digit sacks.

New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (six) and safety Landon Collins (five) were the only pair of NFL teammates with at least five interceptions in 2016.

Atlanta linebacker Vic Beasley, Jr. led the NFL with 15.5 sacks and tied for the league lead with six forced fumbles in 2016, becoming the first player in franchise history to record at least 15 sacks and five forced fumbles in a single season.

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul became the first player with at least three sacks and a fumble-return touchdown of at least 40 yards in the same game since 1982, the first year individual sacks became an official statistic, when he registered a career-high three sacks and a 43-yard fumble-return touchdown in the Giants’ Week 12 victory at Cleveland.

Oakland defensive end Khalil Mack recorded at least one sack in eight consecutive games in 2016, tying for the sixth-longest streak in the NFL since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Mack was the only player in the NFL this season with at least 10 sacks (11) and an interception-return touchdown.

REMARKABLE ROOKIES: Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed 311 of 459 passes (67.8 percent) for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions for a 104.9 passer rating, the highest single-season passer rating by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.

Prescott’s 0.9 interception percentage is the lowest by a rookie quarterback in NFL history (minimum 200 passing attempts). The rookie began his career with 176 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, surpassing Tom Brady (162) for the most pass attempts without an interception to start a career.

Prescott helped guide the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, tying Ben Roethlisberger (13 in 2004) for the most wins by a rookie starting quarterback in NFL history.

Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards this season, the third-highest single-season total by a rookie running in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983) and George Rogers (1,674 in 1981).

Elliott had five games with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most ever by a rookie. Dallas became the only team in NFL history to have a rookie pass for 20 touchdowns (Prescott, 23) and a rookie rush for 15 touchdowns (Elliott, 15) in the same season.

Chicago rookie running back Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL with 1,313 rushing yards in 2016. Elliott and Howard became the first pair of rookies to finish first and second in the league in rushing yards since Paul Robinson (1,023) and Robert Holmes (866) of the AFL in 1968. Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz became the first rookie since 1970 to start and win his team’s first three games to begin a season without throwing an interception.

Wentz, who had 379 completions this season, set the NFL record for the most completions by a rookie, surpassing SAM BRADFORD (354 in 2010).

Kansas City rookie wide receiver-return specialist Tyreek Hill had six receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, two punt-return touchdowns and one kick-return touchdown in 2016, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only players in NFL history to have at least five receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, a kick-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown in the same season.

Houston wide receiver Will Fuller had a five-yard touchdown catch and a 67-yard punt-return touchdown in the Texans’ Week 4 win over Tennessee, becoming the fourth rookie in the past 15 years to record both a touchdown catch and a punt-return touchdown in the same game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WILD CARD WEEKEND

FROM WILD CARD ROUND TO SUPER BOWL: Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times. At least one Super Bowl participant in six of the past 11 years played a Wild Card Game.

The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:

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

WINNING PARTICIPANTS: Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Oakland will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend. Oakland travels to Houston
at 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC on Saturday in the opening game of Wild Card Weekend. On Sunday, Pittsburgh will host Miami at 1:05 p.m. on CBS, while Green Bay will face the New York Giants at Lambeau Field at 4:40 p.m. on FOX.

The Steelers (34) are tied with Dallas (34) for the most postseason wins in NFL history, while the Packers (32) and Raiders (25) rank third and sixth, respectively, in all-time playoff victories. New England, who is the Number 1 overall seed in the AFC, have 29 postseason victories, the fifth-most all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, WIN PCT.; SUPER BOWL WINS)
Pittsburgh (34-23, .596; 6)*
Dallas (34-26, .567; 5)**
Green Bay (32-21, .604; 4)*
San Francisco (30-20, .600; 5)
New England (29-19, .604; 4)**
Oakland (25-18, .581; 3)*
*Play this weekend
**First-round bye

Green Bay (.604) owns the third-best winning percentage in postseason history, while Pittsburgh (.596) and Oakland (.581) rank fifth and sixth, respectively.

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

TEAM (WIN PCT. WINS-LOSSES; SUPER BOWL WINS)
Baltimore Ravens (.652, 15-8; 2)
New England (.604, 29-19; 4)**
Green Bay (.604, 32-21; 4)*
San Francisco (.600, 30-20; 5)
Pittsburgh (.596, 34-23; 6)*
Oakland (.581, 25-18; 3)*
*Play this weekend
**First-round bye

PROLIFIC PASSERS: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for at least 300 yards in four postseason games in his career.

With 300 passing yards against the Giants on Sunday, Rodgers would put himself in some pretty good company and would join Tom
Brady (10), Peyton Manning (nine), Drew Brees (six), Kurt Warner (six) and Pro Football Hall of Famers Joe Montana (six) and Dan Fouts (five) as the only quarterbacks to have at least five 300-yard passing games in NFL postseason history.

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

PLAYER – MOST 300-YARD PASSING GAMES IN POSTSEASON
Tom Brady – 10*
Peyton Manning – 9
Drew Brees – 6
Joe Montana – 6 ^
Kurt Warner – 6
Dan Fouts – 5^
Aaron Rodgers – 4*
*Active in 2016 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for at least 300 passing yards in each of his first two career postseason starts.

With 300 passing yards on Saturday night at Seattle, Stafford will join Fouts as the only quarterbacks with at least 300 passing yards in each of his first three postseason games. Fouts recorded four consecutive games with 300 passing yards to begin his postseason career.

The most consecutive 300-yard passing contests to start a career in postseason history:

PLAYER – TEAM (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 300+ PASSING YARDS)
Dan Fouts – San Diego (4)
Matthew Stafford – Detroit (2)*
Matt Hasselbeck – Seattle (2)
Marc Bulger – St. Louis Rams (2)
*Active streak

WINNING WILSON: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has led the Seahawks to five consecutive postseason appearances in his first five seasons in the NFL.

With a start against the Lions on Saturday night at Century Link Field, Wilson would join Joe Flacco (2008-12) as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to start a playoff game in each of his first five seasons beginning with his rookie year.

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2008-12)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-15)*
*Entering fifth postseason

With a win over Detroit on Saturday, Wilson, who has seven career playoff wins through his first four seasons, will tie Ben Roethlisberger (eight) for the third-most postseason victories by a starting quarterback in his first five seasons.

The quarterbacks with the most postseason victories in their first five seasons:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, POSTSEASON WINS)
Tom Brady, New England (2000-04, 9)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2008-12, 9)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (2004-08, 8)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-15, 7)*
*Entering fifth postseason

BIG-PLAY BOLDIN: Detroit wide receiver Anquan Boldin has eight touchdown receptions in his postseason career.

With two touchdown catches at Seattle on Saturday, Boldin would move into a tie for third place in touchdown receptions in NFL postseason history.

The players with the most touchdown catches in postseason history:
PLAYER – TOUCHDOWN CATCHES
Jerry Rice – 22^
John Stallworth – 12^
Fred Biletnikoff – 10^
Antonio Freeman – 10
Randy Moss – 10
Hines Ward – 10
Rob Gronkowski – 9
Andre Reed – 9^
Steve Smith Sr. – 9
Lynn Swann – 9^
Reggie Wayne – 9
Anquan Boldin – 8*
*Active in 2016 postseason
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

NEW FACES: Several teams may feature a quarterback making his first career playoff start. Among those are Dallas rookie DAK PRESCOTT, Houston’s Brock Osweiler, Miami’s Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill and Oakland rookie Connor Cook.

With a start against Houston on Saturday, Oakland’s Cook would become the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first career start in the postseason.

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 Wlid Card – 423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1988, NFC Divisonal – 407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999, NFC Divisonal – 391)
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982, NFC Wild Card – 385)

BOUNCING BACK: Miami overcame a 1-4 start to the 2016 season to make the playoffs with a 10-6 record. The Dolphins are the ninth team since 1990 to qualify for the postseason after starting a season with a 1-4 record.

With a win at Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Dolphins would become the sixth team since 1990 to win a postseason game after beginning a season with a 1-4 record. The Kansas City Chiefs accomplished the feat last season, defeating the Houston Texans 30-0 in the Wild Card round.

The teams to qualify for the postseason after beginning the season with a 1-4 record since 1990:

TEAM – SEASON (POSTSEASON WINS, ADVANCED TO)
Kansas City – 2015 (1, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
Denver – 2011 (1, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
New York Jets – 2002 (1, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
Tennessee – 2002 (1, AFC Championship)
San Diego – 1982 (1, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
Houston Texans – 2015 (0, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
Green Bay – 2004 (0, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
Houston Oilers – 1993 (0, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
Miami – 2016 (???, ???)*
*Play in Wild Card round on Sunday

FRESH FACES & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD: There are six new playoff teams in 2016: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, the New York Giants and Oakland. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

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)
Six of the NFL’s eight divisions featured new division champions from last season, the most in a season since 2011 (seven). Only New England (AFC East) and Houston (AFC South) were repeat division champions.

Division – 2016 winner (2015 winner)
AFC NORTH – Pittsburgh (Cincinnati)
AFC WEST – Kansas City (Denver
NFC EAST – Dallas (Washington)
NFC NORTH – Green Bay (Minnesota)
NFC SOUTH – Atlanta (Carolina)
NFC WEST – Seattle (Arizona)
In the 15 seasons since realignment in 2002, 28 of the 32 NFL teams have won a division title at least once.

How the 2016 playoff teams have fared in the 15 seasons since realignment in 2002 (2016 division winners in bold/italics):

TEAM (DIVISION TITLES, PLAYOFF BERTHS)
New England (13, 13)
Green Bay (9, 12)
Seattle (8, 11)
Pittsburgh (7, 10)
Atlanta (4, 7)
Dallas (4, 6)
Houston (4, 4)
New York Giants (3, 7)
Kansas City Chiefs
Miami (1, 2)
Oakland (1, 2)
Detroit (0, 3)

The Dallas Cowboys rebounded to win the NFC East after finishing in last place in 2015. This marked the 13th time in the past 14 seasons in which at least one team went from “worst-to-first” in its division.

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 Divisional 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 Divisional Playoffs)
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13, NFC Championship)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10, NFC Divisional 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 Divisional 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, ???)
* Tied for last place

The 2016 field also showcases teams that have enjoyed recent postseason success. Since realignment in 2002, the New England Patriots have been to the playoffs 13 times, which is the most in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers are tied for second with 12 postseason berths and the Seattle Seahawks rank third with 11 playoff appearances.

The teams with the most playoff appearances since 2002 (includes 2016):

TEAM – POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
New England – 13 *
Green Bay – 12*
Indianapolis – 12
Seattle – 11*
Pittsburgh – 10*
Baltimore – 8
Denver – 8
Philadelphia – 8
*In 2016 postseason

Five of this season’s 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 2001, capturing eight of the past 15 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are Green Bay (XLV), New England (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX and XLIX), the New York Giants (XLII, XLVI), Pittsburgh (XL, XLIII) and Seattle (XLVIII).

SUPER BOWL – SEASON (WINNER)
XXXVI – 2001 (New England)*
XXXVII – 2002 (Tampa Bay)
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 (L) – 2015 (Denver)
*In 2016 postseason

ALL-TIME PLAYOFFS

The four franchises with the most postseason berths in NFL history – the Dallas Cowboys (32), Green Bay Packers (32), New York Giants (32) and Pittsburgh Steelers (30) – are all participants in the 2016 NFL playoffs.

The teams with the most seasons participating in the playoffs (includes 2016):

TEAM (PLAYOFF BERTHS)
Dallas (32)*
Green Bay (32)*
New York Giants (32)*
Pittsburgh (30)*
*In 2016 playoffs

The 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:

TEAM, W-L (PCT)
New England 29-19 (.604)
Green Bay 32-21 (604)
Pittsburgh 34-23 (.596)
Oakland 25-18 (.581)
Dallas, 34-26 (.567)
Seattle 15-14 (.517)
New York Giants 24-24 (.500)
Miami 20-20 (.500)
Houston Texans 2-3 (.400)
Atlanta 7-12 (.368)
Detroit 7-12 (.368)
Kansas City 9-16 (.360)

WILD CARD RECORDS

TEAM W-L (PCT)
Oakland 4-2 (.667)
Houston Texans 2-1 (.667)
Green Bay 9-5 (.643)
Seattle 7-4 (.636)
New York Giants 6-4 (.600)
Miami 6-5 (.545)
Pittsburgh 5-5 (.500)
Detroit 0-8 (.000)

DIVISIONAL RECORDS

TEAM W-L (PCT)
New England 13-6 (.684)
Dallas 15-10 (.600)
Atlanta 3-5 (.375)
Kansas City 2-7 (.222)

THE TEAMS

WINNING FEELING: The Green Bay Packers have won 13 NFL championships, the most in league history. Of the 12 playoff teams this season, 10 have won at least one championship.

NFL championships won by the 2016 playoff teams:

TEAM – NFL CHAMPIONSHIPS (SEASONS)
Green Bay – 13 (1929-31, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961-62, 1965-67, 1996, 2010)
New York Giants – 8 (1927, 1934, 1938, 1956, 1986, 1990, 2007, 2011)
Pittsburgh – 6 (1974-75, 1978-79, 2005, 2008)
Dallas – 5 (1971, 1977, 1992-93, 1995)
Detroit – 4 (1935, 1952-53, 1957)
New England – 4 (2001, 2003-04, 2014)
Oakland – 3 (1976, 1980, 1983)
Miami – 2 (1972-73)
Kansas City – 1 (1969)
Seattle – 1 (2013)
Atlanta – 0
Houston Texans – 0

PLAYOFF SUCCESS: The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers each have 34 postseason victories, tied for the most in NFL history. The Green Bay Packers (32) and New England Patriots (29) rank third and fifth, respectively, on the all-time postseason wins list.

The teams with the most playoff victories in NFL history:

TEAM – PLAYOFF WINS
Dallas – 34*
Pittsburgh – 34*
Green Bay – 32*
San Francisco – 30
New England – 29*
*In 2016 playoffs

Postseason victories for the 2016 playoff teams:

TEAM – PLAYOFF WINS
Dallas – 34
Pittsburgh – 34
Green Bay – 32
New England – 29
Oakland – 25
New York Giants – 24
Miami – 20
Seattle – 15
Kansas City – 9
Atlanta – 7
Detroit – 7
Houston Texans – 2

HOME SWEET HOME…MAYBE: For the first time since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, the Number 1 seed from both the AFC and NFC have advanced to the Super Bowl in three consecutive seasons. However, only 27 of the 52 (52 percent) Number 1 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl, with 12 Number 1 seeds being crowned champions (23 percent).

Dallas is the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the fourth time since 1990 and the first since 2007, while the Patriots are the top seed in the AFC for the fourth time since 2010.

How the No. 1 seeds have fared since 1990:

SEASON

AFC NO. 1 SEED (SEASON RESULT)
1990 – Buffalo (Lost Super Bowl XXV)
1991 – Buffalo (Lost Super Bowl XXVI)
1992 – Pittsburgh (Lost Divisional)
1993 – Buffalo (Lost Super Bowl XXVIII)
1994 – Pittsburgh (Lost AFC Championship)
1995 – Kansas City (Lost Divisional)
1996 – Denver (Lost Divisional)
1997 – Kansas City (Lost Divisional)
1998 – Denver (Won Super Bowl XXXIII)
1999 – Jacksonville (Lost AFC Championship)
2000 – Tennessee (Lost Divisional)
2001 – Pittsburgh (Lost AFC Championship)
2002 – Oakland (Lost Super Bowl XXXVII)
2003 – New England (Won Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2004 – Pittsburgh (Lost AFC Championship)
2005 – Indianapolis (Lost Divisional)
2006 – San Diego (Lost Divisional)
2007 – New England (Lost Super Bowl XLII)
2007 – New England (Lost Super Bowl XLII)
2008 – Tennessee (Lost Divisional)
2009 – Indianapolis (Lost Super Bowl XLIV)
2010 – New England (Lost Divisional)
2011 – New England (Lost Super Bowl XLVI)
2012 – Denver (Lost Divisional)
2013 – Denver (Lost Super Bowl XLVIII)
2014 – New England (Won Super Bowl XLIX)
2015 – Denver (Won Super Bowl 50)
2016 – New England (???)

NFC NO. 1 SEED (SEASON RESULT)
1990 – San Francisco (Lost NFC Championship)
1991 – Washington (Won Super Bowl XXVI)
1992 – San Francisco (Lost NFC Championship)
1993 – Dallas (Won Super Bowl XXVIII)
1994 – San Francisco (Won Super Bowl XXIX)
1995 – Dallas (Won Super Bowl XXX)
1996 – Green Bay (Won Super Bowl XXXI)
1997 – San Francisco (Lost NFC Championship)
1998 – Minnesota (Lost NFC Championship)
1999 – St. Louis (Won Super Bowl XXXIV)
2000 – New York Giants (Lost Super Bowl XXXV)
2001 – St. Louis (Lost Super Bowl XXXVI)
2002 – Philadelphia (Lost NFC Championship)
2003 – Philadelphia (Lost NFC Championship)
2004 – Philadelphia (Lost Super Bowl XXXIX)
2005 – Seattle (Lost Super Bowl XL)
2006 – Chicago (Lost Super Bowl XLI)
2007 – Dallas (Lost Divisional)
2008 – New York Giants (Lost Divisional)
2009 – New Orleans (Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2010 – Atlanta (Lost Divisional)
2011 – Green Bay (Lost Divisional)
2012 – Atlanta (Lost NFC Championship)
2013 – Seattle (Won Super Bowl XLVIII)
2014 – Seattle (Lost Super Bowl XLIX)
2015 – Carolina (Lost Super Bowl 50)
2016 – Dallas (???)

DIVISION DOMINANCE: Since realignment in 2002, the New England Patriots have won 13 division titles, the most in the NFL during that span. The Green Bay Packers lead the NFC with nine division titles since 2002.

The teams with the most division titles since 2002:
TEAM – DIVISION TITLES
New England – 13*
Indianapolis – 9
Green Bay – 9*
Seattle – 8*
Pittsburgh – 7*
Denver – 6
Philadelphia – 6
*2016 division champion

PATRIOT PLACE: The New England Patriots won the AFC East for the eighth consecutive season in 2016, passing the Los Angeles Rams (1973-79) for the most consecutive division titles in NFL history.

The teams to finish first in their division in the most consecutive seasons:

TEAM, YEARS (CONSECUTIVE FIRST-PLACE FINISHES)
New England, 2009-16 (8)*
Los Angeles Rams, 1973-79 (7)
Cleveland, 1950-55 (6)
Dallas, 1966-71 (6)
Minnesota, 1973-78 (6)
Pittsburgh, 1974-79 (6)
Seven teams tied with 5
*Active streak

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The New England Patriots finished the 2016 regular season undefeated on the road.

The Patriots are only the seventh team since 1978 – when the 16-game schedule was instituted – to post an 8-0 record on the road. Of the previous six teams to accomplish the feat, four have gone to the Super Bowl (66.7 percent).

The teams (since 1978) to post an 8-0 road record and their final season result:

SEASON – TEAM (OVERALL, RESULT)
1984 – San Francisco (15-1, Won Super Bowl XIX)
1989 – San Francisco (14-2, Won Super Bowl XXIV)
1990 – San Francisco (14-2, Advanced to NFC Championship)
2001 – St. Louis Rams (14-2, Advanced to Super Bowl XXXVI)
2007 – New England (16-0, Advanced to Super Bowl XLII)
2014 – Dallas (12-4, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
2016 – New England (14-2, ???)

EXTRA TIME IN THE POSTSEASON: The playoffs have featured at least one overtime game in 13 of the past 16 postseasons.

In 2010, the NFL adopted a modified sudden-death system for the playoffs, which was expanded to cover all NFL games in 2012. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined and the game automatically ends upon any score.

A look at NFL overtime playoff games since 2000:

SEASON – ROUND (TEAMS; GAME-WINNING SCORE)
2000 – AFC Wild Card (Miami 23, Indianapolis 17; RB Lamar Smith scores on 17-yard TD run.)
2001 – AFC Divisional (New England 16, Oakland 13; K Adam Vinatieri connects on 23-yard FG.)
2002 – AFC Divisional (Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 31; K Joe Nedney wins it with 26-yard FG.)
2003 – NFC Wild Card (Green Bay 33, Seattle 27; CB Al Harris returns INT 52 yards for TD.)
2003 – NFC Divisional (Carolina 29, St. Louis 23 in 2 overtimes; QB Jake Delhomme connects with WR Steve Smith on 69-yard TD.)
2003 – NFC Divisional (Philadelphia 20, Green Bay 17; K David Akers wins game with 31-yard FG.)
2004 – AFC Wild Card (New York Jets 20, San Diego 17; K Doug Brien converts 28-yard FG.)
2004 – AFC Divisional (Pittsburgh 20, New York Jets 17; K Jeff Reed connects on 33-yard game-winner.)
2006 – NFC Divisional (Chicago 27, Seattle 24; K Robbie Gould converts game-winning 49-yard FG.)
2007 – NFC Championship (New York Giants 23, Green Bay 20; K Lawrence Tynes wins it with 47-yard FG.)
2008 – AFC Wild Card (San Diego 23, Indianapolis 17; RB Darren Sproles scores on 22-yard TD run.)
2009 – NFC Wild Card (Arizona 51, Green Bay 45; LB Karlos Dansby scores on 17-yard FR-TD.)
2009 – NFC Championship (New Orleans 31, Minnesota 28; K Garrett Hartley converts 40-yard game-winning FG.)
2011 – AFC Wild Card (Denver 29, Pittsburgh 23; WR Demaryius Thomas catches 80-yard TD from QB Tim Tebow.)
2011 – NFC Championship (New York Giants 20, San Francisco 17; K Lawrence Tynes connects on 31-yard FG.)
2012 – AFC Divisional (Baltimore 38, Denver 35 in 2 overtimes; K Justin Tucker converts 47-yard game-winning FG.)
2014 – NFC Championship (Seattle 28, Green Bay 22; QB Russell Wilson throws 35-yard TD to WR Jermaine Kearse.)
2015 – NFC Divisional (Arizona 26, Green Bay 20; QB Carson Palmer connects with WR Larry Fitzgerald on 5-yard TD.)

PASSING BY: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback in the 2016 playoffs with a 400-yard passing game in the postseason.

The 19 400-yard passing performances in NFL postseason history:

QUARTERBACK, TEAM (OPPONENT, DATE; PASSING YARDS)
Bernie Kosar, Cleveland (New York Jets, 1/3/87; 489)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (Detroit, Detroit, 1/7/12; 466)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (San Francisco, 1/14/12; 462)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (Denver, 1/9/05; 458)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (Kansas City, 1/4/14; 443)
Dan Fouts, San Diego (Miami, 1/2/82; 433)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (Pittsburgh, 1/5/03; 429)
Jeff George, Minnesota (St. Louis, 1/16/00, 423)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (Arizona, 1/10/10; 423)*
Dan Marino, Miami (Buffalo, 12/30/95; 422)
Dan Marino, Miami (Pittsburgh, 1/6/85; 421)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis (Tennessee, 1/30/00; 414)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (Chicago, 12/31/88; 407)
Jim Kelly, Buffalo (Cleveland, 1/6/90; 405)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (Seattle, 1/8/11; 404)
Don Strock, Miami (San Diego, 1/2/82; 403)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (San Diego, 1/13/08, 402;)
Daryle Lamonica, Oakland (New York Jets, 12/29/68; 401)
Peyton Manning, Denver (New England, 1/19/14; 400)
*Active in 2016 postseason

SUPER BOWL MVPs: There are four players in the 2016 postseason who have been named Super Bowl MVP: Quarterback Tom Brady of New England (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX), quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants (XLII, XLVI), quarterback Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay (XLV) and linebacker Malcom Smith of Oakland (XLVIII with Seattle).

PLAYER, CURRENT TEAM (SUPER BOWL MVPs)
Tom Brady, New England (3; XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (2; XLII, XLVI)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (1; XLV)
Malcolm Smith, Oakland (1; XLVIII*)
*With Seattle

Five players in NFL history have been named Super Bowl MVP multiple times, including Brady (three) and Manning (two). Brady and Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana are the only players to win the award three times.

The five players in NFL history to be named Super Bowl MVP multiple times:

PLAYER, TEAM (SUPER BOWL MVPs)
Tom Brady, New England (3; XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX)*
Joe Montana, San Francisco (3; XVI, XIX, XXIV)
Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh (2; XIII, XIV)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (2; XLII, XLVI)*
Bart Starr, Green Bay (2; I, II)
*Active in 2016 playoffs

WHEN IT COUNTS: New England quarterback TOM BRADY has a 22-9 (.710) career postseason record, the most playoff wins all-time by a starting quarterback.

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

QUARTERBACK, TEAMS (PLAYOFF WINS)
Tom Brady, New England (22)*
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)
*Active in 2016 playoffs

Brady’s 22-9 (.710) postseason record trails only Pro Football Hall of Famers Terry Bradshawk and Troy Aikman for the best winning percentage as a starting quarterback in NFL playoff history (minimum 15 starts).

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (11-6, .647) is tied for seventh all-time.

The quarterbacks with the best winning percentage in postseason starts (minimum
15 starts):

QUARTERBACK (WIN PCT., RECORD)
Terry Bradshaw (.737, 14-5)
Troy Aikman (.733, 11-4)
Tom Brady (.710, 22-9)*
Joe Montana (.696, 16-7)
John Elway (.667, 14-7)
Joe Flacco (.667, 10-5)
Ben Roethlisberger (.647, 11-6)*
Roger Staubach (.647, 11-6)
*Active in 2016 playoffs

A PROVEN WINNER: New England’s Tom Brady is one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to win four Super Bowls.

Only 12 QBs in NFL history have won multiple Super Bowls. Of the 12, three are active, including Brady, the New York Giants’ ELI MANNING (two) and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (two), and seven have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The starting quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls:

QUARTERBACK (SUPER BOWL WINS)
Tom Brady (4)**
Terry Bradshaw (4)*
Joe Montana (4) *
Troy Aikman (3)*
John Elway (2)*
Bob Griese (2)*
Eli Manning (2)**
Peyton Manning (2)
Jim Plunkett (2)
Ben Roethlisberger (2)**
Bart Starr (2)*
Roger Staubach (2)*
*Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame
**Active in 2016 playoffs

PLAYOFF STARTERS: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson helped lead the Seahawks to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season and can join Joe Flacco as the only Super Bowl-era quarterbacks to start a playoff game in each of their first five seasons beginning with their rookie year.

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2008-12)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-15)*

Wilson has seven playoff wins in his first four seasons and trails only Tom Brady (nine), Joe Flacco (nine) and Ben Roethlisberger (eight) in postseason victories among quarterbacks in their first five seasons in the league.

The quarterbacks with the most postseason victories in their first five seasons:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, POSTSEASON WINS
Tom Brady, New England (2000-04, 9)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2008-12, 9)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (2004-08, 8)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2012-15, 7)*
*Through four seasons

SMITH KEEPS IT SAFE: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has made five career postseason starts, completing 112 of 186 passes (60.2 percent) for 1,309 yards with 11 touchdowns and one interception for a 99.1 passer rating.

Smith’s 0.5 interception percentage is the lowest by a quarterback in postseason history (minimum 150 attempts). Dallas’ Tony Romo and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers rank second and fifth, respectively, in career interception percentage in NFL postseason history.

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

PLAYER, TEAMS (INTERCEPTION PERCENTAGE)
Alex Smith, San Francisco and Kansas City (0.5)*
Tony Romo, Dallas (1.1)*
Drew Brees, San Diego and New Orleans (1.3)
Bart Starr, Green Bay (1.4)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (1.7)*
*Active in 2016 postseason

FIRST-TIMERS: Several teams may feature a quarterback making his first career playoff start. Among those are Dallas rookie Dak Prescott, Houston’s Brock Osweiler, Miami’s MATT MOORE and Oakland rookie Connor Cook.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (PASSING YARDS)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (429)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (391)
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (385)

TAKING A PASS: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryanled the NFL with a 117.1 passer rating, the fifth-highest single-season passer rating in league history. New England’s Tom Brady (112.2), Dallas’ Dak Prescott (104.9) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (104.2) each recorded a passer rating of at least 100 and led their respective teams into the playoffs.

The quarterbacks with the highest passer rating in a single postseason (minimum of 50 attempts):

QUARTERBACK, TEAM (SEASON; ATTEMPTS/COMPLETIONS, YARDS; TD/INTERCEPTIONS, RATING)
Joe Montana, San Francisco (1989; 83/65, 800; 11/0, 146.4)
Bart Starr, Green Bay (1966; 51/35, 554; 6/1, 135.6)
Phil Simmsm New York Giants (1986; 58/38, 494; 8/0, 131.8)
Kurt Warner, Arizona (2009; 59/46, 584; 5/1, 129.1)
Troy Aikman, Dallas (1982; 89/61, 795; 8/0, 126.4)

THREE FOR 300: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 4,327 yards, including four games with at least 300 passing yards, this season. Stafford has at least 300 passing yards in each of his first two postseason starts and is one of only four quarterbacks in postseason history with at least two consecutive games with 300+ passing yards.

The most consecutive postseason games with at least 300 passing yards to begin a career:

PLAYER, TEAM (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 300+ PASSING YARDS)
Dan Fouts, San Diego (4)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (2)*
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle (2)
Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams (2)
*Active streak

RUSHING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS: Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards, the third-highest rushing total by a rookie in NFL history.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RUSH YARDS-RUSH TDS)
John Riggins, Washington (1982; 610-4)
Terrell Davis Denver (1997; 581-8)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1998; 468-3)
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (1983; 466-4)
Eddie George, Tennessee (1999; 449-3)

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RUSH YARDS)
Timmy Smith, Washington (1987; 34)
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2000; 338)
James Starks, Green Bay (2010; 315)
Duane Thomas, Dallas (1970; 313)
Ickey Woods, Cincinnati (1988; 307)

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RUSH TDs)
Norm Standlee, Chicago Bears (1941; 4)
Tony Dorsett, Dallas (1977; 4)
William Floyd, San Francisco (1994; 4)
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (2000; 4)

FINDING PAYDIRT: New England running back Le Garrette Blount led the NFL with a franchise-record 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; TOTAL TDs)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1997; 8)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995; 6)
Ricky Watters, San Francisco (1993; 6)
Gerald Riggs, Washington (1991; 6)
John Riggins, Washington (1983; 6)
Franco Harris, Pittsburgh (1974; 6)
Larry Csonka, Miami (1973; 6)

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN ranked second in the NFL with 106 receptions. Brown, who has at least 100 catches in four consecutive seasons, is tied with Pro Football MARVIN HARRISON for the most consecutive seasons with at least 100 catches in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; CATCHES)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 30)
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (2011; 28)
Demaryius Thomas, Denver (2013; 28)
Steve Smith Sr., Carolina (2005; 27)
Wes Welker, New England (2007; 27)

CATCHING ON: Detroit wide receiver Anquan Boldin has eight touchdown receptions in his postseason career. With two touchdown catches, Boldin will become the eighth player in NFL history with at least 10 postseason touchdown receptions and move into a tie for the third-most all-time.

The players with the most touchdown catches in postseason history:

PLAYER – TOUCHDOWN CATCHES
Jerry Rice – 22
John Stallworth – 12
Fred Biletnikoff – 10
Antonio Freeman – 10
Larry Fitzgerald – 10
Randy Moss – 10
Hines Ward – 10
Rob Gronkowski – 9
Andre Reed – 9
Steve Smith Sr. – 9
Lynn Swann – 9
Reggie Wayne – 9
Anquan Boldin – 8*
*Active in 2016 postseason

WELCOME RECEPTION: There are 11 players in the 2016 playoff field who recorded at least 1,000 receiving yards in the regular season: Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,409), the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. (1,367), Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (1,284), Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson (1,257), Oakland’s Amari Cooper (1,153), Miami’s Jarvis Landry (1,136), Seattle’s Doug Baldwin (1,128), Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (1,125), New England’s Julian Edleman (1,106), Detroit’s Golden Tate (1,077) and Oakland’s Michael Crabtree (1,003).

The players with the most receiving yards in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RECEPTIONS/RECEIVING YARDS/TD)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 3/546/7)
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)

200 CLUB: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones (300 yards, Week 4), New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (222 yards, Week 6) and Detroit wide receiver Marvin Jones, Jr. (205 yards, Week 3) each had at least 200 receiving yards in a single game in 2016. There have been eight 200-yard receiving games in NFL postseason history.

The players with at least 200 receiving yards in a postseason game:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; DATE-OPPONENT; RECEPTIONS/RECEIVING YARDS/TD)
Eric Moulds, Buffalo (1998; 1/2/99-Miami; 9/240/1)
Anthony Carter, Minnesota (1987; 1/9/88-San Francisco; 10/227/0)
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis (2013; 1/4/14-Kansas City; 13/224/2)
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (2004; 1/9/05-Denver; 10/221/2)
Steve Smith Sr., Carolina (2005; 1/15/06-Chicago; 12/218/2)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1988; 1/22/89-Cincinnati; 11/215/1)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (2011; 1/7/12-New Orleans; 12/211/2)
Demaryius Thomas, Denver (2011; 1/8/12-Pittsburgh;4/204/1)

TD PARTY: Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson led the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN led the AFC with 12 touchdown catches this season.

The players with the most receiving touchdowns in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, TD CATCHES)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008 – 7)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1988 – 6)
Dave Casper, Oakland (1977 – 5)
Alvin Garrett, Washington (1982 – 5)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1989 – 5)

ROOKIE RECEIVERS: New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard ranked second among rookies with 65 catches and 683 receiving yards and tied for second with eight touchdown catches in 2016.

The rookies with the most receiving yards in a playoff game:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, DATE – OPPONENT, RECEIVING YARDS)
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia (2009, 1/9/10 – Dallas, 146)
Keith Jackson, Philadelphia (1988, 12/31/88 – Chicago, 142)
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (2013, 1/12/14 – Denver, 142)
Reggie Bush, New Orleans (2006, 1/21/07 – Chicago, 132)
Billy Cannon, Houston Oilers (1960, 1/1/61 – Los Angeles Chargers, 128)

The rookies with the most receptions and receiving yards in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RECEPTIONS)
Joseph Addai, Indianapolis (2006 – 22)
Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams (1999 – 20)
Austin Collie, Indianapolis (2009 – 17)
Chad Morton, New Orleans (2000-15)
David Johnson, Arizona (2015 – 15)

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, RECEIVING YARDS)
Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams (1999 – 242)
Austin Collie, Indianapolis (2009 – 241)
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia (2008 – 207)
Steve Junker, Detroit (1957 – 201)
Ricky Nattiel, Denver (1987 – 171)

TIGHT ENDS MAKING MARK: Kansas City’s Travis Kelce led all NFL tight ends with 1,125 receiving yards and ranked second with 86 receptions in 2016. New England’s Martellus Bennett tied for third among tight ends with seven  touchdowns catches.

The tight ends with the most receiving yards in a single postseason:

TIGHT END, TEAM (SEASON, RECEIVING YARDS)
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis (2006 – 317)
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (2011 – 292)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (2011 – 258)
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (2012 – 254)
Dan Ross, Cincinnati (1981 – 244)

The tight ends with the most touchdown receptions in a single postseason:

TIGHT END, TEAM (SEASON – RECEIVING TDs)
Dave Casper, Oakland (1977 – 5)
Vernon Davis, San Francisco (2011 – 4)
Many Tied with 3

SPECIAL DELIVERY: There have been 26 kickoff-return touchdowns in NFL postseason history. The last postseason kickoff-return touchdown was scored by Kansas City’s Knile Davis, who returned the opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown in the Chiefs’ Wild Card win at Houston last season.

Ten kickoffs have been returned for touchdowns in Super Bowl history, with the last coming on Percy Harvin’s 87-yard kickoff-return touchdown to open the second half of Super Bowl XLVIII. Ron Dixon of the New York Giants (2000-02) is
the only player with two career kickoff-return touchdowns in the playoffs.

Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill and Miami rookie Kenyan Drake are the only players in the 2016 postseason who returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season.

There have been only 21 punt-return touchdowns in playoff history. The last player with a punt-return touchdown in the postseason was Denver’s Trindon Holliday in the 2012 Divisional round (90 yards, the longest in NFL playoff
history). No player has ever recorded more than one in a career.

Among the players in the 2016 postseason who returned a punt for a touchdown this season are Hill (two), Detroit’s Andre Roberts (two), Houston’s Will Fuller (one) and Miami’s Jakeem Grant (one).

Hill, who was selected to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist, is the only player in the NFL this season to return both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown.

SACK ATTACK I: Atlanta defensive end Dwight Freeney and Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews tie for the lead among players in the 2016 playoff field with 10 career postseason sacks. Both players are on the verge of entering the top five in the category.

The top five players with the most postseason sacks (since 1982):

PLAYER – SACKS
Willie McGinest – 16.0
Bruce Smith – 14.5
Terrell Suggs – 12.5
Reggie White – 12.0
Charles Haley – 11.0
LaMarr Woodley – 11.0

SACK ATTACK II: Seven players in the 2016 playoff field recorded at least 10 sacks this season: Atlanta’s Vic Beasley, Jr. (15.5), Seattle’s Cliff Avril 11.5), Miami’s Cameron Wake (11.5), Oakland’s Khalil Mack (11), Green Bay’s Nick Perry (11), Seattle’s Frank Clark (10) and Kansas City’s Dee Ford (10).

The players with the most sacks in a postseason game:

PLAYER, TEAM (SACKS – OPPONENT; DATE)
Willie McGinest, New England (4.5 – Jacksonville, January 7, 2006)
Richard Dent, Chicago (3.5 – New York Giants, January 5, 1986)
Rich Milot, Washington (3.5 – Chicago, December 30, 1984)

The players with the most sacks in a single postseason:

MOST SACKS IN A POSTSEASON

PLAYER, TEAM (SACKS, SEASON)
LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh (6, 2008)
Michael McCrary, Baltimore (6, 2000)
Richard Dent, Chicago (6, 1985)
Von Miller, Denver (5, 2015)
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore (5, 2010)
Willie McGinest, New England (5, 2003)
Tony Tolbert, Dallas (5, 1995)

BALL HAWKS: Houston’s QUINTIN DEMPS, Kansas City’s Marcus Peters and the New York Giants’ Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions each this season. The Giants’ duo of Rodgers-Cromartie (six) and Landon Collins (five) were the only pair of teammates in the league with at least five interceptions apiece.

The players with the most interceptions in a playoff game and an entire
postseason:

MOST INTERCEPTIONS IN PLAYOFF GAME

SEASON – PLAYER, TEAM (INTERCEPTIONS, OPPONENT-DATE)
1979 – Vernon Perry, Houston Oilers (4, San Diego – December 29, 1979)
Many tied with 3

MOST INTERCEPTIONS IN A POSTSEASON

SEASON – PLAYER, TEAM (INTERCEPTIONS)
1980 – Lester Hayes, Oakland (5)
1979 – Vernon Perry, Houston Oilers (5)
Many tied with 4

ROOKIE DEFENDER: Pittsburgh cornerback Artie Burns and Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones tied for the NFL rookie lead with three interceptions each this season.

The rookies with the most interceptions in a playoff game and an entire
postseason:

MOST INTERCEPTIONS IN A PLAYOFF GAME, ROOKIE

PLAYER, TEAM (INTERCEPTIONS, OPPONENT-DATE)
Vernon Perry, Houston Oilers (4, San Diego – December 29, 1979)
Ricky Manning, Jr., Carolina (3, Philadelphia – January 18, 2004)
Many tied with 2

MOST INTERCEPTIONS IN A POSTSEASON, ROOKIE

SEASON – PLAYER (TEAM – INTERCEPTIONS)
1979 – Vernon Perry (Houston Oilers – 5)
2003 – Ricky Manning Jr. (Carolina – 4)
1980 – Roynell Young (Philadelphia – 3)
1969 – Jim Marsalis (Kansas City Chiefs – 3)
Many tied with 2

MR. RELIABLE: New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski has made 15 consecutive field goals in the postseason dating back to the 2011 season. Gostkowski ties for fourth all-time in career postseason points, trailing only Adam Vinatieri (234), David Akers (175) and Gary Anderson (153).

The players with the most career points scored in the postseason:

PLAYER, TEAMS (POINTS)
Adam Vinatieri, New England and Indianapolis (234)
David Akers, Philadelphia and San Francisco (175)
Gary Anderson, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Minnesota and Tennessee (153)
Stephen Gostkowski, New England (132)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco and Oakland (132)

The kickers with the most points scored in a single postseason:

SEASON – PLAYER, TEAM (POINTS)
2006 – Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis (49)
1992 – Steve Christie, Buffalo (39)
1987 – Chuck Nelson, Minnesota (36)
2003 – John Kasay, Carolina (35)
2011 – Lawrence Tynes, New York Giants (34)
1985 – Tony Franklin, New England (34)

BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES

(Single postseason)

PASSING YARDS

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPTS; TD/INTERCEPTIONS)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (2011 – 106/163 for 1,219; 9/1)
Kurt Warner, Arizona (2008 – 92/135 for 1,147; 11/3)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2012 – 73/126 for 1,140; 11/0)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2010 – 90/132 for 1,094; 9/2)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis (1999 – 77/121 for 1,063; 8/4)

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, 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, Carolina (2005 – 27/335, 3)
Wes Welker, New England (2007 – 27/213, 2)

SCRIMMAGE TOUCHDOWNS

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – TOTAL TDs/RUSH TD/REC. 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)

THE COACHES

HEAD OF THE CLASS: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has 23 career postseason victories, the most all-time.

The head coaches with the most playoff wins:

HEAD COACH, TEAMS (PLAYOFF WINS)
Bill Belichick, Cleveland and New England (23)*
Tom Landry, Dallas (20)
Don Shula, Baltimore Colts and Miami (19)
Joe Gibbs, Washington (17)
Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh (16)
*Active in 2016 postseason

Since joining New England in 2000, Belichick has led the Patriots to four Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), which is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Noll (IX, X, XIII, XIV) of Pittsburgh for the most in history.

— NFL —

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Four head coaches in the 2016 postseason field have won at least one Super Bowl title – New England’s Bill Belichick (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), Seattle’s Pete Carroll (XLVIII), Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin (XLIII) and Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy (XLV). Additionally, Kansas City’s Andy Reid (XXXIX with Philadelphia) and Detroit’s Jim Caldwell (XLIV with Indianapolis) have each led a team that advanced to the Super Bowl.

The head coaches in the 2016 playoff field with Super Bowl experience:

HEAD COACH, CURRENT TEAM (SUPER BOWL TEAM SUPER BOWL WINS-LOSSES)
Bill Belichick, New England (New England XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX-XLII, XLVI)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (Seattle XLVIII-XLIX)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh XLIII-XLV)
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay (Green Bay XLV)
Andy Reid, Kansas City (Philadelphia XXXIX)
Jim Caldwell, Detroit (Indianapolis XLIV)

POSTSEASON RECORDS OF 2016 PLAYOFF HEAD COACHES

COACH, TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Bill Belichick, New England (23-10 .697)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (9-6 .600)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (6-5 .545)
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay (8-7 .533)
Andy Reid, Kansas City (11-11 .500)
Jason Garrett, Dallas (1-1 .500)
Jim Caldwell, Detroit (2-3 .400)
Jack Del Rio, Oakland (1-2 .333)
Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans 0-1 (.000)
Adam Gase, Miami 0-0 (.000)
Ben McAdoo, New York Giants 0-0 (.000)
Dan Quinn, Atlanta 0-0 (.000)

Regular season? Done.

This is the playoffs and there are four really good games. Three of the four contests (Oakland-Houston, Miami-Pittsburgh, New York Giants-Green Bay) are rematches from the 2016 campaign, while the fourth match (Detroit-Seattle) is a first time meeting in the post season. This means that the game plans will be tweakted. It also means that all four games this weekend 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 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?”

The mission’s easy.

Win. Advance.

Lose. Kickoff is next year.

The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday and Sunday, January 7-8, with Wild Card Weekend. On Saturday, the Oakland Raiders play at the Houston Texans (ESPN/ABC, 4:35 PM ET) and the Detroit Lions visit the Seattle Seahawks on NBC at 8:15 p.m. Wild Card Weekend continues Sunday with the Miami Dolphins at the Pittsburgh Steelers on CBS at 1:05 p.m. and the New York Giants traveling to face the Green Bay Packers on FOX at 4:40 p.m..

The following week (January 14-15), the New England Patriots (Saturday on CBS at 8:15 p.m.) and Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday on NBC at 1:05 p.m.) in the AFC and the Dallas Cowboys (Sunday on FOX at 4:40 p.m.) and Atlanta Falcons (Saturday on FOX, 4:35 p.m.) in the NFC host the Divisional Playoffs. The Patriots and Cowboys own home-field advantage for the Conference Championship Games (January 22) if they win their Divisional contests.

The 2017 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 29 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on ESPN at 8 p.m. and Super Bowl LI will take place on Sunday, February 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on FOX at 6:30 p.m.

New England, Kansas City, Dallas and Atlanta have byes in the first round and will play at home next weekend. They’ll know who they’re playing when the dust settles Sunday evening. As for last week’s picks, it wasn’t a bad week when you go 11-5. For the season, that’s 174-80. A pretty good week indeed.

Having said that, here are Saturday and Sunday’s playoff picks.

Oakland (12-4) at Houston (9-7), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC. Wild Card weekend gets underway in the Lone Star State as the Houston Texans, looking to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, hosts the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium in playoff Saturday afternoon action. Both clubs limp into the first round of the post-season with losses under their respective belts as well as QB issues.

Oakland fell to Denver 24-3 in the Mile High City to close the 2016 regular season out. The Silver and Black trailed 10-0 at the break and could only muster a third quarter TD pass from Connor Cook to WR Amari Cooper for their only points. Cook took over for Matt McGloin, who suffered a shoulder injury in the contest. In the process of rushing for 143 yards, the Broncos held Oakland to 57 rushing yards and Cook threw for 150 yards with a pair of sacks (Trevor Siemian threw for 206 yards and a pair of TDs). Oakland was 2 of 11 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 24:35, while the Broncos were 5 of 15, 1 of 3 on fourth and kept the ball for 35:25.

Houston fell to Tennessee 24-17 in the Volunteer State last Sunday afternoon. The Texans trailed 14-0 at the half but managed to outscored the Titans 17-10 in the last 30 minutes of action. Houston was held to 46 yards of rushing, while the Titans tallied 103 and knocked Tom Savage (concussion) out of the contest. Brock Osweiler took over for the Texans, throwing for 253 yards and a TD pass to TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, while Matt Cassel threw for 150. Houston was 3 of 15 on third down tries but ruled fourth down, going 4 of 6 and kept the ball for 29:08, while the Titans were 9 of 15 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 30:52.

Oakland is making 1st playoff appearance since 2002 season. The Silver and Black aim for 1st playoff win since 1/19/03 (vs. Tennessee in AFC Championship) and won 12 games for 1st time since 2000. The Texans are winners of consecutive AFC South titles for 2nd time in franchise history (2011-12) and are 2-1 at home in postseason…

The two teams have never met in the post and they did not meet in the regular season. The Texans lead the series 6-3 and have outscored Oakland 226-172. Houston won the last meeting with the Silver and Black, taking a 30-14 win in Oakland in 2014, while the Raiders’ last win in the series came in Houston in 2013 by a final of 28-23.

They did meet in the 2016 campaign but it wasn’t in the United States. They met on the Monday night before Thanksgiving and the Raiders broke a 10-10 tie in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, coming away 27-20 winners. Oakland got a pair of fourth quarter TD passes from David Carr to take the win South of the border, then held off a late Houston rally that would have given the Texans a chance to tie the contest or take the lead outright. Houston did manage to outrush Oakland 124-30 (the Texans’ Lamar Miller led all rushers with 104 yards and a TD), while Carr threw for 295 (Brock Osweiler for Houston threw for 243 yards with a TD and was sacked twice). Houston was at 50 percent on third down conversions, going 8 of 16 and kept the ball for 36:27 to Oakland’s 23:33 (the Raiders were 4 of 11 on third down tries and both teams were 1 of 2 on fourth down).

Houston’s a 3 1/2-point favorite and the over/under’s 38 1/2. The winner of this one gets to go to either Kansas City or Foxboro. The loser gets to go home and clean out their lockers. Houston has been known to self-destruct in the playoffs but not this time. Texans cover the 3 1/2 and win in the Lone Star State.

Detroit (9-7) at Seattle (10-5-1), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on NFL. The second Saturday Wild Card game takes place in the Pacific Northwest as the Seattle Seahawks, winners of the NFC West, face the Detroit Lions at Century Link Field.

Detroit backed their way into the post-season after the New York Giants beat Washington 19-10 at Landover, which made their contest with Green Bay a “winner-take-all” contest, the winner getting the NFC North title and the loser getting the Wild Card spot. Detroit led 14-10 at the half at Ford Field, only to see that lead get away from them in the final 30 minutes of play as Aaron Rodgers burned the Lions for four TDs enroute to a 31-24 win in the Motor City. Rodgers’ first TD strike to WR Davante Adams with 9:23 left in the third gave them the lead for keeps and the Packers would never relinquish it from that point onward. Rookie WR Geronimo Allison and Adams caught the other two TD passes, as Rodgers threw for 300 and the four TDs. Green Bay outrushed Detroit 153-76 in the win, while Matthew Stafford threw for 347 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with WR Golden Tate on a 3-yarder with 23 seconds left before the intermission. Green Bay was 7 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 34:09, while the Lions, who held the pigskin for 25:51, went 5 of 12 on third down coversions.

Seattle led San Francisco 19-14 at halftime at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, then held off the 49ers 25-23 to take the number three seed in the post-season tournament. the contest in wine country was not much to write home about as far as the running game was concerned and neither club breached the 100-yard barrier (Seattle outrushed San Francisco 87-62) and Russell Wilson threw for 258 yards and a TD, while the Seahawk defense sacked Colin Kaepernick (215 yards, TD) five times in what would be the final game for Chip Kelly as 49ers head coach.

RECORDS VS. COMMON OPPONENTS
Detroit: 3-2 (Green Bay 0-2; Los Angeles 1-0, New Orleans 1-0, Philadelphia 1-0)
Seatle: 2-3 (Green Bay 0-1; Los Angeles 1-1; New Orleans 0-1; Philadephia 1-0)

The Lions earned a playoff berth for 2nd time in past 3 seasons. Had NFL-record 8 wins after trailing in 4th quarter or OT. Head coach Jim Caldwell has made playoffs in 3 of 6 seasons as an NFL head coach

Seattle advanced to playoffs for 5th consecutive season and the Seahawks have won 10+ games in each of past 5 seasons. Seattle will aim for 3rd Super Bowl appearance in past 4 seasons and have won 6 of past 8 postseason games and have playoff win in each of past 4 postseasons. Head coach Pete Carroll is 8-4 (.667) in playoffs

This is the first meeting between the two clubs in the post-season. They have met 13 times before and the Seahawks lead series 8-5, outscoring the Lions 306-251. Seattle won the last meeting between the clubs, taking a 13-10 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in 2015, while the Lions’ last win in the series came in 2012 in the Motor City by a final of 28-24.

The 2015 meeting took place at Century Link Field in week four and Seattle led the contest 10-3 at the intermission before holding off a late Detroit rally in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle outrushed Detroit 110-53 and Wilson threw for 287 yards and a TD to Doug Baldwin but was sacked six time, while Stafford threw for 203 yards. Seattle ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:04 (the Seahawks were 6 of 13 on third down, Detroit was 3 of 13), while the Lions held the pigskin for 27:56.

Seattle’s favored by 8 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. It could be closer than the 8, given that both offenses are capable of moving the ball. For Detroit, they’ve been streaky of late, while Seattle has been kings of the NFC West mountain for the better part of the year. Seattle wins in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks but expect things to be closer than 8 points.

Miami (10-6) at Pittsburgh (11-5), 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS. It’s a week six rematch for the second leg of the AFC Wild Card race as the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers meet at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.

Miami got manhandled by New England and Tom Brady 35-14 at Hard Rock Stadium. The Pats led 20-7 at the intermission in the Sunshine State and never looked back in the win that allowed them to clinch home field advantage. New England outrushed Miami 120-75 and Brady threw for 276 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. Both teams went 7 of 12 on third down tries and New England held the ball for 31:22 to Miami’s 28:38.

Pittsburgh needed overtime to beat Cleveland 27-24 last Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers trailed the Browns 14-7 at the break and then proceeded to rally without the services of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and took the lead with 5:14 left in regulation when backup QB Landry Jones and rookie WR Demarcus Ayers connected on an 11-yard TD pass. Cleveland retied the contest with 3:28 left when Glen Atkinson III scored from five yards out. The Browns then won the toss to start the overtime and moved the ball downfield, only to be stopped by the Steelers defense, forcing them to connect on a 34-yard field goal by Chris Parkey. Pittsburgh then got the ball back to either tie or win the game outright and they chose to take the win, using a 9-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:20 of clock and allowed Steelers fans to go home happy when Jones (277 yards, three TDs, four sacks, interception) and Chris Hamilton hooked up on a 26-yard TD pass with 2:57 left in the overtime. Pittsburgh, who forced four Cleveland turnovers, found themselves being outrushed 231-69 by Cleveland with the Browns’ Isaiah Crowell running for 152 of those yards with Robert Griffin III throwing for 232 yards and a pair of TDs. The Steelers were 3 of 14 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:09, while the Browns ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 38:54, going 8 of 15 on third down tries.

They met in week six in the Sunshine State and the Dolphins came away 30-15 winners at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami, leading 16-8 at the half, knocked Roethlisberger (189 yards, TD, two interceptions) out of the contest with a knee injury and outrushed the Steelers 222-128 (Joseph Ajayi led all rushers with 204 yards and a pair of TDs) and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw for 252 yards without an interception in the contest. The ‘Fins were 50 percent on third down tries, going 7 of 14 and held the ball for 36:30, while the Steelers kept the ball for 23:30, going 3 of 11 on third down.

RECORDS VS. COMMON OPPONENTS

Miami: 5-4 (Cincinnati 0-1; New York Jets 2-0; New England 0-2; Baltimore 0-1; Cleveland 1-0; Buffalo 2-0)
Pittsburgh: 7-2 (Cincinnati 2-0; New York Jets 1-0; New England 0-1; Baltimore 1-1; Cleveland 2-0; Buffalo 1-0)

Miami is 20-20 (.500) all-time postseason record. 1st postseason appearance since 2008 season.

The Steelers 34-23 all-time postseason record, tied with Dallas (34) for most total playoff wins all-time. Rank 5th all-time in postseason win pct. (.596). Pittsburgh has won 7 division titles since 2002, 5th most in NFL.

The Dolphins and Steelers have played each other three times in the post-season. Miami leads the series 2-1 and have barely outscored the Steelers 80-79. Miami’s last post-season win over the Steelers came in the old Orange Bowl in 1984 in the AFC Championship, with the Dolphins taking a 45-28 win, while Pittsburgh’s lone post-season victory came in 1979 at old Three Rivers Stadium in the AFC Divisonal Playoff by a final of 34-14.

Miami covered the 7-point spread in the process of winning by 15 but Miami and Pittsburgh missed the over/under of 48 by a field goal. This time, the Steelers are a 10-point favorite and the over/under’s 47. It’s been a fun run for the Dolphins this year but it comes to an end, even though it’ll be closer than 10 points. Pittsburgh does prevail at home at Heinz and takes the win to move on to the next round.

New York Giants (11-5) at Green Bay (10-6), 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX. Eli Manning. Aaron Rodgers. They meet again. It’s a week five rematch at Lambeau as the Giants and Packers close out Wild Card Weekend in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst.

New York helped both Green Bay and Detroit get into the post-season with the 19-10 win over the Washington Redskins at Landover last Sunday. In the process of knocking the Redskins out of the playoffs, Big Blue led 10-0 before Washington came back to tie the contest up at 10-10 with 8:13 left in the contest. New York took the lead back for keeps on a 40-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 2:12 left to play and then put the nail in the ‘Skins coffin when CB Tevin Wade returned a Washington fumble 11 yards for a TD as time expired. The Giants outrushed Wasington 161-38 with rookie RB Paul Perkins leading all rushers with 102 yards, while Manning threw for 180 yards without a pick. The Giants defense forced three Washington turnovers, picking off Kirk Cousins (287 yards, TD, four sacks) twice in the 9-point win at FedEx Field. The Giants were 6 of 17 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 35:52, while the Redskins held the pigskin for 24:08, going 4 of 12 on third down.

Green Bay and Detroit backed their way into the post-season after the New York Giants beat Washington 19-10 at Landover, which made their contest with Green Bay a “winner-take-all” contest, the winner getting the NFC North title and the loser getting the Wild Card spot. The Packers trailed 14-10 at the half at Ford Field, then rallied to win the NFC North title as Rodgers made Packers fans R E L A X and burned the Lions for four TDs enroute to a 31-24 win in the Motor City. Rodgers’ first TD strike to WR Davante Adams with 9:23 left in the third gave them the lead for keeps and the Packers would never relinquish it from that point onward. Rookie WR Geronimo Allison and Adams caught the other two TD passes, as Rodgers threw for 300 and the four TDs. Green Bay outrushed Detroit 153-76 in the win, while Matthew Stafford threw for 347 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with WR Golden Tate on a 3-yarder with 23 seconds left before the intermission. Green Bay was 7 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 34:09, while the Lions, who held the pigskin for 25:51, went 5 of 12 on third down coversions.

The Giants and Packers met at Lambeau in week five and the Packers took Eli (199 yards, TD, three sacks) and Big Blue to task, coming away 23-16 winners. Green Bay and Rodgers (259 yards, two TDs) led 17-6 at the half in the Sunday night affair before the Giants rallied in the final 30 minutes of action to keep things close. Green Bay outrushed New York 147-43 (Eddie Lacy led all rushers with 81 yards) and held the ball for 36:38, going 9 of 19 on third down, while the Giants were 4 of 13 on third down, keeping the ball for 23:22.

New York earned the playoff berth for 1st time since 2011 & 1st under head coach Ben Mc Adoo. McAdoo spent 8 seasons with GB (2006-13) and was team’s QB coach in 2012 and 2013. Big Blue will make its 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history

Green Bay: They yave won 13 NFL championships, most all-time. Team’s .604 postseason winning pct. (32-21) is best in NFL history among teams with 50+ games played. This is team’s 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. Mike McCarthy has led team to playoffs in 9 of his 11 seasons as head coach.

In the post-season, the Packers lead the series 4-3 and have outscored Big Blue 151-97. Packer fans would like to forget the 2011 NFC Championship meeting at frosty Lambeau as the Giants took a 30-27 win in 2011.  For Green Bay’s last win in the post-season over the Giants, you will have to go all the way back to 1961, when the Packers shut out New York Packers 37-0 at Lambeau.

In the week five contest, Green Bay barely missed the 7 1/2-point spread, winning by 7 and both teams missed the 48 over/undder, scoring only 39 points. This time around, the Packers are again the darlings of the boys and girls in Vegas, favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 44. The entire nation will be watching and not suprisingly the Dallas Cowboys will be as well, pulling for Green Bay to beat the Giants at Lambeau, so they don’t have to face them again. Cowboys and Packer fans will get their wish. Green Bay covers the 4 1/2 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst to close out Wild Card Weekend.

It’s the second season. It’s a second chance for teams are in the post-season party to improve their lot, while knocking off a foe in the process.

It’s easy.

Win.

Advance.

Lose.

Your next game is in 2016.

While 12 teams are fighting to either keep the Lombardi Trophy or win their own, 20 other teams will be at home, sitting and watching and wondering what they could have done to be in the post-season party. This time, it’s not about them.

It’s about you.

Sounds somewhat narcissistic, we know. But that’s football. As Herm Edwards once said, “you play to win the game.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Think of it as a pep talk. It’s what you’ve worked for since OTA’s started, then the draft, then a summer where you had coaches yell and cuss at you, sleeping in college dorms and fighting with the heat and that rookie or free agent that’s looking for your job.

For teams like New England, Pittsburgh, Denver, Green Bay and Seattle, it’s “been there, done that, got the t-shirts.” For teams like Carolina, it’s their second chance in as many years to be in the post-season and want to prove that they didn’t do it with smoke and mirrors.

All that work, sweat, heat, fighting bugs, fighting teammates, having coaches yell at you in such a manner Marine Gunnery Seargents would have a smile on their faces. It’s all worth it. You’ve played 16 games, had a bye week and now it’s go time.

UNPREDICTABLE NFL: Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Four teams – Houston (9-7, AFC South champions), Kansas City (11-5, Wild Card), Minnesota (11-5, NFC North champions) and Washington (9-7, NFC East champions) – accomplished the feat this season.

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)

Many close games and great comeback victories… new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions… consistent teams excelling once again… records falling… young players making their mark… and so much more! In case you were wondering… The average margin of victory in NFL games this year was 11.06 points, the lowest in 19 seasons.

The 2015 season really did have it all, including a fantastic finish.

Week 17 came right down to the wire as 11 of the 16 games scheduled for the final day of the regular season had playoff implications for at least one of the teams involved. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.

The 2015 season featured a trend of many exciting games with close finishes, as nearly 55 percent were decided by one score – 140 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.

Each of the 12 teams still in Super Bowl 50 contention can look back at the wild ride that was the 2015 regular season and appreciate how challenging the road to the playoffs was.

Carolina (15-1) secured the No. 1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs and became just the seventh team in NFL history to win 15 games in a season.

“I’m an optimist but even 15-1 is a lot,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera about advancing to the postseason after the team posted the league’s top regular-season record. “This is very satisfying but we still have a lot of work to do. I am proud of what this football team is becoming.”

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Four teams that missed the postseason in 2014 – Kansas City (11-5), Minnesota (10-5), Houston (9-7) and Washington (9-7) – accomplished the feat this year.

“I feel very proud to be associated with this team,” says Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, whose team clinched the AFC South division title with a win over Jacksonville in Week 17. “Now the second season starts and that’s exciting. It is also really exciting that we didn’t back in to the playoffs. We won our way in and that is pretty cool,” he told the Houston Chronicle, KPRC-TV and KHOU-TV.

The Chiefs won 10 consecutive games to finish the regular season and are the only team in NFL history with a 10-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak in the same season. Kansas City finished with an 11-5 record, the best in NFL history by a team that suffered five consecutive losses during a season.

“I love every one of these wins, our team loves every one of them and we cherish every one of the wins,” says Chiefs head coach Andy Reid about the team’s winning streak heading into the postseason. “Any time you can win in the National Football League, it is a major accomplishment. I’m just talking about one game, let alone all of them in the streak we had.”

Green Bay (10-6 in 2015) earned the 750th total victory in franchise history this season. The Packers are 751-567-37 and joined the Chicago Bears as the only teams in NFL history to reach 750 total wins. The Redskins (9-7 in 2015; 601-583-27 all-time) reached 600 total victories.

The 2015 season also proved that consistency is difficult but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL. New England won their seventh consecutive AFC East division title (2009-present), which ties the 1973-79 Rams for the most consecutive division championships in NFL history. The Patriots, who finished with a 12-4 record, became the second team in NFL history with at least 12 wins in six consecutive seasons.

The NFL is never short on surprises and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2015:

COMPELLING COMPETITION
•Games continued to be this close, as more than half of all games were decided by one score.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE SCORE
POINTS – GAMES (PCT.)
8 or Fewer – 140 of 256 (54.7%)
7 or Fewer – 131 of 256 (51.2%)
3 or Fewer –  59 of 256 (23.0%)
•This season, 140 of 256 (54.7 percent) were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY EIGHT OR FEWER POINTS
2015 – 140
2002 – 137
2003 – 132
2011 – 132
2010 – 131
2012 – 131
2013 – 131

•In 2015, 131 of 256 games (51.2 percent) were decided by seven or fewer points, also the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN OR FEWER POINTS
2015 – 131
2002 – 126
2011 – 125
2003 – 124
2013 – 123

•Sixty-eight percent of games (174 of 256) were within one score in the fourth quarter. The 174 games are tied for the third-most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN FOURTH QUARTER
2002 – 177
2004 – 175
2015 – 174
2013 – 174
2007 – 173

•Twenty-one games were decided in overtime this season, tied for the fourth-most in a season since overtime was instituted in 1974.

The most overtime games in a season since 1974:

SEASON – MOST OVERTIME GAMES IN A SEASON
2002 – 25
2003 – 23
2012 – 22
2015 – 21
1995 – 21

•Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as comebacks were a frequent theme.

In 2015, there were 67 comeback victories in which a team was trailing at some point in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most in a single season in NFL history.

The most wins after trailing at some point in the fourth quarter:
SEASON – MOST WINS WHEN TRAILING IN FOURTH QUARTER
1989 – 70
2013 – 69
2015 – 67
2008 – 67
2001 – 67

•Washington (9-7) clinched the NFC East division title, which marked the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their division since 2003:
SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3, 8-8)*
2004 – Atlanta (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orlenas (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

•Since realignment in 2002, Carolina (15-1) is the first NFC South team to win the division title in three consecutive seasons.

SCORING
•A total of 11,680 points were scored during the 2015 season, the second-highest total all-time (11,985 points in 2013). Games averaged 45.6 points per game, the second-highest average since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger (46.8 points per game in 2013). In all, 1,318 total touchdowns were scored, also the second-most all-time (1,338 in 2013).

•Nine teams scored at least 400 points this season – Carolina (500), Arizona (489), New England (465), Pittsburgh (423), Seattle (423), the New York Giants (420), Cincinnati (419), New Orleans (408) and Kansas City (405) – tying the 2008, 2012 and 2014 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .667 winning percentage, and seven qualified for the playoffs.

PASSING

•NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2015.

The league-wide completion percentage (63.0), league-wide passer rating (90.2) and league-wide touchdown pass totals (842) were at historic levels, topping the previous records set in 2014 (62.6 completion percentage; 88.9 passer rating; 807 TD passes).

The league-wide interception percentage of 2.38 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.52 in 2014.

•Games averaged 705.3 total net yards per game, the best mark in NFL annals (697.0 in 2013). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 487.7 net passing yards per game, an all-time high (473.6 in 2014).

The league-wide yards per attempt average of 7.25 was the highest in the Super Bowl era, topping the previous record of 7.21 yards per attempt in 2014.

•There were 59 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2015, the most of any season in NFL history (58 in 2014).

•There were 11 individual games with five or more TD passes this season, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history (2004).

•An NFL-record 11 quarterbacks had 30+ touchdown passes – Tom Brady (36), Blake Bortles (35), Eli Manning (35), Cam Newton (35), Carson Palmer (35), Russell Wilson (34), Drew Brees (32), Derek Carr (32), Matthew Stafford (32), Ryan Fitzpatrick (31) and Aaron Rodgers (31) – surpassing the previous high of nine in 2014.

•Denver quarterback Peyton Manning (71,940) surpassed Brett Farve (71,838) for the most career passing yards in NFL history.​Manning also registered his 186th career regular-season win as a starting quarterback, tied with Favre for the most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

•Drew Brees and Tom Brady both climbed higher on the all-time list for career passing yards and touchdowns. Brees ranks fourth in passing yards (60,903) while Brady is fifth (58,028). Brady and Brees each have 428 touchdown passes, tied for the third-most in NFL history.

Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in eight consecutive seasons, extending his NFL-record streak.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady led the league with 36 touchdown passes, joining Peyton Manning (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four different seasons.

•New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees finished the season with 4,870 passing yards, his NFL-record sixth consecutive season with at least 4,500 yards. Brees has seven career 4,500-yard passing seasons, the most in NFL history.

Brees’ 4,870 passing yards were the most in the NFL this season and he is the first player to lead the league in passing yards six times. Pro Football Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Dan Marino each accomplished the feat five times.

Brees had two 400-yard passing games in 2015. In 15 seasons, Brees has 13 career 400-yard passing games, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the second-most such games in NFL history and one shy of the NFL record held by Peyton Manning (14).

Brees had 10 300-yard passing games in 2015. Brees’ 96 career 300-yard passing games are the most in NFL history.

•Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had 21 touchdown passes and has now thrown 10 or more touchdown passes in each of his first 12 seasons, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the third-longest streak to start a career in NFL history.

•Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who is 23 years old, had a single-season franchise record 35 touchdown passes and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in a season at age 23 or younger.

•Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck became the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win four consecutive starts after turning 40 years old.

​RUSHING & RECEIVING

•Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2015:

Six players registered at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015 – Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman (11), Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill (11), Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (11), Pittsburgh’s De Angelo Williams (11), St. Louis’ Todd Gurley (10) and Carolina’s Cam Newton (10).

Seven players registered at least 1,000 rushing yards this season – Peterson (1,485), Doug Martin (1,402) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gurley (1,106), Darren McFadden (1,089) of the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Ivory (1,070) of the New York Jets, Latavius Murray (1,066) of the Oakland Raiders and Freeman (1,061).

•Minnesota’s Adran Peterson finished the season with an NFL-best 1,485 rushing yards and tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns. Peterson is just the third player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing yards after his 30th birthday.

With 11 rushing touchdowns in 2015, Peterson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (eight) and La Dainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least eight different seasons.

•St. Louis running back Todd Gurley led all rookies with 1,106 rushing yards. Gurley had five games with at least 125 rushing yards, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (seven in 1983) for the most ever by a rookie.

•Seven players registered at least 100 receptions in 2015 – Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (136), Atlanta’s Julio Jones (136), Houston’s De Andre Hopkins (111), Miami’s Jarvis Landry (110), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (109), the New York Jets’ Brandon Marshall (109) and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (105) – the second-most in a season (nine in 1995).

Four players recorded at least 1,500 receiving yards in 2015 – Jones (1,871), Brown (1,834), Hopkins (1,521) and Marshall (1,502) – tied for the most in a season (1995 and 2014).

•Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown and Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones tied for the NFL lead with 136 receptions, the second-most in a single season in NFL history (Marvin Harrison, 143 in 2002). Brown, who led the league with 129 catches in 2014, has 265 total receptions over the past two seasons, surpassing Harrison (252 in 2001-02) for the most catches in any two-season span in NFL history.

Brown (136 catches for 1,834 yards) and Jones (136 catches for 1,871 yards) are the first players in NFL history to have at least 125 catches and 1,800 yards in a season. Brown had four 185-yard receiving games in 2015, the most in a single season in NFL history.

Jones’ 1,871 receiving yards are the second-most in a single season (Calvin Johnson, 1,964 in 2012).

•Three players reached the 1,000-catch mark this season – Dallas’ Jason Witten (1,020), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (1,018) and San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin (1,009) – marking the first time in NFL history three players recorded their 1,000th career reception in the same season.

•Anquan Boldin of the 49ers had 69 receptions this season, the 13th consecutive season he has caught 50+ passes since entering the league in 2003. Boldin’s streak is the most consecutive seasons with 50+ receptions to begin a career.
Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD (109 receptions) had more than 50 catches for the 12th consecutive season, the second-longest such streak to begin a career.

•New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. had 96 receptions for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2015. Beckham, who had 1,305 receiving yards as a rookie last season, has 2,755 career receiving yards, surpassing RANDY MOSS for the most receiving yards through a player’s first two seasons NFL history.

•New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall had a franchise-record 109 catches this season and is the first player in NFL history with six 100-catch seasons.

Marshall and Jets teammate Eric Decker each had a touchdown catch in nine games in 2015, the most such games by teammates in the same season in NFL history.

•Houston wide receiver De Andre Hopkins had a career-high 1,521 receiving yards this season. In three seasons, Hopkins has amassed 3,533 receiving yards, joining Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to record 3,500 receiving yards before the age of 24.

•Jacksonville wide receiver Allen Robinson (22 years, 132 days), who had 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and a franchise record 14 touchdown catches, became the youngest player in NFL history to register at least 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in a single season.

•Detroit’s Golden Tate (90 receptions), Calvin Johnson (88) and Theo Riddick (80) became just the fifth trio on the same team to each record at least 80 catches in a season.

•Dallas tight end Jason Witten brought his career receiving yard total to 11,215. Witten is the second tight end in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards (Tony Gonzalez, 15,127).

•Antonio Gates (104) of the San Diego Chargers joined Tony Gonzalez (111) as the only tight ends with 100 career touchdown receptions.

VERSATILE PERFORMANCES
•Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had seven games with both a touchdown pass and a rushing score. Newton has 31 career performances with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown in the same game, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young for the most in NFL history. Newton reached the mark in his 78th career game while Young played 169 games in his NFL career.

Newton finished the season with 35 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history with at least 30 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

•Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for a franchise-record 4,024 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2015. He also added 553 rushing yards and is the first player in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes and 500 rushing yards in a single season.

•Seattle rookie wide receiver-return specialist Tyler Lockett had six touchdown receptions, a kickoff-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown in 2015, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five touchdown receptions, a kickoff-return touchdown and a punt-return touchdown in a season.

•Philadelphia’s Darren Sproles had a punt-return touchdown (89 yards) and a rushing touchdown (one yard) in Week 3, which marked the second time in his career in which he had both a punt-return touchdown and a touchdown run in the same game (November 10, 2014). Sproles became the fourth player in NFL history to record multiple games with both a punt-return touchdown and a rushing touchdown, joining Ockie Ander, Curly Oden and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.

Sproles is also the only player in NFL history with at least 25 receiving touchdowns (28), 20 rushing touchdowns (20) and five punt-return touchdowns (seven).

•Adam Vinatieri (2,253) of the Colts surpassed Jason Hanson (2,150) for third place on the all-time scoring list. With 107 points this season, Vinatieri became the only player in NFL history to score 100+ points in 18 different seasons.

Vinatieri (503) also joined Morten Andersen (565) and Gary Anderson (538) as the only players with 500 career made field goals.

•New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL in scoring for the fifth time in his career with 151 points, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Huston (five) and Gino Cappaelletti (five) as the only players to lead the league in points scored at least five times.

•Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who converted four 50+ yard field goals in 2015, tied Jason Hanson (52) for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

DEFENSE
•With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. Four of the top five NFL teams in total defense qualified for the playoffs – Denver (283.1), Seattle (291.8), Houston (310.2) and Arizona (321.7). Those four clubs had a combined winning percentage of .688.

•The top four teams in turnover margin all advanced to the postseason and won at least 10 games each – Carolina (+20), Kansas City (+14), Cincinnati (+11) and Arizona (+9). Those four clubs had a combined .797 winning percentage.

•Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, who led the league with 17.5 sacks in 2015, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only players with at least 15 sacks in three of their first five NFL seasons since the statistic became official in 1982.

•Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus recorded 3.5 sacks in two different games in 2015 and joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Strahan (2001), Reggie White (1986) and Chris Doleman (1998) and Karl Mecklenburg (1985) as the only players to accomplish the feat since the statistic became official in 1982.

•The Houston Texans (J.J. Watt, 17.5; Whitney Mercilus, 12) and Cincinnati Bengals (Carlos Dunlap, 13.5; Geno Atkins, 11) were the only teams with two players who each had double-digit sacks.

•Oakland safety Charles Woodson had five interceptions and tied Ken Riley (65) for fifth on the all-time interceptions list.

HIGH SCORES: NFL teams combined to score 11,680 points (45.6 points per game) this season, surpassing 2012 (11,651) for the second-most points scored in a single season in NFL history (11,985 in 2013).

The most combined points scored in a single season in NFL history:
SEASON – MOST COMBINED POINTS SCORED
2013 – 11,985
2015 – 11,680
2012 – 11,651
2014 – 11,565
2011 – 11,356

30 CLUB: Eleven different quarterbacks have passed for 30 or more touchdowns in 2015, the most in a single season in NFL history. The previous high was nine in 2014.

The quarterbacks to throw at least 30 touchdown passes this season:
PLAYER, TEAM (TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Tom Brady, New England (36)
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville (35)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (35)
Cam Newton, Carolina (35)
Carson Palmer, Arizona (35)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (34)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (32)
Derek Carr, Oakland (32)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (32)
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (31)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (31)

FANTASTIC RECEIVERS: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had nine receptions for 149 yards against New Orleans.

Jones, who had the most receiving yards in the NFL this season with 1,871, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,848 yards in 1995) for the second-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown finished the season with 1,834 yards, the fourth-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in a season in NFL history:
PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR; RECEIVING YARDS)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (2012; 1,964)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2015; 1,871)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1995; 1,848)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2015; 1,834)
Isaac Bruce, St. Louis (1995; 1,781)

KICKING THE RECORD BOOKS:  New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL in scoring for the fifth time in his career with 151 points, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five) as the only players to lead the league in points scored at least five times.

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 seven of the past 10 years played a Wild Card game.

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

​WINNING PARTICIPANTS: Pittsburgh and Green Bay will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend. Pittsburgh will travel to Cincinnati this Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on CBS, while Green Bay travels to Washington on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on FOX.

The Steelers (33) and Packers (31) rank second and third, respectively, behind Dallas (34) for the most postseason wins in NFL history. The two teams have combined to win 10 Super Bowls (Pittsburgh six, Green Bay four).

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:
TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, PCT.; SUPER BOWL WINS)
Dallas Cowboys (34-25 .567; 5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (33-22, 600; 6)*
Green Bay Packers (31-20, .608; 4)*
San Francisco 49ers (30-20, .600; 5)
New England Patriots (28-18, .609; 4)**
Oakland Raiders (25-18, .581; 3)
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

The clubs’ postseason winning percentages also rank third (Green Bay, .608) and tied for fourth (Pittsburgh, .600) in NFL history.

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

TEAM (WINS-LOSSES, PCT.; SUPER BOWL WINS)
Baltimore Ravens (15-8, .652; 2)
New England Patriots (28-18, .609; 4)**
Green Bay Packers (31-20, .600; 4)*
Pittsburgh Steelers (33-22, .600; 6)*
San Francisco 49ers (30-20, 600; 5)
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

STREAKING SMITH: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has made three career postseason starts, completing 66 of 114 passes (57.9 percent) for 873 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions for a 108.6 passer rating.

With two more pass attempts without an interception to begin Saturday’s game at Houston, Smith would surpass Jeff Hostetler (115) for the longest streak of consecutive pass attempts without an INT to start a career in postseason history.

The most consecutive pass attempts without an interception to start a career in postseason history:
POSTSEASON TO START A CAREER
PLAYER, YEAR(S) (CONSECUTIVE PASS ATTEMPTS WITHOUT INT)
Jeff Hostetler, 1991-94 (115)
Alex Smith, 2012-present (114)*
Roger Staubach, 1969-73 (103)
Peyton Manning, 2000-03 (101)
*Active streak

Smith’s nine postseason touchdowns without an interception are already the most consecutive TD passes without an INT in postseason history to start a career.

The most consecutive touchdown passes without an interception to start a career in postseason history:

POSTSEASON TO START A CAREER
PLAYER, YEAR(S) (CONSECUTIVE TD PASSES WITHOUT INT)
Alex Smith, 2012-present (9)*
Roger Staubach, 1969-73 (7)
Tony Eason, 1985-87 (7)
Jeff Hostetler, 1991-94 (7)
*Active streak

RODGER THAT: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for at least 300 yards in four postseason games in his career.

With 300 passing yards Sunday at Washington, Rodgers would join Peyton Manning (nine), Tom Brady (eight), Drew Brees (six), KURT WARNER (six) and Pro Football Hall of Famers Joe Montana (six) and Dan Fouts (five) as the only quarterbacks to have at least five 300-yard passing games in NFL postseason history.

The quarterbacks the most 300-yard passing performances in NFL postseason history:
PLAYER, MOST 300-YARD PASSING GAMES IN POSTSEASON
Peyton Manning, 9*
Tom Brady, 8*
Drew Brees, 6
Joe Montana, 6^
Kurt Warner, 6
Dan Fouts, 5^
Aaron Rodgers, 4*
*Active in 2015 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FIRST-TIMER: Three quarterbacks – Houston’s Brian Hoyer, Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater and Washington’s Kirk Cousins – will make their first-career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend.

Cincinnati’s A.J. McCarron and Denver’s Brock Osweiler also contributed to their team’s success this season and could make their playoff debut.

The players with the most passing yards in their first career postseason start:
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – ROUND, PASSING YARDS)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (2002 – Wild Card, 429)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2009 – Wild Card, 423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1988 – Divisional, 407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999 – Divisional, 391)
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982 – Wild Card, 385)

MARCHING MARSHAWN: Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 100 yards in six postseason games, including his last two playoff games.

​With at least 100 yards on Sunday at Minnesota, Lynch would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (seven) and Terrell Davis (seven) as the only players in postseason history with seven 100-yard rushing games.

The players with the most 100-yard rushing games in the postseason:
PLAYER, TEAM (MOST POSTSEASON GAMES WITH 100+ RUSHING YARDS)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (7)^
Terrell Davis, Denver (7)
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle (6)*
John Riggins, Washington (6)^
Thurman Thomas, Buffalo (6)^
*Active in 2015 playoffs
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HIGH WATTAGE: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt led the league with 17.5 sacks this season and has five sacks in four career postseason games.

With two sacks against Kansas City on Saturday, Watt would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Richard Dent (nine) and La Marr Woodley (nine) as the only players to have seven or more sacks in their first five postseason appearances since the statistic became official in 1982.

The players with the most sacks in their first five postseason games (since 1982):
PLAYER (MOST SACKS IN FIRST FIVE POSTSEASON GAMES)
Richard Dent (9.0)^
LaMarr Woodley (9.0)
Tim Harris (6.5)
Kevin Greene (6.0)
Michael McCrary (6.0)
J.J. Watt (5.0)*
*Through four playoff games
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Once again, the mission is simple.

Win.

Advance.

Lose.

Kick off is in September 2016.

Here’s a look at the playoff schedule, including Super Bowl 50 (or Super Bowl L for you Roman numeral junkies)…

NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND

Saturday, January 9
AFC: Kansas City at Houston, 4:35 p.m. on ESPN, with simulcast on ABC
AFC: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 8:15 p.m. on CBS

Sunday, January 10
NFC: Seattle at Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. on NBC
NFC: Green Bay at Washington, 4:40 p.m. on FOX

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, J​anuary 16
AFC: Cincinnati, Houston or Kansas City at New England, 4:35 p.m. on CBS
NFC: Minnesota, Washington or Green Bay at Arizona, 8:15 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, January 17
NFC: Washington, Green Bay or Seattle at Carolina, 1:05 p.m. on FOX
AFC: Houston, Kansas City or Pittsburgh at Denver, 4:40 p.m. on CBS

In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest seeded Wild Card survivor. Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football Conference
1.Denver (12-4, AFC West champion)
2.New England (12-4, AFC East champion)
3.Cincinnati (12-4, AFC North champion)
4.Houston (9-7, AFC South champion)
5.Kansas City (11-5)
6.Pittsburgh (10-6)

National Football Conference
1.Carolina (15-1, NFC South champion)
2.Arizona (13-3, NFC West champion)
3.Minnesota (11-5, NFC North champion)
4.Washington (9-7, NFC East champion)
5.Green Bay (10-6)
6.Seattle (10-6)

The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 24 at 3:05 p.m. on CBS and 6:40 p.m. on FOX.

The 2016 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 31 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN and Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on CBS at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

The playoffs are football’s answer to “musical chairs.” As long as the music is playing and there are chairs, all is right with the world. It’s when the music stops is when the chaos begins and they don’t give Lombardis to the second play winners.

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

“We’re in the dance and we’ve got to win,” says Cincinnati defensive end Wallace Gilberry. “It’s a new season and a new year. If we stay undefeated, it means we’ve done something special. We’ll take it one day at a time, one game at a time and just get it done.”

Week 17 came right down to the wire as 11 of the 16 games played on the final day of the regular season had playoff implications. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. And three divisions were decided on the last day of the regular season, including the NFC North in game No. 256 of 256 as Minnesota defeated Green Bay.

“We are excited,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Mike Tomlin told KDKA-TV. “It’s been a tough 16-game fight for us but we are where we want to be. We are where we need to be. We have an opportunity like the others in the field and for that, we’re grateful.”

The final 12 teams are now set. It doesn’t matter how you got here. All that matters is that you’re here.

“We’ve enjoyed the journey and the journey’s not over yet,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, KIRO-TV and KING-TV. “We want to be able to tell our story and hopefully we’ll be able to tell it in the right way.”

The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 7 with Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on CBS at 6:30 p.m. begin this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

“I’m proud of this football team,” Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, KCCO-TV and KARE-TV. “We started out two years ago trying to build something special. It’s not a surprise we are where we are at. These players have earned this opportunity and now we have to go out there and take it.”

The Vikings are one of four new teams in this year’s playoff field, joining Houston, Kansas City and Washington. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before.

12 teams start a journey that will end with one team hoisting a Lombardi Trophy. The other 11 will fight for bragging rights. The journey begins in earnest on Saturday with two Wild Card games and two more on Sunday. As for last week, we were 10-6 (not bad), which means for the season, 156-86. Here are Saturday and Sunday’s picks.

Kansas City (11-5) at Houston (9-7) 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN and ABC. Wild Card weekend opens in the Lone Star State at Kansas City travels to Houston to face the Texans.

The Chiefs enter the postseason riding a 10-game winning streak. Kansas City is the first team in NFL history to win 11 games in a season in which it had a five-game losing streak. “It’s playoff time and there is no tomorrow,” says Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who has nine touchdown passes and no interceptions in three career postseason games. “The mindset in the playoffs is to execute the offense and score points.” Kansas City enters the post-season party with a 23-17 win over AFC West rival Oakland last Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City led 14-10 at the half and then held off a late Raider rally in the final 30 minutes of action when Michael Crabtree and David Carr connected on a 31-yard TD pass with 2:01 left to play in regulation. The Chiefs outrushed Oakland 189-48, while sacking Carr six times. Smtih threw for 156 yards and a pair of TDs i the win that allowed them to sweep the season series with their AFC West rivals, even though he threw a pair of interceptions to go with the two TD passes in the contest. Kansas City went 6 of 13 on third down (1 of 2 on fourth down conversions), keeping the ball for 34:55, while the Silver and Black were 3 of 14, 1 of 1 on third and fourh downs, keeping the ball for 25:05.

Houston won the AFC South for the third time in franchise history (2011, 2012). The Texans have won seven of their past nine games, allowing just 12.7 points per game over that stretch and holding opponents to six points or fewer in five of those contests. Houston clinched the AFC South title with a 30-6 win over Jacksonville last SUnday. Houston, who led 20-3 at the half, outpaced Jacksonville 10-3 in the final 30 minutes of play for their ninth win of the season. Texans RB Alfred Blue ran for 102 of his club’s 160 yards in the contest, while the Texan defense held Jacksonville to 32 yards rushing and sacked Blake Bortles eight times. Houston was 8 of 17 on third down tries, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 35:37, while the Jaguars held on to the pigskin for 24:23, going 1 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

“It’s great to be in the playoffs,” says Texans Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt, who led the NFL in sacks (17.5). “It’s great for our team, great for our fans, great for our city. This is what we expect. We expect to win the division and we expect to be in the playoffs. Now we go into the playoffs and we look forward to the opportunity and the challenge ahead,” he told KHOU-TV, KPRC-TV and the Houston Chroncicle.

While they have never met in the post-season, either as the Texans or Oilers, they met in week one in Houston and the Chiefs survived, taking a 27-20 win in the Lone Star State. Leading 27-9 at the half, the Chiefs held off a late Houston rally to take the opening day win. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce caught a pair of Smith TD passes in the early part of the contest to build what they thought would be a safe lead. After a scoreless third quarter, Houston went to work and won the final 15 minutes of play, shutting out Kansas City 11-0 and making the contest a 7-point affair when Texans K Randy Bullock connected on a 47-yard field goal with 83 seconds left in regulation. Houston outrushed the Chiefs 98-97 and Smtih (243 yards) threw three TD strikes, while Brian Hoyer threw for 236 yards with a TD but was sacked four times. Kansas City was 3 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 35:19, while the Texans were 3 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 24:41.

In the week one meeting, the Texans were 1-point favorites and the Chiefs covered the spread, winning by 7 and the 47 combined points by both teams easily covered the 41 over/under. This time, the Chiefs are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 40. They raise the curtain in the post-season show and this could be closer than the 3. The Chiefs may not be at home but everything’s up to date in Kansas City as they take the win in the Lone Star State, although the Texans will make it a close contest.

Pittsburgh (10-6) at Cincinnati (12-4). Round 3. It’s the AFC North’s version of Ali-Fraizer.

They still don’t like each other. They meet again along the shores of the Ohio River and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Roethlisberger vs. McCarren.

They both sit along the Ohio River and that’s all that they have in common.

AFC North rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will meet on Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium.

Pittsburgh clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season and defeated Cleveland 28-12. Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown finished the season with 136 catches for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns and is the only player in NFL history with at least 125 catches, 1,800 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns in a single season. The Steelers led 14-9 at the half and then proceeded to pull away from the Browns in upstate Ohion in the second half to seal the win an a playoff spot after Buffalo beat the New York Jets 22-17 in Orchard Park. Pittsburgh outrushed Cleveland 86-30 and the Steeler defense sacked Alex Davis seven times and picked him off twice, while Roethlisberger threw for 349 yards and three TDs. Pittsburgh was 2 of 8 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:03, while the Browns actually ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:57, going 4 of 16, 1 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

“It’s gratifying to be back in the playoffs,” says Brown. “As a Pittsburgh Steeler, the expectation is to make the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy. For us to get the opportunity, it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Bengals tied a franchise-record with 12 wins and won the division for the fourth time under head coach Marvin Lewis.

“Every year we’ve improved and now we’re 12-4,” says 10-year veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was selected to his second Pro Bowl. “That’s a heck of an accomplishment. It’s something we’re extremely proud of. We want to keep it rolling.”

The Steelers and Bengals have met once in the postseason and that was in 2005 in Cincinnnati, with the Steelers coming away 31-17 winners in the first round of the AFC playoffs. They split the season series in the 2015 regular season campaign, with each winning on the road. Cincinnati took the first meeting in week eight, coming away 16-10 winners in the Steel City. The Bengals trailed 7-6 at the intermission before rallying in the second half to come away with the 6-point win at Heinz Field and took the lead for good when a healthy Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green connected on a 9-yard TD pass with 2:57 left in regulation. Cincinnati ended the scoring 70 seconds later when Mike Nugent booted a 41-yard field goal with 1:47 left. Pittsburgh did outrush Cincy 116-78 and Roethlisberger did outpace Dalton in passing 262-231 (each had a TD pass, with Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connecting on a 1-yard pass to open the scoring in the contest) but Roethlisberger was picked off three times, while Dalton was picked off twice (each man was sacked three times). Neither club did anything for their fan bases to write home about on third down tries (Pittsburgh was 3 of 11, Cincinnati was 4 of 15) and neither had a fourth down attempt but the home team did manage to rule the, as Pittsburgh held on to the ball for 30:09 to Cincinnati’s 29:51.

The second meeting saw much better results for Steelers fans as they came to Cincinnati and took a 33-20 win at Paul Brown Stadium. In the week 14 matchup, the Steelers outrushed the Bengals 84-64 in the second contest and leading 16-7 at the half, knocked Dalton (wrist) out of the contest, sacking backup QB A.J. McCarren twice and sacking him three times. The Steelers did much better on third down tries in the second contest, going 8 of 14, while the Bengals were 3 of 8 (again, neither club had a fourth down attempt) and Pittsburgh ruled the clock again, keeping the ball for 35:47 to Cincinnati’s 24:13.

In the first meeting in week eight, Cincinnati covered the 3-point spread (the Bengals were favored in that contest) with their 6-point win but the 48 1/2 over/under was safe, as both teams only combined for 26 points. The Bengals were favored again in the week 14 contest as 3-point favortites but this time Pittsburgh covered the spread, winning by 13. This time, both teams covered the 47 over/under with 53 ponts. This time, the Steelers are the darlings of Vegas, as 2 1/2 point favorites and the over/under is 46 1/2. The winner gets to move on here, while the losers will go back home and clear out their lockers come Monday. Marvin Lewis would like nothing more than to take the playoff monkey off his back and so would Dalton, assuming he plays Saturday. Bengals fans can rejoice. The curse will be broken. Cincy covers the 2 1/2 and pulls the upset along the banks of the Ohio.

Seattle (10-6) at Minnesota (10-6), 1:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC. They met in week 13 in the Twin Cities and now they meet in the playoffs for the first time in their respective histories. The defending NFC champions travel to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a meeting with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Seahawks are back in the postseason and aiming to return to the Super Bowl for the third consecutive season. Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson led the NFL with a 110.1 passer rating and threw 24 touchdown passes with only one interception over the team’s final seven games, the only player in NFL history with at least 24 touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions over a seven-game span in a season. Wilson threw for 197 yards last Sunday in the desert and scored four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in Seattle’s 38-7 win at Minnesota in Week 13. The Seahawks manhandled Arizona in Glendale 36-6 at University of Phoenix Stadium. Seattle led 30-6 at the half and held Arizona in check in the final 30 minutes of play. Seattle outrushed Arizona 145-27 and RB Christine Michael did his best Marshawn Lynch impression, rushing for 102 yards. Seattle last Sunday on third down tries went 8 of 15 (Arizona was 5 of 12, 0 of 1 on fourth down) and was perfect on fourth down in their only attempt and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:37 to Arizona’s 23:23.

“We know we’ve got a lot of football to play,” says Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who tied for the NFL lead with 14 receiving touchdowns. “We’re on the path we’re supposed to be on and that’s what you want to see heading into the playoffs.”

The Vikings have won three in a row, including a Week 17 victory at Green Bay (20-13) to clinch the NFC North division title. Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson led the league with 1,485 rushing yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Marion Motley (1950) and Curtin Martin (2004) as the only players 30+ years old to win the rushing title. In the contest at Lambeau that allowed them to clinch, the Vikings led 20-13 at the end of three quarters before Green Bay rallied to make it a 7-point contest, thanks to a 16-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to TE Richard Rodgers and a 43-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Minnesota then held off a late Packer rally that would have either sent the game into overtime or given Green Bay the win at home. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 151-76 and the Packers sacked Rodgers five times, despite throwing for 291 yards. Green Bay went 2 of 15 on third down, 3 of 6 on fourth down at Lambeau and actually won the battle of the clock as they kept the ball for 35:42, while Minnesota went 2 of 11, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 24:18.

“It feels amazing to be the NFC North champions,” Peterson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It puts us in a position now to make a run to the Super Bowl.” Minnesota makes 1st playoff appearance since 2012 & 1st under Zimmer’s tenure.

As for that week 13 contest in the Twin Cities… Seattle led the Vikings at the half by a 21-0 score and gave up Minnesota’s lone score on a 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson. Seahawk rookie RB Thomas Rawls was in “Beast Mode’ himself, rushing for 101 yards and a TD, while the Vikings were held to 31 yards and Teddy Bridgewater was sacked three times at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Seattle was 9 0f 13 on third down tries, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 35:10, while the Vikings were 2 of 10, 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 24:50.

In the week 13 affair in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Seattle was favored by 1 and eclipsed the spread with their 31-point win and both clubs cover the 41 over/under with 45 points. The oddsmakers like the defending NFC champs as a 5 1/2 point favorite and the over/under is 41 1/2. There is one more factor and that’s the weather. The forecasted temperature at kickoff Sunday? A balmy 6 degrees… above zero. That would make it the third-coldest kickoff in NFL post-season history (of course, Ice Bowl in 1967 between Dallas and Green Bay and Freezer Bowl in 1981 between San Diego and Cincinnati; that temp at kickoff? -9 with a wind chill of -59). The weather outside might be frightful but the Seahawks make their march toward another Super Bowl and do it in the Twin Cities, covering the 5 1/2.

Green Bay (10-6) at Washington (9-7), 4:45 p.m. Sunday on FOX. The curtain for Wild Card Weekend drops when Washington hosts Green Bay. The teams have previously met twice in the postseason: 1936 NFL Championship Game (Packers 21, Boston Redskins 6) and 1972 Divisional Playoffs (Redskins 16, Packers 3).

The Packers have won five of the past six meetings between the two teams. The last time the two clubs met (September 15, 2013), Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 480 yards and four touchdowns in Green Bay’s 38-20 victory. Rodgers, who was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl, enters the 2015 playoffs with a 101.0 postseason passer rating, the third-best mark in NFL history. The Packers lead the series 18-13-1 and have outscored Washington 622-507 in regular season action. (Washington’s last regular-season win over Green Bay came in 2010, when the Redskins needed overtime to take a 16-13 win at RFK Stadium.)

“We have to prove to ourselves we can win the big games,” Rodgers told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “There’s belief there but we have to prove it to ourselves. We have to be consistent. If we do that, we have a chance to make a run.” In their 20-13 loss to Minnesota last Sunday night, Green Bay trailed the Vikings 20-13 at the end of three quarters before Green Bay rallied to make it a 7-point contest, thanks to a 16-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to TE Richard Rodgers and a 43-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. Minnesota then held off a late Packer rally that would have either sent the game into overtime or given Green Bay the win at home. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 151-76 and the Packers sacked Rodgers five times, despite throwing for 291 yards. Green Bay went 2 of 15 on third down, 3 of 6 on fourth down at Lambeau and actually won the battle of the clock as they kept the ball for 35:42, while Minnesota went 2 of 11, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 24:18.

The Redskins won the NFC East, the team’s first division title since 2012. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 192 of 257 passes at home for a 74.7 completion percentage, the highest in NFL history in home games in a season. Cousins set a franchise-record with 4,166 passing yards and is the only quarterback in team history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns (29) in a single season. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen (14 games in 1967) as the only players in franchise history to throw a touchdown pass in every game in a season.

Washington closed out the 2015 campaign in Arlington and took a slumping Dallas Cowboys team to task 34-23. The Redskins led 24-14 at the half against the Romo-less Cowboys, with Cousins throwing for 176 yards and three TD passes in the NFC East matchup, while Alfred Morris ran for 100 of Washington’s 146 (Dallas had 100 yards rushing, with backup QB Kellen Moore throwing for 435 yards with three TDs and a pair of interceptions).

“It’s important to go into the playoffs with some momentum and a rhythm,” says Cousins about the Redskins’ current four-game winning streak. “To put together four wins in a row in the fourth quarter of the season is important. It’s crucial to keep that momentum and carry it into what will be the biggest game of the year.” Washington, while forcing four Dallas turnovers, went 7 of 14 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:57, while Dallas went 2 of 10, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 26:03.

Washington’s favored by 1 and the over/under is 45 1/2. Since this one’s the last post-season game of the weekend, it’s only fair that this one becomes “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 56 last June and dates a 41-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?”

Both clubs are in survival mode. The winner? They get a road trip to either Glendale or Charlotte and play either next Saturday or next Sunday. The loser? They get to go back home and empty their lockers and start those preps for the draft, OTAs and training camp. Washington, it’s been a good run but the Packers find their swagger in Landover, taking this one on the road and covers the 1.