Archives for posts with tag: FOX NFL Sunday

Sunday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

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

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

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

Sunday’s Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)

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

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

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

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

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

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

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

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

And then there were four.

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

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

You win… you get to go to Atlanta.

Lose… your next game is next year.

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

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

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Win… you go to Atlanta in two weeks.

Lose… your next game is next year.

With that, here are the Sunday championship picks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re still standing.

The Los Angeles Rams remain unbeaten after eight weeks of football. Leading the NFC West, the Rams took a 29-27 lead late in their contest with the Green Bay Packers, then got some luck thanks to a fumble recovery of the ensuing kickoff, held the ball and took the two point win in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon in a contest that had four lead changes and felt more like a Lambeau Field crowd with a lot of fans wearing Packers green and gold. The Rams are the 25th team in the Super Bowl era to begin a season with an 8-0 record and eight of the previous 24 teams to accomplish the feat won the Super Bowl in their respective seasons.

Meanwhile, the NFL had their first coach fired as the Cleveland Browns gave Hue Jackson his walking papers after the team lost at Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon. Gregg Williams was named as the team’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.

As the NFL season crosses the midway point, scoring remains at an all-time high, close games are the norm and players across the league are on record-setting paces. Eight weeks are in the books, nine remain.

The leaves are changing, Fall is in the air, we’re nearing Thanksgiving and it’s getting a littler cooler. The NFL kicks off the month of November with action as close as ever. Through the first eight weeks of the season, 67 games have been decided by one score, tied with the 2012 season for the second-most in NFL history through Week 8 (68 in 2016), including six such games last week. Thirty-six of those games have been decided by three or fewer points, the second-most in NFL history through Week 8 (42 games in 1999), including three such games last week.

There have been 5,834 points scored this season, the most in NFL history through the first eight weeks of the season, and the league’s 661 total touchdowns and 429 touchdown passes are both the highest marks in league history through eight weeks.

Rams running back Todd Gurley, who had 195 scrimmage yards (114 rushing, 81 receiving) and a touchdown catch last week, leads the NFL with 15 total touchdowns this season. Gurley is one of three different players to score at least 15 touchdowns in his team’s first eight games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (17 touchdowns in 1958) and Priest Holmes (15 touchdowns in 2002 and 2004).

THE PLAYERS WITH THE MOST TOUCHDOWNS IN THEIR TEAM’S FIRST EIGHT GAMES OF A SEASON IN NFL HISTORY

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, TOTAL TOUCHDOWNS)
Jim Brown, Cleveland (1958, 17)^
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (2018, 15)
Priest Holmes, Kansas City (2004, 15)
Priest Holmes, Kansas City (2002, 15)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

​Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least four touchdown passes in three consecutive games last week, leads the league with 26 touchdown passes this season. He is the third different player in league annals to throw at least 25 touchdown passes in his team’s first eight games of a season, joining Tom Brady (30 touchdown passes in 2007) and Peyton Manning (29 in 2013 and 26 in 2004). Brady and Manning went on to earn Associated Press Most Valuable Player honors in those seasons.

THE PLAYERS WITH THE MOST PASSING TOUCHDOWNS IN THEIR TEAM’S FIRST EIGHT GAMES OF A SEASON IN NFL HISTORY

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)
Tom Brady, New England (2007, 30)#
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013, 29)#
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2018, 26)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (2004, 26)#
#Named Associated Press MVP

Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen leads the NFL with 74 receptions – the most by a player in his team’s first eight games of a season in NFL history – and has recorded at least 100 receiving yards in an NFL record-tying eight consecutive games (CALVIN JOHNSON, eight consecutive games in 2012). Thielen, who has a league-leading 925 receiving yards, can become the second player in NFL history with at least 75 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in his team’s first nine games of a season, joining Atlanta’s Julio Jones (80 catches and 1,029 receiving yards in 2015).

THE PLAYERS WITH THE MOST RECEPTIONS THROUGH THEIR TEAM’S FIRST EIGHT GAMES OF A SEASON IN NFL HISTORY

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, RECEPTIONS)
Adam Thielen, Minnesota (2018, 74)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2015, 70)
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (2002, 69)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri converted two field goals and all four of his point-after attempts for 10 total points scored in the Colts’ 42-28 win at Oakland.

Vinatieri, who has scored 2,550 total points during his 23-year NFL career, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Morten  Andersen (2,544) as the league’s all-time leading scorer.

•Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 286 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 119.6 rating in the Eagles’ 24-18 victory over Jacksonville before a crowd of 85,870 at London’s Wembley Stadium, the largest single-game attendance in the London Series since the league began playing annual games in London in 2007. Wentz became the second quarterback in NFL history with at least 30 pass attempts and a passer rating of at least 115 in four consecutive games, joining Denver’s Peyton Manning (2012).

Wentz, who had 28 rushing yards and caught a four-yard pass off of a deflection, is the first player with a passing first down, rushing first down and receiving first down in a London Series game.

•The Los Angeles Rams defeated Green Bay, 29-27, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams, the league’s last remaining unbeaten team, advance to 8-0 for the first time since 1969.

Rams running back Todd Gurley had 195 scrimmage yards (114 rushing, 81 receiving) and a receiving touchdown in the win. Gurley, who leads the league with 15 touchdowns this season, became the fourth player in NFL history with at least 15 touchdowns in his team’s first eight games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (17 touchdowns in 1958) and Priest Holmes (15 touchdowns in both 2002 and 2004).

•Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 34 attempts (70.6 percent) for 303 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a 125 rating in the Chiefs’ 30-23 win against Denver.

Mahomes, who had four touchdown passes in both Week 6 and Week 7, became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least four touchdown passes in three consecutive games, joining Drew Brees (three consecutive games in 2011), Peyton Manning (five consecutive games in 2004) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (four consecutive games in 1984).

With 303 passing yards, Mahomes joined Andrew Luck (eight consecutive games in 2014) and Drew Brees (seven consecutive games 2011) as the only quarterbacks in league annals with seven consecutive games with at least 300 passing yards in a single season.

•Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had six receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns and running back James Conner rushed for 146 yards with two touchdowns in the Steelers’ 33-18 win over Cleveland.

Brown, who has eight touchdown receptions on the season, is the fifth player since 1970 to record at least eight touchdown catches in six consecutive seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (11 seasons from 1986-96), Marvin Harrison (eight from 1999-2006) and Cris Carter (six from 1995-2000) and Antonio Gates (seven from 2004-10).

Conner, who had two rushing touchdowns in Weeks 1, 5 and 6, is the third first-or-second year player to record four games with at least two rushing touchdowns in his team’s first seven games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Van Buren (1945), Jim Brown (1958) and Eric Dickerson (1983).

•Washington running back Adrian Peterson had 149 rushing yards on 26 attempts (5.7 average) and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Redskins’ 20-13 win at the New York Giants.

Peterson, at 33 years and 221 days old, is the oldest player in NFL history to record at least 100 rushing yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a single game. Miami’s Ricky Willliams, at the age of 32 years, 182 days old, was previously the oldest player to accomplish the feat (November 19, 2009 at Carolina).

With a 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Peterson joined Steve BonoO (76 yards on October 1, 1995), Rocky Bleier (70 yards on October 7, 1979) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Thorpe (80 yards on October 16, 1921) as the only players with a touchdown run of at least 60 yards at age 33 or older in NFL history.

Peterson is the fourth player in league annals with at least 140 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a single game at age 33 or older, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers John Henry Johnson (200 rushing yards and three touchdowns on October 10, 1964) and John Riggins (140 rushing yards and one touchdown on September 23, 1984) and De Angelo Williams (143 rushing yards and two touchdowns on September 12, 2016).

•Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed 14 of 17 passes (82.4 percent) for 248 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the Seahawks’ 28-14 win at Detroit.

Wilson is the first quarterback in franchise history to register a 158.3 passer rating (minimum 10 attempts), the highest rating a passer can achieve. He is the second quarterback to accomplish the feat this season, joining Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff (158.3 passer rating in Week 4).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

MAGNIFICENT MAHOMES: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 2,526 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes through the first eight weeks of the season. Mahomes has thrown for at least 300 yards in each of his last seven games.

With 300 passing yards at Cleveland (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes would join Andrew Luck (2014) as the only quarterbacks with at least 300 passing yards in eight consecutive games within a single season in league history.

The players with at least 300 passing yards in the most consecutive games within a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 300+ PASS YARDS)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (2014 – 8)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2011 – 7)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2018 – 7)*
*Active streak

Mahomes, who has thrown four touchdown passes in three consecutive games and five total games this season, can become the third quarterback in league annals with at least four touchdown passes in six different games in a single season, joining Peyton Manning (six games in 2004 and nine in 2013) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (six in 1984). Manning and Marino each won the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award in those seasons.

The players with the most games with at least four touchdown passes within a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – GAMES WITH 4+ TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013 – 9)#
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (2004 – 6)#
Dan Marino, Miami (1984 – 6)^#
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2018 – 5)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Most Valuable Player

HERE COMES HOUSTON: Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for five touchdowns with a 156.0 rating in the Texans’ 42-23 victory over Miami in Week 8.

Watson, who has 34 touchdown passes in 15 career games, needs one touchdown pass on Sunday at Denver to join Pro Football Hall of Famers Kurt Warner (39 touchdowns) and Dan Marino (35) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in their first 16 career games.

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes in their first 16 career games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)

Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1998-99, 39)^
Dan Marino, Miami (1983-84, 35)^
Deshaun Watson, Houston (2017-18, 34)*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*In 15 career games

Houston has won five consecutive games following an 0-3 start to the season. With a win on Sunday, the Texans would join the 1970 New York Giants as the only teams since 1970 to win six consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start.

SUPER CAM: Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has 58 career rushing touchdowns, the most by a quarterback in NFL history and has at least five rushing touchdowns in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL.

Newton, who has four rushing touchdowns this season and faces Tampa Bay on Sunday, needs one rushing touchdown to become the first quarterback and seventh player overall in NFL history with at least five rushing touchdowns in eight consecutive seasons.

The players with at least five rushing touchdowns in the most consecutive seasons in league annals:

PLAYER – TEAMS (CONSECUTIVE SEASONS WITH 5+ RUSH TDS)
Marshall Faulk – Indianapolis and St. Louis (10)^
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego and New York Jets (10)^
Jim Brown – Cleveland (9)^
Ricky Watters – San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle (9)
Eddie George – Houston Oilers/Tennessee (8)
Thurman Thomas – Buffalo (8)^
Cam Newton – Carolina (7)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Has four rushing touchdowns in 2018

BACK TO BACK: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley leads the NFL with 1,151 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns (11 rushing, four receiving) through the Rams’ first eight games of the 2018 season.

Gurley, who led the NFL with 19 touchdowns (13 rushing, six receiving) last season, needs one receiving touchdown on Sunday at New Orleans to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (2000-01) as the only players in NFL history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

The players with at least 10 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns in consecutive seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS/RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS)
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis (2000, 18/8), (2001, 12/9)^
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (2017, 13/6), (2018, 11/4)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Entering Week 9

CAN’T STOP THIS THIELEN: Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen had seven receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown in Week 8 and leads the league with 74 receptions and 925 receiving yards this season. Thielen is the first player in NFL history with at least 100 receiving yards in each of his team’s first eight games to start a season.

With 100 receiving yards on Sunday against Detroit, Thielen would become the only player in NFL history to record nine consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 100+ RECIEVING YARDS)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (2012, 8)
Adam Thielen, Minnesota (2018, 8)*
*Active streak

Thielen, who also has a touchdown catch in each of his past five games, can become the only player since 1970 with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in six consecutive games.

With six receptions and 75 receiving yards this week, Thielen would become the sixth undrafted player in the common draft era (since 1967) to record consecutive seasons with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards.

The undrafted players with the most consecutive seasons of at least 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in the common draft era:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEARS, CONSECUTIVE SEASONS)
Rod Smith, Denver (2000-02, 3)
Wes Welker, New England (2007-09, 3)
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (2011-12, 2)
J.T. Smith, St. Louis Cardinals (1986-87, 2)
Wes Welker, New England (2011-12, 2)
Adam Thielen, Minnesota (2017-18, 1)*
*Has 74 catches for 925 yards in 2018

ELITE EIGHT: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones has 638 receptions for 9,866 yards and 43 touchdowns in 102 career NFL games.

With 134 receiving yards on Sunday at Washington, Jones would surpass Calvin Johnson (115 games) as the fastest player to reach 10,000 career receiving yards in NFL history.

The players to reach 10,000 career receiving yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (FEWEST GAMES TO 10,000 RECEIVING YARDS)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (115)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (116)
Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams (116)
Lance Alworth, San Diego (120)^
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (121)^
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (122)^
Julio Jones, ATLANTA (102)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Has 9,866 career receiving yards

With 134 receiving yards, Jones can also become the sixth player in league annals with at least 10,000 receiving yards in their first eight seasons.

The players with at least 10,000 receiving yards in their first eight seasons in league history:

​PLAYER – TEAMS (RECEIVING YARDS IN 1ST 8 SEASONS)
Torry Holt – St. Louis (10,675)
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (10,405)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco (10,273)^
Randy Moss – Minnesota and Oakland (10,147)^
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (10,072)^
Julio Jones – ATLANTA (9,866)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*In eighth season

TOP DAWG: Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett ties for the AFC lead with eight sacks in 2018 and has 15 sacks in 19 career games.

Garrett, who will play his 20th career game on Sunday against Kansas City, needs two sacks to become the fourth player with at least 17 sacks in their first 20 career games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The players with the most sacks in their first 20 career games since 1982:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, SACKS)
Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (2016-17, 19)
Aldon Smith, San Francisco (2011-12, 18.5)
Clay Matthews, Green Bay (2009-10, 17)
Myles Garrett, Cleveland (2017-18, 15)*
*In 19 career games

Highlights of the Week 9 schedule include:

Pittsburgh travels to M&T Bank Stadium to take on Baltimore in a key AFC North matchup at 1 p.m. on CBS. In Week 4, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 363 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 109.5 passer rating and kicker Justin Tucker converted four second-half field goals in the Ravens’ 26-14 victory at Pittsburgh. Steelers running back James Conner, who had 212 scrimmage yards (146 rushing, 66 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns in Week 8, is the fourth first-or-second year player to record four games with at least two rushing touchdowns in his team’s first seven games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Van Buren (1945), Jim Brown (1958) and Erick Dickerson (1983).

Seattle welcomes the Los Angeles Chargers to CenturyLink Field in an interconference battle at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. The Chargers, who enter the game at 5-2, have won four consecutive games and are one of three teams in the AFC averaging at least 400 total net yards per game. Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon (745 scrimmage yards, nine touchdowns) is one of five NFL players with at least 700 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns this season and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers leads the AFC with a 117.8 passer rating in 2018. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed 14 of 17 passes (82.4 percent) for 248 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the Seahawks’ Week 8 win and is the first quarterback in franchise history to register a 158.3 rating (minimum 15 attempts), the highest rating a passer can achieve.

On Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams take on New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 4:25 p.m. on FOX in a battle of NFC contenders. Rams defensive tackle AARON DONALD has six sacks in his past two games and leads the NFL with 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season. Saints quarterback DREW BREES, who owns three of the four highest single-season completion percentages in NFL history, leads the league with a 77.4 completion percentage (188 of 243), which is 5.4 percent higher than the current single-season record of 72.0 percent set by Brees in 2017.

Sunday’s nightcap features a pair of future Hall of Fame QBs as Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay travel to Foxboro to meet Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Rodgers (103.6) and Brady (97.6) rank first and third, respectively, in NFL history in career passer rating (minimum 1,500 attempts) and are the only active players with multiple Associated Press Most Valuable Player Awards (three for Brady and two for Rodgers). In the last meeting between the two teams, Rodgers passed for 368 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 112.6 passer rating in the Packers’ 26-21 win over New England on November 30, 2014.

Byes this week? Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, the New York Giants and Philadelphia. Atlanta, Dallas, the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee return to action from their week off.

Week eight went pretty well, as we went 11-3 overall and for the season, 75-42. There’s still a lot of football left, even though we’re now into November and no one’s clinched a playoff spot, let alone a division title. Week nine got underway in northern California as San Francisco took Oakland to the woodshed 34-3 in Silicon Valley Thursday evening and concludes in the Lone Star State as the Cowboys host Tennessee at Jerry World. Here are the week nine Sunday and Monday picks.

ATLANTA (3-4) at Washington (5-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Sunday action in week nine opens in Landover as Washington hosts Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons at Fed Ex Field.

Coming off their bye week, Atlanta took care of Eli Manning and the New York Giants last Monday evening, as the Falcons came away 23-20 winners in the Big Peach. Atlanta led throughout the contest and took a 10-3 lead with them to the intermission. The Falcons outrushed Big Blue 67-61 in the Monday night contest, while Ryan threw for 379 yards and connected with WR Marvin Hall on a 47-yard TD pass to open the scoring in the contest, while Manning threw for 399 yards, connecting with WR Odell Beckham Jr. on a 1-yard strike in the final seconds of the contest. The Falcons held the ball for 32:17, going 7 of 13 on third down tries, while the Giants held the ball for 27:43, going 5 of 12 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The Redskins held off the New York Giants 20-13 at Met Life Stadium last Sunday afternoon. Washington led 7-3 at the half in upstate New Jersey, then floored the gas as RB Adrian Peterson scored his second TD of the day, scoring from 64 yards away to take a 20-6 lead with 3:06 left in the contest. The Giants would pull themselves to within 7 with 17 seconds left when Manning and TE Evan Engram connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Washington would recover the onside kick and run the clock out to take the win, giving Big Blue their fifth loss in a row. Peterson led all rushers with 149 yards in the NFC East contest as Washington outrushed the Giants 182-37, sacking Manning (316 yards, two interceptions) seven times, while Alex Smtih threw for 178 yards with the TD toss to Peterson without a sack or interception. Washington was 6 of 15 on third down and held the ball for 33:38, while the Giants held the ball for 26:22, going 2 of 14 on third down, 3 of 4 on fourth down tries.

While Washington leads the series 14-9-1 (including contests that took place at RFK Stadium, Fulton County Stadium and the Georgia Dome) and the Redskins have outscored Atlanta 598-479, the Falcons have come away with wins in their five meetings, including a 25-19 overtime win in the Big Peach in 2015, while Washington’s last win also came in the Peach State by a final of 33-31 in 2003. The Redskins are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Both numbers are reasonable. Washington’s currently the king of the NFC East mountain, while the Falcons are chasing New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South. Hail to the Redskins? Not this week. Falcons pull off the upset in the DC Suburbs and take the win on the road and could cover the 1 1/2 in the process.

Pittsburgh (4-2-1) at Baltimore (4-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. This time, they meet in Charm City. Pittsburgh. Baltimore. A pair of AFC North rivals meet in Baltimore as the Steelers would like to settle the score with their rivals, while the Ravens look to sweep the series.

Pittsburgh took care of Cleveland 33-18 at Heinz Field last Sunday in their week one rematch. The Steelers erased a 6-0 deficit at the end of the first quarter, took a 14-6 lead with them to the intermission and proceeded to outscore the Browns 19-10 in the second half to seal the win. Pittsburgh held Cleveland to 74 yards on the ground, while they tallied 168 yards in the win (Steelers RB James Conner led all rushers with 146 yards and a pair of TDs). Roethlisberger threw for 257 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Antonio Brown, while Baker Mayfield threw for 180 yards with a pair of TDs of his own, while he was sacked twice (Roethlisberger was sacked once and both men threw an interception). The Steelers were 6 for 13 on third down in the Steel City and kept the ball for 32:12, while the Browns were 3 of 13 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:48 (both clubs went 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Cam Newton and the Panthers took care of Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, as Baltimore would wind up losing 36-21 at Bank of America Stadium. Despite outscoring Carolina 14-12 in the second half, the Ravens trailed 17-7 at the break. Carolina outrushed Baltimore 154-101, with Newton leading all rushers with 52 yards and a rushing TD, while throwing for a pair of TDs in the contest, connecting with TE Greg Allen and RB Collin McCafferty on both tosses. Newton threw for 219 yards with no sacks or interceptions, while Flacco threw for 192 yards with a TD pass to RB Javorius Allen, along with a pair of sacks and two interceptions. Both clubs went 6 for 12 on third down tries (carolina was 1 of 1 on fourth down, Baltimore went 1 of 2) and the Panthers kept the ball for 34:01 to Baltimore’s 25:59.

They met in week four in the Steel City and the Ravens came away from the Sunday night affair at Heinz Field 26-14 winners. In that first meeting, Pittsburgh saw Baltimore K Jeff Tucker connect on four second half field goals to break a 14-14 tie at Heinz Field last Sunday night and drop a 26-14 decision to the Ravens. The Steelers were held to a dismal season-low 19 yards of rushing, while the Ravens tallied 96, with Roethlisberger throwing for 274 yards and a TD to WR Antonio Brown, while Joe Flacco threw for 363 yards and a pair of TDs (Flacco was sacked twice, Roethlisberger was sacked once and threw an interception). Pittsburgh was a somewhat dismal 2 of 12 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:57, while the Ravens were ball hawks, holding the pigskin for 35:03, going 8 of 17 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Pittsburgh was favored by 8 in the Sunday night week four meeting in the Steel City and the Ravens’ by 12 allowed Baltimore to cover that spread. Both teams missed the over/under by scoring 40 points (the over/under was 48 1/2). This time, the boys and girls in Vegas like the Ravens as 3-point favorites in Charm City and the over/under’s 47. Baltimore looks to prove to the Steelers that the first win was not luck or a fluke, while the Steelers want revenge. If revenge is best served cold, the Steelers will be going for seconds. Pittsburgh may not cover the 3 but they take the win in Baltimore.

Kansas City (7-1) at Cleveland (2-5-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC clubs that played rematch games last Sunday meet along the shores of Lake Erie as Kansas City travels to Cleveland to face off against the struggling Browns, who made a coaching change on Monday as they released head coach Hue Jackson and replaced him with defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams as his replacement for the rest of the season.

Kansas City won their seventh game in eight tries at Arrowhead Stadium, taking down AFC West rival Kansas City 30-23 last Sunday. The Chiefs held a slim 16-14 lead at the intermission, then pulled away from the Broncos in the second half to sweep the series with their AFC West foes from the Mile High City. While Denver outrushed Kansas City 189-49, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw for 303 yards and four TDs, connecting with WR Sammy Watkins on two of the tosses. Denver was paced by Case Keenum, who threw for 262 yards and a pair of TDs (both men threw an interception; Keenum was sacked five times, Mahomes was sacked twice). Kansas City went 3 for 10 on third down at Arrowhead and kept the ball for 27:19, while the Broncos went 4 for 12 on third down and held on ot the ball for 32:41 (both teams were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Cleveland lost their third in a row as Pittsburgh came away 33-18 winners at Heinz Field last Sunday in their week one rematch. The Browns watched Pittsburgh erase a 6-0 deficit at the end of the first quarter, then saw them take a 14-6 lead with them to the intermission and proceeded to outscore the Browns 19-10 in the second half to seal the win. Pittsburgh held Cleveland to 74 yards on the ground, while they tallied 168 yards in the win (Steelers RB James Conner led all rushers with 146 yards and a pair of TDs). Roethlisberger threw for 257 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Antonio Brown, while Baker Mayfield threw for 180 yards with a pair of TDs of his own, while he was sacked twice (Roethlisberger was sacked once and both men threw an interception). The Steelers were 6 for 13 on third down in the Steel City and kept the ball for 32:12, while the Browns were 3 of 13 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:48.

Kansas City leads the series 12-11-2 and the Chiefs have outscored Cleveland 500-497. The Chiefs won the last two meetings, coming away 17-13 winners at Arrowhead in 2015, while Cleveland’s last win came in 2012 along the shores of Lake Erie, coming away 30-7 winners. Kansas City’s favored by 8 on the road and the over/under’s 52. The Chiefs are looking to make it eight of nine wins, while the Browns are looking to give Williams his first win as their interim head coach. That first win will have to wait. Although Cleveland makes it closer than 8, Kansas City prevails along the shores of Lake Erie and takes the win on the road.

New York Jets (3-5) at Miami (4-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of AFC East rivals meet again, this time in the Sunshine State, as Miami hosts the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Both teams were losers on the road last week and look to keep pace with New England.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! found themselves being held in check by Chicago, as the Monsters of the Midway came out on top 24-10 at Soldier Field. Da Bears led GangGreen 7-3 at the intermission in the Windy City, then pulled away from the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! in the second half to seal the win at home. Chicago outrushed GangGreen 179-57 with Mitchell Trubisky throwing for 220 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jets QB Sam Darnold threw for 153 yards and a TD (Trubisky was sacked twice, Darnold was sacked once and neither threw an interception). Chicago went 4 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries at Soldier Field and kept the ball for 32:44, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! went 3 of 14 on third down (they too went 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:16.

Miami trailed Houston 14-10 at the half last Thursday night and proceeded to drop a 42-23 decisison to the Texans at NRG Stadium. Miami was outscored by Houston 28-13 in the final 30 minutes of play as Houston would go on to seal the win in the Lone Star State and Miami’s fate in the process. Houston QB DeShaun Watson threw for 239 yards and five TDs without a sack or interception, while the Texans outrushed Miami 188-116 with Houston RB Lamar Miller leading the way with 133 yards and a TD (Miami’s Brock Osweiler threw for 241 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception against his old club). Houston was 6 of 12 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:51, while the Dolphins ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:09, going 4 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

They met in upstate New Jersey in week two and the Dolphins came out on top 20-12 at Met Life Stadium. In that contest, Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnaold made his first start at home, passing for 334 yards with one touchdown and safety Jamal Adams and linebacker Jordan Jenkins each recorded a sack and forced fumble but it wasn’t enough as the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! took the loss to Miami in the Meadowlands. Darnold, who was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, became the youngest player in NFL history (21 years, 103 days old) to throw for at least 300 yards in a single game, surpassing the previous record held by Jacky Lee (21 years, 137 days old), who threw for 331 yards on November 25, 1960. Miami outrushed GangGreen 135-42 and Ryan Tannehill threw for 168 yards and a pair of TDs, despite being sacked four times. Leading 20-0 at the intermission, the Dolphins were 6 of 13 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:25, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were rulers of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:35, going 3 for 10 on third downs.

In the week two contest in upstate New Jersey, GangGreen was favored by 3 and the Dolphins covered with their 8-point win on the road. The 44 over/under stayed intact as both clubs combined for a whopping 32 points. Miami’s back in the Sunshine State and the oddsmakers like them as 3 point favorites with the over/under at 45. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! are looking for revenge, while the Dolphins are looking for a sweep. Break out the brooms! Miami covers the 3 in the Sunshine State and takes the home win.

Chicago (4-3) at Buffalo (2-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708. A pair of cities located on Great Lakes meet in upstate New York Sunday at New Era Field. Wings meets deep dish pizza as Da Bears travel to Orchard Park for a Sunday afternoon contest with the Buffalo Bills.

Chicago manhandled the New York Jets, as the Monsters of the Midway came out on top 24-10 at Soldier Field. Da Bears led GangGreen 7-3 at the intermission in the Windy City, then pulled away from the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! in the second half to seal the win at home. Chicago outrushed New York 179-57 and Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 220 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jets QB Sam Darnold threw for 153 yards and a TD (Trubisky was sacked twice, Darnold was sacked once and neither threw an interception). Da Bears went 4 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries at Soldier Field and kept the ball for 32:44, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS went 3 of 14 on third down (they too went 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:16.

For the first 30 minutes of play against New England, the Bills held Tom Brady and the Patriots in sight, trailing 9-3 at the half in Orchard Park Monday night. Buffalo then saw the wheels fall off their bus and the Pats came away 25-6 winners at New Era Field. The contest was an all-field goal affair in the first half as the two Stephens (Gostkowski for New England, Hauschka for Buffalo) gave their teams their first half points. New England then outscored Buffalo 16-3 in the final 30 minutes of action, using a 1-yard TD run from RB James White and an 84-yard interception return by CB Devin McCourty in the fourth quarter to seal Buffalo’s fate. The Bills thought they had a TD that would have made the contest closer than the final score when Buffalo QB Derek Anderson (290 yards, interception, three sacks) and TE Jason Croom connected on a 25-yard TD pass with 6:14 left in regulation. Buffalo fans then saw their hopes shattered when the play was review and the call on the field was reversed. Buffalo was outrushed by the Pats 76-46 and Brady threw for 324 yards with no interceptions or sacks, as New England went 5 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 31:50, while the Bills were 4 of 14 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 28:10.

Da Bears lead da series 7-5 and Chicago has outscored Buffalo 240-185. Buffalo won their last meeting, which took place in the Windy City by a final of 23-20 in overtime in 2014, while Chicago went North of the border to claim their last win over Buffalo, taking a 22-19 win in Toronto. Chicago’s favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 37 1/2. If nothing else, this one could be somewhat entertaining and actually watchable. Chicago may not cover the 9 1/2 but Da Bears win on da road.

Tampa Bay (3-4) at Carolina (5-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of NFC South foes meeting in Charlotte as the Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium.

Tampa Bay lost their fourth game in five tries as they fell to Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31 in the final seconds on the road. The Bucs, who will have Ryan Fitzpatrick under center Sunday, trailed 27-9 at the half and would eventually bench Jameis Winston (276 yards, five sacks, TD, four interceptions) and replace him with Fitzpatrick (194 yards, two TDs, sack), whou would then proceed to pull his team closer to the Bengals, throwing a pair of TDs to RB Mike Evans and TE O.J. Howard to tie things up but Tampa Bay fans would have their hopes shattered as the Bengals got the ball back with 65 seconds left in regulation and used all of the time that was available to them when Bengals K Randy Bullock kicked a 44-yard FG as time expired. Cincinnati outrushed Tampa Bay 138-126, with Bengals RB Joe Mixon leading all rushers with 123 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 280 yards and a pair of TDs to WRs, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. Tampa Bay went 10 of 18 on third down (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:59, while Cincinnati went 5 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 24:01, including the final 65 seconds of regulation.

Newton and the Panthers took care of Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, coming away 36-21 winners at Bank of America Stadium. Despite being outscored by the Ravens 14-12 in the second half, Carolina led 17-7 at the break and never looked back, leading from start to finish in the win. Carolina outrushed Baltimore 154-101, with Newton leading all rushers with 52 yards and a rushing TD, while throwing for a pair of TDs in the contest, connecting with TE Greg Allen and RB Collin McCafferty on both tosses. Newton threw for 219 yards with no sacks or interceptions, while Flacco threw for 192 yards with a TD pass to RB Javorius Allen, along with a pair of sacks and two interceptions. Both clubs went 6 for 12 on third down tries (carolina was 1 of 1 on fourth down, Baltimore went 1 of 2) and the Panthers kept the ball for 34:01 to Baltimore’s 25:59.

The Panthers lead the series 22-13 and have outscored their NFC South foes 764-594. Carolina swept the series last year, taking wins in the Sunshine State in week eight and in the Tar Heel State in week 16 (Tampa Bay’s last win over the Pantehrs came in 2016, when they swept the series with their last win coming in Tampa by a final of 17-16).

Week eight… Tampa Bay. Carolina held Tampa Bay to a 41-yard field goal by Patrick Murray in the third quarter to take a 17-3 win on the road. Carolina led 10-0 at the intermission, then added a 25-yard TD pass from Newton to WR Kelvin Benjamin to restore order in the contest. Carolina, forcing three turnovers – two interceptions and one fumble in the win, outrushed Tampa Bay 100-85 and Newton threw for 154 yards with an interception, while Winston threw for 210 yards with three sacks to go with the two interceptions. The Panthers were 8 for 17 on third down and mastered the clock, holding the ball for 32:11, while the Buccaneers kept the ball for 27:49, going 2 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The Panthers made the sweep a reality in week 16 on Christmas Eve afternoon, as Newton played the role of Santa Claus and gave Carolina fans a 22-19 win at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina led 12-9 at the half before Winston (367 yards, six sacks) and Tampa Bay would storm back to lead 16-12 as he and WR Bobo Wilson connected on an 18-yard TD toss early in the third quarter. Tampa Bay would lead by 1 with 35 seconds left when Carolina (who had already clinched a playoff spot) would take the lead back for keeps with Newton, who threw for 160 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception, scored from 2 yards out. Newton led all rushers with 52 yards as the Panthers outurshed Tampa Bay 115-66 and went 4 of 13 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 30:30, while Tampa Bay kept the ball for 29:30, going 6 for 11 on third down tries.

In the week eight contest in the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay was favored by 2 1/2 and Carolina covered with the 14-point road win. As for the 44 over/under? It was safe as both teams combined for 20 points. In the Christmas Eve rematch in the Tar Heel State in week 16, Carolina was favored by 9 1/2 but only won by 3 and the 46 1/2 over/under was intact as the two clubs combined to score 41 points. In the Sunday contest in the Tar Heel State, the boys and girls in Vegas like Carolina as 6 1/2 point favorites with the over/under’s 54. Could the Panthers make it three in a row? Could the Bucs get their ducks in a row? Tampa Bay is in last place in the NFC South, looking up at Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta, while the Panthers look to catch Drew Brees and the Saints. Carolina’s finer in this first meeting and while Tampa Bay makes it close, Newton and the Panthers take the win at home.

Detroit (4-3) at Minnesota (4-3-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. They meet in the great indoors. A pair of NFC North (or Norris, as ESPN’s Chris Berman calls it) meet in the Twin Cities as first-place Minnesota hosts the Detroit Lions at US Bank Stadium. Both teams were at their respective home facilities and both teams came up on the short end of the scoreboard.

Detroit let a 7-0 first quarter deficit against Seattle get away from them, as the Seahawks scored 21 second quarter points uncontested to lead 21-7 and came away from the Motor City with a 28-14 win at Ford Field. Seattle outrushed the Lions 176-34 (Seattle RB Chris Carson led all rushers with 105 yards and a TD), while Russell Wilson threw for 248 yards with three TDs. Detroit was paced by Matthew Stafford, who threw for 310 yard and a pair of TDs to go with three sacks and an interception (Wilson was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). Seattle went 6 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 34:55, while the Lions held the ball for 25:05, going 6 of 10 on third down tries.

New Orleans broke a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter against the Vikings at US Bank Stadium and came away with a 30-20 win over Minnesota in a rematch from last year’s NFC Divisonal Playoff that featured the “Minneapolis Miracle.” Minnesota trailed 17-13 at the intermission and watched Drew Brees and the Saints pull away from them, outscoring the Vikings 13-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Minnesota was outrushed 106-85 by New Orleans and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins threw for 359 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked four times and picked off once, while Brees threw for 120 yards and a TD with an interception. Minnesota went 5 of 10 on third down conversions in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (they were successful on fourth down, going 2 of 3) and actually ruled the clock, as they held on to the ball for 31:23, while the Saints held the ball for 28:37, going 4 for 9 on third down tries.

Minnesota leads the series 72-39-2 (which includes games that were played at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Tiger Stadium, the Silverdome and the Metrodome) and the Purple Gang has outscored Detroit 2,432-2,099. They split last year’s contests, with each taking wins in the other team’s facility.

The first meeting took place in week four in the Twin Cities and the Lions came away 14-7 winners at US Bank Stadium. Trailing 7-3 at the intermission, the Lions would go on to score their last 11 points in the second half without a challenge, as Lions RB Ameer Abdullah scored the game-winner with eight minutes left in regulation on a 1-yard run. Stafford and WR T.J. Jones then connected on the two-point conversion as the Lions held off Minnesota for the win. Detroit outrushed Minnesota 97-87, with Abdullah leading the way with 94 yards. Stafford threw for 209 yards but was sacked six times, while Case Keenum threw for 219 yards with a pair of sacks for Minnesota (neither Stafford or Keenum threw a TD pass or interception). Detroit was 3 of 12 on third down and held the ball for 36:27, while the Vikings kept the pigskin for 23:33, going 3 of 10 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down.

They would meet again in the Motor City in week 12 on Thanksgiving Day and the Vikings would get Thanksgiving dinner and revenge on their NFC North foes, taking a 30-23 win at Ford Field. Although Minnesota led 20-10 at the break, the Vikings needed to hold off Detroit in the final 30 minutes of action, as Lions K Matt Prater booted a pair of field goals (his longest from 50 yards with 63 seconds left in the third), while Stafford and WR Marvin Jones connected on a 43-yard TD toss to open the fourth quarter before Minnesota K Kai Forbath connected on a 36-yard fiald goal to seal Detroit’s fate. Minnesota outrushed Detroit 136-53 and the Vikings’ Latavius Murray led all rushers with 84 yards and a TD. Stafford threw for 250 yards with an interception for the Lions, while Keenum threw for 282 yards (both threw a pair of TDs, Stafford threw an interception and was sacked three times, while Keeunm was sacked twice). Minnesota went 6 of 13 on third down at Ford Field and kept the ball for 34:57, while Detroit held the ball for 25:03, going 3 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week four Twin Cities contest, Detroit covered the 2 1/2-point spread with their 7-point win but the 21 combined points came nowhere near the 43 over/under. Minnesota covered the 2-point spread with their 7-point win on Thanksgiving Day in the Motor City and the 53 points was more than enough to cover the 44 1/2 over/under. Minnesota’s favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Vikings are going to be in somewhat of a foul mood after their loss to New Orleans at home. The Lions are trying to find their way through the NFC North jungle. Minnesota may not cover the 5 1/2 but they do take things out on their NFC North rivals at home and take the win in the process.

Houston (5-3) at Denver (3-5), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. A pair of teams going in opposite directions meet in the Mile High City as Houston takes on Denver in a late-afternoon contest. The two teams made a trade Tuesday prior to the deadline as the Broncos sent WR Demaryius Thomas to the Texans for draft picks in 2019. Thomas reported to Houston later in the week and will suit up against his former team.

Houston took a 14-10 lead against Miami last Thursday night and proceeded to take apart the Dolphins 42-23 at NRG Stadium. The Texans outscored Miami 28-13 in the final 30 minutes of play to seal the win in the Lone Star State and Miami’s fate in the process. Watson threw for 239 yards and five TDs without a sack or interception, while the Texans outrushed Miami 188-116 with Houston RB Lamar Miller leading the way with 133 yards and a TD (Miami’s Brock Osweiler threw for 241 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception against his old club). Houston was 6 of 12 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:51, while the Dolphins ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:09, going 4 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Denver watched Kansas City win their seventh game in eight tries at Arrowhead Stadium, as their AFC West rivals came away 30-23 winners last Sunday. The Chiefs held a slim 16-14 lead at the intermission, then pulled away from the Broncos in the second half to sweep the series with their AFC West foes from the Mile High City. While Denver outrushed Kansas City 189-49, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw for 303 yards and four TDs, connecting with WR Sammy Watkins on two of the tosses. Denver was paced by Case Keenum, who threw for 262 yards and a pair of TDs (both men threw an interception; Keenum was sacked five times, Mahomes was sacked twice). Kansas City went 3 for 10 on third down at Arrowhead and kept the ball for 27:19, while the Broncos went 4 for 12 on third down and held on ot the ball for 32:41 (both teams were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Denver leads the series 4-2, the Broncos have outscored the Texans 157-120 and they have won the last two meetings, including taking a 27-9 win in the Mile High City in 2016, while Houston’s last came in Denver in 2012 by a final of 31-25. Denver’s favored by 2 1/2 in the Mile High City and the over/under’s 46 1/2. These numbers are reasonable and make a ton of sense. Denver’s trying to keep their heads above water in the AFC West as they chase Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers, while the Texans want to stay on top in the AFC South. Denver, you have a problem. Houston covers the 2 1/2 and wins on the road.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) at Seattle (4-3), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. A pair of former AFC West rivals meet in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks as the Los Angeles Chargers make the 1,138-mile trip up I-5 to face off against the Seattle Seahawks.

Returning from their trip across the Atlantic, the Chargers come back from their bye after they held off Tennessee 20-19 in London two Sundays ago. Rivers and the Chargers led 10-6 at the half at Wembley Stadium, then proceeded to watch Tennessee outscore the Bolts 13-10 in the final 30 minutes of action to make things close. The Titans would come to within a single point with 31 seconds left in regulation when Mariota and TE Luke Stocker connected on a 1-yard TD pass. Tennessee then went for two instead of playing for the tie and perhaps sending the game into overtime but Mariota’s two-point try to WR Taywan Taylor was incomplete. Los Angeles then recovered the onside kick and sealed the win in the process. The Titans did outrush Los Angeles 164-47 with Mariota throwing for 237 yards with an interception to go with the TD toss, while Rivers threw for 306 yards and a pair of TDs (both Mariota and Rivers were sacked twice, Mariota threw the contest’s only interception). Tennessee was 9 of 16 on third down in London (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 35:23, while the Chargers kept the pigskin for 24:37, while going 4 of 9 on third down tries.

Seattle erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit at Detroit, scored 21 second quarter points uncontested to lead 21-7 and came away from the Motor City with a 28-14 win at Ford Field. Seattle outrushed the Lions 176-34 (Seattle RB Chris Carson led all rushers with 105 yards and a TD), while Wilson threw for 248 yards with three TDs. Detroit was paced by Matthew Stafford, who threw for 310 yard and a pair of TDs to go with three sacks and an interception (Wilson was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). Seattle went 6 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 34:55, while the Lions held the ball for 25:05, going 6 of 10 on third down tries.

Including meetings at Qualcomm Stadium and the old Kingdome when both clubs were in the AFC West, the Seahawks lead the series 26-24 and have outscored the Bolts 1,049-1,042. The Chargers won the last meeting between the clubs, as they would take a 30-21 win in San Diego in 2014, while Seattle’s last win over the Chargers came in 2010 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks by a final of 27-20. Seattle’s favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under is 48. The Chargers are good but they’re not that good. As for Seattle? They’ve played some decent football lately and will prove it to their fans at home in the Pacific Northwest. Seahawks win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and cover the 1 1/2.

Los Angeles Rams (8-0) at New Orleans (6-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of division winners meet in the Big Easy as the undefeated Rams travel to New Orleans for a late-afternoon contest with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in what could be an NFC playoff matchup. Both teams took wins in last Sunday’s action, with the Rams taking their win at home on the West Coast, while the Saints took a road win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes last Sunday night.

The Rams, leading the NFC West, trailed Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay 10-8 at the intermission at the Coliseum in front of a crowd that was wearing Packers colors and came away 29-27 winner over the Packers last Sunday. Los Angeles and Green Bay exchanged the lead four times on the West Coast before the Rams took the lead for keeps with 2:05 left in regulation when Greg Zeurlein connected on a 34-yard field goal for the 2-point lead. Los Angeles then had some last minute luck in their back pockets as Ty Montgomery fumbled the ensuing kickoff in Packer territory and the Rams recovered. The Rams, who outrushed Green Bay 135-106 (Todd Gurley led all rushers with 114 yards and a TD pass) then went on to run out the clock and take the win. Rodgers threw for 286 yards, while Jared Goff threw for 295 yards with three TDs, connecting with WR Josh Reynolds on the other two passes for the Rams (Goff was sacked five times, Rodgers was sacked three times, neither had an interception). The Rams were 8 of 18 on third down but had sucesss on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and held the ball for 34:10, while the Packers kept the ball for 25:50 and went 2 of 9 on third down tries.

Brees and the Saints, in first place in the NFC South, broke a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter against the Vikings at US Bank Stadium and got revenge as they came away with a 30-20 win over Minnesota in a rematch from last year’s NFC Divisonal Playoff that featured the “Minneapolis Miracle.” Minnesota trailed 17-13 at the intermission and watched Drew Brees and the Saints pull away from them, outscoring the Vikings 13-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Minnesota was outrushed 106-85 by New Orleans and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins threw for 359 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked four times and picked off once, while Brees threw for 120 yards and a TD with an interception. Minnesota went 5 of 10 on third down conversions in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (they were successful on fourth down, going 2 of 3) and actually ruled the clock, as they held on to the ball for 31:23, while the Saints held the ball for 28:37, going 4 for 9 on third down tries.

The Rams lead the series 41-32 (which includes contests played in Anaheim, St. Louis and old Tulane Stadium) and they have outscored the Saints 1,650-1,507. Their last meeting? Last year on the West Coast and the Rams were 26-20 winners at the Coliseum (New Orleans’ last win over the Rams came in 2016 in the Big Easy by a final of 49-21).

They met in week 12 on the West Coast at the Coliseum and the Rams led 17-10 at the intermisson, then held off a late second half New Orleans rally to take the win. While New Orleans outrushed the Rams 123-88 (Saints’ RB Alvin Kamara led all rushers with 87 yards and a rushing TD to go with a TD pass from Brees late in the contest), while Goff threw for 354 yards with a pair of TDs and an interception (Brees threw for 246 yards; Brees was sacked three times, Goff sacked four times). The Rams were 3 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 35:26, while the Saints held the pigskin for 24:34, going 3 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

While the Rams covered the 2 1/2-point spread, winning by 6, both teams missed the 53 1/2 over/under, merging for 46 points. This time, the powers that be like the Saints as 1 point favorites in the Big Easy with the over/under set at 60 1/2. While we agree with the 1-point spread as well as the 60 1/2 over/under, we see this one differently. The Rams are unbeaten for a reason and Saints fans will see that reason and have their hearts brokien in the Big Easy. Rams remain unbeaten and cover the 1 on the road.

Green Bay (3-3-1) at New England (6-2), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Rodgers vs. Brady. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBS meet in Foxboro on a Sunday night as New England and Green Bay meet at Gillette Stadium.

Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay led the Los Angeles Rams 10-8 at the intermission at the Coliseum in front of a crowd that felt more like Lambeau Field instead of Los Angeles, as the majority of fans were wearing Packers colors and came away on the short end of a 29-27 loss last Sunday. Los Angeles and Green Bay exchanged the lead four times on the West Coast before the Rams took the lead for keeps with 2:05 left in regulation when Greg Zeurlein connected on a 34-yard field goal for the 2-point lead. Los Angeles then had some last minute luck in their back pockets as Ty Montgomery fumbled the ensuing kickoff in Packer territory and the Rams recovered. The Rams, who outrushed Green Bay 135-106 (Todd Gurley led all rushers with 114 yards and a TD pass) then went on to run out the clock and take the win. Rodgers threw for 286 yards, while Jared Goff threw for 295 yards with three TDs, connecting with WR Josh Reynolds on the other two passes for the Rams (Goff was sacked five times, Rodgers was sacked three times, neither had an interception). The Rams were 8 of 18 on third down but had sucesss on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and held the ball for 34:10, while the Packers kept the ball for 25:50 and went 2 of 9 on third down tries.

Tom Brady and the Patriots took a 9-3 at the half in Orchard Park Monday night against Buffalo, then floored the gas in the second half as the Pats came away 25-6 winners at New Era Field. The contest was an all-field goal affair in the first half as the two Stephens (Gostkowski for New England, Hauschka for Buffalo) gave their teams their first half points. New England then outscored Buffalo 16-3 in the final 30 minutes of action, using a 1-yard TD run from RB James White and an 84-yard interception return by CB Devin McCourty in the fourth quarter to seal Buffalo’s fate. The Bills thought they had a TD that would have made the contest closer than the final score when Buffalo QB Derek Anderson (290 yards, interception, three sacks) and TE Jason Croom connected on a 25-yard TD pass with 6:14 left in regulation. Buffalo fans then saw their hopes shattered when the play was review and the call on the field was reversed. Brady picked up his 29th win over the Bills and his 15th in upstate New York. Buffalo was outrushed by the Pats 76-46 and Brady threw for 324 yards with no interceptions or sacks, as New England went 5 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 31:50, while the Bills were 4 of 14 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 28:10.

They’ve met 10 times in regular season play and they’ve each taken five wins and the Packers have outscored New England 241-200. Green Bay took the win in their last meeting, taking down the Patriots 28-21 at Lambeau in 2014, while the Pats’ last win came in Foxboro in 2010 by a final of 31-27.

New England on Sunday night holds a 28-18 record and the Pats won their two contests last year, while Green Bay is 25-13, taking losses in their two Sunday contests in 2017. Since it’s Rodgers vs. Brady, it would make a ton of sense to make this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 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?”)

New England’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 57 1/2. There’s a good chance that the over/under could be reached by halftime, given that there are two future Hall of Fame QBs in this contest. It’ll be closer than the 6 1/2 but Green Bay bounces back from their heartbreak on the West Coast and upsets the Pats in western Massachusetts on Sunday night.

Tennessee (3-4) at Dallas (3-4), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week nine closes in Arlington as the Tennessee Titans come to the Lone Star State for a prime-time meeting with the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Both teams took losses two Sundays ago on the road and both clubs had byes.

The Titans come back from their bye after their 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in London two Sundays ago. Tennessee trailed 10-6 at the half at Wembley Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Bolts 13-10 in the final 30 minutes of action to make things close. The Titans would come to within a single point with 31 seconds left in regulation when Mariota and TE Luke Stocker connected on a 1-yard TD pass. Tennessee then went for two instead of playing for the tie and perhaps sending the game into overtime but Mariota’s two-point try to WR Taywan Taylor was incomplete. The Titans did outrush Los Angeles 164-47 with Mariota throwing for 237 yards with an interception to go with the TD toss, while Rivers threw for 306 yards and a pair of TDs (both men were sacked twice and Mariota threw the contest’s only interception). Tennessee was 9 of 16 on third down in London (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 35:23, while the Chargers kept the pigskin for 24:37, while going 4 of 9 on third down tries.

Dallas comes back to action after a rally at FedEx Field against Washington fell short, allowing the Redskins to survive a 20-17 scare two Sundays ago. Washington led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, then saw that lead go away as Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and WR Michael Gallup connected on a 49-yard TD toss with 60 seconds left before halftime. Washington then would take the lead back in the third quarter with the help of K Dustin Hopkins, who booted a 21-yard field with 9:10 left in the quarter. Hopkins would then add a 25-yarder early in the fourth quarter, giving Washington a 13-7 lead. Dallas would pull themselves to within three with 9:46 left when K Brett Maher booted a 47-yard try. The Redskins then pushed the lead back to 10 with 4:55 left in regulation when LB Preston Smith made a defensive linesman’s dream come true when he picked up a Dallas fumble and returned it for a 1-yard TD.

Dallas was not going quietly into the good night as Prescott would score from a yard out with 97 seconds left to play, making the score 20-17. After a Washington punt, the Cowboys would get the ball back with 69 seconds left and got as close as Washington’s 34 and could have tied the contest but Maher’s 52-yard try hit the crossbar, giving Washington the win. Washington outrushed Dallas 130-73, with Redskins RB Adrian Peterson barely missing the 100-yard barrier with 99 to lead all rushers. Prescott, who along with Ezekiel Elliott, rushed for 33 yards, throwing for 273 yards, while Alex Smtih threw for 178 yards (neither Prescott or Smith threw an interception; Prescott was sacked four times, while Smith was sacked once). Washington went 3 of 12 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:55, while the Cowboys kept the ball for 29:05, going 5 of 14 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Including games played in Houston, when the Texans were known as the Oilers and the Cowboys played their home games in the Cotton Bowl and Cowboys Stadium, Dallas leads the series 8-6 and have outscored Tennessee  333-254. Dallas won the last meeting, coming out on top 26-10 in the Music City, while Tennessee’s last win came on Thanksgiving Day. Tennessee on Monday night holds a 22-17 record, while Dallas is 46-33 (both teams were 1-0 last year in primetime). Dallas is favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 41. While this one is not “Drill Worthy,” given the records of the two clubs involved, this one is worth your time watching. so you may want to go ahead and tape “Magnum PI” and “Bull” this week. Tennessee makes it closer than 6 1/2 but Dallas takes the win in Jerry World.

ATLANTA (11-5, NFC South champion, 2nd seed) vs. New England (14-2, AFC East Champion, 1st seed). Ryan vs. Brady. Peach pie vs. Clam chowder. New England vs. Atlanta. The two best teams in the National Football League meet to determine who takes home the Lombardi Trophy. The home of the Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, is the site of the last game of the 2016 campaign. Super Bowl LI takes the stage as the Lone Star State hosts the big game for the third time.

Both teams took big wins in their respective championship games in front of their home crowds. Atlanta took Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers to task January 22nd in the final game at the Georgia Dome, coming away with an impressive 44-21 win over the Packers to take the Halas Trophy and the NFC Championship. Atlanta led from start to finish in the Big Peach, leading 24-0 at the half and increased that lead to 31-0 with 13:51 left in the third before the Packers ended Atlanta’s hopes of a shutout when WR Davante Adams caught a 2-yard TD pass from Rodgers (287 yards, three TDs, interception) with 9:19 left in the period. Green Bay, who had a chance to score in the first half, missed a 41-yard field goal try by Mason Crosby and was marching down the field before Aaron Ripkowski fumbled near the goal line and Atlanta recovered, was held to 99 yards rushing, while the Falcons tallied 101 yards and a pair of rushing TDs from Tevin Coleman and Ryan. Ryan, who threw for 392 yards and four TDs without an interception, connected with Julio Jones on a pair of TD passes, the longest going for 73 yards and WRs Mohamed Sanu and RB DeVanta Freeman. Atlanta ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:39, while going 10 of 13 on third down in the win. Green Bay, who turned the ball over twice, went 4 of 10 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the pigskin for 26:21.

New England took the AFC title and the Lamar Hunt Trophy in Foxboro after their 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger at Gillette Stadium. Pittsburgh made it a close contest in the first 30 minutes of action and trailed 17-9 at the half before New England and Brady pulled away to take control of things in the second half. As far as the rushing game went in the Sunday evening contest, neither club breached the 100-yard barrier and barely touched the 50 yard mark in the contest (New England outrushed Pittsburgh 57-54), while Brady threw for 384 yards and three TDs. Meanwhile, for his efforts, Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards and a TD but was picked off once. In forcing a pair of turnovers for their win, the Pats were 11 of 17 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:26, while the Steelers kept the pigskin for 28:34, going 9 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

New England leads the series 7-6 in regular season play and has won the last four contests, including taking a 30-23 win in the Big Peach in 2013. However, the Falcons have outscored New England 300-249. Atlanta’s last win over New England came in 1998 in Foxboro, where they left Gillette Stadium with a 41-10 win in hand. Atlanta is 0-1 in their only Super Bowl, while the Pats are 4-4 in eight trips to the big game.

Fpr one team, they’ll have a parade and a Lombardi Trophy to keep as well as bragging rights for the season. For the other, they’ll be talked about and second-guessed for years and years. Super Bowl Sunday is finally here. The last football game of the 2016 campaign. After this one’s over, there’s no more football until the pre-season, which means that most of America will be forced to watch those Gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sundays until Baseball season. There have been 51 of these games and this contest is the star of the show in the sports world. The end of the 2016 NFL season will see a new champion.

It’s also the last chance for “THE DRILL.” It’s kinda sad but even Connie needs some time off (she can still fit into that prom dress she had in high school). (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?”

It’s the FINAL game of the 2016 campaign. When this one’s over, the winners get the Lombardi Trophy and each player gets a $107,000 check (Which comes out to $26,750 a quarter or $1,733.33 a minute). The loser? They don’t come away completely empty handed. Granted, the check isn’t as big as the winner’s. Each player on the losing team gets a whopping $53,000 or $13,250 a quarter or $883.33 a minute.

The last game of the 2016 campaign gets underway in Houston at NRG Stadium, which will make it the third time that Texas’ largest city has hosted the big game.

Two teams. One game. It all comes down to this.

New England has 9 Super Bowl berths, most in NFL history. Have won 8 consecutive division titles, longest streak in NFL history. Since 2001, have won 4 Super Bowl titles, most in NFL. Have 31-19 (.620) all-time postseason record, 2nd highest winning pct. in playoff history. Head coach Bill Belichick has 25 career postseason wins, most all-time and has won 4 Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), tied with Chuck Noll for most in NFL history. As far as their resepctive divisons go, both clubs won their divisions with one loss under their belts (Atlanta lost to Tampa Bay at home in week one, while the Pats were shut out by Buffalo in Foxboro in week four).

Atlanta is making their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Atlanta won the NFC South title and advanced to postseason for 1st time since 2012. Ranked 1st in NFL in total points (540) and 2nd in total offense (415.8 yards per game). Head coach Dan Quinn is making 3rd Super Bowl appearance in past 4 seasons and Was defensive coordinator for Seattle in Super Bowls XLVIII and XLIX.

“It’s an honor to get to go and play in this game,” says Patriots wide receiver Julian Edleman, who is the franchise postseason leader in both catches (84) and receiving yards (937). “This is what you fight for. This is what you train for. It’s to get an opportunity to play in this game,” he told the Boston Globe and the Christian Scientist Monitor.

“This is a really special team,” says Falcons fullback Patrick Di Marco told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have so many playmakers on offense, defense and special teams. This is a special time for this organization. I am super proud and super excited we are going to be playing in Houston. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl – not just get there – and we still have a game ahead of us. We still have one more game to win.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will be making their seventh Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won four Super Bowls together, tied with Pittsburgh head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw for the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

“I’m proud of this team,” says Belichick. “They all deserve this. It’s a good, hard-working group.”

Belichick is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Noll for the most Super Bowl victories by a head coach with four. Brady, who is making his NFL-record seventh career Super Bowl start, is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers Bradshaw and JOE MONTANA for the most Super Bowl wins by a starting quarterback with four.

“You never know if you’ll get these opportunities in life and fortunately this team has got the opportunity,” says Brady about advancing to the Super Bowl. “Now we’ve got to do something and go try and take advantage of it.”

Brady and Montana are the only players in NFL history to be named Super Bowl MVP three times. Brady, who was the MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XLIX, can become the first player ever to win Super Bowl MVP honors four times.

Brady enters Super Bowl LI already holding numerous Super Bowl passing records, including attempts (247), completions (164), yards (1,605) and touchdown passes (13).

“He’s the best quarterback to ever play the game,” says Patriots running back Le Garrette Blount about Brady. “He’s obviously, in my opinion, the best ever.”

The Patriots have won nine consecutive games and advanced to the Super Bowl with a 36-17 victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. In that contest, Brady passed for 384 yards and three touchdowns, including two scoring strikes to wide receiver Chris Hogan. Hogan finished the game with nine catches for a franchise postseason-record 180 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’m just happy to take advantage of this opportunity and be a part of this team,” says Hogan. “This whole team has worked so hard starting in April in OTAs. We’ve grinded through this entire year. This is what we worked for and this is what we wanted to get to.”

Patriots running back Blount, who led the NFL with a club-record 18 rushing touchdowns, added a rushing TD against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Including the postseason, Blount’s 19 rushing touchdowns are tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin (1996) for the most by a Patriots player in a single season.

The Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history (Super Bowl XXXIII, 1998 season) with a 44-21 win over Green Bay in the final game at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta, which led the NFL with 540 points scored, has won six consecutive games and is averaging 39.0 points per game over that span. The Falcons are the first team ever to advance to the Super Bowl by scoring at least 30 points in each of the club’s previous six games.

“I’m happy for everybody in our organization,” says Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. “We’ve worked hard to get to this point but the challenge is still in front of us. What we set out to accomplish is still in front of us. It’s really difficult to get to this point, and we will enjoy the process leading into it but our ultimate goal is still in front of us.”

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who is in his second year with the team, will be making his third Super Bowl appearance in the past four seasons. Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in Super Bowls XLVIII (2013 season) and XLIX (2014).

“I am excited for the opportunity. But more importantly, I’m excited for these players,” says Quinn. “It’ll be a great challenge.”

Atlanta quarterback Ryan, who led the league with a franchise-record 117.1 passer rating, has continued his stellar play in the postseason with a 132.6 passer rating. Over the team’s six-game winning streak, Ryan has thrown 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 133.3 passer rating.

“MVP,” says Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones when asked how to describe Ryan. “He’s a great player. He’s a great leader on this team and he’s my brother.”

Ryan has thrown at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive postseason games, the first player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. In this year’s playoffs, Ryan has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions.

The Falcons have spread the ball out as Ryan threw a touchdown pass to 13 different players in the regular season, the most ever in a season in league history. Among his favorite targets is Jones, who led the NFL averaging 100.6 receiving yards per game this season (1,409 yards in 14 games).

“He’s a beast,” says Ryan about Jones. “He’s an absolute stud. I’ve been so lucky to play with him as long as I have.”

Jones had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. It marked his second career postseason game with at least 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns and he is the only player in league history to accomplish that feat in multiple playoff games. In five career postseason games, Jones has 552 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. His average of 110.4 receiving yards per game is the highest in NFL postseason history (minimum five games).

Defensively, the Falcons are powered by Vic Beasley, Jr., who led the NFL in sacks (15.5), and a quartet of rookies – safety Keanu Neal, cornerback Brian Poole and linebackers Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell. All four rookies started in the NFC Championship Game and Atlanta can become the first team ever to start four rookies on defense in the Super Bowl. Jones (106) and Neal (105) led all NFL rookies in tackles this season.

“Every day, we are just trying to get one percent better for the guy next to us,” says Poole. “Every play, we are going to give it all we’ve got and not let our teammates down. We’re going out there trying to play ball and let people know that what we’ve got is serious.”

Beasley, who is in his second year, had a career-high 15.5 sacks and is the first Falcons player to lead the league in sacks. During the team’s current six-game winning streak, Atlanta has allowed just 19.3 points per game (27.6 points per game in the team’s first 12 games).

“We feel like we have the potential to be a great defense,” Beasley told WSB-TV. “Early in the season, we weren’t playing as well but we have come a long way and now we’re going to the Super Bowl.”

New England’s favored by 3 points in the last game of the 2016 National Football League season and the over/under is 59. Both numbers make a lot of sense. There’s a lot at stake and not just for those that have ads in this year’s contest. There’s a lot at stake for the teams that are involved. The winners will be looked at and heralded for eternity, while the losers will be second-guessed for the entire off season. The winner gets to pick last in the upcoming draft, the loser will pick 31st. Rise up, Atlanta! You’re picking last. Falcons cover the 3 and pull off the upset.

Records vs. Common Opponents

New England: 4-1 (Arizona. 1-0; Denver 1-0; Los Angeles Rams 1-0; Seattle. 0-1; San Francisco 1-0)

Atlanta: 5-1 (Arizona 1-0; Denver 1-0; Los Angeles 1-0; Seattle 1-1; San Francisco 1-0)(Atlanta’s win over Seattle came in the Divisional Round)

Playoff Records – New England: 31-19; Atlanta: 9-12

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Tony Boselli, James Lofton (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (New England), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New England), 82 (Atlanta)

Referee: Carl Chefferss

Injury Report

ATLANTA – Atlanta reported no injuries.

New England – New England reported no injuries.

Weather Report: Game indoors

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

Super Bowl LI brings much more than football to the Houston area. Throughout the weeks preceding the game, more than 30 charitable activities and community outreach events will enrich the community and provide lasting legacies.

Super Bowl Week activities include the announcement of the annual Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide winner, the first-ever live American Heart Association-NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Virtual Field Trip, a series of community projects made possible by millions of dollars in NFL Foundation Super Bowl Legacy Grants and the Super Bowl LI Host Committee and a number of youth character development events including an InSideOut Character Initiative Forum and the NFL’s Women’s Summit.

During the week, the NFL Verizon will host an Unsung Heroes luncheon for volunteers and employees at local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention organizations and shelters. The league is also working with local organizations on social issues including human trafficking, providing financial grants to address issues in the Houston area.

The following events listed, courtesy of the National Football League, are just some of the ways the NFL and Super Bowl LI will positively impact the community.

NFL EXPERIENCE DRIVEN BY GENESIS

NFL Experience Driven by Genesis – pro football’s interactive theme park –  will return to Houston for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2004, this event offers fans a unique chance to get involved in the festivities surrounding Super Bowl LI, offering interactive games, youth football clinics, merchandise from NFL Shop presented by Visa, player autograph sessions and more.

Celebrating the history of the game and electrifying atmosphere of Super Bowl LI, NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, January 28th and 29th and again Wednesday through Sunday, February 1st through 5th.

The hub of Super Bowl fan activity, NFL Experience provides visitors of all ages an opportunity to experience the game like never before. Fans can test their football skills in interactive games, receive autographs from current stars and legends of the game, shop the latest NFL team and Super Bowl gear in the NFL’s largest retail space in the nation, and get a photo with the most prestigious trophy in sports, the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For more information and a complete schedule of events for NFL Experience Driven by Genesis visit http://www.SuperBowl.com and download the Super Bowl LI Houston – Fan Mobile Pass app.

Tickets for NFL Experience Driven by Genesis can be purchased online exclusively through http://www.Ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $35.00 for adults and $25.00 for children 12 and under, and permit entry for a particular day and time. An NFLXtra Fast Pass may be purchased for $55.00. Beginning January 28, opening day of NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, fans can purchase tickets at NFL Experience Box Office located in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Tickets sold at NFL Experience box office will go on sale two hours before opening daily. For more information and to find out about special family packages available online only, visit http://www.SuperBowl.com. Tickets purchased online are subject to a Ticketmaster service charge.

On Thursday, February 2 local high school students will receive a $5 discount at NFL Experience Driven by Genesis.

2017 NFL Experience Driven by Genesis Hours of Operation:

Saturday, January 28 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday, January 29 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, February 1 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday, February 2 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Super Bowl Sunday (February 5) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(Times are Central Time and are subject to change)

The complete schedule for NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, and other Super Bowl LI gameday and event information, will be posted on http://www.SuperBowl.com and in the Super Bowl LI Houston – Fan Mobile Pass app. To download the app, visit the app store or http://www.NFL.com/SBApp. Fans are encouraged to follow @SuperBowl and tag their posts and photos using hashtag #SB51.

SUPER BOWL LIVE: Super Bowl LIVE is the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee’s nine-day fan festival leading up to Super Bowl LI in Houston. The festival, a free event with music, food, games and attractions, will be located in and around Discovery Green Park (1500 McKinney Street) in downtown Houston from Saturday, January 28th through Saturday, February 5th.

The Host Committee has partnered with NASA to create Future Flight, the signature attraction of Super Bowl LIVE. Future Flight combines a virtual reality experience with a 90-foot drop tower that takes passengers on a trip to Mars and back, landing just in time for Super Bowl LI.

A series of concerts will take place on the Super Bowl LIVE main stage including Solange Knowles, Robert Glasper and Lizzo on Thursday, February 2; Leon Bridges, Shakey Graves and Robert Ellis on Friday, February 3 and ZZ Top, Gary Clark, Jr. and The Suffers on Saturday, February 4. Houston-based performers will also be on the main and secondary stage throughout the week, including bands The Tontons, Wild Moccasins, Los Skarnales, Nick Gaitan, Fat Tony, Buxton and many more.

In addition, the Host Committee has created two Super Bowl LIVE programming opportunities aimed at bringing local youth from different communities together. Touchdown Houston continues to bring the Super Bowl experience to local youth with inclusive and fun Play On activities.

Flag Football: The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee has invited local community youth football teams to experience the excitement of the Super Bowl by squaring off in flag football games. Participating teams hail from various parts of the city and will get their taste of the spotlight as they engage in friendly competition in Root Memorial Square before thousands of Super Bowl LIVE visitors. The games will include special half-time performances from the club cheerleading teams, local marching pep bands and dance teams. The flag football games will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29 and Friday and Saturday, February 3rd and 4th from 11 a.m. to Noon.

Play LIVE with Playworks: The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee has partnered with Playworks to provide children and families from the Greater Houston area an hour of fun and games through football-themed activities, four-square, tag and much more. School-age youth can participate in these activities which promote positive social values, higher self-esteem and a healthy lifestyle during the play hour. Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that leverages the power of safe, fun and healthy play at school every day. To learn more about Playworks, go to http://www.playworks.org. The Play LIVE with Playworks will take place Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29 and Friday and Saturday, February 3-4 from 2-3 p.m.

Super Bowl LIVE Hours of Operation:

Saturday, January 28 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday, January 29 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Monday, January 30 and Tuesday, January 31 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, February 1 and Thursday, February 2 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Friday, Febuary 3 and Saturday, February 4 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Super Bowl Sunday (February 5) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

HOUSTON SUPER BOWL HOST COMMITTEE PROJECT 51: Project 51 encourages Houston high school students to get involved in their community by collectively pledging 51,000 hours of community service in the months preceding Super Bowl LI. Students and schools will be recognized for their community service by the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL Youth and High School Football department. Project 51 supports the Host Committee’s Lead On initiative which encourages students to be active leaders in their schools and community. Those making a pledge could win tickets to Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade, a tour of NRG Stadium or a Meet and Greet with an NFL player.

The promotion period began at Noon Eastern on Friday, December 23, 2016 and ended at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Monday, January 23.

NFL PLAY 60 CHARACTER CAMP: On Monday, January 30 at 9 a.m., the NFL will host a free Character Camp on the field at NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) before NFL Experience is open to the public. The event will include 300 predominantly-Hispanic youth from the Houston area. The non-contact football camp will be led by Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz.

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

NFL PLAY 60 CHALLENGE SCHOOL VISIT: The NFL and Houston Texans players will visit Frank Black Middle School (1575
Chantilly Lane) on Monday, January 30 at 1 p.m. to reward them for successfully completing the Super Bowl LI edition of the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, developed in conjunction with the American Heart Association, is the primary in-school curriculum for NFL PLAY 60. Sixth-grade students at Frank Black Middle School successfully completed the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, a Super Bowl program that taught students the importance of getting 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Frank Black Middle School will also receive a $2,500 NFL PLAY 60 grant from the NFL and American Heart Association to be used to support the school’s health and fitness education efforts.

More than 24,000 fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Houston counties including Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker and Waller registered for the Challenge in the months leading up to Super Bowl. The schools that successfully completed the Challenge are invited to NFL PLAY 60 Kids Day at NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, on Wednesday, February 1.

NFL PLAY 60 CHALLENGE VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP: On Tuesday, January 31 at Noon Central Time live from the NFL Experience Driven by
Genesis at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas), the NFL and American Heart Association (AHA), working together with Discovery Education, will lead the first-ever AHA-NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Virtual Field Trip (VFT). The virtual class, featuring Houston Texans’ players Whitney Mercilus and Christian Covington and AHA’s Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, will be live-streamed in classrooms across the country, reaching thousands of students. In the VFT, students will learn the science behind cardio and strength exercises that NFL players use to stay fit. Mercilus and Covington will lead participating classrooms in quick physical activity sessions, after which students nationwide will have the opportunity to ask the VFT hosts live questions. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge is designed to inspire youth to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day and help more schools become places that encourage physically active lifestyles year-round.

Registration for the VFT is free. To register your classroom or follow along at home, visit: http://www.aha-nflplay60challenge.org/field-trip.

SUPER BOWL LI INSIDEOUT CHARACTER INITIATIVE FORUM: The InSideOut Initiative recognizes the significant role coaches play in
students’ lives and aims to shift the current win-at-all-costs sports culture to one of a four-part process centering on Awareness, Alignment, Action and Accountability. The initiative focuses on the purpose, power and privilege of coaching, and the responsibility coaches have to young athletes. The InSideOut Initiative will debut in Houston on Tuesday, January 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Houston Texans YMCA (5202 Griggs Road). Former NFL player and author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives Joe Ehrmann and Executive Director of the InSideOut Initiative Jody Redman will take more than 100 Houston high school educational leaders and coaches on an InSideOut journey to examine their own character and to assist in the development of a coach-specific character game plan that will enhance the human growth and development of the student-athletes they coach.

NFL-USO SUPER BOWL LI SALUTE TO SERVICE: The NFL and the USO continue to celebrate more than 50 years of partnership with Salute to Service. The NFL is proud to bring football to the USO family through programs and services year-round that tap the unique capabilities of football and help keep service members connected to family, home and country.

On Tuesday, January 31 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the NFL, USO and Houston Texans will host a barbeque to celebrate over 3,000 service members and their families at Ellington Field Joint Base Reserve. The event will feature NFL player meet and greets, photo opportunities with Houston Texans cheerleaders, music by Texas Marine Veteran Cody Wayne, an NFL PLAY 60 zone for kids, a Madden Tournament and an NFL Raffle.

Additionally, Super Bowl care packages, which included branded Super Bowl LI decorations and promotional items, have been sent to 60 USO locations around the globe in support of their Super Bowl viewing parties.

NFL-USAA MILITARY OUTREACH: The following is a sampling of additional events planned for service members and
their families in the Houston Area during Super Bowl Week:

USAA will host current and former military and their guests at the “USAA Salute to Service Lounge” within NFL Experience. The Lounge will be open both Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4 and serves as an exclusive area for current and former military members and their families to enjoy complimentary food and beverage, games, NFL player meet and greets and more.

The NFL and USAA will recognize the winner of the 2016 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA at the 6th Annual NFL Honors awards show at the Wortham Theater Center on Saturday, February 4, the night before Super Bowl LI. Created in 2011, the Salute to Service Award acknowledges the members of the NFL for their exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community and their families.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS SKILLS AND DRILLS: The NFL, Special Olympics Texas and the Houston Texans will host a Special
Olympics Skills and Drills Clinic and unified flag football scrimmage Friday, February 3 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) featuring local Special Olympics athletes.

The NFL and Special Olympics are teaming to provide opportunities for athletes of all abilities to ‘PLAY 60′ through the expansion of Special Olympics Unified Flag Football. The two organizations will kick off their new partnership by hosting a unified flag football game at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando during Pro Bowl Week.

PLAY 60 is the NFL’s campaign to promote youth health and wellness, aimed at encouraging kids to get active for 60 minutes a day. For more information, visit NFLRUSH.com/PLAY60.

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. They empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year.

PLAY FOOTBALL FAMILY FESTIVAL: To celebrate the football community and the coaches and players that bring passion, fun and excitement to the sport, the NFL will host a Play Football Family Festival on Tuesday, January 31 and Wednesday, February 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Taylor High School Performing Arts Center (2700 Kingsland Blvd, Katy) and the Aldine Campbell Center (1865 Aldine Bender Road, Houston). The event will kick off with football clinics, taking parents through drills and introducing them to different elements of the game. Guests will then go through a helmet fitting, receive autographs from NFL players and enjoy entertainment elements such as photo opportunities, breakout panel sessions led by NFL Ambassadors and local high school coaches and food and beverages. The festival will conclude with an NFL player-led TED Talk.

To learn more about Play Football visit playfootball.com or follow #LetsPlayFootball on social media.

SUPER BOWL LI BUSINESS CONNECT CELEBRATION: The NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee will host “Super Bowl LI Business Connect: Celebrating Opportunities & Success” event on Tuesday, January 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ballroom at the Bayou (500 Texas Street, Houston, TX 77002). The event is a celebration of the Super Bowl LI Business Connect program spotlighting the accomplishments of Super Bowl LI Business Connect suppliers and local businesses that have grown and thrived under the tutelage of the program’s professional development initiatives and, acknowledging NFL event contractors who’ve aggressively utilized the program throughout the year.

More than 400 Houston businesses in 50 vendor categories participated in the year and a half long Business Connect program, which is designed to create Super Bowl LI contracting opportunities for experienced, local diverse business owners. To qualify for participation in Business Connect, businesses must be 51 percent owned by a minority, woman, disabled veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individual. The Business Connect Celebration is a ticketed event for participating business owners. A networking reception will precede and follow the formal program. Former NFL Cornerback and Food Network Star Winner Eddie Jackson is the event’s keynote speaker.

NFL PLAY 60 KIDS’ DAY AT NFL EXPERIENCE: NFL PLAY 60 Kids’ Day gives more than 1,000 local children the opportunity to
spend time with NFL players at the NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) on Wednesday, February 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children from the local Houston area will take part in the excitement of Super Bowl Week alongside NFL players. Multi-platinum recording artist and Grammy Award winner Jordin Sparks will perform two songs and teach the kids a dance routine at the NFL Experience Field at approximately noon.

Kids will learn more about the importance of healthy living during Kids’ Day as part of NFL PLAY 60, aimed at helping youngsters get 60 minutes of exercise each day. Classrooms earned their invite to Kids’ Day by completing the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, in partnership with the American Heart Association, in the months leading up to Super Bowl.

As part of their Kids’ Day experience, local children will participate in interactive PLAY 60 fitness activities and take part in games including Punt, Pass and Kick, speed and mobility drills, quarterback challenge games and extra point kicking stations.

HOUSTON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY SUPERBUILD: On Wednesday, February 1 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Houston Habitat for Humanity (HHFH)
is sponsoring SuperBUILD LI at 8706 Shady Vista Lane. The event is hosted in conjunction with Super Bowl LI to build 51 affordable homes for partner families. A sanctioned NFL event since 2003, SuperBUILD provides affordable housing options for low to moderate income families through volunteerism. HHFH will invite NFL players to visit the job sites, participate in home dedications and celebrate with families who were able to achieve their dream of homeownership.

NFL PLAYER CARE FOUNDATION SCREENINGS

The only event that is not open to the public takes place from Wednesday, February 1st to Friday, February 3rd as the NFL Player Care Foundation (PCF), supported by the NFL Alumni Association, are proud to partner with one of the nation’s
premier medical providers, Tulane University School of Medicine, to conduct its annual Super Bowl Healthy Body and Mind Screening program. This complimentary national program is open to all former NFL players and includes cardiovascular and prostate screenings and mental health resources and education.

NFL Player Care Foundation screenings are offered as part of PCF’s research programs, which help to advance public awarenss and scientific understanding of health issues that affect former NFL players. The screening will take place at the Houston Marriott at the Texas Medical Center (6580 Fannin Street, Salons A, B and C) from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The PCF is an independent foundation created in 2007 by a partnership between NFL owners, the NFL Players Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Alumni Association. Since its inception, the organization has screened more than 4,000 retired NFL players and provided over $11 million in emergency financial assistance. For more information, visit nflplayercare.com. (The screenings are closed to the public due to patient-client privilege.)

SUPER BOWL LEGACY GRANT EVENT: The NFL seeks to improve the surrounding communities of the Super Bowl host city with a Super Bowl Legacy Grant donation. This year, the NFL Foundation provided a $1 million grant to the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee via “Touchdown Houston” in an effort to leave an impact on all 11 counties of Houston by concentrating on education, health and community enhancement. Grant focuses include youth physical fitness and wellness, after school programs, health care and food access, neighborhood improvement, early childhood education, anti-poverty, dropout and homeless prevention strategies.

On Thursday, February 2 at 10 a.m., NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Houston Super Bowl Host Committee executives amongst others will take part in the Super Bowl Legacy Grant press conference at Pro-Vision Academy (4590 Wilmington Street.). NFL Legend and Pro-Vision Academy founder ROYNELL YOUNG will lead attendees through a ground breaking ceremony to celebrate a football field refurbishment granted to the school. Following the press conference, students will participate in a player panel on character education with current and former NFL players and led by former NFL player and author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives JOE EHRMANN. Ehrmann is the co-founder of the InSideOut Initiative, designed to help high school communities recognize the responsibility they have to their students and enhance the human growth and development of the student-athletes who play.

MAKE-A-WISH®: Through the assistance of the NFL, Make-A-Wish will grant the wishes of 12 children to attend Super Bowl LI. Attending the Super Bowl continues to be a wish that transcends generations: every year since 1982, one or more wish kids has wished to attend the big game.

This year, the children and their families will arrive in Houston on Thursday, February 2 for a welcome reception. Wish children and their families will participate in several other activities related to the Super Bowl and will attend the game at NRG Stadium through the support of the NFL and other organizations.

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

NFL WOMEN’S SUMMIT— “PLAYS FOR LIFE”: On February 3rd from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and February 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the NFL will host this year’s Women’s Summit—Plays for Life. Building on the success of last year’s Women’s Summit—which explored the role of sports participation in developing leadership, teamwork and other skills that promote success throughout one’s life and career, Plays for Life expands upon that conversation by engaging teen girls through an interactive and experiential event focused on personal development and achievement.

During the two-day event, 250 Houston-area teen girls will hear from prominent leaders from across the NFL and beyond about their own personal journeys and participate in a discussion about how to achieve their goals, prepare for life’s challenges and best utilize the tools that are critical for personal and professional development.

A live stream of the event will be hosted by women’s leadership platform http://www.MAKERS.com.

More than three dozen speakers and participants will be announced in the coming days. The event will take place at the Citadel (12130 Kirby Drive).(The event is limited to invited guests.)

NFL FOUNDATION GOLF TOURNAMENT: “Legends on the Links”

In celebration of its 26th year, the NFL Foundation is partnering with the NFL Legends community to host an 18-hole golf tournament on Friday, February 3 starting at 8 a.m. at Golf Club of Houston (5860 Wilson Road in Humble), home course to the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open.

Teams of amateur golfers will be captained by NFL Legends in 18-hole team scramble events to be played on both the Tournament Course, which hosts the PGA Tour event annually and the Member Course, where the PGA Tour played from 2003 through 2005. The celebrity captains entered thus far are Larry Brown, Donnie Edwards, Ahman Green, Rodney Hampton, Dhani Jones, Kwamie Lassiter, Ryan Leaf, E.J. Manuel, Curtis McGriff, Marty Moore, Jonathan Ogden, Chad Pennington, Mike Quick, John Randle, Mike Rucker, Will Shieldds, Al Smith, Mack Strong, Ben Tate, John Urshel and Leonard Wheeler. Additionally, NFL Legends’ Community Directors and Coordinators that serve as ambassadors across the country will be in attendance and facilitating the tournament.

Hospitality golf packages were open to the general public and the deadline for that was January 28th, with a tournament entry donation of $6,000 per team (teams of three paired with a NFL Legend) or $2,500 per individual benefiting the NFL Foundation and NFL Player Care Foundation.

ROSS INITIATIVE IN SPORTS FOR EQUALITY (RISE) SUPER BOWL TOWN HALL: The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and NFL will host their second-annual Super Bowl Town Hall, “From Protest to Progress: The Power of Sports to Improve Race Relations,” from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, February 3. The town hall, hosted by Texas Southern University in Houston and supported by The Players’ Tribune, will be broadcast live on Sirius XM radio. Current and former NFL greats, including policy advocates Anquan Boldin of the Detroit Lions and Malcom Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles and Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams, will participate in a two-part panel discussion, reviewing lessons learned from the activist athlete and examining solution-oriented next steps for the sports industry to drive social change. RISE will release a report looking at the reach and impact of, reaction to and outcomes of activist athletes in the second half of 2016. RISE aims to use sports to improve race relations. To learn more, visit http://www.risetowin.org.

NFL and ALL PRO DAD FAMILY FOOTBALL CLINIC: Current and former players celebrate football and family at the second annual NFL and All Pro Dad Family Football Clinic at Super Bowl LI. Presented by NFL Player Engagement and All Pro Dad organization, players are invited to bring their children and significant others to participate in fun football activities on Friday, February 3 at 9 a.m. at the NFL Experience Youth Field in the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas). Players and their children will learn how fun it is to PLAY 60 and create new football memories as a family. Within each football activity, kids and their parents will participate in an exercise designed to foster engagement and relationship building among family members. The clinic will begin at 9:30 a.m. with player media availability at 11:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Crystal Fukumoto at crystalf@bzapr.com.

22nd ANNUAL REBUILDING TOGETHER “KICKOFF TO REBUILD”: On Friday, February 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in conjunction with Super Bowl LI, Rebuilding Together Houston will host a community revitalization project to rehabilitate the main section of the historic Independence Heights neighborhood as a Legacy of Super Bowl LI in Houston. Independence Heights is the first self-governing, African American city incorporated in the state of Texas. It is important to revive the neighborhood and keep its history alive, allowing longtime residents to age in place. The creation of a welcome center will allow visitors the opportunity to learn about the neighborhood’s history, beginning in 1905, through its eventual integration into the city of Houston and its vital role in Houston’s community today.

For the past 22 years, Rebuilding Together has partnered with the NFL to host projects in Super Bowl cities. These NFL-sanctioned events provide critical home repairs for low-income homeowners and their communities. The event will include help for individual homeowners in need and create a safer, healthier and beautifully rebuilt section of Independence Heights.

To learn more about Rebuilding Together’s Kickoff to Rebuild project, visit rebuildingtogether.org/ktr/.

CHARACTER PLAYBOOK HOUSTON LAUNCH

“Character Playbook,” a joint initiative of the NFL and United Way Worldwide and operated by EverFi, an education technology leader in more than 13,000 schools across the nation, will launch in Houston on Friday, February 3 at 1 p.m. at Pilgrim Academy (6302 Skyline Drive.). The digital course is comprised of six interactive modules that support positive character development, social-emotional learning and healthy relationships for grades 7-9. Houston Texans players will sit on a panel and discuss character development and decision-making with students.  Students will then go through the modules, designed to help students develop healthy relationships and social norms. Character Playbook will be provided to 40 schools in the Houston area via a joint partnership between the Houston Texans, United Way of Greater Houston and Verizon.

SUPER BOWL GOSPEL CELEBRATION: The 18th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will take place on Friday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Lakewood Church (3700 Southwest Freeway). The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration brings together Super Bowl champions and Pro Bowl players with Grammy Award-winning contemporary Christian, gospel and mainstream artists all on one stage.  The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration also gives back to the community. Each year, the event identifies a charity to donate a portion of its proceeds. For the second consecutive year, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the NFL Players Care Foundation.

For more information, visit http://www.superbowlgospel.com

1st AND FUTURE: The NFL, in collaboration with the Texas Medical Center (TMC) is calling on innovators to share their solutions to help advance the game of football and athlete safety. On Saturday, February 4, the partners will host 1st and Future, a unique startup competition that will take place at the TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Boulevard). Up to nine startups will be invited to present their game-changing technologies in each of the following three categories: Communicating with the Athlete, Training the Athlete and Materials to Protect the Athlete. The startups will pitch their products to an exclusive audience, including a panel of judges, NFL team owners and executives and representatives from the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and TMC. One winner from each category will be selected by a panel of judges comprising of former NFL players, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. The winners will receive a $50,000 prize from the NFL to further develop their innovation; acceptance into TMCx, TMC’s world-renowned program for start-ups and two tickets to Super Bowl LI.

SUPER BOWL BREAKFAST: The 2017 Super Bowl Breakfast will be held Saturday, February 4 at 8 a.m. at the
Marriott Marquis Houston (1777 Walker Street.).  The breakfast will feature the presentation of the Bart Starr Award, presented by Super Bowl Champion Coach, Tony Dungy. The award, voted on by NFL players, honors outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.

In addition to Tony Dungy and the 2017 Award winner, the program will include former NFL players Roger Staubach, Bruce Matthews, Anthony Munoz, Derrick Brooks and emcee James Brown, host of The NFL Today on CBS and Thursday Night Football on NFL Network.

For more information, contact Jordan Sok at jordan@heartlandcommunicate.com or 859-519-7750.

HOUSTON CAREERS IN SPORTS FORUM: The NFL will celebrate high school coaches and educate students on various career opportunities in the sports industry on Saturday, Feb. 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cemo Hall at the University of Houston. Parents will hear from NFL players and professionals in the sports industry about the vast career possibilities off the field. Guests will enjoy music from a professional DJ and food and beverages and interact with sports experts and NFL players. The event is open to Houston high school students interested in sports but space is limited.

NFLPA SMOCKS AND JOCKS: On Saturday, February 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Caracol (2200 Post Oak Boulevard), the NFL Players Association will hold its annual art auction and jazz brunch called Smocks and Jocks supporting the Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund and a local foundation. Artwork from active and former players and others connected to professional football will be auctioned as part of the charity event. This event is invite-only.

TROUPE21’S 17TH ANNUAL PLAYER NETWORKING EVENT™: Troupe21’s 17th Annual Player Networking Event™ (PNE) at the Super Bowl will take place Saturday, February 4 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Houston Community College—West Loop Center (5601 West Loop South). PNE, an NFL sanctioned event for 15 years, helps active and former NFL players transition into meaningful second careers.

The networking event will include a private banking workshop; focus groups for players, corporate guests and vendors; an Internet radio broadcast featuring player-owned businesses and sponsors; a social media challenge designed to promote athlete and corporate responsibility; a scholarship drive for high school football student-athletes to attend the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy; and a trade show featuring corporations interested in helping players pursue charitable, employment and entrepreneurial goals.

To learn more about PNE 2017 and PNE Week go to http://www.pneinfo.com or follow on Twitter@NFLPNE.

TASTE OF THE NFL: Taste of the NFL (TNFL) is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to raising awareness and funds for hunger relief organizations in the 32 NFL cities and across the country. Proudly celebrating its 26th year at Super Bowl LI, the organization conducts national and local fundraising events throughout the year, culminating in the annual Party with a Purpose® on Super Bowl Eve. Since its inception, Taste of the NFL has raised more than $25 million, which has provided more than 275 million meals for Americans. All proceeds raised are donated directly to local and national food banks in each of the 32 NFL cities.

This season’s Party with a Purpose® will be held at the University of Houston (4800 Calhoun Road) on Saturday, February 4 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. This star-studded fundraising event celebrates two of America’s favorite pastimes—food and football—by bringing together exceptional cuisine, prominent chefs from around the country, celebrities, NFL players, coaches, legends and more, all to support the fight against hunger. Alex Guarnaschelli and Richard Blais are the Culinary Hosts for this year’s Party with a Purpose®.

Follow @TasteoftheNFL on Instagram and Twitter as they #KickHunger this season, or visit Taste of the NFL on Facebook at facebook.com/TasteoftheNFL.

Tickets to this event can be purchased at http://www.TasteoftheNFL.com.

SUPER BOWL ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM: The NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee have teamed up to develop a series of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl Verizon is a key partner in several of these projects including the Super Kids – Super Sharing, the Super Bowl LI Urban Forestry Project and a public E-Waste Recycling Rally.

The Super Kids – Super Sharing Sports Equipment and Book Donation Event was held Thursday, January 19. Tens of thousands of books, school supplies, games and pieces of sports equipment were collected and distributed to low-income schools and youth programs throughout the region.  As part of Super Kids, local students have also donated used cell phones through HopeLine® from Verizon. HopeLine® collects wireless phones and accessories no longer in use and turns them into financial support for domestic violence organizations nationwide.

The Super Bowl LI E-Waste Recycling Rally was held Saturday, January 21 at the Houston Zoo, Medical Center Entrance (1481 Cambridge Street). This recycling rally, sponsored by Verizon, was open to the public and local residents were allowed to drop off all types of electronic waste to be recycled responsibly and kept out of local landfills. Items such as computers, printers, monitors, cell phones and televisions were accepted.

Other environmental projects include:

GREEN ENERGY: “Green” energy will be used to power major Super Bowl event venues throughout Houston including NRG Stadium, the George R. Brown Convention Center (site of the Super Bowl Media Center and NFL Experience), and the hotels being used by the NFL and AFC teams and by the NFL Super Bowl staff. NRG will be providing renewable energy certificates (RECs) equivalent to the electricity usage at these facilities to mitigate the climate impact of energy emissions.

FOOD RECOVERY: Extra prepared food from Super Bowl events will be recovered in partnership with the Houston Food Bank and a number of local nonprofit organizations to provide meals for shelters, missions, soup kitchens and other community programs.

MATERIAL RECOVERY: Recovery of all event materials will begin immediately after most Super Bowl events. During the week following the game, there will be an intensive drive to collect and donate items left over from Super Bowl including building materials, décor, fabric, carpeting and sign materials. These items will be donated to local organizations that can reuse, repurpose or remanufacture the material. The NFL has incorporated environmental projects into the management of Super Bowl for more than 20 years.

Championship Sunday Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

NFC Championship – Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Tony Boselli (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Green Bay), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Green Bay), 82 (Atlanta).

AFC Championship – Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Ross Tucker (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Pittsburgh), 82 (New England). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Pittsburgh), 82 (New England).

Sunday Officials
NFC Championship: Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. – Bill Vinovich
AFC Championship: Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. – Terry McAulay

Sunday Odds
Favorite                Spread    Underdog              O/U
ATLANTA                 –  4      Green Bay             61
NEW ENGLAND             –  6      Pittsburgh            51

Sunday Injury Report

Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m.

Green Bay
OUT: RB James Starks (Concussion), C Joseph Tretter (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Davante Adams (Ankle), WR Geronimo Allison (Hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (Ribs), S Morgan Burnett (Quad), CB Quinten Rollins (Neck)

ATLANTA – Atlanta reported no injuries

Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m.

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: LB James Harrison (Shoulder), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (Concussion), TE Ladarius Green (Concussion)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: WR Danny Amendola (Ankle), TE Martellus Bennett (Knee), RB Brandon Bolden (Knee), LB Qualin Hightower (Knee), WR Chris Hogan (Thigh), WR Malcom Mitchell (Knee), DE Jabaal Sheard (Knee)

Sunday Weather
NFC: Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. on FOX (Game indoors)
AFC: Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. on CBS (Cloudy and 42 degrees)

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

Saturday and Sunday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

Seattle at Atlanta, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on FOX: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver, Peter Schrager (Field reporters). WW1: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Derek Rackley (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Seattle), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Seattle), 82 (Atlanta).

Houston at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Houston), 82 (New England). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Houston), 82 (New England).

Green Bay at Dallas, 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). WW1: Tom McCarthy, Tony Boselli, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Green Bay), 82 (Dallas). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Green Bay), 82 (Green Bay).

Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 8;30 p.m. Sunday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya, Heather Cox (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Pittsburgh), 82 (Kansas City). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Pittsburgh), 82 (Kansas City).

Saturday and Sunday Officials
Seattle at ATLANTA, 4:35 p.m. Saturday – Gene Steratore
Houston at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday – Pete Morelli
Green Bay at Dallas, 4:40 p.m. Sunday – Tony Corrente
Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. Sunday – Carl Cheffers

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home team in CAPS)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite             Spread      Underdog             O/U
ATLANTA              –  4 1/2    Seattle              51
NEW ENGLAND          – 16        Houston              44 1/2

Sunday’s Games
Favorite             Spread      Underdog             O/U
DALLAS               –  4 1/2    Green Bay            52
KANSAS CITY          –  2        Pittsburgh           45

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

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

Seattle
QUESTIONABLE: RB C.J. Prosise (Shoulder)

Atlanta – Atlanta reported no injuries

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

Houston
QUESTIONABLE: S Quintin Demps (Hamstring), LB John Simon (Chest)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: WR Malcolm Mitchell (Knee)

Green Bay at Dallas, 4:35 p.m. Sunday

Green Bay
OUT: WR Jordy Nelson (Ribs), RB James Starks (Concussion), C Joseph Tretter (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jayrone Elliott (Hand), WR Jeff Janis (Quadricep), CB Quinten Rollins (Neck)

Dallas
QUESTIONABLE: CB Morris Claiborne (Groin), DT Tyrone Crawford (Shoulder), LB Justin Durant (Elbow), DE Demarcus Lawrence (Back), DT Terrell McClain (Ankle), T Tyron Smith (Knee), DT Cedric Thornton (Ankle)

Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. Sunday

Pittsburgh
OUT: LB Anthony Chickillo (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: TE Ladarius Green (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ricardo Mathews (Ankle), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (Concussion)

Kansas City – Kansas City reported no injuries
Saturday and Sunday Weather
Seattle at ATLANTA, 4:35 p.m. Saturday (Game indoors)
Houston at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday (Mostly cloudy and 26 degrees)
Green Bay at Dallas, 4:35 p.m. Sunday (Game indoors)
Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. Sunday (Cloudy and 34 degrees)

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

And then there were eight.

The tournament continues. Football’s answer to “Musical Chairs” continues. As long as the music plays, there’s still the chance that someone’s going to get to sit down. It’s when the music stops that the chaos begins and in the end, someone’s not going to get to sit down and suffice it to say, they’re out.

The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs and all four games are rematches from the regular season, the first time that has happened since the 2010 season. Each of the remaining eight teams won its division, the first time all eight teams in the Divisional round were division winners since 2011. Four more teams will be clearing their lockers on Monday and four more will advance a little closer to the Lombardi Trophy (more about him in a later post).

On Saturday, Atlanta (11-5), the NFC South champions, will host NFC West-champion Seattle (11-5-1) at the Georgia Dome to kick off the weekend on FOX at 4:35 p.m. That night in primetime on CBS at 8:15 p.m., New England (14-2), who won the AFC East and secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will host AFC South-champion Houston (10-7) at Gillette Stadium.

On Sunday, Kansas City (12-4), Dallas (13-3), who won the NFC East and secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, will host Green Bay (11-6) at AT&T Stadium at 4:40 p.m. on FOX. Kansas City, the AFC West champions, will welcome AFC North-champion Pittsburgh (12-5) to Arrowhead Stadium on NBC at 8:30 p.m. because of weather in Kansas City (the original time was 1:05 p.m.).

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

Four games last week to start the playoffs and four wins. Can’t do any better than that. For the season, we’re 178-80.

This is week 18, for those of you keeping score. As was the case last week and in week 17, we’re going to make all the games “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 kindergarten 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?”

Four more games. Four teams (Oakland, Detroit, Miami and the New York Giants) are sitting at home and have already cleared out their lockers by the time these games get underway and four more teams will follow suit this weekend. It’s not fair but it’s football and this time of year, it’s not like regular season where if you lose, you play next week.

The rules are different this time. It’s all for the Lombardi.

Win.

Advance to the next round.

Lose.

Kickoff is next September.

It’s so simple even a five-year old gets it.

With that, here are this weekend’s Divisional Playoff games.

Seattle (10-5-1, 3rd seed) at Atlanta (11-5, 2nd seed), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on FOX. Divisional week gets underway in the Big Peach as Atlanta and Matt Ryan host Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in a Saturday afternoon contest in the Georgia Dome. Seattle advanced to the playoffs for 5th consecutive season and have won 10+ games in each of past 5 seasons. Seattle aims for 3rd Super Bowl appearance in past 4 seasons, winning 7 of past 9 postseason games and have playoff wins in each of past 5 postseasons and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is 9-4 (.692) in playoffs with Seattle.

Atlanta won the NFC South and advanced to postseason for 1st time since 2012. The Falcons are 4-3 at home in playoffs in franchise history and are ranked 1st in NFL in total points (540) and 2nd in total offense (415.8 yards per game). Head coach Dan Quinn makes postseason debut in 2nd season in the Big Peach and spent four season with Seattle in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks (2009-10, 2013-14) and was team’s defensive coordinator in 2013-14.

Seattle enters the second round of the playoffs after they came away 26-6 winners over Detroit last Saturday night in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. The Seahawks held a slim 10-3 lead over Matthew Stafford and the Lions at the half, then scored their final 16 points of the contest in the fourth quarter unchallenged. Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls ran for 161 yards in the contest, as Seattle outrushed the Lions 177-49, while Wilson threw for 224 yards and a pair of TDs, with Stafford throwing for 205 yards with three sacks.

Atlanta comes off the bye week after their 38-32 win over New Orleans to close out the regular season and secure the number two seed in the NFC. The Falcons led from start to finish in their win over their NFC South rivals, taking a 35-13 lead into the halftime, then holding on for dear life in the final regular season game at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta outrushed New Orleans 142-132 (the Saints’ Mark Ingram led all rushers with 103 yards and a TD), while Ryan threw for 331 yards and four TDs, connecting with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu on two of those tosses. Atlanta was 6 of 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 29:45, while the Saints ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:15 and went 7 of 16 and 3 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

The Seahawks came away 26-24 winners in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in week 6. Atlanta, who trailed 17-3 at the half, let a 24-17 lead after three quarters of play get away from them as the Seahawks took the lead back for good with 1:57 left when Stephen Hauschka kicked a 44-yard field goal. Atlanta then got the ball back and threw four incomplete passes to seal their fate. Seattle outrushed Atlanta 72-52, while Ryan threw for 335 yards and three TDs, connecting with WR  Jones and Sanu on two of those strikes, while Wilson threw for 270 yards in the contest in the Pacific Northwest. Atlanta was 3 of 11 on third down tries, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:51, while the Seahawks, who held the pigskin for 30:09, went 5 of 14 on third down tries.

RECORD VS. COMMON OPPONENTS

Atlanta: 9-2 (Arizona 1-0; Carolina 2-0; Green Bay 1-0; Los Angeles 1-0; New Orleans 2-0; Philadelphia 0-1; San Francisco 1-0; Tampa Bay 1-1)

Sea: 5-5-1 (Arizona 0-1-1; Carolina 1-0; Green Bay 0-1; Los Angeles 1-1, New Orleans 0-1; Philadelphia 1-0; San Francisco 2-0; Tampa Bay 0-1)

Seattle was favored by 6 1/2 and although they won, they didn’t cover the spread, winning by only 2. Both teams did manage to cover the 46 over/under by combining for 50 points. Atlanta and Seattle have met only once in the post-season and that meeting took place in the Big Peach in 2012, with the Falcons taking a 30-28 win. Atlanta’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 51. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Seattle’s looking to prove to the Falcons that the first meeting was not a fluke. The Falcons are looking for revenge from their loss in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. It’ll be closer than the 4 1/2 but revenge prevails. Falcons win at home in the Big Peach.

Houston (9-7, 4th seed) at New England (14-2, 1st seed), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Divisional Saturday concludes in Foxboro as New England hosts the Houston Texans in a week three rematch at Gillette Stadium.

Houston took care of Oakland last Saturday at NRG Stadium by a 27-14 final. The Texans led 20-7 at the half and never looked back, holding the Silver and Black to 64 yards, while rushing for 123 yards of their own. Brock Osweiler threw for 168 yards and a TD to DeAndre Hopkins, while the Raiders’ Connor Cook threw for 161 yards and a TD with three sacks and three interceptions. As far as third downs tries… the contest in the Lone Star State was not much to write home about, as the Texans were 4 of 15, while Oakland was 2 of 16, 1 of 2 on fourth down conversions. Houston in the win ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:29, while the Raiders held the pigskin for 26:31.

New England enjoyed their time off after they were 35-14 winners against Miami two weeks ago in the Sunshine State. Brady burned Miami for three TD passes as the Pats took a 20-7 lead at the break and never looked back. New England outrushed Miami 120-75 and Brady threw for 276 yards and the three TDs, while Miami’s Matt Moore threw for 205. Both clubs were 7 of 12 on third down conversions in the Sunshine State, while the Pats kept the ball for 31:22 to Miami’s 28:38.

New England and a Brady-less Patriots shut out Texans 27-0 in week three on a Thursday night. New England jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the break  in the contest that saw Watt get injured (back) and the Pats then added 17 second half points unchallenged. Jacoby Brissett, in for the suspended Brady, threw for 103 yards, while LeGarrett Blount ran for 105 yards and a pair of TDs (New England outrushed Houston 185-109). Osweiler threw for 196 yards and a TD but was sacked twice. Neither club was spectacular on third down (New England was 4 of 14, while the Texans were 6 of 15, 0 of 3 on fourth down). Houston did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 31:22, while the Brady-less Pats kept it for 28:38.

Houston won consecutive AFC South titles for 2nd time in franchise history (2011-12). Meanwhile, New England has won 8 consecutive division titles, longest streak in NFL history. Since 2001, have won 4 Super Bowl titles, the most in NFL. New England is 29-19 (.604) all-time postseason record, 3rd highest winning pct. in playoff history, while head coach BILL Belichick has 23 career postseason wins, most all-time. The Pats have won 4 Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), tied with Chuck Noll for most in NFL history.

Houston was favored by 2 1/2 in the week three contest (New England easily covered the spread with their 27-point win) and the 41 over/under was safe, as the Pats scored all 27 points. New England and Houston have played once in the post-season and the Pats were 41-28 winners in Foxboro in 2012. This time? The Pats are a huge favorite, thanks to the boys and girls in Vegas. How huge? 16 points, the largest in this year’s playoffs. The over/under’s 44 1/2. The 44 1/2 makes sense. The 16? What the hell, fellas? That’s a little on the high side. It’s going to be closer than that. Still, this one might be entertaining to watch. Pats win but expect Houston to make things closer than 16.

Green Bay (10-6, 3rd seed) at Dallas (13-3, 1st seed), 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX. Divisional Weekend continues in the Lone Star State as a pair of franchises with a playoff history meet in Arlington when Dallas hosts the Green Bay Packers in a late afternoon contest at AT&T Stadium.

The Packers have won 13 NFL championships, most all-time. Green Bay’s .611 postseason winning pct. (33-21) is best in NFL history among teams with 50+ games played. This is the team’s 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. Mike McCarthy has led the team to playoffs in 9 of his 11 seasons as head coach and is 9-7. Green Bay rallied in the first half against Eli and the Giants, coming out on top 38-13 at chilly Lambeau Field (game-time temperature? A chilly – by Wisconsin standards – 14 degrees with a 4 degree wind chill). Green Bay trailed 6-0 after the first 15 minutes of action before the Packers scored twice in the second quarter and took the lead for keeps as the clock struck :00 in the first half when Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb connected on a 42-yard “Hail Mary” strike. The Giants would pull to within one with 5:16 left in the third when Manning and WR Tavarress King connected on a 41-yard TD pass to make it 14-13 Packers. Green Bay then restored order at home and scored their last 24 points of the contest unchallenged. Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four TDs, despite being sacked five times, while Manning threw for 299 yards and the one TD with a pair of sacks. Green Bay, who outrushed the Giants 75-70, went 5 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:31, while the Giants kept it for 25:29, going 5 of 16 on third down (New York was 1 of 1 on fourth down, while the Packers were 1 of 2).

Dallas won the NFC East for 2nd time in past 3 seasons. This is team’s 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. The Cowboys have 34 postseason victories, 2nd most in NFL history, ranking them 1st in NFL in rush defense (83.5 yards per game). Head coach Jason Garrett is 1-1 (.500) as head coach in postseason. Dallas closed out their 2016 campaign on a less-than pleasant note against Philadelphia, falling to the Eagles 27-13 in the City of Brotherly Love.  Tied 10-10 at halftime time at Lincoln Financial Field, Dallas took a 13-10 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 9:18 left in the third before the Eagles took control of things in the last two quarters of the game, scoring their last 17 points unchallenged. Dallas did get a look at Tony Romo under center for the first time since he was injured against Carolina in the 2015 season, backing up Prescott with a TD pass to Terrance Williams in the contest. Romo threw for 29 yards and the lone TD, while Prescott threw for 37. Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott was given the day off, as Dallas ran for 69 yards on the afternoon, while Philly tallied 114. Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz threw for 245 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Zach Ertz. Dallas was 5 of 12 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 24:18 to Philly’s 35:42 (the Eagles were 6 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs).

Dallas and Green Bay met at Lambeau in week six and took a 30-16 win in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst. The Cowboys led 17-6 at the half and never looked back, holding Green Bay to 78 yards on the ground, while Elliott ran for 157 of his team’s 191 yards. Prescott threw for 247 yards and three TDs, connecting with Chad Beasley on two of those tosses, while Rodgers threw for 294 yards and a TD pass to Cobb. Dallas was 3 of 11 on third down tries at Lambeau (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:50, while the Packers, who went 7 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:10.

This is the eighth meeting in the post-season between the teams and Dallas has a 4-3 lead in the series. Dallas’ last win in the playoffs over the Packers came in 1985 when they were 38-27 winners at old Texas Stadium, while Green Bay’s last win in the post-season came at Lambeau in 2014 by a final of 26-21. That contest was the Dez Bryant catch-no catch contest, which Dallas led 14-10 at the half. Green Bay then rallied to take the 26-21 lead with 9:10 when Aaron Rodgers and Richard Rodgers connected on a 13-yd TD pass. Dallas then had one last chance to reclaim the lead and would have set up the game-winning score when Bryant and Romo connected on what they thought was a 31-yard pass to the Packers’ 1 yard line with 4:42 left in the contest. Green Bay then challenged the ruling on the field and the Packers won the challenge and Dallas gave up the ball on downs. Green Bay went on to run the clock out and take the win in the contest that took place in 24-degree weather in upstate Wisconsin.

In the week six contest at Lambeau, Green Bay was favored by 4 1/2 and Dallas covered the spread, winning by 14. Both clubs barely missed the 47 1/2 over/under, combining for 46 points. This time, the Cowboys are a 4 1/2-point favorite and the over/under’s 52. Revenge is on the docket for the Packers, while the Cowboys want to make sure Green Bay got the message the first time. Going with the upset here in the Lone Star State. Packers cover the 4 1/2 and win in Arlington.

Pittsburgh (11-5, 3rd seed) at Kansas City (12-4, 2nd seed), 8:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC. Divisional weekend concludes in the Midwest and travels to the Show-Me State as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead in a week four rematch. Pittsburgh is 35-23 all-time postseason record, most playoff wins all-time, ranking them 5th all-time in postseason win pct. (.600). and have won 7 division titles since 2002. The Chiefs have won 10 of past 12 and since 2015, they have 23 wins, 2nd most in NFL. The contest was slated for a 1:05 p.m. Eastern kickoff but the league decided that because of the weather situation in Kansas City, they pushed the kickoff time back.

Pittsburgh manhandled Miami 30-12 at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh led 20-6 at the half and never were really threatened by the Dolphins, who were held to 52 yards rushing, while the Steelers’ LeVeon Bell ran for 167 yards and a pair of TDs (Pittsburgh tallied 179). Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger threw for 197 yards and a pair of TDs to Antonio Brown, while the Steelers’ defense sacked Matt Moore (289 yards, TD, interception) five times. Pittsburgh was 4 of 9 on third down conversions at Heinz Field and held on to the ball for 27:58, while the Dolphins kept the ball for 32:02, going 6 of 14 and 2 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Steelers beat Kansas City 43-14 in week four at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh led 29-0 at the half and never looked back. Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five TDs, while Bell ran for 144 yards (Pittsburgh outrushed Kansas City 149-87). Alex Smith threw for 287 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times and picked off once. The victorious Steelers were 6 of 11 on third down tries in the Sunday night contest in the Steel City and kept the ball for 29:24, while Kansas City was 8 of 17 on third down (2 of 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 30:36. This time, the Chiefs are a 2-point favorite in the Show-Me State and the over/under is 45. The home teams last week went 4-0 and we expect that trend to continue through the post-season party. Steelers make this one close but Chiefs keep things up to date in Kansas City and moves on to the championship round.

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.

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the schedule of sites, dates and times for the National Football League Wild Card Playoffs on January 7-8 and Divisional Playoffs on January 14-15. (All times Eastern)

NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND

Saturday, January 7
AFC: Oakland at Houston, 4:35 p.m. on ESPN with simulcast on ABC
NFC: Detroit at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, January 8
AFC: Miami at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. on CBS
NFC: New York Giants at Green Bay, 4:40 on FOX

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 14
NFC: Seattle/Green Bay/New York Giants at Atlanta, 4:35 p.m. on FOX
AFC: Houston/Oakland/Miami at New England, 8:15 p.m. on CBS

Sunday, January 15
AFC: Pittsburgh/Houston/Oakland at Kansas City, 1:05 p.m. on NBC
NFC: Green Bay/New York Giants/Detroit at Dallas, 4:40 p.m. on FOX

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:

The NFC Championship Game will be on FOX at 3:05 p.m. and the AFC Championship Game will be on CBS at 6:40 p.m. Both games

will be played on Sunday, January 22.

The 2017 Pro Bowl (ESPN, 8:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 29 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida and

Super Bowl LI will take place on Sunday, February 5 (FOX, 6:30 PM ET), at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Final Playoff Seeding
AFC
1. New England (14-2, AFC East Champion)
2. Kansas City (12-4, AFC West Champion)
3. Pittsburgh (11-4, AFC North Champion)
4. Houston (9-7, AFC South Champion)
5. Oakland (12-4, 1st Wild Card)
6. Miami (10-6, 2nd Wild Card)

National Football Conference
1. Dallas (13-3, NFC East champion)
2. Atlanta (11-5, NFC South champion)
3. Seattle (10-5-1, NFC West champion)
4. Green Bay (10-6, NFC North champion)
5. New York Giants (11-5, 1st Wild Card)
6. Detroit (9-7, 2nd Wild Card)