Archives for posts with tag: NFL on FOX

It’s Thanksgiving.

Time to deal with the in-laws, the picky, bratty kids that won’t eat their veggies and deal with your sister’s bean and squash casserole (no wonder she’s still single!).

It’s also time for NFL football as week 12 opens with three games on the docket. Detroit and Dallas will play their games at home, while the Falcons and Saints close things out in the Big Easy in prime time.

Like we said, it’s three games.

It’s not just three games, it’s three contests that could very well decide who wins their division. Think of the early afternoon game as a snack of sorts, while the mid-afternoon game is the main meal with the Thursday night prime time contest as dessert.

For generations of Americans, the tradition of Thanksgiving Day and NFL football are historically intertwined.

On Thanksgiving in 1925, a crowd of 36,000 – then the largest in professional football history – watched the Chicago Bears play the Chicago Cardinals to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field. In 1934, the Detroit Lions and the defending world champion Bears squared off on Thanksgiving in the first NFL game nationally broadcast, with NBC radio on the call.

This year, the three holiday games will be played inside stadiums with a combined capacity of over 215,000 and will be aired to millions across the country and around the world.

The 2018 installment of Thanksgiving Day football will feature a triple-header for the 13th consecutive season and for only the second time since 1970 (2014), the holiday will feature exclusively divisional match-ups. (That season, those games took place in week 13; Chicago was at Detroit, Philadelphia was at Dallas and Seattle was at San Francisco.)

The Lions will play their 80th Thanksgiving Day game dating back to 1934, while the Cowboys will play in their 52nd since 1966. The Falcons will play in their fourth and the Saints will play in their third Thanksgiving game.

Three games in three cities on three different networks. If nothing else, you’ll at least be spared from listening to Uncle Harry tell the same bad joke over and over again, being stuck at the kid’s table with your 13-year old cousin that’s as plain as a sheet of paper (and she has a crush on you!) and stuffing (or dressing, if you’re in the South) so bad even the squirrels won’t touch it.

sing yards and touchdown passes on Thanksgiving:

PASSING YARDS

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES – PASSING YARDS)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (8 – 2,469)*
Tony Romo, Dallas (10 – 2,338)
Troy Aikman, Dallas (10 – 2,174)^
Danny White, Dallas (10 – 1,545)
Bart Starr, Green Bay (8 – 1,345)^
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES – TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Tony Romo, Dallas (10 – 18)
Matthew Stafford – Detroit (8 – 17)*
Bobby Layne, Detroit (8 – 14)^
Danny White, Dallas (10 – 14)
Troy Aikman, Dallas (10 – 11)^
Brett Favre, Green Bay (4 – 11)^
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

While most of America will be waiting in line for those Christmas deals, reading the Black Friday ads and making their lists, most of us will be stuffing our faces with food and stuffing our eyes with parades and football.

It’s food. It’s football. It’s Thanksgiving. Be sure to get seconds if you can and watch out for 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?”)

All three games on Thursday are rematches from previous action and all three games are NFC contests. While these six teams have short weeks, they wouldn’t have to do much planning, which in actuality is a good thing. For the teams that won the first meeting, it’s a chance to establish themselves; for the losers, it’s revenge. If nothing else, at least they’ll get that Christmas shopping done early. With that, make sure that everyone’s on their best behavior and enjoy dinner… and football (not in that order) and avoid your aunt Charlotte’s fruitcake (it’s so laced with booze it could be its own drink!).

Here are Thursday’s games to open week 12.

ATLANTA (4-6) at New Orleans (9-1), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Round two of a Southern hate-fest gets underway in the Big Easy as Atlanta and Matt Ryan travels to New Orleans for a prime-time showdown with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons are trying to catch and perhaps pass the Saints in the NFC South, while New Orleans wants to remain king of the NFC South mountain in the second meeting. The Falcons will make their third appearance on Thanksgiving and first since 2007, while the Saints will be playing in their second game on the holiday with their only previous appearance coming in 2010. For Ryan and Brees, it will the the 27th time they have met on the gridiron since joining their respective teams.

Atlanta took Dallas to the edge of their contest last Sunday in the Big Peach and came away on the short end of a 22-19 final second loss to the Cowboys in Atlanta. The Sunday afternoon contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was a field goal fest in the first half, with Atlanta taking a 6-3 lead with them to the intermission. Atlanta would then lead 9-6 at the end of the third quarter before the Cowboys would take the lead for the first time when Dak Prescott scored from 4 yards out as the fourth quarter got underway. Dallas missed the extra point and led 12-9 with 14:19 left to play and added a 22-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott to lead 19-9. Atlanta then chipped away at the Cowboy lead thanks to a Matt Bryant field goal with 8:26 left, then tied the contest when Ryan and WR Julio Jones connected on a 34-yard TD strike with 1:52 left in regulation. Dallas then proceeded to use all of the 1:52 that was left and marched their way down the field, where K Brad Maher connected on a 42-yard field goal as the clock struck :00. While Elliott rushed for 122 yards and the TD and Dallas outrushed Atlanta 132-80, Ryan outpaced the younger Prescott, throwing for 291 yards and the fourth quarter TD toss to Jones (Ryan was sacked three times and picked off once, while Prescott threw for 208 yards with a pair of sacks). Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the Big Peach, with Atlanta going 6 for 12, Dallas 7 for 13 and the Cowboys ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:57 (including the final 1:52 of the contest) to Atlanta’s 28:03.

New Orleans manhandled the defending Super Bowl champs in the Big Easy 48-7 at the Superdome. The Saints and Brees led 24-7 at the half and then proceeded to shutout Philadelphia 24-0 in the final 30 minutes of play. New Orleans easily outrushed Philadelphia 173-58 and Saints RB Mark Ingram ran for 103 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brees threw for 363 yards with four TDs, no sacks or interceptions. The Saints defense made life less than enjoyable for Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who threw for 156 yards with three sacks and three interceptions in the lopsided affair. New Orleans went 6 for 11 on third down (the Saints were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 37:34, while the Eagles were 3 for 10 on third down, 0 for 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 22:26.

In their week three contest, Atlanta went through a back and forth battle with NFC South foe New Orleans in the Big Peach and came out on the short of a 43-37 overtime loss to the Saints. Atlanta trailed 16-14 at the intermission and actually rallied to take a 37-30 lead with 6:58 left in regulation thanks to Ryan tossing a 5-yard TD strike to WR Mohammaed Sanu. That lead would not last long as Saints QB Drew Brees tied things up at 37-37 with 75 seconds left on a 5-yard scamper into the endzone. The Saints then won the toss to start the overtime and made sure that Ryan and the Falcons would not get the ball back, going on a 15- play, 80 yard drive that used 7:05 of clock and ended with Brees scoring from a yard out. New Orleans outrushed Atlanta 143-48 and Brees threw for 396 yards and three TDs, while Ryan (sacked three times) threw for 374 yards and five TDs, connecting with rookie WR Calvin Ridley on three of those tosses (Ridley finished with seven catches for 146). Atlanta was 4 of 11 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:20, while the Saints went 7 of 14 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding on to the ball for 37:45, including the overtime.

Although the Falcons were favored by 3, the Saints covered the spread with the 6-point win in the Big Peach and the 80 points they would combine to score easily covered the 53 over/under in the week three affair. This time, the Saints are favored by 13 with a 59 1/2 over/under. Atlanta gave New Orleans all they could handle in their first meeting and as they say, revenge is best served cold. Atlanta will go back for seconds. The Falcons may not cover the 13 but they take the win in the Big Easy.

Chicago (7-3) at Detroit (4-6), 12:30 p.m. on CBS. A pair of NFC North (NFC Norris rivals, to quote ESPN’s Chris Berman) meet in the Motor City as first-place Chicago travels to Ford Field for an early afternoon meeting with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Both teams were winners at home with both taking close wins in the process. Thursday’s matchup marks the 17th Thanksgiving Day meeting between the Bears and the Lions, dating back to November 29, 1934. Pro Football Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Bill Hewitt for Chicago to secure a 19-16 victory over Detroit in the first holiday meeting between the two teams. In their last Thanksgiving Day matchup, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 34 of 45 attempts (75.6 percent) for 390 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 116.0 passer rating in the Lions’ 34-17 victory on November 27, 2014.

Mitch Trubisky and Da Bears survived a scare from Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday night at Soldier Field, coming away 25-20 winners in the Windy City. Chicago led 14-3 at the intermission in the NFC North contest before the Vikings would go on in the final 30 minutes to outscore Da Bears 20-11. Trubisky threw for 165 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions, while Cousins threw for 262 yards with a pair of TDs (Cousins threw a pair of interceptions and was sacked twice, Trubisky was sacked once) in the contest. Chicago outrushed Minnesota 148-22 and went 6 for 12 on third down and kept the ball for 34:29, while the Purple Gang went 5 for 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 25:31.

Detroit survived a scare from Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, taking a 20-19 win at Ford Field last Sunday. The Lions led 10-7 at the half, then survived a late fourth quarter rally by the Panthers, as Carolina outscored Detroit 12-10 in the last 30 minutes of play, holding off a two-point conversion by Newton that would have given the Panthers the lead. While neither club breached the 100-yard mark, Detroit outrushed Carolina 94-56 and Stafford threw for 220 yards and a TD to WR Kenny Golladay, while Newton threw for 357 yards and three TDs, connecting with Greg Olson on one of those tosses (Newton was sacked three times and threw and interception, while Stafford was sacked once). Detroit went 4 for 12 on third down tries in the Motor City and held the ball for 31:40, while the Panthers kept the ball for 28:20, going 5 for 11 on third down.

They met in the Windy City in week 10 and Da Bears took Detroit to the woodshed by Chicago at Soldier Field last Sunday, coming away 34-22 winners in the Windy City. Although Detroit managed to outscore Chicago 15-8 in the final 30 minutes of play, the Monsters of the Midway took a 26-7 lead with them to the break and never looked back. While Detroit did manage to outrush Chicago 76-54, Chicago made life for Matthew Stafford less than pleasant as they would sack him six times and force a pair of interceptions while throwing for 274 yards. Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky had a better time than his Lions’ counterpart, throwing for 355 yards with no interceptions and three TDs while being sacked only once. While the Lions were 4 of 15 on third down, they had success on fourth down conversions, going 4 of 5 and ruledthe clock as they kept the ball for 32 minutes, while Da Bears kept the pigskin in hibernation for 28 minutes, going 4 for 10 on third down conversions.

Da Bears were 6 1/2 point favorites in the Windy City over Detroit and covered with their 12-point win at Soldier Field. Both teams covered the 45 over/under with 56 points in the week 10 contest. In the second meeting, Chicago’s favored by 4 and the over/under’s 45. Both numbers are reasonable. Detroit’s trying to restore some order in the NFC North, while Da Bears are looking to stay kings of the NFC North mountain. Long live the king! Da Bears cover the 4 and win in the Motor City.

Washington (6-3) at Dallas (5-5), 4:30 p.m. on FOX. They meet again. Throw out the records. They STILL don’t like each other, even if it is Thanksgiving. First-place Washington travels to Jerry World to face off against Dallas in a week seven late afternoon rematch. Thursday marks the ninth Thanksgiving Day meeting between the two teams, with the Cowboys leading the holiday series 7-1. ​The first meeting between the two teams on Thanksgiving was played at the Cotton Bowl on November 28, 1968. Cowboys running backs Don Perkins and Craig Baynham each rushed for a score and rookie defensive lineman Larry Cole had a five-yard interception-return touchdown in Dallas’ 29-20 victory. Washington will make its 11th appearance on Thanksgiving Day and will play on the holiday for the third-consecutive season. Last year, wide receiver Jamison Crowder had 141 receiving yards with a touchdown and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan recorded two sacks in the Redskins’ 20-10 victory over the New York Giants. In the last Thanksgiving Day meeting between the teams, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Dak Prescott both passed and rushed for a touchdown and linebacker Sean Lee recorded 14 tackles and one tackle for loss in Dallas’ 31-26 victory in 2016.

Washington suffered two losses Sunday against Houston at FedEx Field. First, they lost the services of their QB Alex Smith to a broken leg, then they lost 23-21 to the Texans last Sunday. Washington trailed 17-7 at the intermission in Landover, then took the lead with 11:57 left to play when Redskins RB Adrian Peterson scored from 7 yards out to lead 21-20. That lead would not last all that long as the Texans would take the lead back with 7:30 left when K Kai Fairbairn nailed a 54-yard field goal for the one-point lead. Washington would eventually get the ball back with 52 seconds left in regulation and got as close as Houston’s 45-yard line and could have won the game with 8 seconds left but Dustin Hopkins’ 65-yard field goal attempt was short of the mark. Smith threw for 135 yards with three sacks (including the one that knocked him out of the contest) a pair of interceptions, while the Redskins were outrushed by Houston 139-124 in the loss (Texans’ QB DeShaun Watson threw for 208 yards and a TD, with three sacks and a pair of interceptions). While Washington was 6 for 15 on third down, they were successful on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:57, while the Texans kept the ball for 29:03, going 4 for 11 on third down.

Dallas took their fans to the edge of their contest last Sunday against Atlanta in the Big Peach and came away 22-19 last second winners in Atlanta, avenging a loss in Atlanta last year. Dallas trailed 6-3 in the Sunday afternoon contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the Cowboys would take the lead for the first time when Dak Prescott scored from 4 yards out as the fourth quarter got underway. Dallas missed the extra point and led 12-9 with 14:19 left to play and added a 22-yard run by Elliott to lead 19-9. Atlanta then chipped away at the Cowboy lead thanks to a Matt Bryant field goal with 8:26 left, then tied the contest when Ryan and WR Julio Jones connected on a 34-yard TD strike with 1:52 left in regulation. Dallas then proceeded to use all of the 1:52 that was left and marched their way down the field, where K Brad Maher connected on a 42-yard field goal as the clock struck :00. While Elliott rushed for 122 yards and the TD and Dallas outrushed Atlanta 132-80, Ryan outpaced the younger Prescott, throwing for 291 yards and the fourth quarter TD toss to Jones (Ryan was sacked three times and picked off once, while Prescott threw for 208 yards with a pair of sacks). Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the Big Peach, with Atlanta going 6 for 12, Dallas 7 for 13 and the Cowboys ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:57 (including the final 1:52 of the contest) to Atlanta’s 28:03.

They met in Landover in week seven and Washington held off a late Dallas rally as the Redskins managed to survive a 20-17 scare at Fed Ex Field. 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 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 Smith 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.

In the week seven contest at Landover, Washington was favored by 1 1/2 and the Redskins covered, winning by 3. As for the 41 1/2 over/under? It stayed in tact, as both clubs combined for only 37 points. This time in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys are favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 41. Given the history between these two teams, this one may be worth your time to watch. Will Washington fans be singing “Hail to the Redskins” or “Hell, it’s the Redskins” this week? Hail, hail, the gang’s all here. Washington may not cover the 7 1/2 but they take the win in Arlington.

Thursday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

ATLANTA at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m. on NBC: Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 82 (Atlanta), 83 (New Orleans); XM: 226 (Atlanta), 225 (New Orleans)

Chicago at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Ryan Radtke, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 82 (Chicago), 83 (Detroit); XM: 226 (Chicago), 225 (Detroit)

Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Kristina Pink (Field reporter)
NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Brandon Gaudin, Rod Woodson, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 82 (Washington), 83 (Dallas); XM: 226 (Washington), 225 (Dallas)

Thursday Officials
ATLANTA at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m.: John Hussey
Chicago at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.: Brad Allen
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m.: Ron Torbert

Thursday Injury Report

ATLANTA at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m.

Atlanta
OUT: LB Deion Jones (Foot)

New Orleans
OUT: T Terron Armstead (Pectoral)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Tre’Quan Smith (Foot), DE Marcus Davenport (Toe)

Chicago at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: QB Mitchell Trubisky (Right Shoulder)
OUT: LB Aaron Lynch (Concussion), TE Adam Shaheen (Concussion)

Detroit
OUT: RB Kerryon Johnson (Knee), WR Marvin Jones (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah (Shoulder), WR Bruce Ellington (Back), DT Damon Harrison (Shoulder), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Neck), TE Michael Roberts (Shoulder), DT A’Shawn Robinson (Ankle), CB Darius Clay (Knee)

Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m.

Washington
OUT: RB Christopher Thompson (Rib)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Jamison Crowder (Ankle), G Anthony Bergstrom (Knee), CB Quinton Dunbar (Shin), RB Samaje Perine (Calf), T Trent Williams (Thumb)

Dallas
OUT: WR Tavon Austin (Groin), DE David Irving (Ankle), LB Sean Lee (Hamstring), G Adam Redmond (Concussion), TE Geoffrey Swaim (Wrist)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Joe Thomas (Foot), DT Antwaun Woods (Concussion), DE Vidauntae Charlton (Shoulder), DT Maliek Collins (Knee), G Zachary Martin (Knee), T Tyron Smith (Neck), G Connor Williams (Knee)

Thursday Weather Forecast
ATLANTA at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m.: Game Indoors
Chicago at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.: Game Indoors
Washington at Dallas, 4:30 p.m.: Game Indoors

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

The NFL announced Wednesday the following schedule changes for Week 13 (December 2) and Week 14 (December 9).

In Week 13 (December 2), the Los Angeles Chargers-Pittsburgh game originally scheduled for 1 p.m. on CBS will move to 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Additionally, the San Francisco-Seattle game will move from 8:20 p.m. on NBC to 4:25 p.m. on FOX.

In Week 14 (December 9), the Los Angeles Rams-Chicago game scheduled for 1 p.m. on FOX will move to 8:20 p.m. on NBC. The Pittsburgh-Oakland game originally scheduled for 8:20 p.m. on NBC will move to 4:25 p.m. on FOX.

The following is the final Week 13 NFL schedule (all times Eastern):

Thursday, November 29
New Orleans at Dallas, 8:20 p.m. on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon

Sunday, December 2
Baltimore at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on CBS
Denver at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX
Arizona at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cleveland at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on CBS
Buffalo at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
Chicago at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
Carolina at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
Kansas City at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
New York Jets at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Minnesota at New England, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
San Francisco at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Monday, December 3
Washington at Philadelphia, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

The following is the final Week 14 NFL schedule (all times Eastern):

Thursday, December 6
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m. on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon

Sunday, December 9
ATLANTA at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS
Carolina at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX
Indianapolis at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS
Baltimore at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS
New England at Miami, 1 p.m. on CBS
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX
New York Giants at Washington, 1 p.m. on FOX
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Denver at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. on CBS
Detroit at Arizona, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Philadelphia at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Pittsburgh at Oakland, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Los Angeles Rams at Chicago. 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Monday, December 10
Minnesota at Seattle, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

ATLANTA at Cleveland, 1 p.m. on FOX: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Sara Walsh (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 98 (Atlanta), 206 (Cleveland); XM: 389 (Atlanta), 228 (Cleveland)

Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m. on FOX: Chris Myers. Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 99 (Detroit), 83 (Chicago); XM: 383 (Detroit), 225 (Chicago)

New Orleans at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. on FOX: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 127 (New Orleans), 82 (Cincinnati); XM: 384 (New Orleans), 227 (Cincinnati)

Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta; SIRIUS: 103 (Jacksonville), 146 (Indianapolis); XM: 388 (Jacksonville), 230 (Indianapolis)

Arizona at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians, Melanie Collins (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 106 (Arizona), 113 (Kansas City); XM: 390 (Arizona), 231 (Kansas City)

Buffalo at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton; SIRIUS: 119 (Buffalo), 133 (New York Jets); XM: 386 (Buffalo), 229 (New York Jets)

Washington at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Washington), 81 (Tampa Bay); XM: 385 (Washington), 226 (Tampa Bay)

New England at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on CBS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 111 (New England), 94 (Tennessee); XM: 387 (New England), 232 (Tennessee)

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. on FOX: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 136 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (Oakland); XM: 391 (Los Angeles Chargers), 225 (Oakland)

Miami at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. on CBS: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 78 (Miami), 81 (Green Bay); XM: 385 (Miami), 226 (Green Bay)

Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 99 (Seattle), 82 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 384 (Seattle), 227 (Los Angeles Rams)

Dallas at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Mike Mayock; SIRIUS: 81 (Dallas), 83 (Philadelphia); XM: 226 (Dallas), 225 (Philadelphia)

New York Giants at San Francisco, 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Rod Woodson, Amber Theoharis; SIRIUS: 81 (New York Giants), 83 (San Francisco); XM: 226 (New York Giants), 225 (San Francisco)

Sunday and Monday Officials
ATLANTA at Cleveland, 1 p.m.: Pete Morelli
Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Alex Kemp
New Orleans at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Tony Corrente
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Arizona at Kansas City, 1 p.m.: Carl Cheffers
Buffalo at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: Ron Torbert
Washington at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.: Brad Allen
New England at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Bill Vinovich
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.: Craig Wrolstad
Miami at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Clay Martin
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: John Hussey
Dallas at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m.: John Parry
New York Giants at San Francisco, 8:15 p.m. Monday: Shawn Hochuli

Sunday and Monday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

Sunday’s Games
Favorite              Spread    Underdog         O/U
Atlanta               –  4      CLEVELAND        51
INDIANA               –  3      Jacksonville     46 1/2
NEW YORK JETS         –  7 1/2  Buffalo          37
New England           –  7      TENNESSEE        48 1/2
CHICAGO               –  6 1/2  Detroit          45
New Orleans           –  4      CINCINNATI       54 1/2
KANSAS CITY           – 16 1/2  Arizona          50
TAMPA BAY             –  2 1/2  Washington       51 1/2
Los Angeles Chargers  –  9 1/2  OAKLAND          50 1/2
LOS ANGELES RAMS      – 10      Seattle          51 1/2
GREEN BAY             –  9      Miami            47 1/2
PHILADELPHIA          –  6      Dallas           43 1/2

Monday’s Game
Favorite              Spread    Underdog         O/U
SAN FRANCISCO         –  3      New York Giants  43 1/2

Sunday and Monday Injury Report

ATLANTA at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

ATLANTA
OUT: K Matt Bryant (Right Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Derrick Shelby (Groin)

Cleveland
QUESTIONABLE: T Desmond Harrison (Illness), S Damarious Randall (Groin), TE David Njoku (Knee). LB Joseph Schobert (Ankle), WR Da’Mari Scott Shoulder), C Joesph Tretter (Ankle), CB Denzel Ward (Hip)

Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Detroit
DOUBTFUL: LB Medgar Harold (Shoulder)
OUT: G Thomas Lang (Neck), CB Darius Slay (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Ezekiel Ansah (Shoulder, RB Kerryon Johnson (Ankle), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Neck), TE Luke Willson (Shoulder)

Chicago
OUT: TE Dion Sims (Concussion), DT Bilal Nichols (Knee)

New Orleans at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

New Orleans
OUT: DE Marcus Davenport (Toe)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Dez Bryant (Ankle)

Cincinnati

DOUBTFUL: G Alex Redmond (Hamstring)
OUT: LB Vontaze Burfict (Hip), CB Darqueze Dennard (Sternoclavicular), WR A.J. Green (Foot), TE Tyler Kroft (Foot), LB Nichols vigil (KNee)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Giovani Bernard (Knee)

Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville
DOUBTFUL: DT Eli Anko (Calf)
OUT: Arlando Bouye (Calf), CB Quenton Meeks (Knee), TE David Grinage (Knee), DE Lerentee McCray (Hamstring), LB Telvin Smith (Shoulder)

Indianapolis
OUT: TE Ryan Hewitt (Ankle), S Michael Mitchell (Calf), TE Erik Swoope (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: T Denzelle Good (Illness), DE Kemoko Turay (Neck), WR Ryan Grant (Ankle), CB Nathan Hairston (Ankle)

Arizona at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Arizona
OUT: DT Robert Nkemdiche (Calf), WR Chad Williams (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Jermaine Gresham (Back), S Budda Baker (Foot), S Jayestin Boston (Chest), G Mike Iupati (Back), DT Corey Peters (Ankle), G Joseph Pugh (Hand), G Jeremy Vujnovich (Hamstring)

Kansas City
DOUBTFUL: S James Berry (Heel)
OUT: C Mitchell Morse (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: G Cameron Erving (Illness), LB Anthony Hitchens (Rib), LB Justin Houston (Hamstring), S Daniel Sorensen (Knee), WR Sammy Watkins (Foot), LB Frank Zombo (Hamstring)

Buffalo at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

Buffalo
OUT: QB Derek Anderson (Concussion), TE Charles Clay (Hamstring), DE Trent Murphy (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Andre Holmes (Neck), QB Josh Allen QB (Right Elbow), LB Fe’Zahn Edmundsons (Concussion), RB Chris Ivory (Shoulder)

New York Jets
DOUBTFUL: WR Robby Anderson (Ankle), QB Sam Darnold (Foot), C Spencer Long (Knee)
OUT: TE Neal Sterling (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Stephen McLendon (Ankle)

Washington at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Washington
OUT: RB Chris Thompson (Rib), T Trent Williams (Thumb)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Quinton Dunbar (Shin), WR Jamison Crowder (Ankle), T Morgan Moses (Knee)

Tampa Bay
OUT: DE Vincent (Ankle), RB Ronald Jones (Hamstring), G Evan Smith (Hip), CB Marvin Stewart (Foot)

New England at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

New England
QUESTIONABLE: T Trent Brown (Illness), TE Rob Gronkowski (Ankle), LB Qualin Hightower (Knee), Jacob Hollister (Hamstring), G Shaquille Mason (Calf), RB Sony Michel (Knee)

Tennessee
OUT: T Jack Conklin (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLEL S Dane Cruikshank (Knee), LB Derrick Morgan (Shoulder), WR Taywan Taylor (Foot), DT Bennie Logan (Knee), WR Taje Sharpe (Ankle)

Miami at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Miami
DOUBTFUL: G Theodore Larsen (Neck)
OUT: DE Charles Harris (Calf), RB Ryan Tannehill (Right Shoulder), LB Kristian Alonso (Ankle), TE Alexander Kirby (Foot), WR Jakeem Grant (Achilles), T Ja’Wuan James (Knee), T Laremy Tunsil (Knee)

Green Bay
OUT: CB Kevin King (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: T Bryan Bulaga (Knee), WR Randall Cobb (Hamtring), LB Blake Martinez (Ankle)

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.

Los Angeles Chargers
OUT: DE Joey Bosa (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Kyle Emanuel (Hip), CB Trevor Williams (Knee), DE Christopher Landrum (Hip), DT Darius Philon (Ankle)

Oakland – Oakland reports no injuries

Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.

Seattle
DOUBTFUL: CB Neiko Thorpe (Groin)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Chris Carson (Hip), G Danny Fluker (Calf), DT Shamar Stephen (Foot), DT Nazar Jones (Illness), G Jordan Simmons (Calf), S Bradley McDougald (Knee), LB Kenneth Wright (Knee)

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

Dallas at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m.

Dallas
OUT: WR Tavon Austin (Groin), DE Vidauntae Charlton (Shoulder), DE David Irving (Ankle), LB Sean Lee (Hamstring), LB Joe Thomas (Foot), G Connor Williams (Knee), DE Randy Gregory (Knee), TE Geoffery Swain (Knee)

Philadelphia
OUT: CB Sidney Jones (Hamstring), CB Jalen Mills (Foot), RB Darren Sproles (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE John Sweat (Hip), T Lane Johnson (Knee)

New York Giants at San Francisco, 8:15 p.m. Monday

New York Giants – New York Giants report no injuries

San Francisco
OUT: LB Reuben Foster (Hamstring), WR Pierre Garcon (Knee), S Jaquiski Tarrt (Shoulder)

Sunday and Monday Weather

ATLANTA at Cleveland, 1 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 39 degrees
Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m.: Mostly cloudy and 37 degrees
New Orleans at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 41 degrees
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Arizona at Kansas City, 1 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 43 degrees
Buffalo at New York Jets, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 45 degrees
Washington at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 82 degrees
New England at Tennessee, 1 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 49 degrees
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.: Sunny and 65 degrees
Miami at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 33 degrees
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 75 degrees
Dallas at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m.: Clear and 38 degrees
New York Giants at San Francisco, 8:15 p.m. Monday: Clear and 68 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)

The ’72 Dolphins can breathe easy.

The Los Angeles Rams’ hopes for an unbeaten sesaon came to an end in New Orleans as the Saints took down the Rams 45-35 in the Big Easy.

Los Angeles became one of many teams that came close to perfection, only to see that same perfection slip through their fingers. The champange corks you’re hearing? Those are some of the remaining Dolphin players from that team that are celebrating. Their streak of perfection is intact.

The second half of the NFL season is here and the race to the playoffs is in full swing.

Three teams – Kansas City (8-1), the Los Angeles Rams (8-1) and New England (7-2) – have a record of 7-2 or better entering Week 10 and New Orleans (7-1), which had its bye in Week 6, will reach either 8-1 or 7-2 following this week’s action. In the Super Bowl era, 216 teams have begun the season either 8-1 or 7-2 through nine games and 194 of those teams advanced to the postseason (89.8 percent). Sixty-one of the 216 teams reached the Super Bowl in their respective seasons.

As the season moves into the second half, there is plenty of football left to play and nothing has been decided. Since 2000, 45 teams have reached the halfway point of their season with a .500 or below winning percentage and advanced to the playoffs, including at least one in each season. Last year, Atlanta began the season at 4-4 before advancing to the postseason with a 10-6 record.

Four teams are currently riding winning streaks of at least five games – New Orleans (seven consecutive games), Houston (six), New England (six) and the Los Angeles Chargers (five). The Texans, which began the season 0-3, are the second team since 1970 to win six consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start, joining the 1970 New York Giants.

As the schedule turns to Week 10, history is on the horizon for veteran and young quarterbacks alike. New England quarterback Tom Brady will play in his 300th career game (including the postseason) on Sunday at Tennessee at 1 p.m. on CBS, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (326) as the only quarterbacks to appear in 300 career games across the regular season and playoffs. Brady, who has thrown 576 touchdown passes through 299 career games (including the postseason), can surpass Peyton Manning (579) for the most touchdown passes by a quarterback in NFL history.

Brady (505 regular-season touchdown passes) and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (506), who plays at Cincinnati on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX, enter Week 10 within reach of Favre (508) for second place on the NFL’s all-time passing touchdown leaderboard. Only Manning (539) has more career touchdown passes in the regular season.

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has 29 touchdown passes and 3,185 passing yards in 10 career games, both the most by a quarterback in his first 10 games in NFL history. Mahomes, who has passed for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of the Chiefs’ past four games, can join Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young (1998) as the only players in NFL history with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in five consecutive games.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 346 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 137 passer rating and wide receiver Michael Thomas had a franchise-record 211 receiving yards, including a 72-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, in the Saints’ 45-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Brees has 22 career games with at least four touchdown passes and zero interceptions, tied with New England’s Tom Brady (22) for the most such games by a quarterback in NFL history.

Thomas’ 211 receiving yards are the most in a single game in Saints’ history, surpassing the previous high of 205 set by Wes Chandler on September 2, 1979 against Atlanta. He is the third Saint to record 200+ receiving yards in a single game, joining Chandler and Torrance Small (200 on December 24, 1994 at Denver).

•Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 228 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 105.9 passer rating in the Chargers’ 25-17 win at Seattle.

Rivers, who has started 200 consecutive games dating back to September 11, 2006, became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to start at least 200 consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (297 consecutive games), Eli Manning (210) and Peyton Manning (208).

•Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 375 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 129 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 37-21 win at Cleveland.

Mahomes, who appeared in his 10th career game Sunday, has 29 touchdown passes and 3,185 passing yards, both the most by a player in his first 10 career games in NFL history. Mahomes is the only quarterback in league annals to pass for at least 3,000 yards in his first 10 career games.

Mahomes has passed for at least 300 yards in eight consecutive games, tied with Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (2014) for the most consecutive games with 300+ passing yards in a single season in NFL history.

•​Pittsburgh running back James Conner had 107 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in the Steelers’ 23-16 win at Baltimore.

Conner has four games with at least 100 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards and at least one touchdown this season, the most such games by a player in a single season in NFL history.

Conner, who has 1,085 scrimmage yards (706 rushing, 379 receiving) and 10 total touchdowns (nine rushing, one receiving) this season, is the only player in franchise history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns in the team’s first eight games of a season.

•Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt had 141 scrimmage yards (91 rushing, 50 receiving) with three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in the Chiefs’ Week 9 win and New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara had 116 scrimmage yards (82 rushing, 34 receiving) with three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in the Saints’ win on Sunday.

Kamara, who played in his 24th career game on Sunday, has five games with both a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown, the second-most in NFL history by a player in his first 25 career games. Only Indianapolis’ Edgerrin James (six) had more such games in his first 25 career contests.

Hunt, who appeared in his 25th career game today, has four such games, tied with Chicago’s Hugh Gallarneau (four games in 1941-42, 1945) for the third-most in league annals by a player in his first 25 career games.

•Minnesota, led by defensive end Danielle Hunter’s career-high 3.5 sacks, recorded a franchise-record 10 sacks in the team’s 24-9 victory over Detroit.

The Vikings’ 10 sacks surpassed the previous franchise-high of nine, which was accomplished four times and most recently on October 25, 1993 at Chicago.

Hunter, who returned a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, became the second player with at least 3.5 sacks and a touchdown in a single game since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. The Chargers’ Shaun Phillips, who had four sacks and a 31-yard interception-return touchdown against the Cardinals on October 3, 2010, is the only other player to accomplish the feat since 1982.

Chicago safety Eddie Jackson had a 65-yard fumble-return touchdown and linebacker Leonard Floyd scored on a 19-yard interception-return touchdown in the Bears’ 41-9 victory at Buffalo.

Jackson, who had both a 76-yard interception-return touchdown and a 75-yard fumble-return touchdown against Carolina on October 22, 2017, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (three touchdowns in 1994) as the only players since 1970 with at least three defensive touchdowns of 65 or more yards over any two-year span. Sanders had interception-return touchdowns of 93, 90 and 74 yards with San Francisco in 1994.

•Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 26 of 38 passes (68.4 percent) for 350 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a 121.6 passer rating and wide receiver Julio Jones had seven catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 38-14 win at Washington.

Ryan, who recorded his 50th career game with at least 300 passing yards on Sunday, joined Drew Brees (57 games) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 50 games of 300+ passing yards in their first 11 seasons.

Jones has 44 career games with at least 100 receiving yards, tied with Calvin Johnson for the second-most in NFL history by a player in his first eight seasons. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (45) had more such games in his first eight career seasons.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 10

MILESTONES ON THE HORIZON: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 346 yards with four touchdowns and New England quarterback Tom Brady passed 294 yards with a touchdown in Week 9. Brees (506 touchdown passes) and Brady (505) rank third and fourth, respectively, all-time in touchdown passes.

Brees, who faces Cincinnati at 1 p.m. on Sunday, needs three touchdown passes to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre (508) for the second-most regular-season touchdown passes in NFL history. Brady, who plays at Tennessee at 1 p.m. on CBS, needs four touchdown passes to surpass Favre.

The players with the most touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (539)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (508)^
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (506)
Tom Brady – New England (505)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Brady has an additional 71 touchdown passes in 37 career playoff games, an NFL record, and needs four touchdown passes to surpass Peyton Manning (579 touchdowns) for the most passing touchdowns in league history, including the postseason.

The players with the most touchdown passes (including the postseason) in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis, Denver (579)
Tom Brady – New England (576)

Brady, who has appeared in 262 regular-season games and 37 playoff games, can become the second quarterback in league annals to appear in 300 games (including the postseason), joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre (326).

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 15,902 receiving yards in his 15-year NFL career. With 33 receiving yards on Sunday at Kansas City at 1 p.m. on CBS, Fitzgerald would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens (15,934) for the second-most receiving yards in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (RECEIVING YARDS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (22,895)^
Terrell Owens – San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati (15,934)^
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (15,902)

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PROLIFIC PAT: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 2,901 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes through the first nine weeks of the season. Mahomes has thrown for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of his past four games.

With 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes on Sunday against Arizona at Arrowhead at 1 p.m. on CBS, Mahomes would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young (five games in 1998) as the only quarterbacks in league history to record at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in five consecutive games.

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

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON, CONSECUTIVE GAMES)
Steve Young – San Francisco (1998, 5)^
Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City (2018, 4)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

LUCKY NUMBER THREE: Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck ranks second in the NFL with 23 touchdown passes this season and has thrown at least three touchdowns in each of his past five games.

With three touchdown passes on Sunday at home against Jacksonville at 1 p.m. on CBS, Luck would join Tom Brady (10 consecutive games in 2007) and Peyton Manning (eight consecutive games in 2004) as the only quarterbacks to record six consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes in a single season. Brady and Manning were each named Associated Press MVP in those seasons.

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

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON, CONSECUTIVE GAMES)
Tom Brady – New England (2007, 10)#
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (2004, 8)#
Andrew Luck – Indianapolis (2018, 5)*
#Named Associated Press MVP
*Active streak

RISING RIVERS: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 228 yards and two touchdowns for a 105.9 passer rating in the Chargers’ 25-17 win at Seattle in Week 9. Rivers has recorded at least two touchdown passes and a passer rating of 95 or higher in each of the Chargers’ first eight games this season.

Rivers, who plays at Oakland at 4:05 p.m. on FOX, can join Aaron Rodgers (13 games in 2011) and Tom Brady (10 games in 2007) as the only quarterbacks in league history to throw at least two touchdown passes and have a passer rating of 95 or higher in each of his team’s first nine games of a season. Rodgers and Brady were each named Associated Press MVP in those seasons.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes and a passer rating of 95 or higher to begin a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON, CONSECUTIVE GAMES)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (2011, 13)#
Tom Brady – New England (2007, 10)#
Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers (2018, 8)*
#Named Associated Press MVP
*Active streak

TOUCHDOWN TODD: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley leads the NFL with 16 touchdowns in 2018 and has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Rams’ first nine games of the season.

With a touchdown against Seattle in Los Angeles at 4:25 p.m. on CBS, Gurley would join Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (1975), Lenny Moore (1964) and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch (1951) as the only players in league annals to score a touchdown in each of their team’s first 10 games of a season. Simpson and Moore had at least one touchdown in each of their team’s 14 games during their respective seasons.

The players with the most consecutive team games with at least one touchdown to begin a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON, CONSECUTVIE GAMES)
O.J. Simpson – Buffalo (1975, 14)^
Lenny Moore – Baltimore Colts (1964, 14)^
Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch – Los Angeles Rams (1951, 10)^
Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams (2018, 9)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

CATCH IT LIKE MIKE: New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas had a franchise-record 211 receiving yards, including a 72-yard touchdown catch, in the Saints’ 45-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9.

Thomas, who has 266 receptions in 39 career games, needs one catch on Sunday at Cincinnati at 1 p.m. on FOX to surpass Odell Beckham, Jr. (266) for the most receptions by a player in his first 40 career games in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions in their first 40 career games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS, RECEPTIONS)
Odell Beckham, Jr. – New York Giants (2014-16, 266)
Michael Thomas – New Orleans (2016-18, 266)*
*In 39 career games

NICK AT NIGHT: San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens passed for 262 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for 151.9 rating in his NFL debut in Week 9 in their win over Oakland last Thursday night.

With three touchdown passes against the New York Giants Monday night at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN, Mullens would become the fifth player in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to throw at least three touchdown passes in each of his first two career starts at quarterback.

The players with at least three touchdown passes in each of their first two career starts at quarterback in the Super Bowl era:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS)
Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo (2015)
Matt Flynn – Green Bay (2010-11)
Kurt Warner – St. Louis Rams (1999)^
Dan Marino – Miami (1983)^
Nick Mullens – San Francisco (2018)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Threw three TD passes in first-career start last week

With a start on Monday, Mullens will become the first quarterback since Kansas City’s Tyler Palko (2011) to make his first two career starts in primetime (Thursday Night, Sunday Night or Monday Night).

Highlights in week 10? Glad you asked…

New Orleans, winners of seven consecutive games, travel to Paul Brown Stadium to take on Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. on FOX. Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who has 1,218 rushing yards and 1,253 receiving yards in 24 career games, can join Herschel Walker (1,339 rushing, 1,394 receiving) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,300 rushing and receiving yards in his first 25 career games. Bengals rookie safety Jessie Bates leads Cincinnati with 60 tackles and is one of two players in the NFL (Kiko Alonso) with at least 60 tackles and three interceptions (three) in 2018.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks visit Todd Gurley and the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 4:25 p.m. on CBS. Since Week 5, Wilson ranks second in the NFL with a 126.4 passer rating and third in the league with 11 touchdown passes. Gurley leads the NFL with 16 touchdowns (12 rushing, four receiving) and has scored a touchdown in each of the Rams’ nine games in 2018. With a touchdown on Sunday, Gurley can become the fourth player in league annals to score at least one touchdown in each of his team’s first 10 games of a season.

Byes in week 10? Baltimore, Denver, Houston and Minnesota have the weekend off. As for Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, the New York Giants and Philadelphia? They’re back from their week-long vacations and return to the gridiron this week. As for last week’s picks? 9 and 4 for the week, which wasn’t bad (it could have been better but it is what it is…). For the year, 84-46. There’s still lots of football left in the regular season and we haven’t even gotten to Thanksgiving yet.

Week 10 got underway in Pittsburgh as the Steelers manhandled Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 52-21 at Heinz Field Thursday night and concludes on the West Coast as a pair of struggling teams meet in Santa Clara as the 49ers host Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Levis’ Stadium. Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 10.

ATLANTA (4-4) at Cleveland (2-6-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Week 10 Sunday action gets underway along the shore of Lake Erie as the Atlanta Falcons make their way to Cleveland for an early afternoon contest with the struggling Cleveland Browns.

The Falcons picked up their third win in a row and pulled their record to the .500 mark as they took down Washington 38-14 at Fed Ex Field. Atlanta led from start to finish and took a 21-7 lead with them to the break. Atlanta, outrushing Washington 154-79, then proceeded to outscore the Redskins in the second half by a 17-7 margin to take the win (Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman led all rushers with 88, while the Falcons’ defense held Adrian Peterson to 17 yards on nine carries). Matt Ryan threw for 350 yards and four TDs with a pair of sacks, connecting with Coleman on two of those tosses, while WRs Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones (seven catches for 121 yards) had the others. Washington’s Alex Smtih threw for 306 yards with a TD toss to WR Josh Doctson but was sacked three times (both Ryan and Smith threw an interception). Atlanta went 10 for 13 on third down and held on to the ball for 32:56, while the Redskins (who were flagged 10 times for 147 yards) went 5 for 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 27:04.

The Gregg Williams era at Cleveland did not get off to the start they wanted against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday as the Browns were taken to task by the Chiefs 37-21. Cleveland trailed 21-15 at the break, then watched the Chiefs outscore them in the final 30 minutes of action 16-6 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Cleveland was outrushed by Kansas City 139-102, with Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt (91 yards, two TDs) and Browns RB Nick Chubb (85 yards, TD) led their teams. Mahomes burned Cleveland for 375 yards with three TDs (two to TE Travis Kelce, Hunt caught the other one), while Baker Mayfield paced Cleveland with 297 yards and a pair of TDs (both men were sacked twice, both threw an interception). Cleveland was 5 for 13 on third down tries along the shore of Lake Erie (they went 2 for 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:51, while Andy Reid’s Chiefs only needed to use 29:09, going 6 for 10 on third down.

Cleveland leads the series 11-3 and they have outscored Atlanta 330-215. Cleveland won the last meeting with Atlanta, taking a 26-24 win in 2014 in Atlanta, while the Falcons’ last win in the series came in 2010 in Cleveland by a final of 20-10, along the shores of Lake Erie. The oddsmakers like Atlanta as a 4-point road favorite with a 51 over/under. The Falcons have been playing decent football of late, while the Browns are struggling through a mid-season coaching change that could take them more than a season to recover. Atlanta covers the 4 on the shore of Lake Erie and wins on the road.

Jacksonville (3-5) at Indianapolis (3-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of teams coming off bye weeks meet in the Hoosier State as Andrew Luck and the Colts face off against AFC South foe Jacksonville in the first of two meetings.

Jacksonville returns after their 24-18 loss to the defending Super Bowl champs 24-18 on the other side of the Atlantic two weeks ago. In the week eight meeting at Wembley Stadium, the Jaguars trailed 10-6 at the half and would eventually pull themselves to within 6 with 6:57 left to play in the contest on a 24-yard field goal by Josh Lambo but could not come any closer. Philadelphia outrushed Jacksonville 133-70 and Eagles QB Carson Wentz threw for 286 yards with three TD tosses, while Blake Bortles threw for 286 yards with a TD (Wentz threw an interception, both men were sacked four times). Jacksonville, taking their fourth loss in a row, went 6 of 14 on third down (the Jaguars were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:22, while the defending Super Bowl Champs went 7 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:38.

The Colts trailed Oakland 14-13 at the half on the West Coast two Sundays ago, then proceeded to outscore the Raiders 29-14 in the final 30 minutes of play to take a 42-28 win at the Oakland Coliseum. The Colts got a pair of second half TD passes from Andrew Luck to take the win and giving the Silver and Black their third loss in a row in the process. The Colts easily outrushed Oakland 222-103, with Colts RB Marlon Mack leading the way with 132 yards and a pair of TDs. Luck threw for 239 yards in the contest, while Oakland’s David Carr threw for 244 yards (both Luck and Carr threw threw TDs without a sack or interception). The Colts in the win went 9 for 13 on third down tries and held the ball for 36:30, while the Silver and Black kept the pigskin for 23:30, going 4 of 8 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Indy leads the series 22-12 and have outscored the Jaguars 807-696. However… Jacksonville has won three of the last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (the Colts’ last win over Jacksonville came in 2016 in the Hooiser State by a final of 24-20.

Their first meeting took place at Lucas Oil Stadium in week seven and Jacksonville left the Hoosier State 27-0 winners. Leading from start to finish, the Jaguars led 20-0 at the intermission and were in complete control of things in that contest. Jacksonville outrushed Indianapolis 188-96, with T.J. Yeldon leading all rushers with 122 yards and a TD. Jacksonville sacked Jacoby Brissett (who took over for the injured Luck) 10 times, while he threw for 200 yards with no interceptions, while Blake Bortles threw for 330 yards and a TD. Jacksonville was 8 for 14 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball to themselves for 32:47, while the Colts were 5 for 15 on third down and a somewhat dismal 0 for 3 on fourth down, holding the ball for 27:13.

Jacksonville made the sweep of the series a reality in the Sunshine State in week 13, taking the Colts 30-10 at EverBank Field (now TIAA Field). Jacksonville led 16-3 at the half and then went into cruise control in the last 30 minutes of action, outscoring the Colts 14-7 in that frame of time. This time, the Colts outrushed Jacksonville 141-96 but once again, Bortles burned the Colts for 309 yards and a pair of TDs, while Brissett threw for 174 yards with a TD, four sacks and a pair of interceptions. Jacksonville went 9 for 15 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 33:47, while the Colts kept the ball for 26:13, going 5 of 15 on third down and 4 of 4 on fourth down tries.

Jacksonville easily covered the 3 1/2 spread, as they won by 27 but the Jaguars’ 27 points was not enough as the 40 1/2 over/under was safe and sound. Jacksonville covered again in the week 13 contest in the Sunshine State, winning by 20 (they were favored by 9 1/2) but both clubs barely missed the 41 over/under. This time, the Colts are favored in the Hoosier State by 3 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. Both teams are in the basement in the AFC South and the winner moves a step closer to the top, while the Jaguars look to keep their heads above water. Jacksonville pulls off the road upset and covers the 3.

Buffalo (2-7) at New York Jets (3-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of AFC/AFL foes meet in upstate New Jersey as the Buffalo Bills travel to the Meadowlands and Met Life Stadium for a Sunday afternoon meeting with the New York Jets. Both teams are coming off losses in last week’s play.

Buffalo watched Chicago score 28 second-quarter points at Orchard Park unchallenged, then saw Da Bears proceede to run away with a 41-9 winlast Sunday. Buffalo was held by Chicago to a pair of Chris Parkey field goals and a Nate Peterman TD run in the second half to take control of the contest from start to finish. Buffalo did outrush Chicago 97-64 Peterman threw for 189 yards (Mitch Trubisky threw for 135 yards) but was sacked four times and picked off three (Trubisky threw a TD pass with a sack and an interception). While forcing four turnovers, Chicago went 3 for 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 25:57, while the Bills ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:03, going 6 of 18 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth down tries.

GangGreen took their third loss in a row, as they dropped a 13-6 decision at Miami last Sunday in the Sunshine State. After a scoreless first quarter, it was an all-field goal second quarter as Miami took a 6-3 lead into the half with a pair of Josh Sanders field goals. After a scoreless third quarter, Miami would score the game’s only TD when rookie LB Jerome Baker picked off J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! QB Sam Darnold and lived out a lineman’s dream, returning it 25 yards for a TD. GangGReen did manage to outrush Miami 80-64 and Darnold threw for 229 yards with four interceptions, while Brock Osweiler threw for 139 yards (each was sacked four times, with Darnold throwing four interceptions) in the win. Third down tries were nothing to write home about, as the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 2 for 13, while Miami was 3 for 16 (GangGreen was 0 for 2 on fourth down, while Miami was perfect, going 2 for 2) but GangGreen did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 31:34 to Miami’s 28:26.

The Bills lead the series 60-54 (which includes contests that took place at Shea Stadium, War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo and Giants Stadium, as well as games played when the Jets were known as the New York Titans) and the Bills have outscored GangGreen 2,372-2,342. They split last season’s contests, with each team taking wins at home.

The two AFC East foes met right away in week one in upstate New York as Buffalo took a 21-12 win at New Era Stadium. Buffalo led 7-6 at the intermission after a scoreless first quarter and then went on to outscore the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 14-6 in the second half. Buffalo outrushed GangGreen 190-38, with RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 110 yards, while Bills QB Tyrod Taylor threw for 224 yards with a pair of TDs (New York’s Josh McCown threw for 187 yards with a pair of interceptions and a sack, while Taylor had a pair of sacks with an interception). Buffalo went 8 of 17 on third down in upstate New York and kept the ball for 33:04, while GangGreen was 4 of 14 and 1 of 1 on third and fourthd downs, holding the ball for 26:56.

GangGreen would get their revenge for the week one loss in upstate New York as they took a 34-21 win at Met Life Stadium in week nine. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! led Buffalo 10-3 at the intermission and took control of things in the second half, outpacing the Bills 24-14 in the last 30 minutes of action. This time, GangGreen, led by Matt Forte’s 77 rushing yards (with two TDs), outrushed the Bills 194-63 and McCown threw for 140 yards wtih a TD and no sacks, while Taylor threw for 285 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked seven times. GangGreen went 6 for 14 on third down tries at Met Life Stadium and held the ball for 33:30, while the Bills kept the pigskin for 26:30, while going 6 for 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In the season opener in upstate New York, the Bills BARELY covered the 8 1/2 point spread, winning by 9 but the 40 over/under was untouched as the two teams combined for 33 points. In the week nine rematch in upstate New Jersey, Buffalo was favored by 3 1/2 and GangGreen covered, winning by 13. The two clubs did cover the 42 1/2 over/under in the rematch, combining for 55 points. The Jets are favored by 7 1/2 in the Meadowlands and the over/under’s 37. We wouldn’t hold it against you if you were to watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (Abby and Ziva slapping Tony is quite funny!). GangGreen wins this one at but expect the Bills to make things closer than the 7 1/2.

New England (7-2) at Tennessee (4-4), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Brady vs. Mariota. New England comes to the Music City for a Sunday afternoon showdown with Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Sunday’s contest features a former player (Mike Vrable) vs. his former coach (Bill Belichick) as they square off against each other in the Music City. Both teams took huge wins in last week’s contests.

Tom Brady and New England held off Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Foxboro last Sunday, with the Patroits coming away 31-17 winners at Gillette Stadium in a possible prime-time Super Bowl preview that featured a pair of future Hall of Fame QBs. Leading the Packers 17-10 at the half, Green Bay would even things up in the third when Rodgers and TE Jimmy Graham would connect on a 15-yard TD pass with 11:18 left in the quarter. New England then proceeded to take the lead back in the final 15 minutes of action, scoring their last 14 points of the contest without a challenge to take the win, ending with Brady and WR Josh Gordon hooking up on a 55-yard strike late in the quarter. New England outrushed Green Bay 123-118, while Brady and Rodgers combined to throw for 553 yards (Brady with 294, Rodgers with 259, Brady was sacked twice and Rodgers sacked once, neither threw an interception). New England was 4 for 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 27:26, while the Packers ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 32:34, going 6 for 13 on third down (both teams were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

The Titans gave Dallas their third loss in their last four games, taking down the Cowboys 42-28 at AT&T Stadium Monday night. Dallas watched Mariota and the Titans break a 14-14 tie at the intermision and score 14 second half points unchallenged. Tennessee outrushed Dallas 125-72 and Dak Prescott threw for 243 yards with five sacks, while Mariota threw for 240 yards (each threw a pair of TDs, Mariota was sacked four times, Prescott was sacked five times with an interception) and each team turned the ball over twice in the Monday night contest. Dallas went 5 for 11 on third down (the Cowboys were 0 for 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 25:34, while the Titans ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 34:26, going 11 for 14 on third down conversions.

Including games played in Boston and Houston, when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers, New England leads the series 23-15-1 and the Pats have outscored Tennessee 993-778. New England has come away with wins in their last five regular season meetings, with the last win coming in Foxboro in 2015 by a final of 33-16, while Tennessee’s last win over Brady and the Patriots came in the Music City by a 24-7 final in 2002.

They did meet in the post-season last year in Foxboro in the AFC Divisonal Game and the Pats were 35-14 winners at Gillette Stadium. New England erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit and scored 21 points in the second quarter unchalleged to take a 14-point lead with them to the intermission. New England outrushed Tennessee 101-85 and Brady threw for 337 yards and three TDs (one toss going to TE Rob Gronkowski), while Mariota threw for 254 yards with a pair of TDs and 8 sacks (Brady was not sacked or threw an interception). New England was 11 for 17 on third down conversions at Gillette Stadium and held on to the ball for 32:56, while the Titans were 5 for 15 on third down conversions, 2 for 3 on fourth down and held the ball for 27:04.

New England covered the 13 1/2-point spread with ease, as they won the AFC Divisional Game by 21 and both teams took care of the 47 over/under by scoring 49 points. The boys and girls in Vegas? They like the Pats on the road, making them 7-point favorites in Music City and the over/under’s 48 1/2. These numbers sound somewhat reasonable and since it’s Brady and Mariota, it should be a fun one to watch. Pats cover the 7 and win in Music City.

Detroit (3-5) at Chicago (5-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Windy City as Detroit travels to Soldier Field for an early afternoon contest with the first-place Chicago Bears.

Detroit was held in check last Sunday in Minneapolis, falling to Minnesota 24-9 at US Bank Stadium. The Lions trailed 17-6 at the break and could never get on track in the NFC North contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota outrushed the Lions 128-66 and Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times by the Purple Gang, despite throwing for 199 yards, while Kirk Cousins threw for 164 yards with a TD to WR Adam Thielen. Minnesota would put the nail in Detroit’s coffin in the fourth quarter when Vikings DE Danielle Hunter fulfilled a defensive lineman’s dream and took a fumble and returned it 32 yards untouched for a TD. Detroit was 4 for 15 on third down tries, 3 of 3 on fourth down and held on to the pigskin for 36:45, while the Vikings needed only 23:15 of clock to keep the ball, while going 3 for 8 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Chicago scored 28 second-quarter points at Buffalo unchallenged and then proceeded to run away with a 41-9 win over the Bills at Orchard Park last Sunday. Da Bears held Buffalo to a pair of Chris Parkey field goals and a Nate Peterman TD run in the second half to take control of the contest from start to finish. Buffalo did outrush Chicago 97-64 Peterman threw for 189 yards (Mitch Trubisky threw for 135 yards) but was sacked four times and picked off three (Trubisky threw a TD pass with a sack and an interception). While forcing four turnovers, Chicago went 3 for 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 25:57, while the Bills ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:03, going 6 of 18 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth down tries.

Da Bears lead da series 97-74-5 (including contests that were played when the Lions were in Portsmouth and known as the Spartans and both teams played at Wrigley Field, Tiger Stadium, the Silverdome and the University of Illinois-Champaign) and Chicago has outscored Detroit 3,409-3,152. However… the Lions have won the last three contests with their NFC North rivals, including sweeping last year’s series (Chicago’s last win over Detroit came in 2016 in the Windy City by a 17-14 final.

Round one… week 11 in the Windy City and the Lions erased a 10-0 first quarter deficit, took a 21-17 lead at the break, only to see Chicago tie things up in the fourth quarter when RB Tarik Cohen scored on a 15-yard run before Matt Prater gave the Lions the lead back for keeps to take the 27-24 win at Solider Field. Detroit used a 9-play, 42-yard drive that used 3:27 of clock to set up the game winning score, then held off a late Chicago rally that would have either the contest into overtime or given Chicago the win. The Monsters of the Midway did outrush Detroit 222-65, with Bears RB Jordan Howard leading the way with 125 yards and a TD, while Trubisky threw for 179 yards and a TD (Stafford threw for 299 yards and a pair of TDs; Stafford was sacked three times, Trubisky sacked once, neither threw an interception). Detroit was 3 for 10 on third down conversions at Soldier Field and the Lions kept the ball for 30:36, while Chicago held the ball for 29:24, going 3 for 9 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Round two… week 15 in the Motor City. Detroit made the sweep of the series complete, taking a 20-10 win over Da Bears at Ford Field. Detroit led 13-3 at the intermission and the two clubs played even football in the final 30 minutes of action. Neither club shattered the 100-yard barrier but Detroit did outrush Chicago 91-43 and Stafford threw for 237 yards with a pair of TDs and four sacks (no interceptions), while Trubisky threw for 314 yards with three interceptions (he was sacked twoce and threw a TD pass). Detroit went 6 for 13 on third down in the Motor City and kept the ball for 29:05, while Chicago ruled the clock and proceeded to hold on to the ball for 30:55, going 5 for 12 on third down.

In the week 11 contest in the Windy City, Detroit matched the 3-point spread, winning by 3 and both teams covered the 41 over/under with 51 points. As for the week 15 rematch in Detroit? The Lions covered the 5-point spread, winning by 10 but both teams missed the 44 over/under, as they would merge for 30 points. In the Sunday afternoon contest in the Windy City, Da Bears are favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 45. Chicago’s in first in the NFC North, while the Lions are trying to get out of the NFC North cellar. Da Bears prevail in the Windy City and covers the 6 1/2 at home.

New Orleans (7-1) at Cincinnati (5-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints make their way to Cincinnati for an afternoon meeting with Andy Dalton and the Bengals along the shores of the Ohio River.

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 a former Saints player (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.

The Bengals, coming back from their bye week, gave Tampa Bay their fourth loss in five tries as they came away 34-31 last second winners over the Bucs at Paul Brown Stadium two weeks ago. Dalton and the Bengals led Tampa Bay 27-9 at the half and would see the Buccaneers eventually bench Jameis Winston (276 yards, five sacks, TD, four interceptions) and replace him with Fitzpatrick (194 yards, two TDs, sack), who 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.

Including games that were played at old Tulane Stadium and Riverfront Stadium, the Bengals lead the series 7-6 and have outscored New Orleans 278-234. Cincinnati won the last meeting with the Saints, taking a 27-10 win in the Big Easy in 2014, while the Saints’ last win in the series came in Cincinnati by a final of 34-30 in 2010. The Saints are favored by 4 and the over/under’s 54 1/2. There’s a lot at stake here. Both teams are contending for a playoff spot and a win Sunday could push them a step closer to their goal. Cincinnati pulls the home upset and takes the win, covering the 4.

Arizona (2-6) at Kansas City (8-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. A struggling Arizona Cardinal team travels to the Show-Me State for an afternoon contest in mid-America as the Kansas City Chiefs welcome them to Arrowhead. Both teams took close wins last week, the Desert Angry Birds winning a close contest at home, while the Chiefs took care of business on the shores of Lake Erie.

Arizona, coming back from their bye week, saw San Francisco take a 12-3 lead at the end of the third quarter before that lead would escape from them as Arizona would score 15 fourth quarter points unchallenged to take an 18-15 win in Glendale. San Francisco led the Desert Angry Birds by a baseball-like score of 5-3 at the break, then scored their lone TD of the contest when WR Marquise Goodwin and QB C.J. Beatherd connected on a 55-yard TD toss late in the third quarter. After the 49ers added a Robbie Gould field goal, Arizona then went to work in the final 15 minutes of action, with Josh Rosen connecting on TD passes to WR Larry Fitzgerald and WR Christian Kirk to give Arizona the lead for keeps. Arizona then held off a late 49er rally to come away with the win, while giving San Francisco their fifth loss in a row. While the 49ers did outrush Arizona 107-88, Rosen outpaced Beatherd, throwing for 252 yards with three sacks and an interception to go with the two TDs (Beatherd threw for 190 yards with four sacks and no interceptions). Third down tries? San Francisco was 5 of 15, Arizona was 6 of 14 at State Farm Stadium Sunday afternoon and the 49ers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:19 to Arizona’s 27:41.

Kansas City stopped the Gregg Williams era from getting off to a good start as Browns interim head coach as the Chiefs and Patrick Mahonmes took care of Cleveland 37-21, taking their eighth win in nine tries. Kansas City led from start to finish and led 21-15 at the break, then outscored Cleveland in the final 30 minutes of action 16-6 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Kansas City outrushed Cleveland a by 139-102 margin, with Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt (91 yards, two TDs) and Browns RB Nick Chubb (85 yards, TD) led their teams. Mahomes burned Cleveland for 375 yards with three TDs (two to TE Travis Kelce, Hunt caught the other one), while Baker Mayfield paced Cleveland with 297 yards and a pair of TDs (both men were sacked twice, both threw an interception). Cleveland was 5 for 13 on third down tries along the shore of Lake Erie (they went 2 for 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:51, while Andy Reid’s Chiefs only needed to use 29:09, going 6 for 10 on third down.

Including games that took place in St. Louis when the Cardinals were there, the Chiefs lead the series 8-3-1 and they have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 287-170. Arizona won the last meeting with Kansas City as the Cardinals came away 17-14 winners in Glendale in 2014, while the Chiefs’ last win in the series came in 2010 at Arrowhead by a final of 31-13. Kansas City’s favored by 16 1/2 (you read that right!) and the over/under’s 50. The 50 makes a lot of sense. The 16 1/2 leaves us scratching our heads. Cleveland’s not exactly the kings of the AFC North mountain but they’re not 16 1/2 points bad. The Chiefs are playing for a playoff spot, while the Browns are playing to keep their heds above water. Chiefs win at Arrowhead but expect Cleveland to make things closer than 16 1/2.

Washington (5-3) at Tampa Bay (3-5), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Washington, still atop the NFC East, travels to Tampa Bay for their Sunday afternoon contest in the Sunshine State. Both teams took huge losses

Washington watched Atlanta take their third win in a row and pulled their record to the .500 mark as the Falcons took down the Redskins 38-14 at Fed Ex Field. Washington trailed from start to finish and watched Atlanta lead 21-7 at the break, the saw the Falcons floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of action. Atlanta outrushed Washington 154-79 as Falcons RB Tevin Coleman lead all rushers with 88, while the Falcons’ defense held Adrian Peterson to 17 yards on nine carries. Falcons QB Matt Ryan threw for 350 yards and four TDs with a pair of sacks, connecting with Coleman on two of those tosses, while WRs Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones (seven catches for 121 yards) had the others. Washington’s Alex Smtih threw for 306 yards with a TD toss to WR Josh Doctson but was sacked three times (both Ryan and Smith threw an interception). Atlanta went 10 for 13 on third down and held on to the ball for 32:56, while the Redskins (who were flagged 10 times for 147 yards) went 5 for 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 27:04.

Tampa Bay watched Carolina take a 35-14 lead to the intermission last Sunday at Bank of America Stadium and came out on the short end of a 42-28 loss over their NFC South rivals. Tampa Bay would be outrushed by the Panthers outrushed Tampa Bay 179-82 (Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey led all rushers with 79 yards and a pair of rushing TDs), while Newton threw for 247 yards and a pair of TDs. Carolina made life less than pleasant for QB Ryan Fitzpatick, who was sacked Tampa Bay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick four times, while throwing for 243 yards, with four TDs and a pair of interceptions. The Panthers went 4 for 10 on third down (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31 minutes, while the Buccaneers kept the ball for 29 minutes, going 5 for 12 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

They’ve met 20 times and have split the series, with each team sitting at 10-10 and Tampa Bay has outscored Washington 401- 365. Both teams won their last meetings in Landover, with Washington coming away 31-30 winners in 2015, while Tampa Bay was victorious in 2014 by a final of 27-7. Tampa Bay’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 51. Washington’s plan? Stay on top of the NFC East. Tampa Bay’s plan? Catch Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans in the NFC South. We love it when a plan comes together and we think Washington’s plan is better. Hail To The Redskins! Washington covers the 2 1/2 and wins in the Sunshine State.

Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) at Oakland (1-7), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of AFC/AFL West rivals meet on the East side of San Francisco Bay as the Los Angeles Chargers make the 372-mile trip up I-5 to take on the Oakland Raiders.

Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit and came away with a 25-17 win over Seattle in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks last Sunday. While Los Angeles led 19-10 at the intermission, the Seahawks would make the contest close with 1:50 left when Russell Wilson and TE Nick Varnett connected on a 6-yard TD toss, making it an 8-point contest. Seattle then forced the Chargers to punt and got the ball back on their 22-yard line, then proceeded to march down the field and getting as close as Los Angeles’ 20-yard line when they had their hopes extended after the Chargers were flagged for pass interference in the end zone as time expired. Because a game can’t end on a defensive penalty, Seattle got the ball on the 1-yard line but the Seahawks could not dent the end zone with the untimed down play. Los Angeles outrushed Seattle 160-154 with Chargers RB Melvin Gordon leading the way with 113 yards and a TD, while Rivers threw for 228 yards in the road win (Wilson threw for 235 yards, both Wilson and Rivers threw a pair of TDs; Rivers was sacked twice without an interception, while Wilson was sacked four times with a pick). Seattle was 4 of 15 on third down in the Pacific Northwest (the Seahawks were perfect on fourth down, going 4 for 4) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 35:41 to Los Angeles’ 24:19 (the Chargers were 2 for 9 on third down tries).

Oakland took a 3-0 lead early against San Francisco last Thursday night thanks to a 37-yard field goal by Derek Carlson, then watched the 49ers score 34 points without a challenge as they dropped a 34-3 decision to their neighbors from across San Francisco Bay at Levis Stadium, dropping their fourth contest in a row. The Silver and Black watched 49ers QB Nate Mullins make his NFL debut a success, as he threw for 262 yards without a sack or interception, with the 49ers outrushing Oakland 143-102 (Raheem Mostert led all rushers with 86 yards and a TD), while Derek Carr threw for 171 yards with seven sacks. Oakland went 3 of 12 on third down (the Raiders went 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:26, while the 49ers were 28:34 in time of possession, going 5 for 12 on third down tries.

They met is week five in Los Angeles and the Chargers were 26-10 winners at Stub Hub Centre. In the first meeting in Southern California, Oakland saw their AFC West rivals from Los Angeles use a pair of Philip Rivers TD passes to take a 26-10 win at Stub Hub Center. Los Angeles led 17-3 at the intermission in southern California and never looked back, outscoring the Silver and Black 9-7 in the final 30 minutes of play. San Diego outrushed Oakland 79-41 and Rivers threw for 339 yards and the two TDs without an interception, while Derek Carr threw for 268 yards with a TD, three sacks and an interception. The Chargers were 7 of 13 on third down tries and held the ball for 34:40, while the Silver and Black held the ball for 25:20, going 4 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week five contest in Los Angeles, the Chargers covered the 5 1/2-spread, winning by 16 but neither club touched the  53 1/2 over/under, as they would combine for 36 points. The Chargers are favored again, this time by 9 1/2 on the East side of San Francisco Bay and the over/under’s 50 1/2. The 50 1/2 makes sense. The 9 1/2 leaves you wondering. The Raiders are bad but not 9 1/2 bad. Oakland will make it closer than the 9 1/2 but the Chargers pull off the sweep on the road and take the win.

Seattle (4-4) at Los Angeles Rams (8-1), 4:25 pm on CBS and DirecTV 715. Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams renew their series in Los Angeles as the Seahawks take their turn, making the 1,137 mile trip down I-5 in a week five rematch. Both teams enter the Sunday afternoon contest at the Coliseum with close losses under their belts.

Seattle watched a 7-6 first quarter lead against Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers get away from them at Century Link Field, as the Chargers would go on to take a 25-17 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. While Los Angeles led 19-10 at the intermission, the Seahawks would make the contest close with 1:50 left when Russell Wilson and TE Nick Varnett connected on a 6-yard TD toss, making it an 8-point contest. Seattle then forced the Chargers to punt and got the ball back on their 22-yard line, then proceeded to march down the field and getting as close as Los Angeles’ 20-yard line when they had their hopes extended after the Chargers were flagged for pass interference in the end zone as time expired. Because a game can’t end on a defensive penalty, Seattle got the ball on the 1-yard line but the Seahawks could not dent the end zone with the untimed down play. Los Angeles outrushed Seattle 160-154 with Chargers RB Melvin Gordon leading the way with 113 yards and a TD, while Rivers threw for 228 yards in the road win (Wilson threw for 235 yards, both Wilson and Rivers threw a pair of TDs; Rivers was sacked twice without an interception, while Wilson was sacked four times with a pick). Seattle was 4 of 15 on third down in the Pacific Northwest (the Seahawks were perfect on fourth down, going 4 for 4) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 35:41 to Los Angeles’ 24:19 (the Chargers were 2 for 9 on third down tries).

The Rams saw their hopes for an undefeated season come to an end in NeW Orleans as the Saints would break a 35-35 fourth quarter tie in the Big Easy and drop a 45-35 decision last Sunday afternoon. 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 Drew 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 a former Saints player (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.

The two NFC West foes met in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in week five and Los Angeles prevailed 33-31 at Century Link Field. In the first contest, In the first meeting, Los Angeles and Seattle Seahawks had a slugfest in their NFC West meeting at Century Link Field and Los Angeles managed to prevail, coming away 33-31 winners in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, The Rams and Seahawks entered the intermission even at 17-17 and Seattle had the Rams on the ropes, leading 31-30 with 14:54 before Rams RB Todd Gurley pulled them back to within one with 14:54 left in regulation on a 5-yard run. Los Angeles would take the lead back for keeps with 6:05 left when Greg Santos (who had replaced the injured Greg Zuerlein) kicked a 39-yard field goal to take a 33-31 lead. Los Angeles would then go on to hold off the Seahawks to take the two-point road win. Seattle RB Chris Carson picked up his third consecutive 100-yard game, rushing for 116 yards (Gurley hadd 77 yards rushing to lead the Rams) as Seattle outrushed Los Angeles 190-155 in the contest. Rams QB Jared Goff threw for 321 yards with a TD, while Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw for 198 yards with three TDs and no interceptions (Goff was picked off once and threw a pair of interceptions, Wilson was sacked twice). Seattle was 7 of 12 on third down in the Pacific Northwest and kept the ball for 30:30, while the Rams held the ball for 29:30 and went 3 of 9 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Los Angeles Rams was a 7-point favorite in the week five contest in the Pacific Northwest and while they did win the game, they did not cover the spread, winning by only 2. The two teams did cover the 51 over/under, scoring 64 points. In the rematch in Los Angeles, the Ramgs are favored by 10 and the over/under’s 51 1/2. That spread is a bit on the steep side but the over/under makes sense. Seattle’s lookng for revenge from the week five loss in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, while the Rams look to start a new streak. History does have a way of repeating and history’s on the side of the Rams. Although Seattle will make this closer than 10, the Rams will prevail at home in the Coliseum.

Miami (5-4) at Green Bay (3-4-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTv 714. It’s a late-afternoon contest in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst as Green Bay hosts the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field.

Miami gave the New York Jets their third loss in a row, as they would defeat their AFC East rivals 13-6 last Sunday in the Sunshine State. After a scoreless first quarter, it was an all-field goal second quarter as Miami took a 6-3 lead into the half with a pair of Josh Sanders field goals. After a scoreless third quarter, Miami would score the game’s only TD when rookie LB Jerome Baker picked off J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! QB Sam Darnold and lived out a lineman’s dream, returning it 25 yards for a TD. GangGReen did manage to outrush Miami 80-64 and Darnold threw for 229 yards with four interceptions, while Brock Osweiler threw for 139 yards (each was sacked four times, with Darnold throwing four interceptions) in the win. Third down tries were nothing to write home about, as the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 2 for 13, while Miami was 3 for 16 (GangGreen was 0 for 2 on fourth down, while Miami was perfect, going 2 for 2) but GangGreen did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 31:34 to Miami’s 28:26.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers watched Tom Brady and the New England Patriots break a 17-17 tie in Foxboro last Sunday night, as New England would come away with the 31-17 win at Gillette Stadium in a possible prime-time Super Bowl preview that featured a pair of future Hall of Fame QBs. Green BAy trailed 17-10 at the half, then went on to even things up in the third when Rodgers and TE Jimmy Graham would connect on a 15-yard TD pass with 11:18 left in the quarter. New England then proceeded to take the lead back in the final 15 minutes of action, scoring their last 14 points of the contest without a challenge to take the win, ending with Brady and WR Josh Gordon hooking up on a 55-yard strike late in the quarter. New England outrushed Green Bay 123-118, while Brady and Rodgers combined to throw for 553 yards (Brady with 294, Rodgers with 259, Brady was sacked twice and Rodgers sacked once, neither threw an interception). New England was 4 for 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 27:26, while the Packers ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 32:34, going 6 for 13 on third down (both teams were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

Miami leads the series 10-4 and the Dolphins have outscored Green Bay 333-256. Their last wins in the series came in the other’s stadium; Miami’s last win was in Green Bay in 2010, when the Dolphins needed overtime to take a 23-20 win at Lambeau, while Green Bay’s last win came in the Sunshine State in 2014 by a final of 27-24. Green Bay’s favored by 9 on the almost-frozen tundra with the over/under at 47 1/2. While this one’s not quite “Drill Worthy,” it’s worth the time to watch. While Green Bay won’t cover the 9, they do take the win at home.

Dallas (4-4) at Philadelphia (4-4), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. A pair of NFC East foes meet in the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday night. Wentz vs. Prescott. Cheesesteak vs. Brisket. The defending Super Bowl champions host Dallas in a prime time Sunday night contest at Lincoln Financial Field.

Dallas comes off their third loss in their last four games, losing to Tennessee 42-28 at AT&T Stadium Monday night. Dallas watched Marcus Mariota and the Titans break a 14-14 tie at the intermision and score 14 second half points unchallenged. Dallas found themselves outrushed by Tennessee 125-72 and Dak Prescott threw for 243 yards with five sacks, while Mariota threw for 240 yards (each threw a pair of TDs, Mariota was sacked four times, Prescott was sacked five times with an interception) and each team turned the ball over twice in the Monday night contest. Dallas went 5 for 11 on third down (the Cowboys were 0 for 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 25:34, while the Titans ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 34:26, going 11 for 14 on third down conversions.

The Eagles return to the City of Brotherly Love after their trip across the pond with Jacksonville, as the defending Super Bowl champs came away 24-18 winners over the Jaguars in week eight action on the  other side of the Atlantic two weeks ago. In the week eight meeting at Wembley Stadium, Philadelphia led 10-6 at the half before Jacksonville would eventually pull themselves to within 6 with 6:57 left to play in the contest on a 24-yard field goal by Josh Lambo but could not come any closer. Philadelphia outrushed Jacksonville 133-70 and Eagles QB Carson Wentz threw for 286 yards with three TD tosses, while Blake Bortles threw for 286 yards with a TD (Wentz threw an interception, both men were sacked four times). Jacksonville, taking their fourth loss in a row, went 6 of 14 on third down (the Jaguars were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:22, while the defending Super Bowl Champs went 7 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:38.

Including games played at the Cotton Bowl, JFK Stadium, Veterans Stadium and Cowboys Stadium, Dallas leads the series 63-51 and the Cowboys have outscored the Eagles 2,443-2,274. They split last year’s contests, each winning in the other team’s building.

Meeting one… Dallas in week 11. The Cowboys were without Elliott, who was serving his six-game suspension by the league for violating the league’s conduct policy and the Eagles erased a 9-7 deficit at the break and came away 37-9 winners. Philadelphia then responded with 30 points in the second half unchallenged to take the win over their NFC East rivals at AT&T Stadium. Philadelphia outrushed Dallas 215-112 and Carson Wentz threw for 168 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions or sacks, while Prescott threw for 145 yards with three interceptions and four sacks. Philadelphia went 5 of 14 on third down conversions in the Sunday night contest (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 29:29, while Dallas ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:31, going 3 for 14 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Round two… the City of Brotherly Love in week 17. Dallas would get their revenge on the Eagles and come away 6-0 winners in the season finale. The two teams played three quarters of scoreless football (Philadelphia had already clinched the NFC East and rested some of their starters) before the Cowboys tallied the only score of the contest, as WR Brice Butler and Prescott connected on a 20-yard TD toss with 12:19 left in regulation. Dallas would miss the extra point, then held off the Eagles to take the road win. Dallas outrushed Philadelphia 129-70 and Elliott ran for 103 yards, with Prescott threw for 179 yards and an interceptions, while Eagles backup QB Nate Sudfeld, who took over for Nick Foles, threw for 134 yards with three sacks and no interceptions (Foles threw for 39 yards with an interception before being relieved by Sudfield). Dallas went 5 of 15 on third down tries (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:05, while the Eagles held the pigskin for 29:55, while going 2 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down tries in the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia covered the 4-point spread with their 28-point win but both teams missed the 48 1/2 over/under with 46 points. In the week 17 season finale, the Cowboys were 2-point favorites and won by 6, covering the spread but the 6 points that Dallas scored in the contest did not even touch the 41 over/under.

Both teams have done reasonably well on Sunday night. The defending Super Bowl champs are 23-19 all time and went 1-1 in their two Sunday night contests last year, while the Cowboys are 32-31 and went 2-1 in their three SNF contests. Philadephia’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 43 1/2.

Since these two are rivals in the same division and since they don’t exactly like each other, we think that this one’s “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?”)

As the saying goes, “if you take a swing at the king, you better not miss.” The Eagles are still kings of the NFL mountain, while the Cowboys have been trying to take a swing at the top two teams in the NFC East and have missed. Dallas will make it closer than the 6 but the Eagles take the win in the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday night.

New York Giants (1-7) at San Francisco (2-7), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A pair of last place teams close out play in week 10 in Santa Clara as the 49ers host Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Levis’ Stadium.

The Redskins held off the New York Giants 20-13 at Met Life Stadium two weeks ago. 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.

Erasing a 3-0 deficit against Oakland last Thursday night, the 49ers would score 34 points without a challenge as they dropped a 34-3 decision to their neighbors from across San Francisco Bay at Levis Stadium. Leading 17-3 at the intermssion,t the Silver and Black watched 49ers QB Nate Mullins make his NFL debut a success, as he threw for 262 yards without a sack or interception, with the 49ers outrushing Oakland 143-102 (Raheem Mostert led all rushers with 86 yards and a TD), while Derek Carr threw for 171 yards with seven sacks. Oakland went 3 of 12 on third down (the Raiders went 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:26, while the 49ers were 28:34 in time of possession, going 5 for 12 on third down tries.

Including games that were played at old Yankee Stadium, Keezar Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Candlestick Park and Giants Stadium, the series is tied 16-16 and the Giants have outscored the 49ers 640-637. San Francisco did manage to come away with the win in their last meeting, taking a 31-21 win last year at Levis’ Stadiun, while New York’s last win came in 2015 in the Meadowlands, wit the Giants coming away 30-27 winners.

They met in week 10 on the West Coast and San Francisco led 17-13 at the half, then pulled away from the Giants in the final 30 minutes of action, scoring a pair of fourth quarter TDs to seal the win. San Francisco outrushed the Giants 186-114 and Bethard threw for 288 yards and no interceptions, despite being sacked twice, while Manning threw for 273 yards with three sacks and no picks (each QB threw a pair of TD passes. San Francisco went 8 of 12 on third down, while going 0 for 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 29 minutes, while the Giants kept the ball for 31 minutes, going 5 of 14 on third down, 3 of 3 on fourth down.

Big Blue was favored by 2 1/2 on the road and the 49ers covered with their 10-point win and both teams covered the 42 over/under with 52 points. On Monday night, the 49ers are 48-25 and have not been on primetime since 2016, when they won their only contest, while the Giants are 24-38-1 with Big Blue losing their only contest in last year’s action. This time, the 49ers are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. You might be better off watching “Magnum P.I.” and “Bull” Monday night. 49ers do cover the 3 and takes the win over Big Blue at home.

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.

And now there are four.

Professional football’s answer to the Final Four takes place Sunday afternoon as the AFC and NFC champions will be crowned.

For the four teams that are in the championship game, it’s their chance to make history and either win another Lombardi Trophy or take one for themseleves.

32 teams went through watching the Senior Bowl, the draft, OTAs, training camp, sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, pre-season games, the regular season and now it comes down to this.

Win? You get to go to the Super Bowl in two weeks time.

Lose? Your next game is in September.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

For those teams that are in, it’s their chance to impress a national audience. For those teams that didn’t make the playoffs, it’s a chance to regroup, to circle their wagons and see what they could do to get better.

when the post-season started, there were 12 teams that were in the party. Now we’re down to four. The two winners will get to go to Minneapolis and be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s their chance to make some history.

Both Philadelphia and Jacksonville completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. The Eagles and Jaguars are the first “worst-to-first” teams since the 2009 New Orleans Saints to advance to the Championship Game.

Three of the remaining four clubs – Philadelphia, Minnesota and Jacksonville – missed the postseason in 2016. This is the first time since 2008 in which three of the four teams in the Championship Games missed the playoffs in the previous season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: FROM “WORST TO FIRST”: The Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars both advanced to the Conference Championship Games after completing “worst-to-first” turnarounds this season. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

The last two teams that went from “worst-to-first” in their divisions to earn a Super Bowl berth were the 2003 Carolina Panthers (Super Bowl XXXVIII) and the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who won Super Bowl XLIV.

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

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

Three of the remaining four clubs – the Eagles and Minnesota in the NFC and the Jaguars in the AFC – missed the postseason in 2016, marking the fifth time since 1990 – and the first since 2008 – that three teams advanced to the Championship Game after missing the postseason in the previous year.​

The seasons which had three teams advance to the Conference Championship Game after missing the postseason in the previous season since 1990:

SEASON – TEAMS TO ADVANCE TO CONFERENCE CHAMPIOHSHIP GAME WHO MISSED PLAYOFFS IN PREVIOUS SEASON
1996 – 3 (Carolina, Jacksonville, New England)
1999 – 3 (St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tennessee)
2000 – 3 (Baltimore, New York Giants, Oakland)
2008 – 3 (Arizona, Baltimore, Philadelphia)
2017 – 3 (Jacksonville, Minnesota, Philadelphia)

OVER 100: Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles completed 23 of 30 passes (76.7 percent) for 246 yards and a 100.1 passer rating in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over Atlanta in the Divisional Playoffs.

Foles, who faces Minnesota on Sunday night, can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to record a passer rating of at least 100 in each of his first three postseason starts.

The quarterbacks with the most starts with a passer rating of at least 100 to begin postseason career:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)(GAMES WITH 100+ PASSER RATING)
Troy Aikman, Dallas (1992-93)(5)^
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2009-10)(3)
Tony Eason, New England (1985)(3)
Joe Theismann, Washington (1982)(3)
Nick Foles, Philadelphia (2013, 2017)(2)*
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

DANGEROUS JAGUARS: Jacksonville defeated Pittsburgh, the Number 2 seed in the AFC, 45-42 in the Divisional Playoffs to advance to their third AFC Championship game in franchise history.

Jacksonville, who plays at Number 1 seed New England on Sunday, can become the 11th team to defeat the top two seeds from their own conference in the same postseason since 1990 when the current playoff format was adopted.

The teams to defeat the top two seeds from their own conference in the same postseason since 1990:

YEAR – TEAM (CONFERENCE)
1992 – Buffalo (AFC)
1997 – Denver (AFC)
1999 – Tennessee (AFC)
2000 – Baltimore (AFC)
2003 – Carolina (NFC)
2005 – Pittsburgh (AFC)
2007 – New York Giants (NFC)
2010 – Green Bay (NFC)
2011 – New York Giants (NFC)
2012 – Baltimore (AFC)
2017 – Jacksonville (AFC)*
*Play at Number 1 seed New England on Sunday

RUMBLING ROOKIE: Jacksonville rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns in the Jaguars’ 45-42 victory over Pittsburgh in the Divisional Playoffs.

With one rushing touchdown on Sunday against New England, Fournette 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)(RUSHING TDS)
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2000)(4)
William Floyd, San Francisco (1994)(4)
Tony Dorsett, Dallas (1997)(4)^
Norm Standlee, Chicago (1941)(4)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (2017)(3)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PROLIFIC PASSER: New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 35 of 53 passes (66 percent) for 337 yards and three touchdowns for a 102.5 passer rating in the Patriots’ 35-14 win against Tennessee in the Divisional Playoffs.

Brady, who faces Jacksonville on Sunday, can become the first quarterback in postseason history to record four consecutive games with at least 300 yards and multiple touchdown passes.

The quarterbacks with the most consecutive postseason games with 300+ yards and 2+ touchdown passes:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)(CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF GAMES WITH 300+ YARDS & 2+ TDs)

Tom Brady, New England (2016-17)(3)*
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (2013, 2016)(3)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2010-11)(3)
Jim Kelly, Buffalo (1989-90)(3)^
Dan Fouts, San Diego (1980-81)(3)^
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOUCHDOWN MACHINE: New England running back James White recorded two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Patriots’ win against Tennessee in the Divisional Playoffs.

White, who had three touchdowns in SB LI, needs two touchdowns to tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (seven) and Larry Fitzgerald (seven) for the most combined rushing and receiving touchdowns over a three-game span in postseason history.

The players with the most combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in a three-game span in postseason history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SEASONS)(MOST RUSH AND RECIEVEING TDS IN 3-GAME SPAN IN PLAYOFF HISTORY)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (2008-09)(7)
Emmitt Smith – Dallas (1995-96)(7)^
Many tied with 6
James White – New England (2016-17)(5)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BRING IT HOME: Minnesota defeated New Orleans 29-24 to advance to their 10th NFL/NFC Championship game in franchise history.

With a win against Philadelphia on Sunday, the Vikings will become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in the team’s home stadium and the fifth team to play in a Super Bowl that was hosted in their home state.

The teams to play in a Super Bowl hosted in their home state:

SUPER BOWL – DATE (WINNER)(LOSER)(SITE)
XXXVII – January 26, 2003 (Tampa Bay)(Oakland)(San Diego, California)
XIX – January 20, 1985 (San Francisco)(Miami)(Stanford, Calfornia)
XIV – January 20, 1980 (Pittsburgh)(Los Angeles Rams)(Pasdena, California)
XI – January 9, 1977 (Oakland)(Minnesota)(Pasadena, California)

As was the case when the playoffs started, all the games are “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 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 winners get a lot of cash for their effort. Each player will get $51,000 for winning the AFC and NFC title, which comes out to $2,730.000 for each team. The winners advance to Super Bowl LII where the share is $112,000 for each winner ($59,360,000.00 for that team, $56,000 for each loser ($2,968,000 for the team).

In addition to the cash, they get some lovely parting gifts.

The AFC Champion receive the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named in honor of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Lamar Hunt, the founder of the American Football League and longtime majority owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. First presented following the 1984 season, the 2010 season marked the debut of its redesign by Tiffany and Company.

For the NFC? That winner receive the George S. Halas Trophy, named in honor of the former owner, coach and player of the Chicago Bears and one of the founders of the National Football League. First presented following the 1984 season, the 2010 season marked the debut of its redesign by Tiffany and Company.

Both the AFC and NFC trophies reflect the sterling silver material of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, awarded each year to the Super Bowl champions and also designed by Tiffany and Company and the trophy designs are based on a football and features an etched conference logo and the NFL Shield. By the way, each team gets to keep the trophies.

Jacksonville (10-6) at New England (13-3), 3:05 p.m. on CBS. The AFC champion will be crowned in Foxboro as Jacksonville makes their way to Gillette Stadium for a meeting with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Jacksonville will make their first venture into the AFC Championship Game since 1999, when they lost to Tennessee 33-14 in Jacksonville at what was then the Gator Bowl before the stadium changed its name to EverBank Field. The Jaguars went into Pittsburgh last Sunday and came away 45-42 winners over the Steelers at Heinz Field in their second meeting of the 2017 season.

The Jaguars took a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to a pair of Leonard Fournette TDs to open the scoring. Fournette had runs of 1 and 18 yards in the period to take the early lead before Steeler fans could get settled in the chilly 18-degree weather in the Steel City. After T.J. Yeldon added another score with a 4-yard run, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers ended Jacksonville’s bid for a shutout with 8:20 left before the intermission when he and WR Antonio Brown connected on an 23-yard TD pass. The Jaguars would then respond when Jacksonville’s Tevin Smith fullfilled the dream of every NFL lineman ever, picked up a Roethlisberger fumble and returned it 50 yards for a TD with 2:20 left before half. Pittsburgh ended the scoring in the first half when Roethlisberger and WR Martavis Bryant made it a 2-score game with 25 seconds left before the intermission.

Pittsburgh came out of the gates to start the third quarter and made the contest a 7-point affair with 9:09 left in the quarter when LeVeon Bell and Roethlisberger connected on a 19-yard TD pass as part of a 10-play, 77-yard drive that used 5:51 of clock to make the score 28-21. Fournette then put the lead back to 14 with a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter. If the Steelers were going down, they were going down fighting, as Brown and Roethlisberger connected on a 43-yard TD strike with 9:05 left in regulation. Jacksonville then pulled away again as Tommy Bohannon caught a 14-yard pass from Blake Bortles for a 42-28 contest with 4:19 left.

Bell was not finished as he scored on an 8-yard run with 2:18 left. Jacksonville needed one more score to put the game away and got it from Josh Lambo, who kicked a 45-yard field goal with 1:45 left. Pittsburgh would have the last word as they would put the final tally on the scoreboard when WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught a 4-yard pass from Roethlisberger with 1 second left in the contest. Fournette ran for 109 yards and three TDs (Bell led Pittsburgh with 67 yards) as the Jaguars outrushed Pittsburgh 164-83 and Bortles threw for 214 yards and a TD, while Roethilsbeger threw for 469 yards and five TDs with a pair of sacks and an interception.

Jacksonville on third down conversions was 8 of 14 and held the ball for 28:50 (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down), while the Steelers ruled the clock and held the ball for 31:10, going 7 of 16 on third down, 4 of 6 on fourth down.

New England took care of Tennessee 35-14 last Saturday night in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium. After trailing 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Pats scored 21 second quarter points unchallenged, taking a 21-7 lead with them to the break. New England outrushed the Titans 101-65 with Dion Lewis leading the way with 62 yards, while Brady threw for 337 yards and three TDs, connecting with TE Rob Gronkowski on one of those tosses, while Marcus Mariota threw for 254 with a pair of TDs, with eight sacks (neither QB threw an interception). New England on third down tries went 11 of 17 and kept the ball for 32:56, while the Titans held the pigskin for 27:04, going 5 of 15 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down.

The Jaguars had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, defensive end Campbell and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

The Patriots had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: quarterback Brady, fullback James Develin, tight end Gronkowski and special teamer Matthew Slater.

The Pats lead the series with Jacksonville 7-0 and have outscored the Jaguars 214-119. New England’s last win in the series came in 2015 in Foxboro by a final of 51-17.

New England in post-season leads Jacksonville 3-1 in the series and has outscored the Jaguars 89-54. New England’s last playoff win over Jacksonville came in Foxboro in 2007 in the AFC Divsional Playoffs by a final of 31-20, while Jacksonville’s lone victory in the sereis came in the Sunshine State in 1998 in the AFC Wild Card Game by a final of 25-10.

New England’s favored by 9 and the over/under’s 46. For the Pats, it’s a chance to go back and get another Lombardi trophy. For Jacksonville, it’s their chance to knock off Goliath. It’ll be closer than 9 but New England prevails and moves on to the Twin Cities.

Minnesota (13-3) at Philadelphia (13-3), 6:40 p.m. on FOX. A pair of teams that have yet to win a Super Bowl meet in the NFC Championship Game in the City of Brotherly Love as the Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field.

Minnesota earned their way into the NFC Championship in a manner that not even Hollywood could have expected, coming away from US Bank Stadium 29-24 winners over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints last Sunday afternoon. The Vikings led 17-0 at the intermission against New Orleans before the Saints’ Michael Thomas ended Minnesota’s bid for a shutout when he and Drew Brees connected on a 14-yard TD pass with 1:18 left in the third quarter. Brees and Thomas would connect again with 13:09 left in the contest when they connected on a 3-yard toss. After Kyle Horbath gave the Vikings a 20-14 lead with 10:12 left to play, New Orleans took the lead for the first time in the game when rookie RB Alvin Kamara caught a 14 yard TD pass from Brees with 3:01 left to. That lead would not last long, as once again it was Horbath putting the Vikings back on top with a 52-yard field goal with 89 seconds left.

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

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

The Eagles erased a 10-9 deficit against Atlanta in the NFC Divisional Game at Lincoln Financial Field, taking a 15-10 win ove the Falcons Saturday afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love to advance to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2008 NFC Championship Game in Glendale, where they lost to Arizona 32-25. The Eagles used a pair of Josh Elliott field goals in the second half to take the lead, then held off a late Atlanta rally in the final seconds of the contest. The Falcons opened the scoring in the contest with a 33-yard field goal by Matt Bryant in the first quarter before the Eagles took the lead for the first time when RB LeGarrette Blount scored with 10:28 left before halftime from a yard out but Elliott missed the extra point. Atlanta then went to work and took the lead back with a 6-yard TD pass from Matt Ryan for a 10-6 lead. Elliott would make it a one-point game at the intermission with a 53-yard try and the Eagles would go on to score their final six points of the contest uncontested.

Philadelphia outrushed Atlanta 96-86 and Nick Foles threw for 246 yards, while Ryan threw for 210 yards (Ryan was sacked three times, Foles sacked once and neither man threw an interception). Philadelphia was 6 of 13 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth downO) conversions and held the ball for 32:06, while Atlanta kept the pigskin for 27:54, going 4 of 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down tries.

Minnesota in regular 23 regular season meetings with Philadelphia leads the series 13-10 and have outscored the Eagles 543-528. The Eagles won the last meeting with the Purple Gang, taking a 21-10 win in the City of Brotherly Love in the 2016 season, while Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2013 in the Twin Cities by a final of 48-30.

The week seven contest saw the Eagles take an 11-3 lead with them to the break at Lincoln Financial Field, thanks to a 98-yard kickoff return by Josh Huff, a Carson Wentz two-point conversion and a 35-yard field goal by Chris Strugis. Philly would hold Minnesota in check in the second half and take the win as Dorial Green-Beckham would catch a 5-yard toss from Wentz and Sturgis would add a 21-yard field goal to seal the win. Philly outrushed Minnesota 101-93 and Wentz threw for 138 yards and a pair of TDs, while Bradford threw for 224 yards and a TD but was sacked six times and picked off once. Third down tries in the week seven contest was nothing to cheer about (Philadelphia was 4 of 11, Minnesota was 9 of 19) but the Eagles found success in their only fourth down try, while the Viking were 1 of 3 on fourth down. In the week seven contest in the City of Brotherly Love, while the Eagles were 2 1/2 point underdogs in the contest, their 11 point allowed them to cover the spread; however, the 40 over/under was untouched as both clubs could only muster 31 points.

The Vikings had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Everson Griffen, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Adam Thielen, while Philadelphia had six players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: guard Brandon Brooks, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, tight end Zach Ertz, safety Malcom Jenkins, tackle Lane Johnson and quarterback Carson Wentz.

In the post-season, the Eagles and Vikings have played three times and Philadelphia has taken wins in all three contests, with the last win coming in 2008 in the Twin Cities by a final of 26-14 in the NFC Wild Card Game. The odds makers like the Vikings on the road as 3 point favorites with the over/under at 39. Both numbers make sense. Both teams want to go back to the Super Bowl; for the Vikings, it will be their first trip to the big game since 1977, when they lost to Oakland 31-19 in Super Bowl XI in Pasadena, while the Eagles’ last trip to the Super Bowl was Super Bowl XXXIX, when they lost to New England 24-21 in Jacksonville. It’s also added incentive for the Vikings, who would be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. The football gods have been kind to the Vikings of late and they’ll be kind again. Minnesota covers the 3 and wins in the City of Brotherly Love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)

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

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

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

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

ATLANTA – Atlanta reports no injuries

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

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

Tennessee
OUT: RB DeMarco Murray (Knee)

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

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

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

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: WR Antonio Brown (Calf)

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

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

Minnesota
QUESTIONABLE: CB Terrance Newman (Foot)

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

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

 

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

Among the final eight are the Eagles and Jaguars, who both completed “worst-to-first” turn-arounds. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Half of the remaining eight clubs – Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Jaguars – finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year. And with the addition of the Titans, five of the final eight clubs are new teams in this year’s playoff field.

It’s round 2.

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

It’s Divisional Playoff time!

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

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

Lose and your next game is next year.

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

There are NO do-overs. Mistakes kill.

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

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

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: FROM “WORST TO FIRST”: Philadelphia and Jacksonville both advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after completing “worst-to-first” turnarounds this season. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As was the case last week, every game this week and throughout the playoffs and the Super Bowl are automatically “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home teams in Caps)

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

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

ATLANTA – Atlanta reports no injuries

Los Angeles Rams
DOUBTFUL – WR Michael Thomas (Ankle)

Tennessee at Kansas City, 4:35 Saturday

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

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

Buffalo at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

17 weeks of regular season football done.

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

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

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

Wild Card Round

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

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

Divisonal Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. Eight teams that missed the postseason in 2016 – Buffalo (9-7), Carolina (11-5), Jacksonville (10-6), Los Angeles Rams (11-5), Minnesota (13-3), New Orleans (11-5), Philadelphia (13-3) and Tennessee (9-7) – accomplished the feat this year, tied with the 2003 season for the most such teams since 1990.

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

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

TERRIFIC TURNAROUNDS

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

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

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3, 8-8)*
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
2016 – Dallas (13-3, 4-12)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6, 3-13) and Philadelphia (13-3, 7-9)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

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

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

PASSING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUSHING

•Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

RECEIVING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VERSATILE PERFORMANCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KICKING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEFENSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REMARKABLE ROOKIES

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

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

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

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

*Excludes 1987 season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After two weeks of going 11-5, we came back to Earth and went 8-8 and for the season, we’re 154-103. Still not bad but things could have been a lot better and because this is the post-season, every game that will be played will be designated “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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