FINAL EIGHT TAKE CENTER STAGE IN DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
then there were eight. The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs with a slate
of four key games on tap.
Saturday, January 13, the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3), who won the NFC East and
secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, will host the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) at
Lincoln Financial Field to kick off the weekend (NBC, 4:35 PM ET). That night
in primetime (CBS, 8:15 PM ET), the New England Patriots (13-3), who won the
AFC East and own the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will host the Tennessee Titans (10-7)
at Gillette Stadium.
Sunday, January 14, the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3), the AFC North champions,
will welcome the AFC South-champion Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) to Heinz Field
(CBS, 1:05 PM ET) and the Minnesota Vikings (13-3), who won the NFC North, will
host the New Orleans Saints (12-5) at U.S. Bank Stadium (FOX, 4:40 PM ET), the
home of Super Bowl LII.
Saturday, January 13
at New England
Sunday, January 14
Orleans at Minnesota
the final eight are the Eagles and Jaguars, who both 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. 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.
ATLANTA FALCONS (11-6) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-3)
(Saturday, NBC, 4:35 PM ET)
is the fourth postseason meeting between the teams and the first since 2004
when the Eagles defeated the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game 27-10
(January 23, 2005) to advance to Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles lead the all-time
series 18-14-1, including the postseason. Philadelphia won the last meeting 24-15
in Week 10, 2016 (November 13).
Falcons defeated the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 last week to advance to the
Divisional Playoffs. Quarterback MATT
RYAN threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver JULIO JONES and posted a 101.8 passer rating. Ryan has registered a
passer rating of at least 100 in five consecutive playoff games, tied for the
second-longest streak in the Super Bowl era. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA (eight) owns a longer
- Ryan has a 102.4 career postseason passer rating, the
third-best mark in NFL history (minimum 150 attempts). Only Pro Football Hall
of Famers BART STARR (104.8) and KURT WARNER (102.8) have a higher mark.
had two players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: wide receiver Jones and center ALEX MACK.
Eagles tied a franchise record with 13 wins (2004) and earned the No. 1 seed in
the NFC for the fourth time since 2002. Philadelphia had six players selected
to the 2018 Pro Bowl: guard BRANDON
BROOKS, defensive tackle FLETCHER
COX, tight end ZACH ERTZ, safety
MALCOLM JENKINS, tackle LANE JOHNSON and quarterback CARSON WENTZ.
Eagles had at least eight touchdown receptions this season: wide receivers ALSHON JEFFERY (nine) and NELSON AGHOLOR (eight) and tight end Ertz (eight).
TENNESSEE TITANS (10-7) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (13-3)
(Saturday, CBS, 8:15 PM ET)
is the third postseason meeting between the teams and the first since the 2003
AFC Divisional Playoff (January 10, 2004) which New England won 17-14. The
Patriots lead the all-time series 24-16-1, including the playoffs, and have won
six in a row. The teams last met in Week 15, 2015 (December 20) with the Patriots
coming out on top with a 33-16 victory.
Titans earned their first postseason win since 2003 (January 3, 2004 at
Baltimore in the Wild Card round) with last week’s 22-21 come-from-behind win
at Kansas City. Tennessee erased a 21-3 halftime deficit and joined the 1957
Detroit Lions as the only teams to overcome an 18+ point deficit to win a road
MARCUS MARIOTA threw two touchdown
passes in the Wild Card victory, including a six-yard touchdown pass to
himself. He is the only player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass to
himself in a postseason game. Running back DERRICK
HENRY rushed for 156 yards, including a 35-yard TD, against the Chiefs and
joined EDDIE GEORGE (162 yards on January 16, 2000) as the only players in club
history to rush for at least 150 yards in a playoff game.
had three players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: defensive tackle JURRELL CASEY, punter BRETT KERN and tackle TAYLOR LEWAN.
England won its ninth consecutive division title, the longest streak in NFL
history. The Patriots are the only team to win 14 division titles in a 15-year
span. New England has won at least 12 games in eight consecutive seasons, the
longest streak in league annals.
TOM BRADY, who led the NFL with
4,577 passing yards this season, has 25 career playoff wins, the most in NFL
history. Brady is also the NFL postseason leader in career completions (831),
attempts (1,325), passing yards (9,094) and touchdown passes (63).
Patriots had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: quarterback Brady, fullback JAMES DEVELIN, tight end ROB
GRONKOWSKI and special teamer MATTHEW
(11-6) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:05 PM ET)
is the second postseason meeting between the teams. The Jaguars defeated the
Steelers 31-29 in the 2007 AFC Wild Card Playoffs (January 5, 2008).
Jacksonville leads the all-time series 13-11, including the postseason, and
defeated Pittsburgh earlier this season, knocking off the Steelers 30-9 in Week
5 (October 8) at Heinz Field.
Jaguars defeated Buffalo 10-3 last week as the team earned its first home
playoff win since 1999 (January 15, 2000 vs. Miami in the Divisional round).
Quarterback BLAKE BORTLES connected
with tight end BEN KOYACK for the
game’s only touchdown.
Jacksonville’s Week 5 win at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars recorded five
interceptions – returning two for touchdowns – and rookie running back LEONARD FOURNETTE rushed for 181 yards
and two touchdowns.
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.
won the AFC North for the second consecutive year, the team’s eighth division
title since realignment in 2002. The Steelers have 36 postseason victories, the
most in NFL history.
wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN led the league
with 1,533 receiving yards and is the only 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.
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 MAURKICE POUNCEY, quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER, linebacker RYAN
SHAZIER and tackle ALEJANDRO
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-5) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-3)
(Sunday, FOX, 4:40 PM ET)
teams will meet in the playoffs for the fourth time with Minnesota holding a
2-1 advantage. In their last postseason meeting, the Saints defeated the
Vikings 31-28 in overtime in the 2009 NFC Championship Game (January 24, 2010)
en route to winning Super Bowl XLIV. Minnesota, which leads the all-time series
21-11 (including the playoffs), defeated New Orleans earlier this season,
knocking off the Saints 29-19 on Kickoff Weekend (September 11).
Saints recorded a 31-26 victory over Carolina in last week’s Wild Card
showdown, the team’s first playoff win since 2013 (January 4, 2014 at
Philadelphia in the Wild Card round). Quarterback DREW BREES passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns and wide
receivers MICHAEL THOMAS (131 yards)
and TED GINN, JR. (115) each
recorded 100 yards.
- Brees has seven career 300-yard passing games in the postseason,
the third-most in NFL history. He has passed for at least 300 yards in seven of
his 12 career playoff games.
Orleans had six players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: quarterback Brees, running backs MARK INGRAM and ALVIN KAMARA, defensive end CAMERON
JORDAN, cornerback MARSHON LATTIMORE
and wide receiver Thomas.
captured the NFC North for the second time in the past three seasons and earned
a first-round bye for the first time since 2009. The team’s 13 regular-season
wins are the most since 1998 when the club went 15-1.
CASE KEENUM, who played in 15 games
and made 14 starts, set career-highs in attempts (481), completions (325),
completion percentage (67.6), yards (3,547), touchdowns (22) and passer rating
(98.3). Keenum posted a passer rating of at least 100 in eight games this
season and the Vikings were a perfect 8-0 in those contests.
Vikings had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: linebacker ANTHONY BARR, defensive end EVERSON GRIFFEN, cornerback XAVIER
RHODES and wide receiver ADAM