EIGHT TEAMS REMAIN STANDING AS NFL ENTERS DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Playoff football is a harmonious symphony, and the volume is about to rise.
The NFL has reached the Divisional stage of the 2020 playoffs and the two conferences have distinctly different personalities.
In the AFC, the average age of the four starting quarterbacks on gameday will be 24 years and 345 days, marking a single conference’s youngest group of starting quarterbacks in the Divisional round of the playoffs in NFL history.
The NFC, meanwhile, features three of the most prolific quarterbacks in league annals. Tampa Bay’s TOM BRADY (six Super Bowl wins), New Orleans’ DREW BREES (one) and Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS (one) have combined for eight Super Bowl victories, more than any group of starting quarterbacks ever in a single conference’s Divisional round.
Kicking off the weekend on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), the LOS ANGELES RAMS and the NFL’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense (18.5 points allowed per game) travel to meet the league leader in scoring offense (31.8 points scored per game), Rodgers and the GREEN BAY PACKERS.
Then, two of the league’s most electrifying young players square off in Western New York on Saturday (8:15 PM ET, NBC/Universo), when LAMAR JACKSON and the BALTIMORE RAVENS travel to clash with JOSH ALLEN and the BUFFALO BILLS.
BAKER MAYFIELD, like Jackson and Allen a member of the NFL Draft Class of 2018, leads the CLEVELAND BROWNS into Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday (3:05 PM ET, CBS/CBS All Access/ESPN Deportes) to square off against PATRICK MAHOMES and the defending Super Bowl champion KANSAS CITY CHIEFS.
And in the crescendo, the two ageless quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes in NFL history – Brady (581) and Brees (571) – face off when the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS travel to face the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (6:40 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes).
The Divisional playoff schedule:
Saturday, January 16
NFC: 4:35 PM (ET) Los Angeles Rams (11-6) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (FOX, FOX Deportes)
AFC: 8:15 PM (ET) Baltimore Ravens (12-5) at Buffalo Bills (14-3) (NBC, Universo)
Sunday, January 17
AFC: 3:05 PM (ET) Cleveland Browns (12-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
(CBS, CBS All Access, ESPN Deportes)
NFC: 6:40 PM (ET) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5) at New Orleans Saints (13-4) (FOX, FOX Deportes)
LOS ANGELS RAMS (11-6) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3)
- Green Bay is playing a postseason game in a 34th season, surpassing the DALLAS COWBOYS (33 postseasons) for the most in NFL history. With a victory, the Packers would tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36 postseason wins) for the second-most postseason wins in league annals, trailing only the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (37).
- Under head coach MATT LAFLEUR, who took the team’s reins in 2019, the Packers have won 13-or-more games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996-97, when they advanced to Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII.
- LaFleur, who worked with Rams head coach SEAN MCVAY in both Washington and Los Angeles, has 26 regular-season wins, surpassing STEVE MARIUCCI (25, 1997-98) for the second-most by an individual in his first two seasons as an NFL head coach in league history. Only GEORGE SEIFERT (28, 1989-90) has more.
- Green Bay led the NFL with 31.8 points per game, the second-highest total in franchise history (35.0 points per game in 2011), and paced the league by scoring touchdowns on 80 percent (48 of 60) of its red-zone possessions.
- The Rams allowed the fewest points per game (18.5), fewest yards per game (281.9), fewest passing yards per game (190.7), and ranked second in sacks (53) in the NFL this season.
- In the Rams’ 30-20 Wild Card win at Seattle, running back CAM AKERS registered 176 scrimmage yards (131 rushing, 45 receiving), third among rookies in postseason history. Only Washington’s TIMMY SMITH (213 in Super Bowl XXII on Jan. 31, 1988) and the Houston Oilers’ BILLY CANNON (178 on Jan. 1, 1961) had more. Akers’ 131 rushing yards were eighth-most among rookies in NFL postseason history.
- Rams defensive lineman AARON DONALD, who had two sacks in his team’s Wild Card win, tied for second in the league with 13.5 sacks in 2020 and became the fourth player since 1982 with at least eight sacks in each of his first seven seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DERRICK THOMAS and REGGIE WHITE, as well as DEMARCUS WARE.
- Donald has 85.5 sacks in his first seven seasons and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DERRICK THOMAS (85) for the most sacks by a player in his first seven seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS led the NFL with a career-high 48 touchdown passes this season, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (48 touchdown passes in 1984) for the fifth-most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.
- Rodgers led the NFL with a 121.5 passer rating, the second-highest single-season mark by a quarterback in NFL history, trailing only his 122.5 rating in 2011.
- Rodgers enters Saturday’s game having thrown a touchdown pass in 14 consecutive postseason games.
- Packers wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS led the NFL with 18 touchdown receptions, tied for the third-most touchdowns by a wide receiver in a single-season in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers RANDY MOSS (23 touchdowns in 2007) and JERRY RICE (23 touchdowns in 1987) had more.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-5) at BUFFALO BILLS (14-3)
- In Baltimore’s 20-13 Wild Card win at Tennessee, Ravens head coach JOHN HARBAUGH registered his eighth career postseason victory in road games, surpassing TOM COUGHLIN (seven postseason road wins) and Pro Football Hall of Famer TOM LANDRY (seven) for the most in NFL history.
- The Ravens are 16-10 (.615) all-time in the postseason, the second-best winning percentage in NFL history behind New England (37-21, .638).
- Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON rushed for 136 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown, in the Ravens’ Wild Card win. At 24 years and three days old, he became the third-youngest quarterback in NFL history to win both an NFL MVP and a postseason game. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (23 years, 106 days) and PATRICK MAHOMES (23 years, 117 days) accomplished it at a younger age.
- Including 236 rushing yards in its Wild Card victory, Baltimore has totaled 889 rushing yards (296.3 per game) over its last three games. Led by Jackson, who became the first quarterback in NFL history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Baltimore led the NFL this season with 3,071 rushing yards and 191.9 rushing yards per game. The Ravens are the first team in league history to rush for at least 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
- Ravens rookie running back J.K. DOBBINS has rushed for a touchdown in seven consecutive games, including the Wild Card win, tied for the second-longest such streak by a rookie in NFL history, including playoffs. Only MAURICE JONES-DREW (eight games in 2006) has a longer streak.
- Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN, who led the Bills to their first playoff victory since the 1995 season, completed 26 of 35 attempts (74.3 percent) for 324 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 121.6 rating, and rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on Super Wild Card Weekend. Allen became the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards with a completion percentage of 70 or higher and rush for 50-or-more yards in a postseason game.
- Also in the Bills’ Wild Card win, wide receiver STEFON DIGGS caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Diggs, who had six receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown with Minnesota in a 2017 Divisional playoff win, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE as the only players to register at least 125 receiving yards and one-or-more touchdowns in a postseason game with multiple teams in NFL history.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (12-5) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (14-2)
- In the playoffs for the first time since 2002, Cleveland won its Wild Card game at Pittsburgh, 48-37, scoring its second-most points in a playoff game, behind a 56-10 victory over Detroit in the 1954 NFL Championship.
- Cleveland became the second team in history to score at least 28 points in the first quarter of a postseason game, joining the 1969 OAKLAND RAIDERS, who also scored 28 in a victory over the Houston Oilers.
- Kansas City won its fifth straight AFC West title and advanced to the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, the NFL’s longest active streak of postseason berths.
- The Chiefs with a win would become the first team since the 2002-04 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES, whose head coach was ANDY REID, to host three consecutive conference championship games.
- Browns quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD completed 21 of 34 attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 115.2 rating in the Browns’ Wild Card victory at Pittsburgh. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Mayfield joined MICHAEL VICK as the only quarterbacks drafted first overall to win a road game in their first career postseason starts in NFL history.
- Browns running back KAREEM HUNT had two rushing touchdowns in the Wild Card win, the first time a Cleveland player rushed for at least two touchdowns in a postseason game since EARNEST BYNER had two on Jan. 4, 1986 at Miami.
- Cleveland running back NICK CHUBB totaled 145 scrimmage yards (76 rushing, 69 receiving) and scored on a 40-yard touchdown reception in the Wild Card win.
- Kanas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES ranks as the NFL’s career leader among qualified players in both regular-season passer rating (108.7) and postseason passer rating (106.6), with a minimum of 100 attempts.
- Chiefs wide receiver TYREEK HILL ranked second in the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns. He also has 14 career games with at least two total touchdowns, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer LANCE ALWORTH (14) for the second-most such games by a wide receiver in his first five seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (18 games) has more.
- Chiefs tight end TRAVIS KELCE finished second among all players with 1,416 receiving yards this season, the most single-season receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history. Kelce, who had 103 receptions in 2018, had 105 receptions this season to become the first tight end in NFL history with at least 100 receptions in multiple seasons.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (12-5) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-4)
- In New Orleans’ 21-9 Wild Card victory over Chicago, the Saints allowed nine points and 239 total yards, both the lowest postseason totals in franchise history.
- The Buccaneers last week secured the franchise’s first postseason victory since winning Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003 in San Diego.
- Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY has the most postseason games played (42), wins (31), passing yards (11,769) and passing touchdowns (75) of any player in NFL history.
- In the Buccaneers’ Wild Card victory at Washington, Brady passed for a postseason franchise record 381 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 104.3 passer rating. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famers BRETT FAVRE and JOE MONTANA as the only quarterbacks to win a postseason game with one club after winning at least 10 postseason games for another franchise in NFL history.
- At 43 years and 159 days old, Brady became the oldest player to throw a touchdown pass in a postseason game in history, eclipsing Pro Football Hall of Famer GEORGE BLANDA (43 years, 108 days).
- Buccaneers wide receiver MIKE EVANS had six catches for 119 yards in the Wild Card win. Evans had 1,006 receiving yards in 2020 to become the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons.
- Saints quarterback DREW BREES completed 28 of 39 attempts (71.8 percent) for 265 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 107.3 rating in New Orleans’ Wild Card victory last week.
- With his first-quarter touchdown pass to MICHAEL THOMAS, Brees has now thrown a touchdown pass in each of his 17 career postseason games. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (20 games) and TOM BRADY (18 games) have had longer such streaks at any time in their postseason careers in NFL history.
- Brees has the most passing yards per game (307.8) of any player in NFL postseason history (minimum five games). He also ranks third in career postseason completion percentage (67.2, minimum 150 attempts), fifth in postseason passer rating (100.0, minimum 150 attempts) and sixth with 36 postseason touchdown passes.
- Thomas averages 94.3 receiving yards per game in his postseason career, fourth in NFL history (minimum five games). He also averages 7.2 receptions per game during the postseason, second in NFL history (minimum five games) behind JULIO JONES (7.6).
- Saints running back ALVIN KAMARA had 116 scrimmage yards (99 rushing, 17 receiving) and ran for a touchdown in his team’s Wild Card win.
- Kamara led the NFL with 21 scrimmage touchdowns (16 rushing, five receiving), the most in a single season in franchise history, including six rushing touchdowns in Week 16, tying the NFL’s single-game record.
- Kamara became the first player with at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons in NFL history. His 2,824 career receiving yards are the most ever by a running back in his first four seasons.