And then there were eight. The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs with a slate of four key games on tap.
On 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.
On 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|
|NFC||Atlanta at Philadelphia||4:35 PM ET||NBC|
|AFC||Tennessee at New England||8:15 PM ET||CBS|
|Sunday, January 14|
|AFC||Jacksonville at Pittsburgh||1:05 PM ET||CBS|
|NFC||New Orleans at Minnesota||4:40 PM ET||FOX|
Among 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)
- This 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).
- The 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 streak.
- 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.
- Atlanta had two players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: wide receiver Jones and center ALEX MACK.
- 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. 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.
- Three 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)
- This 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.
- The 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 playoff game.
- Quarterback 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.
- Tennessee had three players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: defensive tackle JURRELL CASEY, punter BRETT KERN and tackle TAYLOR LEWAN.
- New 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.
- Quarterback 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).
- The Patriots had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: quarterback Brady, fullback JAMES DEVELIN, tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI and special teamer MATTHEW SLATER.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (11-6) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:05 PM ET)
- This 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.
- The 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.
- In 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.
- The Jaguars had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: cornerbacks A.J. BOUYE and JALEN RAMSEY, defensive end CALAIS CAMPBELLand defensive tackle MALIK JACKSON.
- Pittsburgh 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.
- Steelers 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.
- 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 MAURKICE POUNCEY, quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER, linebacker RYAN SHAZIER and tackle ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-5) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-3) (Sunday, FOX, 4:40 PM ET)
- The 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).
- The 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.
- New 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.
- Minnesota 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.
- Quarterback 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.
- 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.