MISC PLAYOFF NOTES:
Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason
in 2018: BALTIMORE, CHICAGO, DALLAS, HOUSTON, INDIANAPOLIS, the LOS ANGELES
CHARGERS and SEATTLE. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at
least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not
in the postseason the year before.
The 2018 postseason is filled with young stars on the rise and veterans at the top of their game at the quarterback position.
Three quarterbacks – Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON, Chicago’s MITCHELL TRUBISKY and Houston’s DESHAUN WATSON – are expected to make their first career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend while Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES, who led the league with 50 touchdown passes, will make his postseason debut in the AFC Divisional round.
New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who has led the Patriots to 10 consecutive division titles and five Super Bowl championships, is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (37), passing yards (10,226) and touchdown passes (71). Brady and Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES, who will make his fifth career postseason start, combined for an NFL-record 874 pass yards in Super Bowl LII last season. Foles had a 115.7 passer rating during the 2017 playoffs to help lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES, a veteran of 18 NFL seasons, will make his 14th postseason start in the NFC Divisional round after leading the league with an NFL-record 74.4 completion percentage and 115.7 passer rating in 2018. Los Angeles Chargers PHILIP RIVERS, in his 15th season, registered his 10th career 4,000-passing yard season and will make his 10th career postseason appearance.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback JARED GOFF and Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT, both selected by their teams in the 2016 NFL Draft, have led their franchises to division titles in two of their first three NFL seasons and each will be making their second career postseason start.
Both members of the 2012 NFL Draft class, Indianapolis Colts quarterback ANDREW LUCK will be making his seventh career postseason start while Seattle Seahawks quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who has led Seattle to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, will be making his 13th career postseason start on Wild Card Weekend. Wilson led Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in 2013 and a Super Bowl XLIX appearance in 2014.
Seven of this season’s 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 1999, capturing 12 of the past 19 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI), Ravens (XXXV, XLVII), Colts (XLI), Eagles (LII), Rams (XXXIV), Saints (XLIV) and Seahawks (XLVIII).
Four teams won division titles – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East) and Houston (AFC South) – after missing the playoffs last season.
Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) 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 15 of the past 16 seasons. With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.
TOP DEFENSE: The CHICAGO BEARS defense led the league with the fewest points allowed per game (17.7) this season. In three of the past four seasons, the teams with the top regular-season scoring defense have advanced to the Super Bowl.
FANTASTIC FOLES: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the 2017 NFC Championship Game and had 373 passing yards with three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII to help lead the Eagles to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
With 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes on Sunday at Chicago (4:40 PM ET, NBC), Foles would become the second quarterback in NFL history to record at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in three consecutive postseason games.;