Vince’s View: NFL Divisional Round predictions; 5 VFLs active

Santa Clara, CA – November 11, 2019 – Levi’s Stadium: Emmanuel Moseley (41) of the San Francisco 49ers during a regular season Monday Night Football game
(Photo by Kohjiro Kinno / ESPN Images)

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Here’s the schedule for the Divisional Round Weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

With the games and times listed you’ll find a lot of great and informative notes directly from the NFL Communications office.

My predicted winners are in CAPS and bold..

2018 Season Prediction Record: 167-100 (63%)
2019 Week 16 Prediction Record: 3-1 (75%)
2019 Season Prediction Record: 170-91 (65%)


NFL WELCOMES SEVEN NEW TEAMS TO DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

The NFL’s 100th season has reached the Divisional playoffs, and new teams abound.

Seven of the remaining eight clubs in contention for the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LIV in Miami were not in the Divisional playoffs last year. That’s the largest year-to-year turnover in the Divisional round since 1990, when the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format. In other words, 15 teams have been one game from advancing to the AFC or NFC Championship Game since the beginning of the 2018 playoffs.

This weekend’s schedule:

Saturday, January 11
NFC Minnesota at SAN FRANCISCO 4:35 PM ET NBC
AFC Tennessee at BALTIMORE 8:15 PM ET CBS
Sunday, January 12
AFC Houston at KANSAS CITY 3:05 PM ET CBS
NFC Seattle at GREEN BAY 6:40 PM ET FOX

 


VFLs and Knoxville area players in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs
Harrison Smith – S – Minnesota (Catholic HS)
Britton Colquitt – P – Minnesota (Tennessee)
Emmanuel Moseley – CB – San Francisco (Tennessee)
Jalen Hurd – WR – San Francisco (one-time Vol) *RESERVE/INJURED
Morgan Cox – LS – Baltimore (Tennessee)
Zach Fulton – OG – Houston (Tennessee)
Dustin Colquitt – P – Kansas City (Tennessee)
Kahlil McKenzie – OG – Seattle (Tennessee) *PRACTICE SQUAD


All four clubs in the NFC – the GREEN BAY PACKERSMINNESOTA VIKINGSSAN FRANCISCO 49ERS and SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – are new to the NFL’s final eight. In the AFC, the BALTIMORE RAVENSHOUSTON TEXANS and TENNESSEE TITANS join the group, while the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS represent the only club to make a second straight appearance in the Divisional playoffs.

The No. 6-seeded Titans, whose 20-13 win at New England last week ensured that the NFL will have two new Super Bowl teams for the first time in four years, earned a trip to face the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Baltimore, Saturday in primetime (8:15 PM ET, CBS).

Meanwhile, the NFC’s No. 6 seed, Minnesota, earned a 26-20 overtime victory at New Orleans last week to advance to the Divisional round, where No. 1 seed San Francisco awaits in the first game on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

The No. 6 seeds are now 4-0 over the past two seasons. For the first time in NFL history, all four No. 6 seeds have advanced to the Divisional playoffs in consecutive years, including INDIANAPOLIS and PHILADELPHIA in 2018.

YOUTH UNDER CENTER: The average age of the eight quarterbacks scheduled to start this weekend is 28 years, 271 days old, the youngest average age of starting quarterbacks in the Divisional playoffs since the 2010 season (28 years, 197 days).

CULTURE OF COMPETITION: Since Super Bowl LI, when New England topped Atlanta, 34-28, in the first overtime in Super Bowl history, postseason games have been fiercely competitive. Beginning with that Super Bowl, the last 27 postseason contests have been decided by just 8.1 points on average.

  • Four of the NFL’s last seven postseason games have gone to overtime.
  • Road teams are a combined 8-6 over the last 14 NFL playoff games (excluding the neutral-field Super Bowl LIII). ​

GIVEAWAY-TAKEAWAY INDICATOR: Seven of the league’s eight remaining teams finished among the NFL’s top 10 in turnover margin this season. GREEN BAY (+12) and SEATTLE (+12), which tied for third in the NFL during the regular season and meet Sunday at Lambeau Field (6:40 PM, FOX), have the best turnover margins among the remaining teams. MINNESOTA (+11, fifth), BALTIMORE (+10, sixth), KANSAS CITY (+8, tied-seventh), TENNESSEE (+6, ninth) and SAN FRANCISCO (+4, tied-10th) also ranked in the top 10 this season.

A closer look at each of the Divisional Playoff games:

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-6) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3) (Saturday, 4:35 PM ET, NBC)

  • Minnesota and San Francisco have met five times in the postseason with the 49ers holding a 4-1 advantage. The Vikings prevailed in the 1987 Divisional playoffs but San Francisco rebounded to win Divisional matchups with Minnesota in each of the next two seasons, 1988-89, winning consecutive Super Bowls in the process. The 49ers also won a 1997 Divisional playoff and, in their only playoff meeting outside of San Francisco, beat the Vikings at Metropolitan Stadium in 1970.
  • The Vikings defeated New Orleans in a Wild Card game last week, 26-20, in overtime. Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS orchestrated a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in overtime, completing the march with a 4-yard pass to tight end KYLE RUDOLPH. Minnesota running back DALVIN COOK had 130 scrimmage yards (94 rushing, 36 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns in the win.
  • The 49ers won the NFC West for the first time since 2012. Quarterback JIMMY GAROPPOLO (102 passer rating) joined Pro Football Hall of Famers JOE MONTANA and STEVE YOUNG as the only 49ers players to finish a season with a passer rating of 100 or higher since 1950. Tight end GEORGE KITTLE (2,945 receiving yards) surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE DITKA (2,774) for the most receiving yards ever by a tight end over his first three NFL seasons.

TENNESSEE TITANS (10-7) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2) (Saturday, 8:15 PM ET, CBS)

  • The Titans and Ravens have three prior playoff meetings, with Baltimore holding a 2-1 lead. On their way to a Super Bowl XXXV victory, the Ravens picked up a win at Tennessee in the 2000 Divisional playoffs. The Ravens also won a 2008 Divisional playoff in Nashville, while the Titans won a 2003 Wild Card game in Baltimore.
  • Tennessee won a playoff game for the second time in three seasons with a road triumph at New England last week. The Titans are the fourth team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to feature the league’s top-rated passer and rushing champion. Quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating during the regular season, while running back DERRICK HENRY – who led the league with 1,540 rushing yards – rushed for 182 yards and a TD last week, the most rushing yards in a postseason game since Green Bay’s RYAN GRANT (201) on Jan. 12, 2008, in a 2007 Divisional playoff win over Seattle at Lambeau Field.
  • The Ravens, who led the league with 33.2 points per game, had a league-high 12 players named to the Pro Bowl after a franchise-best 14 wins. Baltimore broke the NFL’s single-season record with 3,296 rushing yards, including 1,206 from LAMAR JACKSON, the most single-season yards by a quarterback in NFL history. Tight end MARK ANDREWS led NFL tight ends with 10 receiving touchdowns and caught a team-best 64 passes. Cornerback MARCUS PETERS in 2019 had five interceptions.

HOUSTON TEXANS (11-6) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4) (Sunday, 3:05 PM ET, CBS)

  • The Texans and Chiefs have played just one postseason game, a 2015 Wild Card game won by Kansas City. The Chiefs from 1960-62 were known as the Dallas Texans before relocating to Kansas City in 1963. In Week 6 this season, Houston beat Kansas City, 31-24, at Arrowhead Stadium.
  • Down 16-0 to Buffalo in the third quarter last week, Houston came back to win, 22-19, in overtime. Quarterback DESHAUN WATSON escaped two defenders to complete a 34-yard pass to running back TAIWAN JONES and set up the game-winning field goal. Houston wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS tied for the AFC lead with 104 catches in 2019. Texans linebacker WHITNEY MERCILUS has seven sacks in seven career postseason games, while defensive end J.J. WATT has six sacks in seven career postseason games.
  • The Chiefs won the AFC West for a fourth straight season. Head coach ANDY REID makes his 15th career appearance in the playoffs. Quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES is the first player in franchise history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 25-or-more touchdowns in consecutive seasons. TRAVIS KELCE became the first tight end in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-5) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3) (Sunday, 6:40 PM ET, FOX)

  • The Seahawks and Packers have met three times in the playoffs, with Green Bay holding a 2-1 advantage. In 2003, Green Bay beat Seattle in the Wild Card round by returning an early overtime interception for a touchdown. In the 2007 Divisional playoffs, the Packers topped the Seahawks in a snowy Lambeau Field game. And in their most recent postseason meeting, the 2014 NFC Championship, Seattle earned a Super Bowl appearance by overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit to win in overtime.
  • Quarterbacks AARON RODGERS (99.4 passer rating) and RUSSELL WILSON (96.0) rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in postseason passer efficiency, minimum 100 attempts. They’re also the only remaining starting quarterbacks among playoff teams who have won Super Bowls.
  • The Seahawks had seven sacks in their Wild Card win at Philadelphia last week, establishing the franchise’s single-game postseason record. In eight of his 10 seasons as head coach, PETE CARROLL has guided Seattle to the playoffs. Wilson passed for 325 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Eagles. Running back MARSHAWN LYNCH has 10 rushing touchdowns in 12 career playoffs games. Wide receiver DK METCALF last week had a touchdown catch and 160 receiving yards, most by a rookie in a postseason game in the Super Bowl era.
  • Green Bay won the NFC North for the first time since 2016 and tied Baltimore for the NFL lead with seven home victories. MATT LAFLEUR joined JIM CALDWELL (2009), JIM HARBAUGH (2011), STEVE MARIUCCI (1997) and GEORGE SEIFERT (1989) as one of five head coaches in league history to win at least 13 games in his first season at the helm of a team. Quarterback AARON RODGERS ranks fifth in NFL postseason history in touchdown passes (36). Running back AARON JONES tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (16) and scrimmage touchdowns (19). Linebackers ZA’DARIUS SMITH (13.5) and PRESTON SMITH (12) are the first pair of Packers teammates to each record at least 12 sacks since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

SURVIVE AND ADVANCEThe MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-6) and TENNESSEE TITANS (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences. Last season, both the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs as No. 6 seeds in their conferences. This marks the first time in which two No. 6 seeds advanced past Wild Card Weekend in consecutive seasons since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990.

Minnesota, who travels to San Francisco on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and Tennessee, who travels to Baltimore on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, CBS), can become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010.

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990:

SEASON TEAM CONFERENCE ADVANCED TO
2010 Green Bay NFC Won Super Bowl XLV
2010 New York Jets AFC Conference Championship
2008 Baltimore AFC Conference Championship
2008 Philadelphia NFC Conference Championship
2005 Pittsburgh AFC Won Super Bowl XL
2019 Minnesota NFC ??
2019 Tennessee AFC ??

 

In the NFC, the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-5, No. 5 seed), who face the GREEN BAY PACKERS on Sunday night (6:40 PM ET, FOX), and the sixth-seeded Vikings are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the NFL instituted the current 12-team playoff format in 1990.

— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —

 

STACKING POSTSEASON VICTORIES: The GREEN BAY PACKERS (34 wins) and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (30 wins) both rank among the top five in postseason victories in league history and can add to their totals this weekend.

With a win over Seattle on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, FOX), Green Bay would tie the DALLAS COWBOYS (35 wins) for the third-most postseason victories in NFL history.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM WINS SUPER BOWL WINS
New England 37 6
Pittsburgh 36 6
Dallas 35 5
Green Bay 34 4
San Francisco 30 5


— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —

 

GETTING IT STARTEDTo kick off the Divisional Round of the NFL’s 100th season, the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3), host the No. 6 seed MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-6) on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC). Minnesota advanced to the Divisional Round with a 26-20 overtime victory in New Orleans on Wild Card Weekend.

In his postseason debut last week, Minnesota running back DALVIN COOK finished with 130 scrimmage yards (94 rushing, 36 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns in the victory. If Cook records at least 125 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, he would become the first player with at least 125 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in each of his first two career postseason games in NFL history.

— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —

 

RUNNING THROUGH THE POSTSEASON: The AFC’s No. 1 seed, the BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2), led the NFL with 3,296 rushing yards in the regular season, the most by a team in a single season in NFL history. The TENNESSEE TITANS (10-7) ranked third in the league with 2,223 rushing yards in 2019, led by the NFL’s leading rusher DERRICK HENRY, who rushed for 1,540 yards this season.

This marks the fourth time the team with the top rushing offense met the team with the league’s leading rusher in the postseason in the Super Bowl era. In each of the matchups, the team with the league’s leading rusher has won.

Postseason matchups between the league’s top rushing offense and leading rusher in the Super Bowl era:

ROUND TOP RUSHING OFFENSE RUSHING YARDS NFL LEADING RUSHER TEAM RUSHING YARDS
2018 Wild Card Seattle 73 Ezekiel Elliot Dallas 137
Super Bowl XXVII Buffalo 108 Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 108
1978 Divisional New England 83 Earl CampbellHOF Houston Oilers 118
2019 Divisional Baltimore ?? Derrick Henry Tennessee ??

 

On Wild Card Weekend, Henry rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee’s 20-13 victory over New England. With at least 150 rushing yards on Saturday, Henry would join Pro Football Hall of Famers MARCUS ALLEN (three games), TERRELL DAVIS (two) and FRANCO HARRIS (two), as well as LE’VEON BELL (two) as the only players to rush for at least 150 yards in consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

Henry has rushed for 366 yards in his first three career postseason games. With at least 134 rushing yards on Saturday, Henry would become the third player to rush for at least 500 yards in their first four career postseason games in NFL history.

The players with the most rushing yards in their first four career postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM RUSHING YARDS
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 515
Arian Foster Houston 515
Fred Taylor Jacksonville 493
John RigginsHOF Washington 474
Eric DickersonHOF Los Angeles Rams 470
Derrick Henry Tennessee 366*
*In three games

— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —

 

NEW ERA OF QBs: Sunday afternoon’s game featuring Houston quarterback DESHAUN WATSON (24 years, 120 days old) and Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES (24 years, 117 days old) marks the third matchup in the Divisional Round between two quarterbacks under the age of 25 in the Super Bowl era.

Divisional Round matchups between starting quarterbacks under the age of 25 in the Super Bowl era:

SEASON HOME TEAM QUARTERBACK VISITOR QUARTERBACK RESULT
1985 Miami Dan MarinoHOF Cleveland Bernie Kosar MIA 24, CLE 21
2000 Minnesota Daunte Culpepper New Orleans Aaron Brooks MIN 34, NO 16
2019 Kansas City Patrick Mahomes Houston Deshaun Watson ??

In a 22-19 overtime victory over Buffalo on Wild Card Weekend, Watson completed 20 of 25 pass attempts (80 percent) for 247 yards and a touchdown and added 55 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

If Watson, who rushed for 76 yards on Wild Card Weekend in 2018, rushes for at least 50 yards on Sunday against Kansas City (3:05 PM ET, CBS), he would become the first quarterback with at least 50 rushing yards in three consecutive postseason games in NFL history.

— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —

 

NIGHT CAP: In the final game of the Divisional Round, the GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3) host the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-5), who defeated Philadelphia, 17-9, on Wild Card Weekend.

Seahawks rookie wide receiver DK METCALF led Seattle with 160 receiving yards and a touchdown in the win, the most receiving yards by a rookie in a single postseason game in the Super Bowl era.

With at least 83 receiving yards against Green Bay on Sunday (6:40 PM ET, FOX), Metcalf would surpass TORRY HOLT (242 yards in 1999) for the most postseason receiving yards by a rookie in NFL history.

The rookies with the most postseason receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON REC. YARDS
Torry Holt St. Louis Rams 1999 242
Austin Collie Indianapolis 2009 241
DeSean Jackson Philadelphia 2008 207
Steve Junker Detroit 1957 201
Ricky Nattiel Denver 1987 171
DK Metcalf Seattle 2019 160*
*Entering Sunday

Seattle running back MARSHAWN LYNCH recorded his 10th career postseason rushing touchdown in the win on Wild Card Weekend.

With at least two rushing touchdowns on Sunday, Lynch would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRELL DAVIS (12) and JOHN RIGGINS (12) for the fourth-most career postseason rushing touchdowns in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason rushing touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS
Emmitt SmithHOF Dallas 19
Franco HarrisHOF Pittsburgh 16
Thurman ThomasHOF Buffalo 16
Terrell DavisHOF Denver 12
John RigginsHOF Washington 12
Marshawn Lynch Seattle 10*
*Entering Sunday

Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS enters Sunday’s contest having thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his past five postseason games.

With four touchdown passes against Seattle, Rodgers would tie PEYTON MANNING (40) for the fourth-most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Tom Brady New England 73
Joe MontanaHOF San Francisco, Kansas City 45
Brett FavreHOF Green Bay, Minnesota 44
Peyton Manning Indianapolis, Denver 40
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 36*
*Entering Sunday  

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