By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Below are my Super Wildcard Weekend predictions, straight-up and against the spread. You’ll also see the full schedule of games and some tremendous notes on the games, teams and players provided by NFL Communications.
Listen to The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts, including myself, every Sunday, 10am to 12:30pm ET on 99.1 The Sports Animal here in Knoxville and streaming here at 991TheSportsAnimal.com, the WNML app or on your smart speakers.
Week 18 Straight-Up Record: 8-8 (50%)
Week 18 Against The Spread Record: 7-9 (44%)
2021 Season Straight-Up: 151-91 (62%)
2021 Season Against The Spread: 132-110 (55%)
2020 Season Prediction Record Straight-Up: 181-88 (67%)
|Saturday, January 15|
|AFC||Las Vegas at Cincinnati|
V-Picks: Bengals -6; Cincinnati wins
|4:35 PM ET||NBC, Peacock, Universo|
|AFC||New England at Buffalo|
V-Picks: Patriots +4.5; Buffalo wins
|8:15 PM ET||CBS, Paramount+|
|Sunday, January 16|
|NFC||Philadelphia at Tampa Bay|
V-Picks: Buccaneers -8.5; Tampa Bay wins
|1:05 PM ET||FOX, FOX Deportes|
|NFC||San Francisco at Dallas|
V-Picks: 49ers +3; San Francisco wins
|4:40 PM ET||CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon|
Amazon Prime Video
|AFC||Pittsburgh at Kansas City|
V-Picks: Chiefs -12.5; Kansas City wins
|8:15 PM ET||NBC, Peacock, Telemundo|
|Monday, January 17|
|NFC||Arizona at Los Angeles Rams|
V-Picks: Rams -4; Los Angeles wins
|8:15 PM ET||ESPN/ABC, ESPN2|
ESPN+, ESPN Deportes
NFL PLAYOFFS KICK OFF WITH THREE DAYS OF SUPER WILD CARD ACTION, INCLUDING MONDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN
Get ready for a three-day weekend unlike any other.
Super Wild Card Weekend begins with two games Saturday, continues with a tripleheader on Sunday and finishes with the debut of a Monday night Wild Card game.
The 2021 postseason kicks off Saturday on the heels of the most exciting regular season in NFL history. NFL teams combined to pack into the 2021 season:
- 34 games that featured a winning score on the final play, the most ever;
- 49 game-winning scores in the final minute of regulation or in overtime, tied for the most in a season all-time;
- 57 game-winning scores in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, also tied for the most in NFL history.
Super Wild Card Weekend features steady, quality teams led by consistent veterans, and young and on-the-rise clubs guided by sensational newcomers.
Each of the last six NFL Drafts have contributed a starting quarterback to this weekend’s games: The Patriots’ MAC JONES (first round, 2021), the Bengals’ JOE BURROW (first round, 2020), the Eagles’ JALEN HURTS (second round, 2020), the Cardinals’ KYLER MURRAY (first round, 2019), the Bills’ JOSH ALLEN (first round, 2018), the Chiefs’ PATRICK MAHOMES (first round, 2017) and the Cowboys’ DAK PRESCOTT (fourth round, 2016),
And, with six starting quarterbacks not yet 27 years old, the 2021 playoff field is expected to tie for the second-most such quarterbacks in league history. Only the 2020 postseason, with seven, had more.
The weekend also features TOM BRADY guiding a Tampa Bay team challenging to snap the NFL’s 17-year stretch without a repeat Super Bowl champion, the longest streak in league history. Not since Brady and the Patriots won consecutive Super Bowl titles in 2003 and 2004 has an NFL team repeated as world champion.
SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles awaits. For 14 teams, the journey toward that dream continues this weekend.
The NFL Super Wild Card Weekend schedule with kickoff times:
The 14 teams in contention for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles:
|American Football Conference||National Football Conference|
|1.||Tennessee Titans (12-5), AFC South champion*||1.||Green Bay Packers (13-4), NFC North champion*|
|2.||Kansas City Chiefs (12-5), AFC West champion||2.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4), NFC South champion|
|3.||Buffalo Bills (11-6), AFC East champion||3.||Dallas Cowboys (12-5), NFC East champion|
|4.||Cincinnati Bengals (10-7), AFC North champion||4.||Los Angeles Rams (12-5), NFC West champion|
|5.||Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)||5.||Arizona Cardinals (11-6)|
|6.||New England Patriots (10-7)||6.||San Francisco 49ers (10-7)|
|7.||Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)||7.||Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)|
|*Earned conference’s only first-round bye|
WILD-CARD SUPER BOWL WINNERS: The Buccaneers last year took their first postseason step toward an eventual Super Bowl title by winning a Wild Card game as a Wild Card team (non-division winner). Since the inception of Wild Card playoff entries in 1978, Tampa Bay became the seventh Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl. Will another Wild Card team playing this weekend join that group at Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles?
|WILD CARD TEAM||SEASON||OPPONENT||SUPER BOWL|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2020||Kansas City Chiefs||LV|
|Green Bay Packers||2010||Pittsburgh Steelers||XLV|
|New York Giants||2007||New England Patriots||XLI|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||2005||Seattle Seahawks||XL|
|Baltimore Ravens||2000||New York Giants||XXXV|
|Denver Broncos||1997||Green Bay Packers||XXXII|
|Oakland Raiders||1980||Philadelphia Eagles||XV|
REMATCHES: Five of the six games on Super Wild Card Weekend are rematches of 2021 regular-season games. No other Wild Card round in league history has had as many rematches.
The five rematches in the Wild Card round of the 2021 playoffs:
|WILD CARD GAME||IN REGULAR SEASON|
|Arizona at L.A. Rams||Cardinals, 37-20 (Week 4 at Rams); Rams, 30-23 (Week 14 at Cardinals)|
|Las Vegas at Cincinnati||Bengals, 32-13 (Week 11, at Raiders)|
|New England at Buffalo||Patriots, 14-10 (Week 13 at Bills); Bills, 33-21 (Week 16 at Patriots)|
|Philadelphia at Tampa Bay||Buccaneers, 28-22 (Week 6, at Eagles)|
|Pittsburgh at Kansas City||Chiefs, 36-10 (Week 16, at Chiefs)|
Don’t expect the team that won the regular-season matchup to automatically follow with a Wild Card win. Eight teams in the previous five years have rebounded from at least one regular-season loss against an opponent to avenge that loss with a win in the Wild Card round.
- Last season alone, the BALTIMORE RAVENS knocked off Tennessee while the CLEVELAND BROWNS defeated Pittsburgh and the LOS ANGELES RAMS beat Seattle after each splitting their regular-season series.
ENCORE PERFORMANCES FOR MONDAY NIGHT WINNERS: The Rams host the Cardinals in the NFL’s first Monday postseason contest since the Rams lost to the Minnesota Vikings in a Wild Card game on Dec. 26, 1988. The winner of Monday’s game will have history on its side in the Divisional round.
- During the 2021 regular season, teams that won on a Monday went 13-2-1 on the following Sunday.
- Over a longer stretch, dating to Week 14 of the 2020 season, clubs that won a Monday game have gone 16-2-1 on the following Sunday.
WATCH OUT FOR ROAD TEAMS: The road club has won 10 of the last 14 NFL Wild Card games over the past three seasons, including four of the six Wild Card games last year. Since the 2017 playoffs, road teams are 12-6. And, in eight of the past nine seasons, at least one road team has won a Wild Card game.
A look at the six games on Super Wild Card Weekend:
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (10-7) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-7)
Saturday, NBC/Peacock/Universo, 4:35 PM ET
- Cincinnati has captured its first division title since 2015 and looks for its first postseason win since Jan. 6, 1991, when the Bengals won a Wild Card game over the Houston Oilers before traveling to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where they lost to the Raiders, 20-10, in the last postseason meeting between the clubs.
- This season, Bengals head coach ZAC TAYLOR guided a team that became the first in NFL history with a 4,000-yard passer (JOE BURROW), a 1,000-yard rusher (JOE MIXON) and two 1,000-yard receivers (JA’MARR CHASE and TEE HIGGINS) all under the age of 26 in the same season. Chase and Higgins, who are each under the age of 23, became the youngest pair of 1,000-yard receivers in NFL annals.
- Burrow makes his postseason debut after setting single-season franchise records with 4,611 passing yards and 34 touchdown passes and ranking second in the NFL with a 108.3 passer rating.
- Chase led the AFC with 1,455 receiving yards, the most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
- Mixon finished third in the league with a career-best 1,205 rushing yards. He joined AUSTIN EKELER and JONATHAN TAYLOR as the only players with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns (16) this season.
- Cincinnati also had the fifth-stingiest rushing defense in the NFL (102.5 rushing yards per game).
- Bengals defensive end TREY HENDRICKSON is one of two NFL players with 13-or-more sacks in each of the past two seasons, joining T.J. WATT.
- Raiders head coach RICH BISACCIA and quarterback DEREK CARR have led the franchise to its first postseason appearance since 2016 and the first since the team moved to Las Vegas.
- Carr, who was injured and could not play in the team’s last postseason game, is expected to make his postseason debut after ranking fifth in the NFL with a franchise-record 4,804 yards this season. Carr is one of four quarterbacks in league history with at least 3,000 passing yards in each of his first eight seasons.
- Las Vegas wide receiver HUNTER RENFROW led the team with career bests in receptions (103), receiving yards (1,038) and touchdown catches (nine), joining Pro Football Hall of Famer TIM BROWN (104 in 1997) as the only wide receivers in franchise history to reach 100 catches in a season.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-7) at BUFFALO BILLS (11-6)
Saturday, CBS/Paramount +, 8:15 PM ET
- Buffalo and New England will meet for a third time in 2021, having split the regular-season series. The road team has won each of the past three meetings.
- On defense, the Bills (17.0 points allowed per game) and the Patriots (17.8) ranked first and second, respectively, in the NFL. Each team also had 30 takeaways this season, tied for third in the NFL.
- The Patriots secured their 11th postseason berth in the past 12 seasons. Head coach BILL BELICHICK has 31 postseason wins in 43 postseason games as a head coach, both the most in NFL history.
- New England’s MAC JONES became the first rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs since DAK PRESCOTT in 2016. Jones led all rookies this season in completion percentage (67.6), passing yards (3,801), touchdown passes (22) and passer rating (92.5). He is bidding to become just the fourth rookie quarterback since 2000 and first since RUSSELL WILSON in 2012 to go on the road and win his first NFL postseason start.
- The Patriots ranked second in the league with 24 rushing touchdowns this season, including 15 rushing touchdowns from running back DAMIEN HARRIS, tied for the second-most in the NFL this season.
- New England defensive back J.C. JACKSON led the NFL with a career-high 23 passes defensed, including eight interceptions. Jackson, who has 25 career interceptions, became the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to record 25-or-more interceptions in his first four seasons.
- Buffalo’s SEAN MCDERMOTT has led the Bills to playoff appearances in four of his five seasons as an NFL head coach, including consecutive AFC East titles, the team’s first division crowns since 1995. His 2021 club was the only team in the NFL to finish in the top five in both total offense (381.9 yards per game, fifth) and total defense (272.8 yards allowed per game, first).
- Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN became the first player in franchise history to pass for 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons. With six rushing touchdowns this season, he also became the first quarterback ever with six-or-more rushing touchdowns in each of his first four seasons.
- Buffalo wide receiver STEFON DIGGS is one of two NFL players with 1,000-or-more receiving yards and at least six touchdown catches in each of the past four seasons, joining MIKE EVANS.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-8) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (13-4)
Sunday, FOX/FOX Deportes, 1:05 PM ET
- Answering the team’s first Super Bowl victory since 2002, Tampa Bay won its division for the first time since 2007. The Buccaneers are bidding to become the first team since the 2004 Patriots and the eighth overall to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
- Under head coach BRUCE ARIANS, who owns a 5-2 career postseason record, the Buccaneers in 2021 ranked second among NFL teams in both scoring offense (30.1 points per game) and total offense (405.9 yards per game), and led the NFC by allowing only 92.5 rushing yards per game on defense.
- Reigning Super Bowl MVP TOM BRADY paced the NFL in passing touchdowns (43) and passing yards (career-high 5,316, the third-most passing yards in a season in NFL history). His 485 completions this year were a single-season NFL record. Brady this season joined DREW BREES as one of two players all-time with multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons, and joined AARON RODGERS as one of two quarterbacks ever with three seasons of 40-or-more touchdown passes.
- Buccaneers wide receiver MIKE EVANS, who ranked second in the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2021, became the first player in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards in each of his first eight seasons.
- First-year head coach NICK SIRIANNI returned the Eagles to the playoffs. Philadelphia has now advanced to the postseason in four of the past five years, including a Super Bowl LII title in 2017.
- In 2021, no other team had more rushing yards than the Eagles (159.7 yards per game). Philadelphia became the first team since the 1985 CHICAGO BEARS to record at least 175 rushing yards in seven consecutive games (Week 8-15 this season).
- Eagles quarterback JALEN HURTS makes his playoff debut after leading NFL quarterbacks with 784 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2021. His five career games with two-or-more rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback in his first two NFL seasons during the Super Bowl era.
- Wide receiver DEVONTA SMITH established the Eagles’ rookie franchise record with 916 receiving yards.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (10-7) at DALLAS COWBOYS (12-5)
Sunday, CBS/Paramount+/Nickelodeon/Amazon Prime Video, 4:40 PM ET
- San Francisco is playoff-bound for the second time in the past three seasons, after advancing to Super Bowl LIV in 2019.
- Head coach KYLE SHANAHAN guided his team to top-five rankings in the conference in both total offense (375.7 yards per game, third) and total defense (310.0 yards allowed per game, second,) this season.
- Quarterback JIMMY GAROPPOLO, who is 2-1 in three career postseason starts, has a 103.2 passer rating since Week 9, the third-highest mark in the league over that span.
- Wide receiver DEEBO SAMUEL led the 49ers and ranked third in the NFL with 1,770 scrimmage yards. He was one of two NFL players this season with six-or-more rushing touchdowns and six-or-more receiving touchdowns, joining AUSTIN EKELER. Samuel’s eight rushing touchdowns this season were the most ever by a wide receiver. He also became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,400 receiving yards (1,405) and at least 300 rushing yards (365) in a season.
- Defensive lineman NICK BOSA rebounded from a 2020 injury to tie for first in the NFL with a career-best 21 tackles for loss. He also finished fourth with 15.5 sacks this season.
- Head coach MIKE MCCARTHY has now guided two franchises to the postseason, including nine playoff berths and a Super Bowl XLV crown with the Packers. Dallas captured the NFC East for the first time since 2018 and led the league in both scoring offense (31.2 points per game) and total offense (407.0 yards per game). The Cowboys also led the NFL with 34 takeaways.
- Like Bosa, Cowboys quarterback DAK PRESCOTT rebounded in strong fashion from a 2020 season-ending injury, throwing for a franchise-record 37 touchdown passes this season and ranking third in the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating.
- Running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT led the Cowboys with 1,002 rushing yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON as the only players in NFL annals with at least 1,250 scrimmage yards and at least eight touchdowns in each of their first six seasons.
- Dallas cornerback TREVON DIGGS led the NFL with 11 interceptions, the most by an NFL player since 1981.
- Linebacker MICAH PARSONS led the Cowboys with 13 sacks, tied for the third-most by an NFL rookie since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-7-1) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-5)
Sunday, NBC/Telemundo/Peacock, 8:15 PM ET
- Pittsburgh clinched its second straight postseason berth. The Steelers are seeking their first playoff win since beating the Chiefs, 18-16, at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2016 Divisional Playoffs.
- MIKE TOMLIN has guided Pittsburgh to a .500-or-better record in each of his 15 seasons as an NFL head coach (2007-21) and makes his 10th postseason appearance at the reins of the franchise.
- Kansas City extended its streak of AFC West division titles to six (2016-21). The Chiefs’ ANDY REID last week became just the fifth head coach in NFL history to reach 250 career wins. Including the postseason, Reid is 250-150-1 (.625) in 23 seasons.
- Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER is expected to make his 23rd career postseason start and tie Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA for the fourth-most by a quarterback in NFL history. Roethlisberger has at least 450 passing yards and four-or-more touchdown passes in each of his last two postseason starts.
- Pittsburgh running back NAJEE HARRIS led NFL rookies with 1,667 scrimmage yards (1,200 rushing, 467 receiving) this season.
- Steelers linebacker T.J. WATT had 22.5 sacks and matched the single-season NFL record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL STRAHAN (2001).
- Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, who has a 100.4 passer rating in eight career postseason games, ranked fourth in the NFL with 4,839 passing yards and tied for fourth with 37 touchdown passes this season.
- Kansas City’s PATRICK KELCE became the first tight end ever with to top 1,000 receiving yards in six NFL seasons, and also the first ever at his position to reach 80 receptions in six consecutive years.
- Wide receiver TYREEK HILL led the Chiefs and ranked third in the NFL with a career-best 111 receptions.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (11-6) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (12-5)
Monday, ESPN/ABC/ESPN2/ESPN+/ESPN Deportes, 8:15 PM ET
- The Rams make their fourth trip to the playoffs in six seasons since returning to Los Angeles in 2016.
- Under head coach SEAN MCVAY (2017-21), the Rams clinched their third NFC West title and fourth playoff berth.
- Rams wide receiver COOPER KUPP led the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16) in 2021, becoming the fourth player since the league merger in 1970 to lead the league in all three categories. His 145 receptions and 1,947 receiving yards were each the second-most by a player in a season all-time.
- Los Angeles quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD finished second in the league with 41 touchdown passes and third with 4,886 passing yards in 2021.
- Defensive lineman AARON DONALD led the Rams with 12.5 sacks this season and became the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official NFL statistic, to record at least eight sacks in each of his first eight NFL seasons.
- Arizona makes its first playoff appearance since advancing to the NFC Championship Game in 2015. Head coach KLIFF KINGSBURY and quarterback KYLER MURRAY make their postseason debuts.
- The Cardinals in 2021 became one of just three teams ever to win seven consecutive road games, each by double digits, including a 37-20 triumph over the Rams at SoFi Stadium in Week 4.
- Murray, who has 70 career touchdown passes and 20 career rushing touchdowns, became the first quarterback in NFL history to reach those two marks in his first three NFL seasons. He also distinguished himself as the only quarterback in league annals to reach 3,500 passing yards, and 400 rushing yards in each of his first three NFL seasons.
- Arizona running back JAMES CONNER ranked third in the NFL with a career-high 18 touchdowns (15 rushing, three receiving). In each of the Cardinals’ two games against the Rams in 2021, Conner had two rushing touchdowns.
# # #
MORE TEAMS, MORE GAMES, MORE WILD: The addition of a third Wild Card team in each conference and the subsequent expansion of the playoffs last year has resulted in a Super Wild Card Weekend of NFL action. For the second consecutive season, there will be six games, with two on Saturday, January 15, three on Sunday, January 16, and for the first time since 1988, an NFL postseason game will be played on a Monday (January 17).
Seven of the 12 teams in action this weekend are new to the postseason in 2021, having missed the playoffs a year ago: ARIZONA, CINCINNATI, DALLAS, LAS VEGAS, NEW ENGLAND, PHILADELPHIA and SAN FRANCISCO. Two of those teams – Cincinnati (AFC North) and Dallas (NFC East) – won their divisions.
Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Additionally, at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 18 of the past 19 years, including 2021.
Each of the 12 teams playing this weekend hope to earn their first of four wins needed to capture the Lombardi Trophy. Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl 10 times, including the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS last season.
The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:
|SEASON||TEAM||SUPER BOWL RESULT|
|1980||Oakland Raiders||Defeated Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV, 27-10|
|1997||Denver Broncos||Defeated Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII, 31-24|
|2000||Baltimore Ravens||Defeated New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7|
|2005||Pittsburgh Steelers||Defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XL, 21-10|
|2006||Indianapolis Colts*||Defeated Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17|
|2007||New York Giants||Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14|
|2010||Green Bay Packers||Defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25|
|2011||New York Giants*||Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17|
|2012||Baltimore Ravens*||Defeated San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31|
|2020||Tampa Bay||Defeated Kansas City in Super Bowl LV, 31-9|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
POSTSEASON ALL-TIME LEADING PASSERS: Three of the top seven most prolific postseason quarterbacks are a part of the 2021 playoff field vying for the Super Bowl LVI title.
Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY enters the 2021 postseason as the league’s all-time playoff leader in games started by a quarterback (45), wins by a starting quarterback (34), passing yards (12,449), touchdown passes (83), Super Bowl titles (seven) and Super Bowl MVPs (five). He led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl LV title last season and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING as the only starting quarterbacks to win Super Bowls with multiple franchises.
Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS, who will make his 2021 playoff debut in the NFC Divisional playoffs, ranks tied for second in postseason touchdown passes (45), sixth in postseason passing yards (5,669) and seventh in postseason games started (20) among quarterbacks all-time.
Pittsburgh quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER enters the 2021 postseason ranking fifth all-time in passing yards (5,757), fifth in quarterback starts (22) and seventh in touchdown passes (34) in playoff history.
This postseason, both Rodgers and Roethlisberger can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famers BRETT FAVRE (5,855 passing yards, third-most) and JOE MONTANA (5,772, fourth-most) on the all-time postseason passing yards list.
With a Pittsburgh victory against Kansas City on Sunday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC/Peacock/Telemundo), Roethlisberger would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRY BRADSHAW (14 wins), JOHN ELWAY (14) and PEYTON MANNING (14) for the third-most playoff wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.
The quarterbacks with the most career postseason passing yards in NFL history:
|Tom Brady*||New England, Tampa Bay||12,449|
|Peyton ManningHOF||Indianapolis, Denver||7,339|
|Brett FavreHOF||Green Bay, Minnesota||5,855|
|Joe MontanaHOF||San Francisco, Kansas City||5,772|
|Aaron Rodgers*||Green Bay||5,669|
|*Active in 2021 postseason|
The quarterbacks with the most career postseason passing touchdowns in NFL history:
|Tom Brady*||New England, Tampa Bay||83|
|Joe MontanaHOF||San Francisco, Kansas City||45|
|Aaron Rodgers*||Green Bay||45|
|Brett FavreHOF||Green Bay, Minnesota||44|
|Peyton ManningHOF||Indianapolis, Denver||40|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans||37|
|*Active in 2021 postseason|
The quarterbacks with the most career postseason starts in NFL history:
|Tom Brady*||New England, Tampa Bay||45|
|Peyton ManningHOF||Indianapolis, Denver||27|
|Brett FavreHOF||Green Bay, Minnesota||24|
|Joe MontanaHOF||San Francisco, Kansas City||23|
|Aaron Rodgers*||Green Bay||20|
|*Active in 2021 postseason|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
CHAMPS ARE HERE: The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS enter the 2021 postseason aiming to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since New England in 2004. Last year, they became the first team in NFL history to score at least 30 points in four consecutive playoff games within a single postseason in route to a Super Bowl LV championship.
If Tampa Bay scores at least 30 points against Philadelphia on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), it will become the third team ever to score at least 30 points in five-or-more consecutive postseason games.
The teams to score at least 30 points in the most consecutive postseason games in NFL history:
|New Orleans Saints||6 (Jan. 16, 2010 – Jan. 14, 2012)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||5 (Jan. 12, 2019 – Feb. 2, 2020)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4* (Jan. 9, 2021 – Feb. 7, 2021)|
Tampa Bay running back LEONARD FOURNETTE totaled 448 scrimmage yards (112 per game) in the Buccaneers’ four playoff games last year and scored a touchdown in each contest. Going back to his 2017 postseason with Jacksonville, Fournette has scored a touchdown in six consecutive playoff games.
With a touchdown against Philadelphia, Fournette would become the sixth running back all-time to score a touchdown in seven-or-more consecutive postseason games.
The running backs with the most consecutive postseason games with a touchdown in NFL history:
|Thurman ThomasHOF||Buffalo||9 (Jan. 17, 1993 – Jan. 2, 1999)|
|Emmitt SmithHOF||Dallas||8 (Jan. 23, 1994 – Dec. 28, 1996)|
|Marcus AllenHOF||L.A. Raiders||7 (Jan. 8, 1983 – Jan. 5, 1986)|
|Terrell DavisHOF||Denver||7 (Jan. 4, 1997 – Jan. 17, 1999)|
|John RigginsHOF||Washington||7 (Jan. 15, 1983 – Dec. 30, 1984)|
|Leonard Fournette||Jacksonville, Tampa Bay||6* (Jan. 14, 2018 – Feb. 7, 2021)|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
KANSAS CITY STARS: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS enter the 2021 postseason aiming to become the fourth team ever to advance to three consecutive Super Bowls, joining Miami (1971-73), Buffalo (1990-93) and New England (2016-18).
Quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES is expected to make his ninth-career postseason start, having surpassed 250 passing yards in each of his previous eight playoff starts. With at least 250 passing yards against Pittsburgh on Sunday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC/Telemundo/Peacock), Mahomes will tie DREW BREES (nine consecutive games from Feb. 7, 2010 to Jan. 13, 2019) for the second-most consecutive postseason games with at least 250 passing yards NFL history. Only TOM BRADY (12 from Feb. 1, 2015 to Feb. 3, 2019) has more.
The players with at least 250 passing yards in the most consecutive postseason games in NFL history:
|Tom Brady||New England||12 (Feb. 1, 2015 – Feb. 3, 2019)|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||9 (Feb. 7, 2010 – Jan. 13, 2019)|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||8* (Jan. 12, 2019 – Feb. 7, 2021)|
Mahomes has guided the Chiefs to a playoff win each of the past three years and with a victory on Sunday night will become the fourth quarterback ever to win at least one postseason game in four of his first five seasons, joining JOE FLACCO, DONOVAN MCNABB and RUSSELL WILSON.
Mahomes could also become the sixth quarterback with at least one victory in each of his first four postseason appearances.
Tight end TRAVIS KELCE surpassed 100 receiving yards in each of Kansas City’s three playoff games last season and can join ANTONIO BROWN (four consecutive games from Jan. 3, 2015 to Jan. 15, 2017) and LARRY FITZGERALD (four consecutive games from Jan. 3, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2009) as the only players ever to record at least 100 receiving yards in four consecutive postseason games.
In his career, Kelce has recorded at least 100 receiving yards in six postseason games, tied for the second-most ever. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (eight games) has more.
The players with the most 100-yard receiving games in NFL postseason history:
|PLAYER||TEAM(S)||GAMES WITH 100+ REC. YARDS|
|Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco, Oakland Raiders||8|
|Julian Edelman||New England||6|
|Travis Kelce||Kansas City||6|
Kelce also recorded at least 10 receptions in both the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LV last year and can become the first player ever to register at least 10 catches in three consecutive postseason games and the first player in postseason history to record four games with at least 10 receptions.
Kelce has 992 receiving yards in 12 career postseason games and can join ROB GRONKOWSKI (1,273 receiving yards) as the only tight ends with at least 1,000 receiving yards in postseason history.
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
TOP OF THE CHARTS: The BUFFALO BILLS finished the regular season with the top-ranked scoring defense (17.0 points per game allowed), while the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ranked second (17.8 points per game allowed).
After splitting their regular-season series, the teams will meet for a third time on Saturday night in Buffalo (8:15 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+). Since 2000, this will mark the sixth postseason matchup to feature the top-two scoring defenses.
The playoff games to feature the top-two scoring defenses since 2000:
|NO. 1 DEFENSE||NO. 2 DEFENSE||SEASON||ROUND||RESULT|
|Buffalo||New England||2021||AFC Wild Card||???|
|Pittsburgh||Green Bay||2010||Super Bowl XLV||GB 31, PIT 25|
|Pittsburgh||New England||2004||AFC Championship||NE 41, PIT 27|
|Tampa Bay||Philadelphia||2002||NFC Championship||TB 27, PHI 10|
|Chicago||Philadelphia||2001||NFC Divisional||PHI 33, CHI 19|
|Baltimore||Tennessee||2000||AFC Divisional||BAL 24, TEN 10|
If New England rookie quarterback MAC JONES makes the start on Saturday, he would become the third rookie quarterback to start a playoff game against the top-ranked scoring defense in the Super Bowl era, joining JOE FLACCO (2008 AFC Championship Game) and ROBERT GRIFFIN III (2012 NFC Wild Card round).
The rookie quarterbacks to start a postseason game against the top-ranked scoring defense in the Super Bowl era:
|Mac Jones*||New England||2021||AFC Wild Card||at Buffalo||???|
|Robert Griffin III||Washington||2012||NFC Wild Card||Seattle||SEA 24, WAS 14|
|Joe Flacco||Baltimore||2008||AFC Championship||at Pittsburgh||PIT 23, BAL 14|
|*Expected to start|
The Bills led the league in point differential (+194) while the Patriots ranked third (+159). The meeting between Buffalo and New England marks the first Wild Card game since 1978 and third postseason game since 1970 to occur in the first round of the playoffs to feature two teams that each had a +150-point differential.
The first-round playoff meetings between clubs each with a +150-point differential since 1970:
|HOME TEAM||AWAY TEAM||SEASON||ROUND||RESULT|
|Buffalo (+194)||New England (+159)||2021||AFC Wild Card||???|
|Baltimore Colts (+171)||Pittsburgh (+204)||1976||AFC Divisional||PIT 40, BAL 14|
|Dallas (+179)||L.A. Rams (+210)||1973||NFC Divisional||DAL 27, LAR 16|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
MONDAY NIGHT HISTORY: When the LOS ANGELES RAMS host the ARIZONA CARDINALS on Monday night, (8:15 PM ET, (ESPN/ABC/ESPN2/ESPN+/ESPN Deportes), it will mark the fifth postseason game played on a Monday in the Super Bowl era and first since the 1988 season. Each of the previous three games have also featured the Rams.
The Monday playoff games in the Super Bowl era:
|2021 NFC Wild Card||Jan. 17, 2022||Arizona at L.A. Rams||???|
|1988 NFC Wild Card||Dec. 26, 1988||L.A. Rams at Minnesota||MIN 28, LAR 17|
|1983 NFC Wild Card||Dec. 26, 1983||L.A. Rams at Dallas||LAR 24, DAL 17|
|1977 NFC Divisional||Dec. 26, 1977||Minnesota at L.A. Rams||MIN 14, LAR 7|
|1977 NFC Divisional||Dec, 26, 1977||Chicago at Dallas||DAL 37, CHI 7|
Each team enters the game with a starting quarterback that was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. Arizona’s KYLER MURRAY was selected first overall in 2019 and Los Angeles’ MATTHEW STAFFORD was chosen with the first pick by Detroit in 2009. Monday’s meeting will mark the fourth-ever first-round playoff game featuring two starting quarterbacks each selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft.
The first-round postseason games featuring two starting quarterbacks each selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft:
|DATE||GAME||QUARTERBACKS (DRAFT YEARS)||RESULT|
|Jan. 17, 2022||Arizona at L.A. Rams||Kyler Murray (2019) & Matthew Stafford (2009)||???|
|Jan. 4, 2014||Kansas City at Indianapolis||Alex Smith (2005) & Andrew Luck (2012)||IND 45, KC 44|
|Jan. 9, 2000||Dallas at Minnesota||Troy AikmanHOF (1989) & Jeff George (1990)||MIN 27, DAL 10|
|Jan. 1, 1995||New England at Cleveland||Drew Bledsoe (1993) & Vinny Testaverde (1987)||CLE 20, NE 13|
Stafford will be making his fourth-career postseason start (first with Los Angeles), while Murray will be making his postseason debut. With a victory, Murray would become the fourth quarterback that was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to win his first career postseason start since 2000.
The quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to win their first career postseason start since 2000:
|PLAYER (DRAFT YEAR)||TEAM||FIRST POSTSEASON START|
|Baker Mayfield (2018)||Cleveland||2020 AFC Wild Card at Pittsburgh|
|Alex Smith (2005)||San Francisco||2011 NFC Divisional vs. New Orleans|
|Michael Vick (2000)||Atlanta||2002 NFC Wild Card at Green Bay|
With Arizona’s KLIFF KINGSBURY (42 years old) and Los Angeles’ SEAN MCVAY (35), Monday’s game will also feature the fourth-youngest combined age between two opposing head coaches in a postseason game since 1970.
The youngest combined age of head coaches in postseason games since 1970:
|1970 Divisional||Miami at Oakland Raiders||Don ShulaHOF & John MaddenHOF||75 years, 253 days|
|2020 Divisional||L.A. Rams at Green Bay||Sean McVay & Matt LaFleur||76 years, 67 days|
|1972 Divisional||Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh||John MaddenHOF & Chuck NollHOF||77 years, 245 days|
|2021 Wild Card||Arizona at L.A. Rams||Kliff Kingsbury & Sean McVay||78 years, 154 days|
Arizona running back JAMES CONNER rushed for two touchdowns in each of the two meetings against the Rams this season. With two rushing touchdowns on Monday, he would become the first player ever to record two rushing touchdowns against one team, three times in a single season.
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
HEY, ROOKIE: Several top rookies from the 2021 season are expected to make their postseason debuts this weekend.
New England quarterback MAC JONES led all rookies in completion percentage (67.6), passing yards (3,801), touchdown passes (22) and passer rating (92.5). He is bidding to become just the fourth rookie quarterback since 2000 and first since RUSSELL WILSON in 2012 to go on the road and win his first NFL postseason start.
Jones became the third rookie quarterback to ever win six regular-season road games, joining DAK PRESCOTT (2016) and BEN ROETHLISBERGER (2004). With a victory at Buffalo on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, CBS, Paramount+), Jones would join JOE FLACCO (seven road wins in 2008) as the only rookie quarterbacks ever to win seven road games, including the postseason.
Jones surpassed 250 passing yards in seven games this season, the most among all rookies.
The rookies with the most passing yards ever in their first career postseason start:
|Dak Prescott||Dallas||2016 NFC Divisional vs. Green Bay||302|
|Andrew Luck||Indianapolis||2012 AFC Wild Card at Baltimore||288|
|Andy Dalton||Cincinnati||2011 AFC Wild Card at Houston||257|
Cincinnati wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE is making his postseason debut against Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon (4:35 PM ET, NBC/Peacock/Universo). Chase ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,455 receiving yards this season, the most-ever by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
He surpassed 100 receiving yards in five games and became the first rookie ever and the fifth player in the Super Bowl era to record multiple games with at least 200 receiving yards in a single season. Philadelphia’s DEVONTA SMITH (935 receiving yards this season) is also expected to make his postseason debut this weekend at Tampa Bay.
The rookies with the most receiving yards ever in their first career postseason game:
|DK Metcalf||Seattle||2019 NFC Wild Card at Philadelphia||160|
|Jeremy Maclin||Philadelphia||2009 NFC Wild Card at Dallas||146|
|Keith Jackson||Philadelphia||1988 NFC Divisional at Chicago||142|
Pittsburgh running back NAJEE HARRIS is making his postseason debut on Sunday night at Kansas City (8:15 PM ET, NBC/Telemundo/Peacock). During the regular season, Harris led all rookies and ranked fourth in the league with 1,667 scrimmage yards (1,200 rushing, 467 receiving). He surpassed 100 scrimmage yards in nine games, including in Week 16 against the Chiefs (110 scrimmage yards).
The rookies with the most scrimmage yards ever in their first career postseason game:
|Billy Cannon||Houston Oilers||1960 AFL Championship||178|
|Cam Akers||L.A. Rams||2020 NFC Wild Card at Seattle||176|
|Paul Lowe||L.A. Chargers||1960 AFL Championship||170|
San Francisco rookie running back ELIJAH MITCHELL (963 rushing yards this season) and New England rookie running back RHAMONDRE STEVENSON (606) are also each expected to make their postseason debuts this weekend. In last year’s postseason, Los Angeles Rams running back CAM AKERS (131 rushing yards against Seattle in the Wild Card round) was the only rookie to surpass 100 rushing yards in a game.
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —