By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Below are my Divisional Round 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.
Super Wildcard Weekend Straight-Up Record: 6-0 (50%)
Super Wildcard Weekend Against The Spread Record: 5-1 (83%)
2021 Season Straight-Up: 157-91 (63%)
2021 Season Against The Spread: 137-111 (55%)
2020 Season Prediction Record Straight-Up: 181-88 (67%)
The Divisional playoff schedule:
Saturday, January 22
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) at Tennessee Titans (12-5) (CBS/Paramount+)
V-Picks: Titans -4; Tennessee wins
VFLs: LS Morgan Cox (Titans)
NFC: 8:15 PM (ET) San Francisco 49ers (11-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-4) (FOX/FOX Deportes)
V-Picks: Packers -5.5; Green Bay wins
VFLs: WR Jauan Jennings (49ers) & CB Emmanuel Moseley (49ers)
Sunday, January 23
NFC: 3:00 PM (ET) Los Angeles Rams (13-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) (NBC/Peacock/Universo)
V-Picks: Buccaneers -3; Tampa Bay wins
AFC: 6:40 PM (ET) Buffalo Bills (12-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) (CBS/Paramount+)
V-Picks: Bills +1.5; Buffalo wins
VFLs: OG Trey Smith (Chiefs)
FANTASTIC FOOTBALL WEEKEND ON TAP AS NFL REACHES DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Is there a better weekend every year in the National Football League?
This year’s NFL Divisional Playoffs might be the best yet, with a recipe to satisfy every palate.
As an appetizer, how about a game filled with compelling reasons why the league’s future is brighter than it’s ever been? The CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-7) travel to meet the TENNESSEE TITANS (12-5) on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+) in a contest that could include the return of running back DERRICK HENRY, only the third player since the league merger to lead the NFL in rushing yards per game for three straight seasons (minimum eight games each season). On the opposite sideline, 25-year-old JOE BURROW had two touchdown passes with a 110.4 rating in his first career postseason start and 21-year-old JA’MARR CHASE, who compiled the most receiving yards by a rookie in the Super Bowl era (1,455), had 116 receiving yards in his playoff debut last week as the Bengals’ earned their first postseason win in 31 years.
For a Saturday nightcap, how about a taste of NFL teams that have met most frequently in the playoffs over the last 26 years? The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (11-7) and GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-4) will match up that night (8:15 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes) at Lambeau Field, where the early forecast calls for kickoff temperatures of 13 degrees and dropping to single digits during the second half. The dynamic 49ers feature one of the game’s most electrifying players in DEEBO SAMUEL, who last week became the second wide receiver to post 50-or-more rushing yards (72) and at least one rushing touchdown (one) in a postseason game since 1950, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer JAMES LOFTON. Consistently dangerous Green Bay, which earned the NFC’s only first-round bye as its No. 1 seed, became the first team in NFL history to reach 13 regular-season wins in three consecutive seasons.
Over brunch on Sunday, savor this: The NFC home teams this weekend, Green Bay and AARON RODGERS and Tampa Bay and TOM BRADY, feature quarterbacks who have combined for six league MVP awards and six Super Bowl MVP honors. Then, when those TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (14-4) host the LOS ANGELES RAMS (13-5) on Sunday afternoon (3:00 PM, NBC/Peacock/Universo), be sure to enjoy a matchup of two of the league’s top-five passing offenses, the Buccaneers (307.6 passing yards per game, first) and the Rams (273.1, fifth).
And for the main course, get ready for the BUFFALO BILLS (12-6) and KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-5) at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night (6:40 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+). For the first time ever in a single postseason, multiple players have thrown for at least five touchdown passes in a game, and both games took place last week. Those two players – Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN and Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES – will square off to conclude the weekend. During the regular season, Buffalo’s offense ranked third in the NFL with 28.4 points per game while Kansas City ranked fourth with 28.2.
The NFL has reached the Divisional stage of the 2021 playoffs, and the menu is set. What’s your order?
FROM LAST PLACE TO CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP: This week, the CINCINNATI BENGALS are bidding to become the fourth team in 13 seasons to advance to a conference Championship Game the year after finishing last or tied for last in their division. With a win on Saturday at Tennessee (4:30 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+), Cincinnati would join the 2017 Jaguars and two clubs that won the Super Bowl, the 2017 Eagles and 2009 Saints, to follow a last-place season with a berth in their conference Championship Game. Cincinnati completed the “worst-to-first” turnaround, winning the AFC North this season after finishing in last place in 2020. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 17 of the past 19 seasons (2003-21).
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ASPIRATIONS: With Cincinnati playing for a berth in the AFC Championship Game, approximately 60 percent of the league (19 of 32 teams) will have played for a berth in a conference Championship Game the past four seasons (2018-21).
CHIEFS EYE FOURTH STRAIGHT BERTH IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, PACKERS THIRD: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, who host Buffalo on Sunday night (6:40 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+), have hosted three consecutive AFC Championship Games (2018-20). Should the Bengals defeat the No. 1-seed Titans on Saturday and the Chiefs win Sunday, Kansas City would become the first team in NFL history to host a conference Championship Game in four straight seasons, and the seventh to play in the game in four consecutive years.
The most consecutive Championship Game appearances since the 1970 league merger:
|New England Patriots||2011-18||8|
Meanwhile, the No. 1-seed GREEN BAY PACKERS with a win against the 49ers on Saturday (8:15 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), would become the first NFC team since San Francisco from 2011-13 to advance to three consecutive NFC Championship Games.
SIX SEEDS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL: A No. 6 seed in the NFL playoffs has now advanced to the Divisional round in five straight seasons (2017-21) and seven of the past eight. The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS joined that group with last week’s win.
- Since the 2005 Steelers won Super Bowl XL, six teams have advanced to their conference Championship Games as a No. 6 seed, including the 2008 Eagles, 2008 Ravens, 2010 Jets, 2019 Titans and Super Bowl XLV champion Packers in 2010. San Francisco looks to become the seventh.
THE CONFERENCE FINALIST SPRINGBOARD: History may shine on Buffalo and Green Bay this weekend. Each of those teams lost its conference Championship Game last year. Over the past quarter century, losing in the Championship Game has often resulted in good fortune the following season. Since Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG and the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS lost in the 1993 NFC Championship before winning Super Bowl XXIX, 12 teams in that span have advanced to the Super Bowl the year after losing a Championship Game. That list includes the 2019 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, who topped the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV two years ago.
SUPER BOWL HARBINGERS: The BUFFALO BILLS and KANSAS CITY CHIEFS wrap up the Divisional round on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium (6:40 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+). The Bills and Chiefs have each won two of their four all-time postseason meetings. The winner of each of those four meetings has gone on to the Super Bowl: Kansas City in 1966 and 2020 and Buffalo in 1991 and 1993.
- The GREEN BAY PACKERS and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, who match up on Saturday night at Lambeau Field (8:15 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), have met eight times in the playoffs, all since the 1995 season. The winner of a Green Bay-San Francisco playoff game has advanced to the Super Bowl four times.
- Including their 23-17 win at AT&T Stadium in the Wild Card round last week, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS have now played the DALLAS COWBOYS in the postseason seven times. The last last four winners of a San Francisco-Dallas playoff game have advanced to win the Super Bowl. Overall, in six of their seven playoff matchups, the winner has earned a berth in the Super Bowl, including five total Super Bowl victories.
A look at the four games in the Divisional round of the 2021 NFL playoffs:
CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-7) at TENNESSEE TITANS (12-5)
Saturday, CBS/Paramount+, 4:30 PM ET
- Last week, the Bengals earned their first postseason victory since the 1990 season, when they defeated the Houston Oilers in an AFC Wild Card game at Riverfront Stadium. That meeting with the Oilers, who relocated to Tennessee in 1997, marks the only postseason matchup between the franchises prior to Saturday.
- In 2021, the Bengals tied for seventh in the NFL by scoring 27.1 points per game. The Titans finished sixth in the league in scoring defense, allowing 20.8 points per game.
- Tennessee, the AFC’s No. 1 seed, earned a first-round bye after winning the AFC South for the second straight season. The Titans’ 12 regular-season wins were their most since winning 13 in 2008.
- In the Wild Card win last week, Cincinnati quarterback JOE BURROW completed 24 of 34 attempts (70.6 percent) for 244 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 110.4 passer rating. Burrow became the third quarterback in the last 30 years to complete at least 70 percent of his passes and post a rating of 100-or-higher in his first NFL postseason start, joining DREW BREES and Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER.
- Also last week, Bengals wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE had nine receptions for 116 receiving yards, breaking the single-game franchise postseason record held by CRIS COLLINSWORTH (107 receiving yards in Super Bowl XVI).
- The Titans overcame adversity to secure homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2008. Tennessee became the first team to earn its conference’s top seed without a 1,000-yard rusher or 1,000-yard receiver since the 2017 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, three of the last four teams to earn their conference’s top seed without a 1,000-yard rusher or 1,000-yard receiver have won the Super Bowl, including the 2003 New England Patriots and 1996 Green Bay Packers.
- Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL, who has guided the Titans to consecutive AFC South division titles (2020-21), is set to make his fifth career postseason start. He recorded 3,734 passing yards and 21 touchdown passes in 2021 and is the only quarterback with at least seven rushing touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
- Running back DERRICK HENRY is hopeful to return from an injury that has sidelined him since Week 8. Henry still led NFL players with 117.1 rushing yards per game (937 rushing yards, eight games) for a third consecutive season. Since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978, Henry is one of three players to have led the league in rushing yards per game in three straight seasons (minimum eight games played each year), joining Pro Football Hall of Famer EARL CAMPBELL (1978-80) and EZEKIEL ELLIOTT (2016-18).
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (11-7) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-4)
Saturday, FOX/FOX Deportes, 8:15 PM ET
- San Francisco and Green Bay are meeting in the playoffs for a ninth time, all in the last 26 years. Since the Packers defeated the 49ers at Candlestick Park in the 1995 postseason, no other pairings have met more than five times in the playoffs. Green Bay and San Francisco have split their eight playoff games, 4-4. The winner of a 49ers-Packers playoff game has gone on to the Super Bowl on four occasions: 1996, 1997, 2012 and 2019.
- The franchises have combined for nine Super Bowl titles and 18 NFL championships.
- They also own two of the top three postseason records in NFL history. The New England Patriots (37-22, .627) have the best postseason winning percentage in NFL history, while the 49ers (33-21, .611) and Packers (36-24, .600), rank second and third, respectively. The Packers (36) with a win on Saturday would match the Patriots (37) for the most postseason victories in league annals.
- Green Bay’s MATT LAFLEUR is the first individual since the league merger in 1970 to win at least 13 games in each of his first three years as an NFL head coach. With a win on Saturday, LaFleur would join JIM HARBAUGH as the only individuals since the league merger in 1970 to lead teams to their conference Championship Games in each of their first three seasons as an NFL head coach.
- LaFleur and 49ers head coach KYLE SHANAHAN have served on the same NFL staffs for eight total seasons.
- Shanahan, including a 1-0 record against the Packers (2019 NFC Championship Game), is 3-1 career in the postseason, with his only loss coming in Super Bowl LIV.
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS, who is expected to make his 21st career playoff start in the Divisional round, can tie Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN ELWAY (21 starts) for the sixth-most in NFL history. Rodgers led the NFL with a 111.9 passer rating and became the fourth quarterback since 1970 to lead the league in the category in at least four different seasons. In 20 career postseason starts, he has 5,669 passing yards (283.4 per game) with 49 touchdowns (45 passing, four rushing) and 13 interceptions for a 100.5 rating. Rodgers earned Super Bowl MVP honors when he led the Packers to a Super Bowl XLV championship in 2010.
- Rodgers, who grew up a 49ers fan and played college football in the Bay Area at the University of California, is 3-1 in the Divisional round following a first-round bye. Rodgers is 6-3 in the regular season against the 49ers, including a Week 3 victory at Levi’s Stadium this season, and 0-3 in the postseason.
- Green Bay wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS, who had 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ Week 3 win at San Francisco, ranked second in the league this season with 123 receptions, third with 1,553 receiving yards and fifth with 11 touchdown catches. Since 2016, Adams leads all NFL players in both receptions (581) and touchdown catches (69).
- San Francisco’s JIMMY GAROPPOLO is 3-1 career as a starting quarterback in the postseason.
- In last week’s Wild Card win at Dallas, 49ers wide receiver DEEBO SAMUEL had 110 scrimmage yards (72 rushing, 38 receiving) and a rushing touchdown. Over his last nine games, including the Wild Card victory, Samuel has averaged 6.6 yards per carry and scored 10 scrimmage touchdowns (eight rushing, two receiving).
LOS ANGELES RAMS (13-5) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (14-4)
Sunday, NBC/Peacock/Universo, 3:00 PM ET
- The NFC’s Super Bowl team has come from the NFC West or NFC South in eight of the past nine seasons, including appearances by the Rams in 2018 and Buccaneers last season.
- Tampa Bay has scored at least 30 points in five consecutive postseason games, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only the 2009-11 New Orleans Saints (six) had a longer streak, a stretch the Buccaneers can match on Sunday.
- The Rams have defeated the Buccaneers in both of their two all-time playoff meetings, each by unique scores. In their last meeting, the 1999 NFC Championship, Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER threw a 30-yard touchdown to RICKY PROEHL with less than five minutes remaining to help the Rams to an 11-6 win. The team went on to win Super Bowl XXXIV. In their first meeting, the Rams earned a 9-0 victory in the 1979 NFC title game before losing to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.
- Los Angeles also has won each of the past two regular-season meetings against Brady and the Bucs, including a 34-24 victory at SoFi Stadium in Week 3 this season. Last year, Los Angeles traveled to Raymond James Stadium and won, 27-24.
- While the Rams have been successful in the postseason against the Bucs, Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY has personally been successful against the Rams. Brady defeated the Rams in two of his Super Bowls with the Patriots, in 2001 and 2018. Only four other quarterbacks in NFL history have defeated the same opponent in multiple Super Bowls, including ELI MANNING and Pro Football Hall of Famers TROY AIKMAN, TERRY BRADSHAW and JOE MONTANA.
- With last week’s win on Super Wild Card Weekend, Brady became the second starting quarterback in NFL history to lead multiple franchises to at least five postseason wins, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING.
- In Tampa Bay’s Wild Card victory last week, wide receiver MIKE EVANS had nine receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Evans established an NFL record this season by reaching 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first eight seasons.
- Brady (43) and Los Angeles quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD (41) ranked first and second, respectively, in touchdown passes this season.
- Last week, Stafford threw two touchdown passes to lead the Rams to a 34-11 Wild Card victory over Arizona.
- Rams wide receiver ODELL BECKHAM JR. had four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown, and also completed a 40-yard pass to running back CAM AKERS. Beckham became the first player in the Super Bowl era to complete a pass of at least 40 yards and catch a touchdown in the same postseason game.
- In the Wild Card win, Los Angeles cornerback DAVID LONG returned an interception 3 yards for a touchdown, the shortest interception returned for a score in NFL postseason history.
- Last week, Rams linebacker VON MILLER recorded his first postseason sack since earning MVP honors in Super Bowl 50 with Denver to conclude the 2015 season.
BUFFALO BILLS (12-6) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-5)
Sunday, CBS/Paramount+, 6:40 PM ET
- Buffalo and Kansas City meet in a rematch of the 2020 AFC Championship, won by the Chiefs, 38-24. Each franchise has four Super Bowl appearances.
- Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES and Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, who each threw five touchdowns last week, combined to make the 2021 playoffs the first postseason ever in which multiple players threw five-or-more touchdowns in a game.
- Buffalo advanced last week with a 47-17 victory over New England, who had allowed the NFL’s second-fewest points per game (17.8) during the regular season. The last team to score 47-or-more points in a postseason game against an opponent that had allowed fewer than 18 points per game during the regular season was the 1992 Dallas Cowboys, who defeated Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII.
- In last week’s win, the Bills scored touchdowns on each of their first seven possessions, becoming the first team to accomplish that feat in any NFL game since the Patriots did it in Week 11 of the 2007 season.
- The Chiefs have won six of their past seven postseason games, with their only loss in Super Bowl LV.
- Since Allen entered the league as Buffalo’s first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, he ranks third with 10 postseason touchdown passes, trailing only Mahomes (22) and TOM BRADY (14).
- Last week, Mahomes completed 30 of 39 attempts (76.9 percent) for 404 yards and five touchdowns with one interception for a 138.2 rating. He joined DARYLE LAMONICA and Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER as the only players ever to throw for five-or-more touchdowns in multiple postseason games. Mahomes also threw five touchdowns in a 2019 Divisional-round win vs. the Texans.
- Chiefs tight end TRAVIS KELCE, who had five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in last week’s Wild Card win, can establish an NFL postseason record by reaching 100 yards again this week. Kelce enters with four straight postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards, tied with LARRY FITZGERALD (2018) and ANTONIO BROWN (2014-16) for the longest streak in league annals.
- Kelce also threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver BYRON PRINGLE and became the first player in NFL history with a touchdown pass, touchdown reception and at least 100 receiving yards in a postseason game.
- Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, who during the regular season became the first quarterback in NFL history to surpass both 4,000 passing yards and 750 rushing yards in the same season, has led the Bills to wins in three of their last four playoff games.
- Last week, Allen completed 21 of 25 attempts (84.0 percent) for 308 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 157.6 rating. He also added 66 rushing yards. Allen became the third player in NFL history to throw five-or-more touchdowns with no interceptions and fewer than five incompletions in a postseason game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers PEYTON MANNING (2003) and KURT WARNER (2009).
PLAYOFF TITANS: After securing the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2008, the TENNESSEE TITANS (12-5) will be making their 2021 postseason debut when they host the CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-7) on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+).
Running back DERRICK HENRY is expected to return to the field for the first time since Week 8. In eight games this season, he totaled 937 rushing yards (league-best 117.1 per game) and 10 rushing touchdowns. He is the only player in the league with at least 10 rushing touchdowns in each of the past four seasons.
In three of Henry’s six career postseason games, he has surpassed 150 rushing yards. His three career postseason games with at least 150 rushing yards are the second-most in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (four games).
Henry is also one of three players all-time with at least 200 scrimmage yards in multiple postseason games, along with Pro Football Hall of Famers MARCUS ALLEN (two games) and THURMAN THOMAS (two).
In his postseason career, Henry has totaled 758 scrimmage yards (670 rushing, 88 receiving) and three rushing touchdowns. His 111.7 rushing yards per game in the postseason are the second-most since 1970, minimum five games played.
The players with the most rushing yards per game in the postseason since 1970, minimum five games played:
|PLAYER||TEAM||RUSHING YARDS PER GAME|
Tennessee wide receiver JULIO JONES is expected to appear in his ninth-career postseason game this weekend, and first as a Titan. In each of his previous eight playoff games, all with Atlanta, Jones surpassed 50 receiving yards.
With at least 50 receiving yards on Saturday, Jones will become the fifth player ever to record at least 50 receiving yards in nine consecutive postseason games. He can also join WES WELKER as the only players to surpass 50 receiving yards in each of their first nine career postseason games.
The players with at least 50 receiving yards in the most consecutive postseason games in NFL history:
|Julian Edelman||New England||13 (Jan. 11, 2014 – Feb. 3, 2019)|
|Gary Clark||Washington||10 (Jan. 10, 1988 – Jan. 9, 1993)|
|Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco||10 (Jan. 1, 1989 – Jan. 17, 1993)|
|Wes Welker||New England||9 (Jan. 12, 2008 – Jan. 20, 2013)|
|Julio Jones||Atlanta||8* (Jan. 8, 2012 – Jan. 13, 2018)|
— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —
BENGALS BREAKING THROUGH: Last week, the CINCINNATI BENGALS earned their first postseason victory since 1990 and on Saturday, will be looking to advance to their first AFC Championship Game since the 1988 season.
In their Wild Card victory, quarterback JOE BURROW completed 24 of 34 attempts (70.6 percent) for 244 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 110.4 rating in his postseason debut.
Burrow’s top target was rookie wide receiver JA’MARR CHASE, who recorded nine receptions for 116 receiving yards. It marked his sixth game this season with at least 100 receiving yards.
With at least 100 receiving yards on Saturday, Chase can become the first rookie in NFL history to record at least 100 receiving yards in multiple postseason games.
Defensive end TREY HENDRICKSON recorded a sack and forced fumble in last week’s victory. It marked his 13th game this season in which he had a full sack. With a sack on Saturday, he can become the third player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to record a sack in 14 games within a season, including the postseason.
The players with the most games with a sack in a season since 1982, including the postseason:
|*Entering Divisional Round|
— DIVISONAL PLAYOFFS —
POSTSEASON HEAVYWEIGHTS MEET: When the GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-4) host the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (11-7) on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), two of the most successful postseason teams in league history will meet.
San Francisco has a 33-21 (.611) all-time postseason record, the second-highest postseason winning percentage in NFL history. Green Bay ranks third with a .600 (36-24) postseason winning percentage.
The teams with the highest postseason winning percentages:
|New England Patriots||37||22||.627|
|San Francisco 49ers||33||21||.611|
|Green Bay Packers||36||24||.600|
Additionally, both teams rank among the top-five in all-time postseason wins. With a victory this weekend, the Packers (36 wins) will tie the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (37) for the most postseason wins ever.
The teams with the most postseason wins:
|TEAM||WINS||SUPER BOWL TITLES|
Green Bay head coach MATT LAFLEUR can join JIM HARBAUGH as the only individuals since the league merger in 1970 to lead teams to their conference Championship Games in each of their first three seasons as an NFL head coach.
Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS led the league this season with a 111.9 passer rating and ranked tied for fourth with 37 touchdown passes. In 21 career postseason games, Rodgers has posted a 100.5 rating with 45 touchdown passes, tied for the second-most in NFL history.
With a touchdown pass on Saturday night, Rodgers will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA (45 touchdown passes) for the second-most postseason touchdown passes in league history. Only TOM BRADY (85) has more.
The quarterbacks with the most postseason touchdown passes in NFL history:
|Tom Brady*||New England, Tampa Bay||85|
|Joe MontanaHOF||San Francisco, Kansas City||45|
|Aaron Rodgers*||Green Bay||45|
|*Active in 2021 postseason|
Dating back to the 2015 playoffs, Rodgers has recorded at least two touchdown passes in nine consecutive postseason games, the longest streak in NFL history.
Rodgers’ top target this season has been wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS, who ranked second in the NFL with 123 receptions, third with 1,553 receiving yards and fifth with 11 touchdown receptions. In 10 career postseason games, Adams has recorded 63 receptions for 820 yards (82 per game) and eight touchdown receptions.
Dating back to the 2019 postseason, Adams has recorded at least eight catches in each of his past four postseason games. With at least eight catches on Saturday night, Adams will become the second player ever to record at least eight receptions in five consecutive postseason games, joining JULIAN EDELMAN (five consecutive postseason games from 2013-15).
— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —
PASSING LEADERS SQUARE OFF: When the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (14-4) host the LOS ANGELES RAMS (13-5) on Sunday (3:00 PM ET, NBC/Peacock/Universo), it will mark a meeting of the top-two leaders in touchdown passes this season.
Tampa Bay’s TOM BRADY led the league with 43 touchdown passes, becoming the second player ever with three career seasons with at least 40 touchdown passes. Los Angeles’ MATTHEW STAFFORD tied a franchise record with a career-high 41 touchdown passes this season.
Sunday’s matchup will mark the third postseason game ever featuring two starting quarterbacks that each recorded at least 40 touchdown passes in the regular season. Both of the previous two games also featured either Brady or Stafford.
The postseason games featuring starting quarterbacks that each recorded at least 40 touchdown passes in the regular season in NFL history:
|DATE||GAME||QUARTERBACKS (REG. SEASON TD PASSES)||RESULT|
|Jan. 23, 2022||L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay||Matthew Stafford (41) & Tom Brady (43)||???|
|Jan. 24, 2021||Tampa Bay at Green Bay||Tom Brady (40) & Aaron Rodgers (48)||TB 31, GB 26|
|Jan. 7, 2012||Detroit at New Orleans||Matthew Stafford (41) & Drew Brees (46)||NO 45, DET 28|
With their 31-15 victory over Philadelphia last week, Tampa Bay has now scored at least 30 points in five consecutive postseason games, tied for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. With at least 30 points on Sunday, the Buccaneers will become the second team ever to score at least 30 points in six consecutive postseason games, joining the NEW ORELANS SAINTS (Jan. 16, 2010 – Jan. 14, 2012).
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||5* (Jan. 9, 2021 – Jan. 16, 2022)|
— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —
ALLEN, MAHOMES MEET AGAIN: The Divisional Playoffs conclude with a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game, as the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (13-5) host the BUFFALO BILLS (12-6) on Sunday night (6:40 PM ET, CBS/Paramount+).
Quarterbacks PATRICK MAHOMES and JOSH ALLEN, who each recorded five touchdown passes last week, will be the fourth pair of starting quarterbacks to have multiple playoff meetings within their first five seasons in NFL history.
The pairs of quarterbacks to meet in multiple playoff meetings within their first five seasons in NFL history:
|Josh Allen (Buffalo) & Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City)||2020 AFC Champ., 2021 AFC Divisional*|
|Cam Newton (Carolina) & Russell Wilson (Seattle)||2014 NFC Divisional, 2015 NFC Divisional|
|John ElwayHOF (Denver) & Bernie Kosar (Cleveland)||1986 AFC Champ., 1987 AFC Champ.|
|Dan MarinoHOF (Miami) & Dave Krieg (Seattle)||1983 AFC Divisional, 1984 AFC Divisional|
In nine career postseason starts, Mahomes has totaled 2,728 passing yards (303.1 per game) and 22 touchdown passes with a 105.1 rating. With two touchdown passes on Sunday, Mahomes will surpass DREW BREES (23 touchdown passes) and Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (23) for the most ever by a quarterback in his first 10 postseason starts.
The players with the most touchdown passes in their first 10 career postseason games in NFL history:
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans||23|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams, Arizona||23|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||22*|
|*In nine career postseason games|
In last week’s victory, Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE recorded five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, marking his fourth-consecutive postseason game with at least 100 receiving yards. Kelce can become the first player ever to record at least 100 receiving yards in five consecutive postseason games.
In total, Kelce has seven career postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards, the second-most ever. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (eight games) has more.
Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL recorded 57 receiving yards and a touchdown reception last week and in 11 career postseason games, has totaled 853 receiving yards (77.5 per game).
Kelce and Hill have combined for 1,802 postseason receiving yards, the sixth-most ever among teammates.
The teammates with the most combined receiving yards in NFL postseason history:
|PLAYERS||TEAM||COMBINED REC. YARDS|
|Brent Jones & Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco||2,338|
|Jerry RiceHOF & John Taylor||San Francisco||2,297|
|Dallas Clark & Reggie WayneHOF||Indianapolis||1,957|
|Andre ReedHOF & Thurman ThomasHOF||Buffalo||1,901|
|Michael IrvinHOF & Jay Novacek||Dallas||1,803|
|Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce||Kansas City||1,802|
— DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS —