By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Below is the game schedule with my NFL Playoff Super Wildcard Weekend game predictions. Winners straight-up are in bold. The line is my pick against the spread.
You’ll also see 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. We’ll break down all these games, review what’s happened, share injury news, fantasy advice and more. You can call or text the show at 865-656-9900.
2022 Week 18 Straight-Up: 11-5 (69%)
2022 Week 18 Against The Spread: 9-7 (56%)
2022 Season Straight-Up: 154-87 (68%)
2022 Season Against The Spread: 143-128 (53%)
2021 Season Straight-Up: 158-97 (62%)
2021 Season Against The Spread: 140-115 (55%)
NFL SUPER WILDCARD WEEKEND SCHEDULE & MY PREDICTIONS
The NFL playoffs begin with Super Wild Card Weekend presented by Verizon (January 14-16), which for the second-consecutive year will conclude with a Monday night game.
The NFL Super Wild Card Weekend schedule:
(All times Eastern) BOLD = Straight-up winner / ( ) = vs. the spread winner
|Saturday, January 14|
|NFC||Seattle at San Francisco (-9.5)||4:30 PM ET||FOX, FOX Deportes|
|AFC||(-2.5) LA Chargers at Jacksonville||8:15 PM ET||NBC, Peacock, Universo|
Sunday, January 15
|AFC||Miami at Buffalo (-13.5)||1:00 PM ET||CBS, Paramount+|
|NFC||(+3) New York Giants at Minnesota||4:30 PM ET||FOX, FOX Deportes|
|AFC||Baltimore at Cincinnati (-8.5)||8:15 PM ET||NBC, Peacock, Telemundo|
Monday, January 16
|NFC||Dallas at Tampa Bay (+2.5)||8:15 PM ET||ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes|
The NFL expanded the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since 1990, adding a third Wild Card team in each conference and in the process creating “Super Wild Card Weekend.” With the addition of a Monday night game last year, Super Wild Card Weekend will now have two Wild Card games on Saturday (4:30 PM and 8:15 PM ET), three on Sunday (1:00 PM, 4:30 PM, and 8:15 PM ET), and one on Monday (8:15 PM ET).
On Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks play at the San Francisco 49ers (FOX, FOX Deportes, 4:30 PM ET) and the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (NBC, Peacock, Universo, 8:15 PM ET).
Super Wild Card Weekend continues Sunday as the Miami Dolphins visit the Buffalo Bills (CBS, Paramount+, 1:00 PM ET), the Minnesota Vikings welcome the New York Giants (FOX, FOX Deportes, 4:30 PM ET) and the Baltimore Ravens travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals (NBC, Peacock, Telemundo, 8:15 PM ET).
Super Wild Card Weekend concludes with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night (ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes, 8:15 PM ET).
TURNAROUND TEAMS & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD
There are seven new playoff teams in 2022: BALTIMORE, JACKSONVILLE, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, MIAMI, MINNESOTA, the NEW YORK GIANTS and SEATTLE.
Since 1990 – a streak of 33 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:
|SEASON||PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS|
|1990||7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)|
|1991||5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)|
|1992||6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco)|
|1993||5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)|
|1994||5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego Chargers)|
|1995||4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)|
|1996||5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)|
|1997||5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)|
|1998||5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)|
|1999||7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis Rams, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)|
|2000||6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia)|
|2001||6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)|
|2002||5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)|
|2003||8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis Rams, Seattle)|
|2004||5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego Chargers)|
|2005||7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)|
|2006||7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego Chargers)|
|2007||6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)|
|2008||7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)|
|2009||6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)|
|2010||5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)|
|2011||6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)|
|2012||4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)|
|2013||5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego Chargers)|
|2014||5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)|
|2015||4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)|
|2016||6 (Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders)|
|2017||8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)|
|2018||7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)|
|2019||5 (Buffalo, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco, Tennessee)|
|2020||7 (Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington)|
|2021||7 (Arizona, Cincinnati, Dallas, Las Vegas, New England, Philadelphia, San Francisco)|
|2022||7 (Baltimore, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami, Minnesota, New York Giants, Seattle)|
Two teams won division titles – Jacksonville (AFC South) and Minnesota (NFC North) – after missing the playoffs last season. At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 19 of the past 20 years.
Jacksonville completed the “worst-to-first” turnaround, winning the AFC South the season after finishing in last place. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 18 of the past 20 seasons.
The divisions with new champions in 2022:
|AFC SOUTH||NFC EAST||NFC NORTH||NFC WEST|
|2021||Tennessee||Dallas||Green Bay||Los Angeles Rams|
In the 21 seasons since realignment in 2002, 30 of the 32 NFL teams have won a division title at least once.
How the 2022 playoff teams have fared in the 21 seasons since realignment in 2002 (2022 division winners in bold/italics):
|TEAM||DIVISION TITLES||PLAYOFF BERTHS|
Six of this season’s 14 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 2000, capturing nine of the past 21 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Buccaneers (XXXVII, LV), Giants (XLII, XLVI), Ravens (XXXV, XLVII), Chiefs (LIV), Eagles (LII) and Seahawks (XLVIII).
|XXXVI||2001||New England Patriots|
|XXXVII||2002||Tampa Bay Buccaneers*|
|XXXVIII||2003||New England Patriots|
|XXXIX||2004||New England Patriots|
|XLII||2007||New York Giants*|
|XLIV||2009||New Orleans Saints|
|XLV||2010||Green Bay Packers|
|XLVI||2011||New York Giants*|
|XLIX||2014||New England Patriots|
|LI||2016||New England Patriots|
|LIII||2018||New England Patriots|
|LIV||2019||Kansas City Chiefs*|
|LV||2020||Tampa Bay Buccaneers*|
|LVI||2021||Los Angeles Rams|
|*In 2022 postseason|
The San Francisco 49ers (.607) and Baltimore Ravens (.593) have the second- and third-highest postseason winning percentages in NFL history, while the Cowboys (35 wins) and 49ers (34) are two of the five teams with at least 30 postseason victories all-time.
The 14 playoff teams and their postseason records:
|San Francisco 49ers||34||22||.607|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11||10||.524|
|New York Giants||24||25||.490|
|Kansas City Chiefs||17||21||.447|
|Los Angeles Chargers||12||18||.400|
YOUTH & CONSISTENCY HIGHLIGHT THE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACKS
The 2022 postseason is filled with young stars on the rise and veterans at the top of their game at the quarterback position.
Ten teams can start a quarterback who is under the age of 28 – Baltimore (TYLER HUNTLEY, 24 or LAMAR JACKSON, 26), Buffalo (JOSH ALLEN, 26), Cincinnati (JOE BURROW, 26), Jacksonville (TREVOR LAWRENCE, 23), Kansas City (PATRICK MAHOMES, 27), the Los Angeles Chargers (JUSTIN HERBERT, 24), Miami (TUA TAGOVAILOA, 24 or SKYLAR THOMPSON, 25), the New York Giants (DANIEL JONES, 25), Philadelphia (JALEN HURTS, 24) and San Francisco (BROCK PURDY, 23). The most quarterbacks under the age of 28 to start at least one game in a single postseason is eight (2012 and 2020).
Two quarterbacks have won at least one Super Bowl title and have been named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player:
- Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY, who has a league-record seven Super Bowl titles (including leading the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl LV title in 2020), set the NFL single-season record for completions (490) in 2022 and added 4,694 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes as the Buccaneers earned consecutive NFC South division titles for the first time in franchise history. Brady is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (47), passing yards (13,049) and touchdown passes (86) and has been named Super Bowl MVP five times, more than any player in league history.
- Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES led the NFL with 5,250 passing yards and 41 touchdown passes this season to help the Chiefs earn their seventh consecutive AFC West division title and fifth since he became the starting quarterback in 2018. In 11 career postseason starts, he has 3,381 passing yards (307.4 per game) with 33 touchdowns (28 passing, five rushing) against seven interceptions for a 105.7 rating and has led the Chiefs to four consecutive AFC Championship games with two Super Bowl appearances in the past four seasons. During the 2019 season, Mahomes became the youngest quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP honors as Kansas City earned the Super Bowl LIV title.
Six quarterbacks can make at least their second career postseason appearance:
- Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN, who led Buffalo to its third-consecutive AFC East division title, recorded 4,283 passing yards with 42 touchdowns (35 passing, seven rushing) this season and became the first quarterback in NFL history with three career seasons of at least 35 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns. In his first six playoff starts, he has totaled 1,718 passing yards (286.3 per game) with 14 touchdowns against one interception for a 106.6 rating, the highest passer rating in postseason history among quarterbacks who have started at least five games. He also has 371 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, and one receiving touchdown in his playoff career. Allen has 176 career combined passing and rushing touchdowns (138 passing, 38 rushing) in the regular season since entering the NFL in 2018, the most by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.
- Cincinnati quarterback JOE BURROW recorded 4,475 passing yards with 40 touchdowns (35 passing, five rushing) and a 100.8 rating this season and led the Bengals to a second-consecutive AFC North division title. Last season, Cincinnati became the fifth team to appear in a Super Bowl after finishing in last place in its division the season prior and Burrow became the first quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to start a Super Bowl within his first two seasons. In four career postseason starts, Burrow has 1,105 passing yards (276.3 per game) with five touchdown passes and a 97.3 rating.
- Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS is set to appear in his fifth-career playoff game, fourth as a starting quarterback, after leading the Vikings to their first NFC North division title since 2018. In three career postseason starts, he has four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) with a 91.0 rating. This season, Cousins passed for 4,547 yards and 29 touchdowns and became the fifth player ever to record at least 25 touchdown passes in at least eight consecutive seasons.
- Philadelphia quarterback JALEN HURTS is slated to make his second postseason start after leading the Eagles to their first division title since 2019. He passed for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns and added 760 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, becoming the third quarterback ever with at least 3,500 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in a season. In his first postseason start last season, he totaled 297 yards (258 passing, 39 rushing) with one touchdown pass.
- Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT makes his fourth trip to the postseason after leading Dallas to back-to-back playoff berths. In four career postseason starts, he has nine touchdowns (six passing, three rushing), including three consecutive games with both a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown. Prescott passed for 2,860 yards and 23 touchdowns in 12 starts this season as the Cowboys ranked third in scoring offense (27.5 points per game), including recording 24-or-more points in 10 of Prescott’s 12 starts.
- Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON could make his fifth-career postseason start on Super Wild Card Weekend. In his postseason career, he has registered 1,267 combined passing and rushing yards (316.8 per game) with four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and is responsible for two of the six 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback in postseason history. Quarterback TYLER HUNTLEY could also make his first-career playoff start.
As many as seven quarterbacks can make their first-career postseason start on Super Wild Card Weekend. The most quarterbacks to make their first career postseason start in a single postseason is seven (1999).
- Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT makes his postseason debut after leading the Chargers to their first postseason berth since 2018. He recorded 4,739 passing yards with 25 touchdown passes this season and became the first player in NFL history with at least 4,500 passing yards in two of his first three career seasons. Herbert also joined Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING as the only players in NFL history with at least 25 touchdown passes in each of their first three seasons.
- New York Giants quarterback DANIEL JONES can make his first career postseason start after leading the Giants to their first postseason berth since 2016. He registered career bests in passing yards (3,205), passer rating (92.5), rushing yards (708) and rushing touchdowns (seven) in 2022 and added 15 touchdown passes in 16 starts this season.
- Jacksonville quarterback TREVOR LAWRENCE became the sixth quarterback since 2000 to be selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft and reach the postseason in one of his first two career seasons after leading the Jaguars to their first AFC South division title since 2017. He set career highs this season in passing yards (4,113), touchdown passes (25) and passer rating (95.2) and over the final 10 weeks of the season (Weeks 9-18), led all AFC quarterbacks in passer rating (104.6).
- San Francisco rookie quarterback BROCK PURDY is expected to start after helping the 49ers earn their first NFC West division title since 2019. He became the third rookie quarterback ever to win each of his first five career starts, joining BEN ROETHLISBERGER (won first 13 starts in 2004) and MIKE KRUCZEK (first six in 1968) and is one of two rookies in NFL history (JUSTIN HERBERT) with at least two touchdown passes in six consecutive games. Purdy can become the first rookie quarterback selected in the seventh round or later or that was undrafted to start a postseason game in the common-draft era.
- Seattle quarterback GENO SMITH is expected to make his first playoff start and is looking to become the first quarterback since 2000 (RICH GANNON) to win his first postseason start at least 10 years into his NFL career. He recorded a career-high and franchise-record 4,282 passing yards with 30 touchdown passes and a 100.9 rating this season.
- Miami quarterback TUA TAGOVAILOA can make his first career postseason start after helping the Dolphins reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016. He recorded career highs in passing yards (3,548) and touchdown passes (25) this season and led the NFL with a 105.5 passer rating, becoming the second-youngest qualified player ever to lead the league in passer rating, behind Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO, who was 23 years old in 1984. TEDDY BRIDGEWATER can also make his second-career postseason start while rookie SKYLAR THOMPSON can make his postseason debut on Super Wild Card Weekend. Thompson can join Purdy as the only rookie quarterbacks selected in the seventh round or later or that was undrafted to start a postseason game in the common-draft era.
BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES
|Eli Manning, New York Giants||2011||106||163||1,219||9||1|
|Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams||2021||98||140||1,188||9||3|
|Kurt WarnerHOF, Arizona||2008||92||135||1,147||11||3|
|Joe Flacco, Baltimore||2012||73||126||1,140||11||0|
|Tom Brady, New England||2016||93||142||1,137||7||3|
|John RigginsHOF, Washington||1982||136||610||4|
|Terrell DavisHOF, Denver||1997||112||581||8|
|Terrell DavisHOF, Denver||1998||78||468||3|
|Marcus AllenHOF, Los Angeles Raiders||1983||58||466||4|
|Eddie George, Tennessee||1999||108||449||3|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona||2008||30||546||7|
|Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams||2021||33||478||6|
|Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants||2011||28||444||4|
|Jerry RiceHOF, San Francisco||1988||21||409||6|
|Steve Smith, Carolina||2003||18||404||3|
|Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams||2021||33||478||6|
|Travis Kelce, Kansas City||2020||31||360||3|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona||2008||30||546||7|
|Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants||2011||28||444||4|
|Demaryius Thomas, Denver||2013||28||306||3|
|PLAYER, TEAM||SEASON||TOTAL TD||RUSH TD||REC. TD|
|Terrell DavisHOF, Denver||1997||8||8||0|
|Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona||2008||7||0||7|
|Larry CsonkaHOF, Miami||1973||6||6||0|
|Franco HarrisHOF, Pittsburgh||1974||6||6||0|
|Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams||2021||6||0||6|
|Sony Michel, New England||2018||6||6||0|
|Jerry RiceHOF, San Francisco||1988||6||0||6|
|John RigginsHOF, Washington||1983||6||6||0|
|Gerald Riggs, Washington||1991||6||6||0|
|Emmitt SmithHOF, Dallas||1995||6||6||0|
|Ricky Watters, San Francisco||1993||6||6||0|
|Damien Williams, Kansas City||2019||6||4||2|
The air is crisper, the atmosphere carries more decibels and even the popcorn is fresher. There’s a win-or-go-home mentality that carries a palpable brand of urgency. Games of inches become games of millimeters.
Fourteen teams, 13 games, two conferences, one focus: The Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LVII in Arizona.
Welcome to the 2022 playoffs.
The NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend schedule:
|Saturday, January 14|
|NFC||Seattle (9-8) at San Francisco (13-4)||4:30 PM ET||FOX, FOX Deportes|
|AFC||Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) at Jacksonville (9-8)||8:15 PM ET||NBC, Peacock, Universo|
|Sunday, January 15|
|AFC||Miami (9-8) at Buffalo (13-3)||1:00 PM ET||CBS, Paramount+|
|NFC||New York Giants (9-7-1) at Minnesota (13-4)||4:30 PM ET||FOX, FOX Deportes|
|AFC||Baltimore (10-7) at Cincinnati (12-4)||8:15 PM ET||NBC, Peacock, Telemundo|
|Monday, January 16|
|NFC||Dallas (12-5) at Tampa Bay (8-9)||8:15 PM ET||ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes|
The Starting 11 entering Super Wild Card Weekend…
1. DUUUVAL, PEDERSON BACK IN PLAYOFFS: If recent history is an indicator, at least one Super Bowl team will be in action this weekend. That’s because the last No. 1 seed to win a Super Bowl was the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles’ head coach that season was DOUG PEDERSON. Could he be on the verge of another postseason run?
- Now at the reins of the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, Pederson has joined MIKE HOLMGREN and Pro Football Hall of Famer BILL PARCELLS as the only head coaches ever to follow a Super Bowl win by taking another franchise to the playoffs in their first seasons with that team. With Pederson on his roster as a player, Holmgren guided the Packers to a Super Bowl XXXI title and then led the Seahawks to the playoffs in his first season with Seattle, 1999. Parcells won Super Bowls XXI and XXV with the Giants and then led the Cowboys to the playoffs in his first season with Dallas, 2003.
- Since the 1970 league merger, Jacksonville (3-14 in 2021) is one of just five teams to rebound from having at least a share of the league’s worst record to a division crown the following season. The AFC South champion Jaguars join the 2008 Miami Dolphins, 2004 San Diego Chargers, 1999 Indianapolis Colts and 1975 Baltimore Colts in that group of remarkable turnarounds.
- In 18 of the past 20 NFL seasons, at least one team has won its division the season after finishing last or tied for last place, including the 2022 Jaguars.
- The future of the NFL is in great hands. When Jacksonville (9-8) hosts the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (10-7) on Saturday (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo), two of the game’s most exciting young signal-callers will be in the spotlight. The Chargers’ JUSTIN HERBERT (24 years, 310 days on Saturday) and the Jaguars’ TREVOR LAWRENCE (23 years, 100 days) are expected to make their matchup just the ninth playoff contest since 1950 in which both starting quarterbacks are under 25 years old. Three of those games happened in the past two postseasons (2020-21).
2. NUMBERS OF THE WEEK – 18: The number of consecutive seasons (2005-22), without a repeat Super Bowl champion, extending the longest streak in league history.
- 7 – The NFL’s streak of postseason games entering this week decided by six points or less. Six of those seven were separated by just three points.
- 7 – The NFL’s streak of postseason games entering this week decided in the last two minutes of regulation or in overtime. Teams have scored the winning points on the game’s final play in five of the past seven NFL postseason contests.
- 25 – Games during the 2022 regular season decided by a winning score on the final play.
3. MOST COMPETITIVE SEASON IN HISTORY: There’s every reason to believe the unprecedented level of close games and comebacks in 2022 will continue into the playoffs. During the regular season, the average margin of victory was just 9.70 points, the lowest over a full season in 90 years, since it was 9.13 in 1932. Plus, the NFL established four other single-season records: Most games decided by six-or-fewer points (122), most games decided by seven-or-fewer points (141), most games decided by eight-or-fewer points (156) and most games within one score in the fourth quarter (203).
4. SPOTLIGHT – INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: When TAMPA BAY (8-9) has the ball on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes), look for a one-on-one matchup between two Pro Bowlers. Whether tackle TRISTAN WIRFS is able to neutralize linebacker MICAH PARSONS could play a significant role in which team advances. Led by Parsons, just the third player since 1982 with at least 13 sacks in each of his first two NFL seasons, DALLAS (12-5) ranked second in the NFL this season with a sack on 9.82 percent of opponents’ pass attempts. Wirfs and Tampa Bay’s offensive line, however, led the league by allowing sacks on only 2.93 percent of the Buccaneers’ pass attempts.
- Monday’s game features the DALLAS COWBOYS, tied with Green Bay for the most postseason appearances all-time by an NFL franchise (35), against TOM BRADY, who is expected to add to his NFL-record 20 career postseason games. ADAM VINATIERI and Pro Football Hall of Famers PEYTON MANNING and JERRY RICE are tied for second on that list with 15 postseason games.
- Defensive coordinator DAN QUINN and his Cowboys unit have led the NFL in takeaways each of the past two seasons. Prior to 2021, the last time Dallas had the most takeaways in a season was 1971.
5. SPOTLIGHT – TEAM MATCHUP: Miami’s TYREEK HILL (1,710 receiving yards) and JAYLEN WADDLE (1,356) combined for 3,066 receiving yards, the third-highest total ever by a pair of teammates in a season. On Sunday at Highmark Stadium (1:00 PM ET, CBS, Paramount+), they face a Buffalo secondary that includes Pro Bowlers TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE and JORDAN POYER, as well as standout rookie cornerback KAIIR ELAM. MIAMI (9-8) and BUFFALO (13-3) split their season series this year.
6. STREAK SPEAK: Five teams – SAN FRANCISCO (10 straight wins), CINCINNATI (eight), BUFFALO (seven), JACKSONVILLE (five) and KANSAS CITY (five) – enter the playoffs on winning streaks of at least five games. That’s never happened in a postseason.
- SAN FRANCISCO (13-4) is bidding to join the 1967 and 1976 Oakland Raiders, 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2003 and 2007 New England Patriots as Super Bowl teams that entered the postseason with winning streaks of at least 10 games. The 49ers’ first test is the resilient SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-8) on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium (4:30 PM ET, FOX, FOX Deportes), where San Francisco (8-1) tied for the league’s best home record in 2022.
- Seattle quarterback GENO SMITH is aiming to become the first quarterback since RICH GANNON in 2000 to win his first postseason start at least 10 years into his NFL career. Smith recorded a career-high and franchise-record 4,282 passing yards with 30 touchdown passes and a 100.9 rating in 2022.
- San Francisco’s 10-game winning streak was split between quarterbacks JIMMY GAROPPOLO and BROCK PURDY. The last NFL team to finish a season in which two starting quarterbacks had winning streaks of five-or-more games was the 1972 Miami Dolphins (Pro Football Hall of Famer BOB GRIESE and EARL MORRALL).
- Super Wild Card Weekend features two contests in which both starting quarterbacks are expected to make their postseason debuts: Seattle’s GENO SMITH against San Francisco’s BROCK PURDY, and the Chargers’ JUSTIN HERBERT against Jacksonville’s TREVOR LAWRENCE, both on Saturday. The last time a postseason had multiple games in which both quarterbacks made their playoff debuts was 1986 (Washington’s JAY SHROEDER against the Rams’ JIM EVERETT, and the Jets’ PAT RYAN against the Chiefs’ TODD BLACKLEDGE).
- The 49ers, who swept the regular-season series with the Seahawks, are attempting to defeat an opponent three times in the same season. That’s happened 14 times in NFL history, most recently during the 2017 playoffs, when New Orleans captured a third win over Carolina. Of the 14 teams to defeat an opponent three times in the same season, six advanced to the Super Bowl.
7. DID YOU KNOW?: The BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-7) travel to meet the CINCINNATI BENGALS (12-4) on Sunday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Peacock, Telemundo) just seven days after concluding the regular season at Paycor Stadium. Since 1978, it’s the 17th time two teams will meet in the playoffs one week after finishing a regular season. The team that won the regular-season finale has won three of the last five playoff games. The Ravens will become the first such team to return to the same stadium one week later since the 2009 Packers, who made consecutive trips to Arizona. In that Wild Card game, Jan. 10, 2010, the Cardinals won a 51-45 overtime thriller to avenge a loss to the Packers in the regular-season finale.
8. UNDER-THE-RADAR STORYLINE: Hope is one of the NFL’s most extraordinary hallmarks. Seven teams in the 2022 playoff field – BALTIMORE, JACKSONVILLE, the L.A. CHARGERS, MIAMI, MINNESOTA, the N.Y. GIANTS and SEATTLE – have returned to the postseason after missing the playoffs last season. Since 1990 – a streak of 33 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before.
9. TREND TIME: An NFL-record five head coaches in their first seasons at the reins of their teams are in the playoffs – TODD BOWLES, BRIAN DABOLL, MIKE MCDANIEL, KEVIN O’CONNELL and DOUG PEDERSON. Previously, the most head coaches in their first seasons at the helm in a single postseason was four in 1997 (PETE CARROLL, JIM FASSEL, STEVE MARIUCCI and BOBBY ROSS).
- Three of those five (Daboll, McDaniel and O’Connell) are in their first seasons as an NFL head coach, matching the NFL record for a single postseason (also three in 1992 and 2008).
- Daboll’s NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7-1) meet O’Connell’s MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-4) on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium (4:30 PM ET, FOX, FOX Deportes).
- O’Connell became one of six rookie head coaches in NFL history to win at least 13 games, joining JIM CALDWELL (14), GEORGE SEIFERT (14), JIM HARBAUGH (13), MATT LAFLEUR (13) and STEVE MARIUCCI (13).
10. THIS WEEK IN NFL HISTORY: Jan. 14, 1973 (50 years ago) – The only perfect season in NFL history isn’t perfect until MIAMI secures a hard-fought, 14-7 win over WASHINGTON in Super Bowl VII, and the issue remains in doubt until the final moments. With the Dolphins nursing a 14-0 lead, eventual Super Bowl MVP JAKE SCOTT intercepts BILLY KILMER in the end zone to thwart Washington’s marathon fourth-quarter drive. His second interception of the day, Scott’s 55-yard return sets up a 42-yard GARO YEPREMIAN field-goal attempt with just over two minutes remaining. But a diving BILL BRUNDIGE blocks the kick, Yepremian scoops up the loose ball and attempts to pass before Washington’s MIKE BASS snags it out of the air and sprints 49 yards for a touchdown. However, Miami’s No-Name Defense stiffens in the final seconds to extinguish Washington’s hopes, thanks to a pair of outstanding plays by Scott’s Georgia Bulldogs college teammate, defensive end BILL STANFILL, to stamp an exclamation point on Miami’s 17-0 season.
11. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: The NFL’s draft class of 2020 figures to play a prominent role in this year’s postseason. Among the notable players from that draft:
- Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT has the most passing yards (14,089) and completions (1,316), and second-most touchdown passes (94) by a player in his first three seasons all-time.
- Cincinnati quarterback JOE BURROW this year became the third player ever to reach 4,000 passing yards, 35 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns in a single season (he finished with 4,475 passing yards, 35 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns). Burrow also has the most games with at least 400 passing yards (five) by a player in first three seasons all-time.
- Philadelphia quarterback JALEN HURTS became the third player ever to reach 3,500 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season. Hurts finished with 3,701 passing yards, 22 touchdown passes and 13 rushing touchdowns.
- Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON owns the most receptions (324) and receiving yards (4,825) by a player in his first three seasons all-time.
MORE TEAMS, MORE GAMES, MORE WILD: The addition of a third Wild Card team in each conference and the subsequent expansion of the playoffs in 2020 has resulted in a Super Wild Card Weekend of NFL action. For the third consecutive season, there will be six games, with two on Saturday (January 14), three on Sunday (January 15) and, for the second consecutive season, one on Monday (January 16).
Seven of the 12 teams in action this weekend are new to the postseason in 2022, having missed the playoffs a year ago: BALTIMORE, JACKSONVILLE, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, MIAMI, MINNESOTA, the NEW YORK GIANTS and SEATTLE. Two of those teams – Jacksonville (AFC South) and Minnesota (NFC North) – 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 19 of the past 20 years, including 2022.
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 11 times, including in each of the past two seasons.
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 Buccaneers||Defeated Kansas City in Super Bowl LV, 31-9|
|2021||Los Angeles Rams*||Defeated Cincinnati in Super Bowl LVI, 23-20|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
PASSING IN THE PLAYOFFS: A mix of established veterans and emerging stars make up the starting quarterbacks in the 2022 playoff field vying for the Super Bowl LVII title.
Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY enters the 2022 postseason as the league’s all-time playoff leader in games started by a quarterback (47), wins by a starting quarterback (35), passing yards (13,049), touchdown passes (86), Super Bowl titles (seven) and Super Bowl MVPs (five). He is looking to become the first quarterback ever to win multiple Super Bowls with two different franchises.
Brady’s opposing quarterback on Monday night (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes) will be Dallas’ DAK PRESCOTT, who will be making his fifth-career postseason start. In each of his past three starts in the playoffs, Prescott has recorded both a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown and can become the sixth quarterback ever to record both a touchdown pass and rushing touchdown in four career postseason games. Brady (five games) and Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES (four), who will be in action next weekend, are among the group Prescott can join.
The players with the most postseason games with both a touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown in NFL history:
|Steve YoungHOF||San Francisco||7|
|Tom Brady||New England, Tampa Bay||5*|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||4*|
|*Active in 2022 postseason|
Prescott can also become the first quarterback in NFL history to record a rushing touchdown in four consecutive postseason games.
In the AFC, Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN will be making his seventh-career postseason start when the Bills host the Dolphins on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS, Paramount+). In both of his playoff games last season, Allen recorded at least 300 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
Allen can join MATT RYAN as the only players ever with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in three consecutive postseason games. He can also become the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown passes in three consecutive playoff games.
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
HEY, ROOKIE: Two rookie quarterbacks have an opportunity to start this weekend: San Francisco’s BROCK PURDY and Miami’s SKYLAR THOMPSON. This would mark the first playoff round since the 2012 Wild Card round (ROBERT GRIFFIN III, ANDREW LUCK, and RUSSELL WILSON) to feature multiple rookie starting quarterbacks.
Each player would be looking to become the first starting rookie quarterback to win a postseason game since Wilson in 2012.
The most recent rookie starting quarterbacks to win a postseason game:
|ROOKIE QB||TEAM||SEASON||ROUND||OPPONENT||FINAL SCORE|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle||2012||NFC Wild Card||at Washington||SEA 24, WAS 14|
|T.J. Yates||Houston||2011||AFC Wild Card||vs. Cincinnati||HOU 31, CIN 10|
|Mark Sanchez||N.Y. Jets||2009||AFC Divisional||at San Diego Chargers||NYJ 17, SD 14|
Both Purdy and Thompson were selected in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft and can become the first two rookies selected in the seventh round or later or be undrafted to start a postseason game in the common-draft era. They can also become the fourth and fifth rookie quarterbacks selected outside of the first round to win a playoff game in the common-draft era.
The rookie quarterbacks selected outside of the first round to win a postseason game in the common-draft era:
|ROOKIE QB||TEAM||SEASON||ROUND||DRAFT ROUND|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle||2012||NFC Wild Card||3rd|
|T.J. Yates||Houston||2011||AFC Wild Card||5th|
|Shaun King||Tampa Bay||1999||NFC Divisional||2nd|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
SATURDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT (24 years, 310 days old on Saturday) and Jacksonville quarterback TREVOR LAWRENCE (23 years, 100 days old) will each be making their first career postseason starts when the Jaguars host the Chargers on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo).
Their combined age of 48 years and 45 days will be the sixth-youngest combined age of opposing starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history.
The youngest combined age of opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:
|1985 Divisional||Cleveland at Miami||Bernie Kosar & Dan MarinoHOF||46 years, 152 days|
|2012 Wild Card||Seattle at Washington||Russell Wilson & Robert Griffin III||47 years, 2 days|
|1983 Divisional||Seattle at Miami||Dave Krieg & Dan MarinoHOF||47 years, 178 days|
|2000 Wild Card||Tampa Bay at Philadelphia||Shaun King & Donovan McNabb||47 years, 252 days|
|2019 Wild Card||Buffalo at Houston||Josh Allen & Deshaun Watson||47 years, 339 days|
|2022 Wild Card||L.A. Chargers at Jacksonville||Justin Herbert & Trevor Lawrence||48 years, 45 days|
Lawrence was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and with a win on Saturday would become the fifth quarterback 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 starts since 2000:
|PLAYER (DRAFT YEAR)||TEAM||FIRST POSTSEASON START|
|Joe Burrow (2020)||Cincinnati||2021 AFC Wild Card vs. Las Vegas|
|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|
The Jaguars won their first AFC South division title since 2017 after finishing with the league’s worst record in 2021. With a win on Saturday, Jacksonville would become the first team in NFL history to win a postseason game the season after finishing with the league’s worst or tied for the worst record.
Los Angeles running back AUSTIN EKELER led the league in scrimmage touchdowns in 2022, totaling 18 touchdowns (13 rushing, five receiving). In 2021, Ekeler tied for the league lead with a career-best 20 touchdowns (12 rushing, eight receiving).
With two touchdowns in the postseason, Ekeler will become the seventh player in NFL history to record at least 20 touchdowns in consecutive seasons, including playoffs, and the first since Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (2005-06).
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
FIRST-YEAR COACHES: For the first time in NFL history, five teams that hired a new head coach prior to the season advanced to the playoffs – Jacksonville (DOUG PEDERSON), Miami (MIKE MCDANIEL), Minnesota KEVIN O’CONNELL), the New York Giants (BRIAN DABOLL) and Tampa Bay (TODD BOWLES).
All five of those coaches will be on the sidelines this weekend, with two facing each other. When Minnesota hosts the New York Giants on Sunday (4:30 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), it will mark the fourth playoff game since 1970 featuring two rookie head coaches.
The playoff games featuring to rookie head coaches since 1970:
|2022 NFC Wild Card||N.Y. Giants at Minnesota||Brian Daboll & Kevin O’Connell||???|
|2009 AFC Championship||N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis||Rex Ryan & Jim Caldwell||IND 30, NYJ 17|
|2008 AFC Wild Card||Baltimore at Miami||John Harbaugh & Tony Sparano||BAL 27, MIA 9|
|2000 NFC Wild Card||St. Louis Rams at New Orleans||Mike Martz & Jim Haslett||NO 31, STL 28|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
STREAKING RECEIVERS: Several wide receivers look to extend active postseason streaks this weekend.
Tampa Bay wide receiver JULIO JONES has recorded at least 50 receiving yards in each of his nine career playoff games, while Miami wide receiver TYREEK HILL has done so in each of his past eight. Jones can become the fourth player ever with at least 50 receiving yards in 10 consecutive postseason games and Hill can become the sixth player to reach the mark in nine consecutive playoff 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)|
|Julio Jones||Atlanta, Tennessee||9* (Jan. 8, 2012 – Jan. 11, 2022)|
|Wes Welker||New England||9 (Jan. 12, 2008 – Jan. 20 – 2013)|
|Tyreek Hill||Kansas City||8* (Jan. 19, 2020 – Jan. 30 – 2022)|
Jones’ teammate MIKE EVANS recorded at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in both of Tampa Bay’s playoff games last season. With another such performance against Dallas on Monday night (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes), Evans will become the fourth player ever with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in three consecutive playoff games, joining LARRY FITZGERALD (four games) and Pro Football Hall of Famers RANDY MOSS (three) and JERRY RICE (three).
Cincinnati wide receivers JA’MARR CHASE and TEE HIGGINS were each crucial in the Bengals’ Super Bowl run last year and look to have the same success in the 2022 postseason.
Chase’s 368 receiving yards in the 2021 playoffs were the most-ever by a rookie in the postseason. With 96 receiving yards against Baltimore on Sunday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Peacock, Telemundo), Chase will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (463 receiving yards) for the second-most postseason receiving yards ever by a player in his first two seasons. Only CHARLIE BROWN (643) has more.
The players with the most postseason receiving yards in their first two career seasons in NFL history:
|*In second season|
Including the playoffs, Chase has totaled 2,869 receiving yards in his career and can become the third player ever with at least 3,000 receiving yards in his first two seasons, including playoffs, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (3,189) and JUSTIN JEFFERSON (3,016).
Higgins finished the 2021 postseason with three consecutive games with at least 95 receiving yards. With 95 receiving yards on Sunday, he will become the fourth player ever with at least 95 receiving yards in four consecutive playoff games.
The players with at least 95 receiving yards in the most consecutive postseason games in NFL history:
|Travis Kelce||Kansas City||6* (Jan. 17, 2021 – Jan. 30, 2022)|
|Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh||4 (Jan. 3, 2015 – Jan. 15, 2017)|
|Larry Fitzgerald||Arizona||4 (Jan. 3, 2009 – Feb. 1, 2009)|
|Tee Higgins||Cincinnati||3* (Jan. 22, 2022 – Feb. 13, 2022)|
Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards this season. With 91 receiving yards against the New York Giants on Sunday (4:30 PM ET, FOX/FOX Deportes), Jefferson will become the sixth player in NFL history with at least 1,900 receiving yards in a single season, including playoffs.
The players with at least 1,900 receiving yards in a single season, including playoffs, in NFL history:
|Cooper Kupp||L.A. Rams||2021||2,425|
|Jerry RiceHOF||San Francisco||1995||1,965|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
PLAYOFF LENNY: In five postseason games with Tampa Bay, running back LEONARD FOURNETTE has totaled 555 scrimmage yards (111 per game) with a touchdown in each game. Going back to the 2017 postseason with Jacksonville, Fournette has scored a touchdown in seven consecutive playoff games.
With a touchdown against Dallas on Monday night (8:15 PM ET, ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes), Fournette will become the third running back in NFL history to score a touchdown in eight consecutive postseason games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers THURMAN THOMAS (nine consecutive playoff games) and EMMITT SMITH (eight).
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)|
|Leonard Fournette||Jacksonville, Tampa Bay||7* (Jan. 14, 2018 – Jan. 23, 2022)|
|John RigginsHOF||Washington||7 (Jan. 15, 1983 – Dec. 30, 1984)|
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —
MINING FOR PLAYOFF GOLD: San Francisco defensive lineman NICK BOSA led the NFL with a career-high 18.5 sacks this season. He became the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to record a sack in 13 games within a season.
With a sack against Seattle on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, FOX, FOX Deportes), Bosa will become the fourth player to record a sack in 14 games in a season, including playoffs.
The players with the most games with a sack in a season since 1982, including the postseason:
|Nick Bosa||San Francisco||2022||13*|
|*Entering Wild Card|
In six career playoff games, Bosa has totaled eight sacks, with at least half a sack in each game. He can join LAMARR WOODLEY as the only player with at least half a sack in each of their first seven career playoff games since 1982.
With two sacks on Saturday, Bosa can become the third player since 1982 with at least 10 sacks within his first seven career playoff games, joining Woodley (11 sacks) and Pro Football Hall of Famer RICHARD DENT (10.5).
The players with the most sacks in their first seven career playoff games since 1982:
|Michael StrahanHOF||N.Y. Giants||8.5|
|Nick Bosa||San Francisco||8*|
|*In first six playoff games|
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY led all running backs with 741 receiving yards this season. In his lone career playoff game in 2017 with Carolina, he recorded 101 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.
With 100 receiving yards on Saturday, McCaffrey would become the third running back ever to record at least 100 receiving yards in multiple postseason games, joining TONY NATHAN (three games) and Pro Football Hall of Famer LENNY MOORE (two).
— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —