NFL Wildcard Weekend Preview Notes and Predictions

Arlington, TX – November 5, 2018 – AT&T Stadium: Ezekiel Elliott (21) of the Dallas Cowboys during a regular season Monday Night Football game (Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Here’s my preview of Wildcard Weekend of the NFL Playoffs with the schedule, my predicted winners and some great notes directly from the league office.

Join myself and other Sports Animal hosts on The NFL Report Sundays from 10am to 12:30pm as we break down all the games in great detail. That will be followed by the NFL Game of the Week from Sports USA Media with a top tier early kickoff live broadcast.

Week 17 Prediction Record: 12-4
2018 Season Prediction Record: 162-94 (63%)


NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
*Vinny’s predicted winners in BOLD

Saturday, January 5

AFC: 4:35 PM (ET) Indianapolis at Houston (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC)
NFC: 8:15 PM (ET) Seattle at Dallas (FOX)

Sunday, January 6

AFC: 1:05 PM (ET) LA Chargers at Baltimore (CBS)
NFC: 4:40 PM (ET) Philadelphia at Chicago (NBC)

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

Saturday, January 12

AFC: 4:35 PM (ET) Baltimore/Los Angeles Chargers/Indianapolis at Kansas City (NBC)
NFC: 8:15 PM (ET) Chicago/Dallas/Seattle at Los Angeles Rams (FOX)​

Sunday, January 13

AFC: 1:05 PM (ET) Houston/Baltimore/Los Angeles Chargers at New England (CBS)
NFC: 4:40 PM (ET) Dallas/Seattle/Philadelphia at New Orleans (FOX)

VINNY’S SUPER BOWL PREDICTION: CHIEFS OVER SAINTS


NFL WILD CARD & DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED
Commissioner ROGER GOODELL announced the schedule of sites, dates and times for the National Football League Wild Card Playoffs on January 5-6 and Divisional Playoffs on January 12-13.

Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle.

Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

In the Divisional Playoffs, the division champion with the best record in each conference will host the lowest seeded Wild Card survivor.  Once teams are seeded for the playoffs, positions do not change:

American Football Conference

National Football Conference

  1. Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion
  1. New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion
  1. New England (11-5), AFC East champion
  1. Los Angeles Rams (13-3), NFC West champion
  1. Houston (11-5), AFC South champion
  1. Chicago (12-4), NFC North champion
  1. Baltimore (10-6), AFC North champion
  1. Dallas (10-6), NFC East champion
  1. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
  1. Seattle (10-6)
  1. Indianapolis (10-6)
  1. Philadelphia (9-7)

The NFC (FOX, 3:05 PM ET) and AFC (CBS, 6:40 PM ET) Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 20.

The 2019 Pro Bowl (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC, 3:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida and Super Bowl LIII will take place on Sunday, February 3 (CBS, 6:30 PM ET), at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 3 with Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (CBS, 6:30 PM ET), begin this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: BALTIMORECHICAGODALLAS,HOUSTONINDIANAPOLIS, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS and SEATTLE. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

A look at the four games on Wild Card Weekend:

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (10-6) at HOUSTON TEXANS (11-5) (Saturday, ESPN/ABC, 4:35 PM ET)      

  • This is the first postseason meeting between the AFC South division rivals. In the regular season, the Colts hold a 26-8 advantage in 34 games played.  The Texans and Colts split the season series in 2018, with Houston winning 37-34 in overtime in Week 4 and Indianapolis taking the finale 24-21 in Week 14.
  • The Colts have qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014. Indianapolis had two players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: tight end ERIC EBRON and rookie guard QUENTON NELSON.
  • The Texans won the AFC South for the third time in the past four seasons (2015 and 2016). Houston had four players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: linebacker JADEVEON CLOWNEY, wide receiver DE ANDRE HOPKINS, linebacker BENARDRICK MCKINNEY and defensive end J.J. WATT.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-6) at DALLAS COWBOYS (10-6) (Saturday, FOX, 8:15 PM ET)      

  • This is the second postseason meeting between the two teams. The Seahawks defeated Dallas 21-20 in their 2006 NFC Wild Card meeting (January 6, 2007). The Cowboys lead the all-time series 10-9, including the postseason. This season, Seattle won 24-13 in their Week 3 meeting at CenturyLink Field.
  • The Seahawks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and have advanced to the postseason in seven of head coach PETE CARROLL’s nine seasons with the team. Seattle had two players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: rookie punter MICHAEL DICKSON and linebacker BOBBY WAGNER.
  • The Cowboys are back in the postseason after capturing the NFC East title for the first time since 2016. Dallas had five players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, tied with Chicago and New Orleans for the most in the NFC: running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, cornerback BYRON JONES, defensive end DEMARCUS LAWRENCE, guard ZACK MARTINand tackle TYRON SMITH.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (12-4) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-6) (Sunday, CBS, 1:05 PM ET)      

  • This is the first postseason meeting between the two teams. Baltimore leads the all-time series 7-5, including a 22-10 win in Los Angeles in Week 16.
  • Baltimore has qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014 and won the AFC North for the first time since 2012, when they were victorious in Super Bowl XLVII. The Ravens had three players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: linebacker C.J. MOSLEY, safety ERIC WEDDLE and guard MARSHAL YANDA.
  • The Chargers have advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2013. Los Angeles had a league-best seven players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: wide receiver KEENAN ALLEN, running back MELVIN GORDON, defensive end MELVIN INGRAM, rookie safety DERWIN JAMES, special teamer ADRIAN PHILLIPS, center MIKE POUNCEYand quarterback PHILIP RIVERS.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7) at CHICAGO BEARS (12-4) (Sunday, NBC, 4:40 PM ET)      

  • The teams will meet in the postseason for the fourth time, with Philadelphia holding a 2-1 edge. In their most recent postseason matchup, the Eagles won 33-19 in Chicago in the 2001 NFC Divisional Playoffs (January 19, 2002). The Bears lead the all-time series 30-13-1, including the postseason.
  • The Eagles, the defending Super Bowl champions, are in the postseason for consecutive years for the first time since the 2009-10 seasons and are seeking to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the 2003-04 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. Philadelphia had three players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: guard BRANDON BROOKS, defensive tackle FLETCHER COX and tight end ZACH ERTZ.
  • The Bears have qualified for the postseason and claimed the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010. Chicago had five players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, tied with Dallas and New Orleans for the most in the NFC: return specialist TARIK COHEN, cornerback KYLE FULLER, defensive tackle AKIEM HICKS, safety EDDIE JACKSON and linebacker KHALIL MACK. ​

​​WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WILD CARD WEEKEND

NEW YEAR, NEW TEAMS: The Chicago Bears (12-4, NFC North) and Houston Texans (11-5, AFC South) both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first – something that has never happened before in any other major US sport.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions and appear in the Super Bowl since 2003:

SEASON TEAM RECORD PRIOR SEASON RECORD ADVANCED TO
2003 Carolina Panthers 11-5 7-9 Super Bowl XXXVIII
2009 New Orleans Saints 13-3 8-8 Won Super Bowl XLIV
2017 Philadelphia Eagles 13-3 7-9 Won Super Bowl LII
2018 Chicago Bears 12-4 5-11 ???
2018 Houston Texans 11-5 4-12* ???

           *Tied for last place

This season, seven teams qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle – and all seven will be in action on Wild Card Weekend. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

— WILD CARD WEEKEND —

FROM WILD CARD TO SUPER BOWL: Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times. At least one Super Bowl participant in six of the past 13 seasons played in a Wild Card game.

The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:

SEASON TEAM SUPER BOWL RESULT
1980 Oakland Defeated Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV, 27-10
1997 Denver Defeated Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII, 31-24
2000 Baltimore Defeated New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7
2005 Pittsburgh Defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XL, 21-10
2006 Indianapolis Defeated Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17
2007 New York Giants Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14
2010 Green Bay Defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25
2011 New York Giants Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17
2012 Baltimore Defeated San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31

— WILD CARD WEEKEND —

WINNING WAYS: The BALTIMORE RAVENS and DALLAS COWBOYS will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend.

The Cowboys (34) are tied with the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (34), the No. 2 overall seed in the AFC, for the second-most postseason wins all-time. Only Pittsburgh (36) has more postseason wins in league history.

Wild Card Weekend marks the 62nd playoff game in the history of the Dallas Cowboys and surpasses Pittsburgh (61) for the most postseason games played by a franchise in league annals.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM WINS LOSSES WIN PCT. SUPER BOWL WINS
Pittsburgh 36 25 .590 6
Dallas* 34 27 .557 5
Green Bay 34 22 .607 4
New England** 34 20 .630 5
San Francisco 30 20 .600 5
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

Baltimore (.652) and New England (.630) own the top two winning percentages in postseason history while Dallas (.557) ranks seventh.

The teams with the highest postseason winning percentage in NFL history:

TEAM WINS LOSSES WIN PCT. SUPER BOWL WINS
Baltimore* 15 8 .652 2
New England** 34 20 .630 5
Green Bay 34 22 .607 4
San Francisco 30 20 .600 5
Pittsburgh 36 25 .590 6
Oakland 25 19 .568 3
Dallas* 34 27 .557 5
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

— WILD CARD WEEKEND —

POSTSEASON DEBUTS: Several teams will feature a quarterback slated to make his first career postseason start. Among those set to debut on Wild Card Weekend are Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON, Chicago’s MITCHELL TRUBISKY and Houston’s DESHAUN WATSON.

The players with the most passing yards in their first career postseason start:

PLAYER TEAM SEASON ROUND PASSING YARDS
Kelly Holcomb Cleveland 2002 Wild Card 429
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 2009 Wild Card 423
Randall Cunningham Philadelphia 1988 Divisional 407
Kurt Warner^ St. Louis 1999 Divisional 391
Neil Lomax St. Louis Cardinals 1982 Wild Card 385
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

— WILD CARD WEEKEND —

TOP DEFENSE: The CHICAGO BEARS defense led the league with the fewest points allowed per game (17.7) this season. In three of the past four seasons, the teams with the top regular-season scoring defense have advanced to the Super Bowl.

The teams with the top scoring defense in the regular season to advance to the Super Bowl since 2002:

SEASON TEAM SUPER BOWL RESULT
2002 Tampa Bay Defeated Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, 48-21
2003 New England Defeated Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32-29
2008 Pittsburgh Defeated Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23
2010 Pittsburgh Lost to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25
2013 Seattle Defeated Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8
2014 Seattle Lost to New England in Super Bowl XLIX, 28-24
2016 New England Defeated Atlanta in Super Bowl LI, 34-28
2018 Chicago ???

 

— WILD CARD WEEKEND —

FANTASTIC FOLES: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the 2017 NFC Championship Game and had 373 passing yards with three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII to help lead the Eagles to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

With 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes on Sunday at Chicago (4:40 PM ET, NBC), Foles would become the second quarterback in NFL history to record at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in three consecutive postseason games.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 300+ PASS YARDS & 3+ TD PASSES
Matt Ryan Atlanta 3
Nick Foles Philadelphia 2*
*Active streak

— WILD CARD WEEKEND —

RATING RIVERS: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS will make his 10th career playoff start on Wild Card Weekend.

Rivers, who has recorded a passer rating of 115 or higher in each of his past two postseason starts and plays at Baltimore on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), can become the fourth quarterback to record three consecutive postseason games with a passer rating of 115 or higher.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with a passer rating of 115 or higher in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 115+ PASSER RATING
Joe Montana^ San Francisco 5
Matt Ryan Atlanta 3
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 3
Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers 2*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

Find more of my blogs here on SportsRadioWNML.com and my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net.

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