NFL POSTSEASON BEGINS
After an exciting finish to the regular season, the NFL’s second season has arrived.
The NFL postseason begins with four games on Wild Card Weekend.
Saturday, January 5
AFC Indianapolis at Houston 4:35 PM ET ESPN/ABC
NFC Seattle at Dallas 8:15 PM ET FOX
Sunday, January 6
AFC Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore 1:05 PM ET CBS
NFC Philadelphia at Chicago 4:40 PM ET NBC
Week 17 came right down to the wire. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. Three playoff spots and three divisions titles – the AFC West, AFC North and AFC South – were decided on the final day of the season.
The final 12 teams are set:
AFC NFC 1. Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion 1. New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion 2. New England (11-5), AFC East champion 2. Los Angeles Rams (13-3), NFC West champion 3. Houston (11-5), AFC South champion 3. Chicago (12-4), NFC North champion 4. Baltimore (10-6), AFC North champion 4. Dallas (10-6), NFC East champion 5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) 5. Seattle (10-6) 6. Indianapolis (10-6) 6. Philadelphia (9-7)
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: 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.
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 MARTIN and 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 POUNCEY and quarterback PHILIP RIVERS.
PHIADELPHIA 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.