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Wild Card Weekend NFL Preview

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nfl wildcard01The NFL’s 100th season has reached the playoffs, and the playoff field is as strong as it’s ever been.

Six playoff teams – the BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4) and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) from the AFC, and the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3), GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3) and NEW ORLEANSSAINTS (13-3) from the NFC – won at least 12 regular-season games, tied for the most such teams in a single postseason in NFL history.

The seasons with the most playoff teams that won 12-or-more regular-season games:

2019 6
2011 6
2003 6
Many 5

The combined winning percentage (.708, 136-56) of this season’s field is the highest in 14 years, since it was .719 (138-54) in 2005.

The NFL postseason begins Saturday with four games on Wild Card Weekend.

Saturday, January 4
AFC Buffalo at Houston 4:35 PM ET ESPN/ABC
AFC Tennessee at New England 8:15 PM ET CBS
Sunday, January 5
NFC Minnesota at New Orleans 1:05 PM ET FOX
NFC Seattle at Philadelphia 4:40 PM ET NBC

The final 12 teams in contention for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LIV in Miami:

American Football Conference National Football Conference
1. Baltimore (14-2), AFC North champion 1. San Francisco (13-3), NFC West champion
2. Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion 2. Green Bay (13-3), NFC North champion
3. New England (12-4), AFC East champion 3. New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion
4. Houston (10-6), AFC South champion 4. Philadelphia (9-7), NFC East champion
5. Buffalo (10-6)   5. Seattle (11-5)
6. Tennessee (9-7)  6. Minnesota (10-6)

The playoffs continue with the Divisional round on January 11-12, the Conference Championship Games on January 19, and Super Bowl LIV on February 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami (FOX, 6:30 PM ET).

Five teams – the BUFFALO BILLS and TENNESSEE TITANS from the AFC, and GREEN BAY PACKERS, MINNESOTA VIKINGS and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS from the NFC – made the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2018. Since 1990 – a streak of 30 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:

BUFFALO BILLS (10-6) at HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6) (Saturday, ESPN/ABC, 4:35 PM ET)       


  • Buffalo clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three seasons.
  • Houston captured the AFC South division title for a second consecutive season, and the fourth time in the past five years. For the fourth time in franchise history (2002-19), Houston won at least 10 games.
  • Houston head coach BILL O’BRIEN joined ANDY REID, MIKE TOMLIN and JOHN HARBAUGH as the only active head coaches with five winning seasons over their first six years. O’Brien has guided the Texans to four AFC South titles in those six years.
  • Buffalo head coach SEAN MCDERMOTT, in his third season as a head coach, has led the Bills to the playoffs for a second time.
  • Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN (nine) and Texans quarterback DESHAUN WATSON (seven) ranked first and tied for second, respectively, in rushing touchdowns among QBs in 2019. Allen, in his second NFL season, threw for 3,089 yards and 20 touchdowns. Watson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG as the only quarterbacks ever with 25-or-more touchdown passes and five-plus rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons.
  • Watson
  • Houston wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS tied for the AFC lead this season with 104 receptions.
  • Buffalo CB TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions.


TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) (Saturday, CBS, 8:15 PM ET)      


  • Tennessee clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three years. The Titans won at least nine games for a fourth consecutive season, the franchise’s longest streak since the Oilers strung together seven winning seasons from 1987-93.
  • New England (37) needs a win to extend its NFL record to 38 postseason victories. Pittsburgh ranks second all-time with 36. The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl in four of the past five years, including a victory in Super Bowl LIII last season.
  • Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY is the NFL’s all-time postseason leader in games (40), passing attempts (1,589), completions (1,005), passing yards (11,179) and touchdown passes (73).
  • New England wide receiver JULIAN EDELMAN (115) has more postseason receptions than all but Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (151). Edelman (1,412) also ranks second behind Rice (2,245) in career postseason receiving yards. And with 100 receiving yards Saturday, Edelman would have seven 100-yard games in his postseason career and claim sole possession of No. 2 on the NFL’s all-time list, breaking a tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL IRVIN (six). Rice (eight) owns the league record.
  • Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating, the fourth-highest single-season mark among qualified passers in NFL history.
  • DERRICK HENRY, who led the NFL with a career-high 1,540 rushing yards, has averaged 149.3 rushing yards over his last six games with 10 rushing touchdowns in that span.
  • Titans rookie wide receiver A.J. BROWN has four touchdown catches of at least 50 yards in 2019 and joined ISAAC CURTIS (five in 1973), WILLIE GAULT (four in 1983) and Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (five in 1998) as the only rookies with at least four touchdown receptions of 50-or-more yards since 1970.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3) (Sunday, FOX, 1:05 PM ET)      


  • MIKE ZIMMER has won eight-or-more games in five of his six seasons as Vikings head coach, including two playoff berths and at least 10 wins twice over the past three years.
  • SEAN PAYTON has guided the Saints to a division title for a third consecutive season, the longest streak in franchise history.
  • Saints wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS (149) broke the single-season receptions record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (143).
  • New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (77,416) and touchdown passes (547). In 15 career postseason games, Brees owns a 100.0 passer rating, having completed 408 of 615 passes (66.3 percent), with 33 touchdown passes.
  • Vikings quarterback KIRK COUSINS is the only quarterback with at least 25 touchdown passes in each of the past five seasons.
  • Minnesota wide receiver STEFON DIGGS, who caught a 61-yard touchdown to beat the Saints in the 2017 NFC Divisional playoffs, posted a career-best 1,130 receiving yards in 2019.
  • The Saints’ CAMERON JORDAN (15.5) and the Vikings’ DANIELLE HUNTER (14.5) ranked third and tied for fourth, respectively, in sacks this season. 


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7) (Sunday, NBC, 4:40 PM ET)      


  • Seattle has won 10-or-more games in seven of the past eight seasons. PETE CARROLL has led the Seahawks to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons as head coach.
  • Philadelphia enters the playoffs having closed the regular season with four consecutive wins, tied for the NFC’s second-longest active streak behind Green Bay (five). The Eagles have won the NFC East for the second time in the past three seasons. In 2017, Philadelphia used a division title as a foundation to win Super Bowl LII.
  • Seahawks quarterback RUSSELL WILSON is the first quarterback in NFL history with a winning record in each of his first eight seasons. Wilson (31, third) and Eagles quarterback CARSON WENTZ (27, tied-fifth) ranked in the NFL’s top five in touchdown passes this season.
  • Seattle running back MARSHAWN LYNCH has 1,064 scrimmage yards (96.7 per game) and nine rushing touchdowns in 11 career postseason games.
  • Seattle linebacker BOBBY WAGNER paced the NFL with 159 total tackles.
  • Eagles running back MILES SANDERS led NFL rookies with 1,327 scrimmage yards.
  • One of five Philadelphia players selected to the Pro Bowl, tight end ZACH ERTZ has 525 receptions since entering the NFL in 2013, the most by a tight end in his first seven seasons in NFL history.