A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 9, the 18th week of the 2021 season.
- NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 13 teams to qualify for the playoffs with one game remaining are new to the postseason in 2021, having missed the playoffs a year ago: Arizona, Cincinnati, Dallas, New England, Philadelphia and San Francisco. One or both of the Las Vegas Raiders or Los Angeles Chargers can join this group on Sunday Night Football.
Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before.
NEW DIVISION WINNERS: The AFC North (Cincinnati) and NFC East (Dallas) were both won by teams that missed the postseason in 2020. The Los Angeles Rams (NFC West) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South) are also new division winners in 2021.
At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 18 of the past 19 years.
In each of the past 44 seasons (1977-2021, excluding 1982, when divisional play did not occur), at least one team has won its division the season after missing the playoffs.
The TENNESSEE TITANS won the AFC South for the second-consecutive season and finished as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Titans will have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, who won the AFC West for the sixth-consecutive season, finished as the AFC’s No. 2 seed.
The BUFFALO BILLS, who won the AFC East for the second-consecutive season, finished as the AFC’s No. 3 seed.
The CINCINNATI BENGALS, who completed a worst-to-first turnaround by winning the AFC North the year after finishing in last place, finished as the AFC’s No. 4 seed. It marks 17 of the past 19 seasons in which at least one team finished in first place the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.
The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who clinched a playoff berth for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons, can finish as the AFC’s No. 5 or No. 6 seed depending on the result of Sunday Night Football between the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS and LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (8:20 PM ET, NBC).
With a win by the Los Angeles Chargers win on Sunday Night Football, the Patriots would be the No. 5 seed in the AFC, the Chargers would be the No. 6 seed and the PITTSBURGH STEELERS would be the AFC’s No. 7 seed.
With a win by the Las Vegas Raiders, the Raiders would be the No. 5 seed in the AFC, the Patriots would be the No. 6 seed and the Steelers would be the AFC’s No. 7 seed.
Should Sunday Night Football end in a tie, the Chargers would be the No. 6 seed and the Raiders would be the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs.
The GREEN BAY PACKERS won the NFC North for the third-consecutive season and finished as the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The Packers will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
The TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS, who clinched the NFC South for the first time since 2007, finished as the NFC’s No. 2 seed and will host the No. 7 seed PHILADELPHIA EAGLES on Super Wild Card Weekend. Philadelphia clinched a playoff berth for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
The DALLAS COWBOYS, who won the NFC East for the first time since 2018, finished as the NFC’s No. 3 seed and will host the No. 6 seed SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS on Super Wild Card Weekend. San Francisco clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three years.
The LOS ANGELES RAMS, who clinched the NFC West for the first time since 2018, finished as the NFC’s No. 4 seed and will host the No. 5 seed ARIZONA CARDINALS in the Wild Card round. Arizona clinched its first trip to the postseason since 2015.
- FANTASTIC FINISHES & SURPRISE WINS: There have been 33 games decided by a game-winning score on the final play this season, the most in a season all-time.
With one game remaining in Week 18, there have been 48 games with a game-winning score in the final minute of regulation or in overtime this season, tied with the 2003 season (48) for the third-most in a season all-time. Only 2013 (49) and 2015 (49) had more.
With one game remaining in Week 18, there have been 56 games with a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime this season, tied with 2003 (56) and 2013 (56) for the second-most in a season all-time. Only 2015 (57) had more.
The DETROIT LIONS (2-13-1 entering Week 18) defeated Green Bay (13-3 entering Sunday), the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-14 entering Sunday) defeated Indianapolis (9-7 entering Week 18) and the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-10 entering Week 18) defeated Arizona (11-5 entering Sunday) this week.
There were 15 games won by a team over an opponent with at least four more victories this season, tied with 2009 (15), 1991 (15) and 1978 (15) for the third-most such games in a season all-time. Only 2003 (16) and 2000 (16) had more.
- Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY completed 29 of 37 attempts (78.4 percent) for 326 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 130.4 rating in the Buccaneers’ Week 18 win over Carolina. Tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI had 137 receiving yards while wide receiver MIKE EVANS had 89 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the victory.
Brady finished the 2021 season with a career-high 5,316 passing yards, surpassing his previous high (5,235 passing yards in 2011 with New England) for the third-most passing yards in a season all-time. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (5,477 passing yards in 2013) and DREW BREES (5,476 in 2011) had more.
Brady joins DREW BREES (five seasons) as the only players ever to record at least 5,000 passing yards in multiple seasons.
Brady recorded 485 completions this season and surpassed DREW BREES (471 completions in 2016) for the most in a season in NFL history.
Evans had 1,035 receiving yards this season and became the first player ever with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first eight seasons.
Gronkowski has 32 career games with at least 100 receiving yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ (31 games) for the most such games by a tight end in NFL history.
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 138 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 135.6 rating on Sunday.
Rodgers, who finished with 4,115 passing yards this season, became the sixth quarterback ever to record at least 4,000 passing yards in 10 different seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (14 seasons), TOM BRADY (13), DREW BREES (12), PHILIP RIVERS (12) and MATT RYAN (10).
Rodgers, with a 111.9 passer rating, will lead all qualified passers in passer rating for the fourth time in his career (2011-12, 2020-21) and join Pro Football Hall of Famers STEVE YOUNG (six times) and ROGER STAUBACH (four) as well as KEN ANDERSON (four) as the only players to lead the league in rating at least four times since 1970.
- Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON passed for 238 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 110.7 rating and added a rushing touchdown in the Seahawks’ Week 18 win at Arizona.
Including the postseason, Wilson has 113 career wins, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (112 wins) for the most wins, including the postseason, by a quarterback in his first 10 seasons in league annals.
Wilson had 3,113 passing yards this season and became the second quarterback ever to record at least 3,000 passing yards in each of his first 10 seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING.
Wilson has 292 career touchdown passes and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (291 touchdown passes) for the second-most touchdown passes by a quarterback in his first 10 seasons all-time. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING (306) had more.
- Los Angeles Rams wide receiver COOPER KUPP totaled seven receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown on Sunday and led the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and touchdown receptions (16).
Kupp is the fourth player since 1970 to lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions in the same season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1990), STERLING SHARPE (1992) and STEVE SMITH SR. (2005).
Kupp’s 1,947 receiving yards are the second-most in a single season all-time, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer CALVIN JOHNSON (1,964 receiving yards in 2012).
Kupp’s 145 receptions are the second-most in a season in league annals, trailing only MICHAEL THOMAS (149 receptions in 2019).
Kupp recorded 11 games with at least 100 receiving yards this season, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers MICHAEL IRVIN (11 games in 1995) and CALVIN JOHNSON (11 in 2012) for the most such games in a season all-time.
- Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. WATT recorded one sack in the Steelers’ Week 18 overtime win at Baltimore.
Watt registered 22.5 sacks during the 2021 season, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL STRAHAN (22.5 sacks in 2001) for the most sacks in a season since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
- Other notable performances from Sunday include:
- Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY passed for 240 yards and one touchdown on Sunday.
Murray, who has 70 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns since entering the league in 2019, is the first player with at least 70 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons in NFL history.
- Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON had five receptions for 107 yards and one touchdown in the Vikings’ Week 18 win over Chicago.
Jefferson has 3,016 receiving yards – the most receiving yards by a player in his first two seasons all-time – in 33 career games and became the third-fastest player ever (33 games) to reach 3,000 receiving yards. Only ODELL BECKHAM JR. (30) and CHARLIE HENNIGAN (31) reached the mark in fewer games.
- Miami rookie wide receiver JAYLEN WADDLE recorded five receptions, including his sixth touchdown reception of the season, in the Dolphins’ Week 18 win over New England.
Waddle recorded 104 receptions this season and surpassed ANQUAN BOLDIN (101 receptions in 2003) for the most receptions by a rookie all-time.
- Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY passed for 240 yards and one touchdown on Sunday.