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NFL: Expectations for Wildcard Weekend

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NFL COMMUNICATIONS; COURTESY NFLmedia.com

 

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