This weekend, the tournament gets underway with one of the best weekends of the year. Here’s what to watch out for during the NFL wild-card round.The 2017 NFL Playoffs will showcase many fresh faces with teams, coaches and players making their first playoff appearance. What can we expect?
On Saturday, the NFL wild-card round will start in Kansas City with the Chiefs hosting the Tennessee Titans. The Titans appearance in the postseason will be their first since 2008 when they finished with the best record in the AFC but lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional round.
Speaking of postseason droughts, the Buffalo Bills snapped the longest current playoff drought in any of the four major sports this season. The Bills victory over the Dolphins combined with the Bengals shocking last-second upset over the Ravens helped Buffalo reach the postseason for the first time since 1999.
This was a record-setting season for the NFL.
Eight new teams reached the playoffs in 2017 (Panthers, Jaguars, Rams, Vikings, Saints, Eagles, Bills and Titans). That ties 2003 for the most such clubs under the current 12-team format (since 1990). In addition, the four division champions in the NFC (Eagles, Vikings, Rams, and Saints) all missed the playoffs last season. Since the NFL went to eight divisions in 2002, this is the first time four division champions from one conference all missed the playoffs the previous season.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on this weekend:
Titans at Chiefs – Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
The Titans will be looking for their first postseason win since defeating the Baltimore Ravens 20-17 in the 2003 AFC wild-card at Baltimore. Since that win, the Titans have lost three straight playoff games.
|Last Three Playoff Games|
|2003 Divisional Round||at New England||L, 17-14|
|2007 Wild Card||at San Diego||L, 17-6|
|2008 Divisional Round||vs Baltimore||L, 13-10|
Both teams had ups and downs this season. The Chiefs started the season 5-0, then lost six-of-seven games before finishing the season on a four-game win streak. This was the third straight 10-win season for the Chiefs, marking the second time they accomplished that in franchise history (had four consecutive 10-win seasons from 1990-93).
Tennessee started the season 8-4 before losing three of their last four games. Marcus Mariota has thrown a career-high 15 interceptions this season while throwing a career-low 13 TD passes.
CHIEFS HOPING TO END LONGEST CURRENT HOME PLAYOFF LOSING STREAK
In 2015, the Chiefs snapped their eight-game playoff losing streak with a 30-0 victory over the Houston Texans. Despite that win, the Chiefs were not able to build off it, as they lost at New England in the 2015 AFC Divisional Round and at home to Pittsburgh in the AFC Divisional Round last season. Overall, they have lost 10 of their previous 11 playoff games.
Their loss to Pittsburgh last season was their fifth straight postseason loss at Arrowhead Stadium. The last time the Chiefs won a home playoff game was January 1994 when Joe Montana led them to an overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card. Kansas City is also woeful when they win their division, posting a 1-6 record in the postseason when winning the AFC West.
|Kansas City Chiefs When Winning AFC West|
|Playoff Results Since Merger|
|2016 AFC Divisional Round||Pittsburgh||L, 18-16|
|2010 AFC Wild Card Game||Baltimore||L, 30-7|
|2003 AFC Divisional Round||Indianapolis||L, 38-31|
|1997 AFC Divisional Round||Denver||L, 14-10|
|1995 AFC Divisional Round||Indianapolis||L, 10-7|
|1993 AFC Wild Card Game||Pittsburgh||W, 27-24|
|1971 AFC Divisional Round||Miami||L, 27-24|
Falcons at Rams, Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET
RAMS TREATING THEIR FANS TO MEMORIES
When the Rams host the Falcons on Saturday Night, they will be treating the fans of their franchise to a large number of historical events.
-This will be the first playoff game for the Rams franchise since losing 47-17 to the Falcons in the 2004 NFC divisional round.
-This will be the first home playoff game for the Rams since losing to the Carolina Panthers 29-23 in the 2003 NFC divisional round.
-This will be the first playoff game for the Los Angeles Rams since losing to the San Francisco 49ers 30-3 in the 1989 NFC Championship Game.
-This will be the first home playoff game for the Los Angeles Rams since defeating the Dallas Cowboys 20-0 in the 1985 NFC divisional round at Anaheim Stadium.
-This will be the first home playoff game for the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Coliseum since losing 28-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1978 NFC Championship Game.
RAMS OFFENSE WAS HISTORIC THIS SEASON
The Rams led the NFL in scoring this season (29.9 PPG) after scoring an NFL-worst 14.0 PPG last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rams are the 2nd team in NFL history to lead the NFL in scoring in a season immediately after finishing last in scoring, joining the 1965 49ers who did so in a 14-team league.
JARED GOFF THE LATEST NUMBER 1 OVERALL PICK TO JOIN THE PLAYOFF PARTY
Jared Goff was taken first overall in 2016. Last year, No. 1 overall picks went 0-3 in playoff games.
|Number 1 Overall Picks at QB|
|2016 Postseason Results|
|2009 – Matthew Stafford||Seattle||L, 26-6|
|2005 – Alex Smith||Steelers||L, 18-16|
|2004 – Eli Manning||Packers||L, 38-13|
In the last 20 years, 14 QBs have been selected 1st overall. Jared Goff will be the ninth of those 14 quarterbacks to start a postseason game; the first eight went a combined 2-6 in their first career playoff start.
|First Career Playoff Start|
|QBs Drafted No. 1 Overall Last 20 Years|
|2017 Jared Goff||?|
|2013 Cam Newton||Lost|
|2012 Andrew Luck||Lost|
|2011 Matthew Stafford||Lost|
|2011 Alex Smith||Won|
|2005 Carson Palmer||Lost|
|2005 Eli Manning||Lost|
|2002 Mike Vick||Won|
|1999 Peyton Manning||Lost|
MATT RYAN STRUGGLES ON ROAD IN POSTSEASON
Matt Ryan has never won a postseason start away from Atlanta, going 0-3 with a Total QBR of 58. His only two true road starts came in the wild-card playoffs in 2008 (at Cardinals) and 2011 (at Giants).
|Matt Ryan By City in Postseason|
|Yds Per Att.||*8.6||*6.6|
Bills at Jaguars, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
Both the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars will end long postseason droughts when they take the field this Sunday in Jacksonville.
The Bills snapped the longest streak in any of the four major sports of not appearing in the postseason when the Bengals defeated the Ravens, and they beat the Dolphins on Sunday. The last time Buffalo appeared in the postseason was the 1999 AFC wild-card at Tennessee. Bill Clinton was still president. Since losing that game, the Bills have started 16 different quarterbacks.
BILLS POINT DIFFERENTIAL
The Bills made the playoffs with a -57 point differential. However, all the previous playoff teams who had at least a -50 point differential in the regular season all won their wild-card game.
|Worst Point Differential For Playoff Team|
|NFL History, Wild Card Result|
JAGUARS LONG PLAYOFF DROUGHT AS WELL
The Jaguars are making their first postseason appearance since the 2007 season when they lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card.
Jacksonville is hosting their first playoff game since the 1999 season when they lost to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game.
This is the first home playoff game for any of the Florida-based NFL teams since the 2008 wild-card when the Dolphins lost 27-9 to the Ravens. Florida- based NFL teams have lost their last three home playoff games (2008 Dolphins, 2007 & 2005 Buccaneers). The latest win was by the 2002 Buccaneers in the divisional playoffs against the 49ers.
JAGUARS AND BILLS STRUGGLE TOGETHER
Since 2000, only three teams have a worse regular season win percentage than these teams.
|Worst Regular Season Win Percentage|
Panthers at Saints, Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET
The Saints are going for a “three-game sweep” of the Panthers having won both regular season games and now facing them in the wild-card round. That has happened 13 times since 1970.
|Teams to Beat Opposing Team 3 Times|
|Single-Season, Since 1970|
Drew Brees and the Saints will be playing at home where they have had tremendous success in the postseason. Brees has won four games without a loss in the postseason at home, which is quite a difference from how he has performed on the road.
|Playoff Career with Saints|
|Passing Yards PG||*288.3||*355.8|
|Most Playoff Home Wins Without Loss|
|Starting QB Since 2006|