The Weekend Scoop  

 

Wild Card Weekend Cheat Sheet:

Print

Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...

Key game-time decisions


All players questionable unless noted

Kansas City Chiefs


OUT: C Mitch Morse (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: S Husain Abdullah (concussion, not injury related), LB Dee Ford (concussion, wrist), LB Tamba Hali (thumb, knee)
PROBABLE: G Jeff Allen (ankle), WR Chris Conley (thumb), LB Justin Houston (knee), TE Travis Kelce (groin), WR Jeremy Maclin (hip), T Jah Reid (knee), RB Spencer Ware (rib)

Maclin was full-go on Thursday and Friday and should be fine. Justin Houston will play after missing five games, according to NFL Media's James Palmer. Missing Mitch Morse is the opposite of fantastic when facing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Houston Texans


OUT: LB Jadeveon Clowney (foot)
PROBABLE:
RB Alfred Blue (calf), CB A.J. Bouye (knee), LB Max Bullough (shoulder), S Quintin Demps (shoulder), TE Ryan Griffin (achilles), WR DeAndre Hopkins (hand), CB Kareem Jackson (ankle), CB Kevin Johnson (foot, wrist), C Ben Jones (knee), P Shane Lechler (left hamstring), LB Whitney Mercilus (back), T Derek Newton (elbow, shoulder), RB Chris Polk (knee), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring), LB John Simon (chest), G Xavier Su'a-Filo (calf), WR Nate Washington (hip), DE J.J. Watt (groin, hand)

Clowney was limited on Thursday and designated as out on Friday, which isn't a good sign for his availability. With Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington both designated as probable, the Texans should be at max power alongside Hopkins.

Pittsburgh Steelers


OUT: RB DeAngelo Williams (foot)
PROBABLE: S Will Allen (not injury related), WR Martavis Bryant (neck), CB William Gay (not injury related), LB James Harrison (not injury related), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), LB Vince Williams (illness)

Missing Williams is a huge blow. Fitzgerald Toussaint is slated to get the starting gig. We expect the Steelers to pass heavily and utilize receiver screens in lieu of runs versus the Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals


OUT: QB Andy Dalton (right thumb), TE Ryan Hewitt (knee), DT Brandon Thompson (knee)
PROBABLE: CB Leon Hall (concussion, back)

Perhaps the best news for the Bengals is that Tyler Eifert is completely off the injury report.

Seattle Seahawks


OUT: TE Luke Willson (concussion), RB Marshawn Lynch (abdomen)
PROBABLE: DE Michael Bennett (toe), S Kam Chancellor (pelvis), DT Jordan Hill (toe), CB Jeremy Lane (oblique), WR Tyler Lockett (hip), T Russell Okung (calf), G J.R. Sweezy (concussion)

Lynch was believed to be a game-time decision but has been downgraded to out for Sunday's game. Getting Chancellor and Okung back will offer a huge boost to a rolling Seahawks squad. Lockett popped up on the injury report this week, but should play.

Minnesota Vikings


OUT: DT Kenrick Ellis (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Everson Griffen (shoulder), DT Linval Joseph (foot), RB Adrian Peterson (back), WR Adam Thielen (shoulder, back)

The Vikings didn't have Joseph when they got steamrolled versus the Seahawks in Week 13. Getting their best defensive lineman back will be a big boon.

Green Bay Packers


DOUBTFUL: CB Sam Shields (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: T David Bakhtiari (ankle), LB Jay Elliott (quadricep), DE Datone Jones (neck), TE Justin Perillo (hamstring)
PROBABLE: T Bryan Bulaga (ankle), DT Mike Daniels (hamstring), DT Letroy Guion (foot), RB Eddie Lacy (rib), G T.J. Lang (neck), C Corey Linsley (ankle), LB Clay Matthews (ankle), LB Andy Mulumba (knee), LB Mike Neal (hip), LB Nick Perry (shoulder), CB Damarious Randall (groin), G Josh Sitton (back), G Lane Taylor (knee)

Bakhtiari was listed as limited on Thursday and Friday, which is a positive sign, but Aaron Rodgers' blind-side protector is looking like a game-time decision -- Don Barclay has struggled as a replacement when Bakhtiari has been out.

Washington Redskins


QUESTIONABLE: CB Quinton Dunbar (quadricep), S Dashon Goldson (shoulder, rib), RB Matt Jones (hip), LB Perry Riley (foot)
PROBABLE: DE Jason Hatcher (neck, knee), WR DeSean Jackson (knee), S Jeron Johnson (chest), CB Dashaun Phillips (neck), RB Chris Thompson (toe), T Trent Williams (knee)

Coach Jay Gruden sounded pessimistic about Jones playing this weekend, but wouldn't rule him out on Friday.

Weather Tracking*

We will update as prognostications drift closer to game times.

Chiefs at Texans (retractable roof) -- 60 degrees / Wind gusts up to 22 MPH
Steelers at Bengals -- 53 degrees / Chance of rain (57 percent)
Seahawks at Vikings -- 4 degrees / Wind gusts up to 25 MPH
Packers at Redskins -- 60 degrees / Wind gusts up to 36 mph
*Forecasts courtesy of AccuWeather.com

Matchups that intrigue


Chiefs' pass rush vs. Texans' offensive line

Much has been made of J.J. Watt facing the Chiefs' offensive line and DeAndre Hopkins vs. Marcus Peters might be my favorite battle of the weekend. However, too little has been made of the Texans losing Duane Brown. The left tackle is the Texans second-most important offensive player behind Hopkins (sorry, Brian Hoyer). Losing Brown could open the flood gates for a Chiefs pass rush which will get Justin Houston (probable) back and ramp up Tamba Hali's snap count after a late-season injury. Hoyer was banged around in Week 17 even before Brown left and ended the game with eight quarterback hits and two sacks. That was against a Jacksonville team with a limp pass rush. I imagine the Chiefs are licking their chops, waiting to tee off with Brown on the sideline. If Kansas City's front swallows up Hoyer -- who already suffered two concussions this season -- the Texans' game plan of targeting Hopkins as many times as humanly possible will get flushed.

Antonio Brown/Martavis Bryant/Markus Wheaton vs. Bengals secondary


Castrol EDGE Clutch Performers:
Antonio Brown is the linchpin to the Steelers' success. The All-Pro receiver's superlatives are seemingly endless after he reached 120-plus receptions, 1,600-plus yards and nine-plus TD receptions for the second time in his career. It's been a different story versus the Bengals this season. With Ben Roethlisberger playing in both games against Cincinnati, Brown averaged just 67.0 yards per game -- he averaged 146.5 in his other 10 games with Big Ben in the lineup. The Bengals' secondary successfully limited the Steelers' big plays this season, which also helped silence Martavis Bryant -- holding the big-play wideout to just 49 yards in each of the two contests. Roethlisberger has been held under 300 yards in both games versus the Bengals. Credit Cincy's secondary of Adam Jones, Leon Hall, Reggie Nelson, et al. with playing sticky coverage and sticking to the scheme. With DeAngelo Williams ruled out, the Steelers' dynamo receiving corps will need to bust out of their Bengal-induced coma Saturday night or Pittsburgh will struggle to move the ball.

Vikings' pass rush vs. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson's white-hot play lands in the frigid tundra of Minnesota this week. The Seahawks signal caller earned 24 passing touchdowns and just one interception in his past seven games. As the Rams showed in Week 16, the only way to hope to slow down Seattle's offense is to pummel Wilson. The signal caller took 109 QB hits this season (most in NFL) and was sacked 46 times. The Seahawks should get Russell Okung back this week, but still struggle at times dealing with pressure, especially up the gut. Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph didn't play in the team's matchup earlier this season. Minnesota's most dominant lineman for the balance of the season returned to practice this week and if he can go, he would be a huge problem for the Seahawks' interior line. The Vikings blitzed on 25.2 percent of pass plays this season, but Wilson had a passer rating of 121.1 versus the blitz this season -- highest in NFL. Given that high ratio, the Vikings line of Joseph, Everson Griffen and Brian Robison will need to pressure and corral Wilson in order to stop another Seahawks offensive storm in Minnesota.

Jordan Reed vs. Packers LBs/safeties

When Jordan Reed is healthy and focused there isn't a tight end south of Gronk I like watching more. Reed can run routes with precision, beat up secondary players and outsprint linebackers. He's a monster matchup problem in the red zone and Kirk Cousins uses him as a security blanket in key situations. Reed gobbled up 378 yards and five touchdowns over the past four contests. The Packers have faired well against the few good tight ends they have faced in 2015 -- holding Jason Witten to 40 yards and Greg Olsen to 66. Green Bay also boasts the sixth-best pass defense in the NFL. Expect to see the Pack deploy safeties often against Reed, especially in passing situations (and pray for poor Jake Ryan if he ever ends up one-on-one with the athletic pass catcher). With the Packers offense sputtering, the defense will need to lead if Mike McCarthy's crew is going to overcome the stormy cloud hanging over his team. Shutting down Reed is key to that entire endeavor, if it can be done.

Did You Know?



General knowledge

Five of the 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl are in the playoffs this season: Bengals, Cardinals, Panthers, Texans, Vikings

Nine Super Bowl winners came from the Wild Card round -- three have come in the last five seasons.

Conference Seed of Eventual Super Bowl Winners Since 1990
1 Seeds: 2014 Patriots; 2013 Seahawks; 2009 Saints; 2003 Patriots; 1999 Rams; 1998 Broncos; 1996 Packers; 1995 Cowboys; 1994 49ers; 1993 Cowboys; 1991 Redskins
2 Seeds: 2008 Steelers; 2004 Patriots; 2002 Buccaneers; 2001 Patriots; 1992 Cowboys; 1990 Giants
3 Seeds: 2006 Colts
4 Seeds: 2012 Ravens; 2011 Giants; 2000 Ravens; 1997 Broncos
5 Seeds: 2007 Giants
6 Seeds: 2010 Packers; 2005 Steelers

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. This season four teams made the playoffs that were not 2014 playoff teams: Chiefs, Redskins, Texans, Vikings.

Eight of the top 10 teams in scoring offense this season are in the playoffs: Panthers (1st; 31.3); Cardinals (2nd; 30.6); Patriots (3rd; 29.1); Steelers (T-4th; 26.4); Seahawks (T-4th; 26.4); Bengals (7th; 26.2); Chiefs (9th; 25.3); Redskins (10th; 24.3).

Eleven of the top 12 teams in scoring defense this season ore in the playoffs: Seahawks (1st; 17.3); Bengals (2nd; 17.4); Chiefs (3rd; 17.9); Broncos (4th; 18.5); Vikings (5th 18.9); Panthers (6th; 19.3); Cardinals (T-7th; 19.6); Texans (T-7th; 19.6); Patriots (10th; 19.7); Steelers (11th; 19.9); Packers (12th; 20.2).

Best Passer Rating, Playoff QBs This Season
Russell Wilson: 110.1
Andy Dalton*: 106.3
Carson Palmer 104.6
Tom Brady 102.2
Kirk Cousins 101.6
Cam Newton 99.4
AJ McCarron 97.1
Alex Smith 95.4
Ben Roethlisberger 94.5
Aaron Rodgers 92.7
Brian Hoyer 91.4
Teddy Bridgewater 88.7
Brock Osweiler* 86.4
Peyton Manning 67.9
*will not start team's first playoff game.

Most Career Playoff Starts Among 2015 Playoff QBs
Tom Brady: 29
Peyton Manning: 24
Ben Roethlisberger: 15
Aaron Rodgers: 11
Russell Wilson: 8
Andy Dalton*: 4
Cam Newton: 3
Alex Smith: 3
Carson Palmer: 2
AJ McCarron: 0
Brock Osweiler*: 0
Brian Hoyer: 0
Teddy Bridgewater: 0
Kirk Cousins: 0
*will not start team's first playoff game.

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans -- Saturday, 4:35 PM ET


J.J. Watt and Justin Houston have won three of the last four sack titles and are two of the 10 players to ever record a 20-sack season in the NFL. Since 2012, Watt ranks first (69.0) and Houston ranks second (50.5) in sacks among all NFL players.

Both teams lost their star running backs to injuries and started slow, but the Chiefs are 10-1 without Jamaal Charles, while the Texans are 8- 4 without Arian Foster.

KC has the longest active winning streak in the NFL (10 straight). Only one of the last five teams to enter the playoffs on a 10-plus game winning streak made it to the Super Bowl (2007 Patriots lost Super Bowl).

Over the course of their eight-game postseason losing streak, the Chiefs have faced three Hall of Fame QBs and three Super Bowl-winning QBs. The list includes Peyton Manning (twice), John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, and Jim Harbaugh.

The Chiefs offense ranks 9th in PPG (25.3), but only 27th in total YPG (331.2). The Chiefs had 15 giveaways this season (2nd-fewest in NFL) and 19 rushing TDs this season (T-most in NFL with BUF and CAR).

Alex Smith: 65.3 comp pct, 217.9 YPG, 20 TD, 7 INT, 95.4 passer rating. Second-highest passer rating of career (104.1 in 2012). Career-high for passing yards in a season (3,486). Smith had 498 rush yards this season (career-high). Smith averaged 6.7 air yards per attempt this season, the second fewest in NFL (Matthew Stafford, 6.5). 84.0 percent of Smith's pass attempts were less than 15 air yards this season - second highest percent in NFL (Matthew Stafford, 84.5 percent).

Smith has nine pass TD and zero INT in his postseason career, the most pass TD of any QB with 0 career postseason INT.

Charcandrick West: 160 carries, 634 yards, 4 TD (4.0 yards per carry). 56.7 scrimmage yards per game in last 5 games.

Jamaal Charles fumbled three times on 92 touches this season (1 every 30.7 touches). All other K.C. RBs fumbled once on a combined 293 touches this season.

Jeremy Maclin: 87 receptions, 1,088 receiving yards, 8 TD. First Chiefs receiver to gain 1,000 yards since Dwayne Bowe in 2011 and first Chief not named Bowe with 1,000 yards since Tony Gonzalez in 2008.

Travis Kelce: 72 receptions, 875 yards, 5 TD. Only K.C. TE with more rec yards in a single season is Tony Gonzalez. Alex Smith had a 107.9 passer rating when targeting Kelce this season -- 4th-best among TEs.

Marcus Peters: 60 tackles, 8 INTs, 26 passes defensed, 2 INTs return for TD. Tied for the most INTs in NFL (Bengals S Reggie Nelson) and T-most passes defensed in NFL (Raiders CB David Amerson). Allowed an opposing passer rating of 55.5 this season -- seventh best among CBs, min. 40 targets. Peters was the most-targeted defender in the NFL this season (134).

Justin Houston (expected to play after missing final five games of season with a knee injury): 7.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, 2 INT (in 11 games). Houston's fewest sacks since his rookie season (5.5 in 2011).

2015 marks the first season ever that the Royals and Chiefs both made the playoffs. The Chiefs haven't lost since the Royals made the World Series in October.

Chiefs Defense and Texans Defenses, Since Week 8
Chiefs: 12.8 PPG allowed (ranked 2nd in NFL); 299.2 total YPG (4th); 32 sacks (T-1st); 31.2 third down percent (2nd)
Texans: 12.7 PPG allowed (ranked 1st in NFL); 263.0 total YPG (1st); 32 sacks (T-1st); 28.0 third down percent (1st)

The Texans went 5-1 versus the AFC South teams this season, but just 4-6 against non-divisional opponents. The Texans defense allowed just 12.5 PPG to AFC South teams, but that number nearly doubles to 23.8 PPG against non-division opponents.

Texans 3rd playoff appearance in franchise history (since 2002). Texans have never been "one-and-done" in the postseason. Both playoff wins came at home versus Cincinnati.

Houston's offense ranks 21st in the NFL in scoring (21.2 PPG), the lowest among all playoff teams. Ranks 19th in total YPG (347.8), 15th in rush YPG (108.2) and 18th in pass YPG (239.6). Scored 30-plus points in each of last two games -- scored 30-plus points in just one other game this season.

Brian Hoyer: 60.7 comp pct, 236.9 YPG, 19 TD, 7 INT, 91.4 passer rating. Hoyer has not thrown multiple interceptions in any game this season. Multiple TD passes in seven games. Averaged 9.5 air yards per attempt this season (T-6th most among 33 qualifying QBs).

DeAndre Hopkins: 111 receptions, 1,521 receiving yards, 11 TD.

Hopkins is the second receiver in NFL history age 23 or younger with 1,500-plus receiving yards and 11-plus receiving TDs in a season (joining Isaac Bruce, 1995). Hopkins has posted a 100-yard receiving game with four different starting QBs this season. He's the first player since at least 1950 to accomplish that feat. Hopkins had 60 receptions of 10-plus air yards this season (most in NFL).

Marcus Peters vs DeAndre Hopkins:
Hopkins ranks 3rd in receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,521)
Peters ranks 7th in passer rating allowed (55.5)
Week 1 matchup: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 75.4 passer rating

DeAndre Hopkins When Targeted with a Rookie in Coverage (Career)
Targets: 34
Receptions: 18
Yards: 289
TD-INT: 3-1
Passer Rating: 98.8

Alfred Blue: 183 carries, 698 rush yards (3.8 avg), 2 TD. Three 100-plus yard rushing games this season (career high) -- 100-plus rushing yards in two of the last three games.

J.J. Watt has 101 QB hits over the last two seasons. Since QB hits were first tracked in 2006, Jared Allen is the only other player in the league to amass 100-plus QB hits over a three-year span (2007-09 & 2008-10). Watt has been even more dominant at home than on the road. Watt racked up 19 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and 36 QB hits in eight home games this season. In eight road games, Watt still posted splits of 10 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and 14 QB hits.

The Texans are the 7th team since 1950 to start 4 or more QBs in a season and make the playoffs. Only 1 of the previous 6 teams - the 1984 Bears - won a playoff game.

Under the radar players to watch:

Texans RB Akeem Hunt: The rookie is the Texans best back in space. While Jonathan Grimes takes most of the pass-catching snaps in the backfield, Hunt is the one with the big-play potential. In a game set up for a slugfest, a homerun threat is key. I expect the speedy rookie to get looks in screen situation trying to get him in space.

Chiefs LB Dee Ford: With Justin Houston's injury, Ford has leapt to the forefront of the Chiefs' defense -- though he himself is questionable. Ford compiled four sacks over the final four contests of the season. Facing a questionable Texans offensive line, the second-year pro is a candidate to burst into the national consciousness with a big game.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals -- Saturday, 8:15 PM ET


Mike Tomlin and Marvin Lewis and faced each other 18 times as part of the Steelers-Bengals rivalry. Tomlin holds 13-5 advantage (Won four of last five).

The Steelers are looking to repeat their magic from that 2005 season, when they won three road playoff games on their way to winning the Super Bowl. One of four teams to accomplish that feat: 2010 Packers, 2007 Giants and 1985 Patriots.

In the second half of the season, after getting Ben Roethlisberger back from injury, Pittsburgh averaged 10.9 more PPG (31.9 versus 21.0), and had more pass YPG in their final eight games (352.0) than total YPG in their first eight contests (349.1).

Big Ben struggled in his two games against the Bengals this season, throwing 1 TD and 4 INTs as the teams split their season series. Against the rest of the league, Roethlisberger was 7-3 with 20 TDs and 12 INTs -- includes his game in relief of Landry Jones. In two games versus Cincinnati, Roethlisberger did not reach 300 passing yards (262 and 282, respectively).

The Steelers offensive ranks: 3rd in the NFL in total YPG (395.4) and pass YPG (287.7); T-4th in PPG (26.4); 16th in rush YPG (107.8).

Antonio Brown: 136 receptions, 1,834 yards, 10 TD. Brown finished season T-most receptions (136), second most receiving yards (1,834). Tied with Julio Jones on receptions and behind Jones in receiving yards. Fifth time in NFL history a player has had 120-plus receptions, 1,600-plus yards and 9-plus TD receptions (Brown has two of the five).

Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger played together in 12 games this season, two of which were against Cincinnati. In two games against the Bengals, Brown averaged 67.0 yards per games. In 10 games against anyone else, Brown averaged 146.5 yards per game.

Martavis Bryant: 50 receptions, 765 yards, 6 TD (11 games). No TD in last 4 games -- longest streak of career without a TD.

With DeAngelo Williams (ankle) ruled out, it marks the third straight playoff game the Steelers will be without their leading rusher -- 2014 Wild Card vs BAL: Le'Veon Bell (knee); 2011 Wild Card at DEN: Rashard Mendenhall (knee).

Fitzgerald Toussaint Week 17 at CLE: 12 carries, 24 rushing yards (2.0 yards per carry) -- 12 career carries entering Week 17.

The Steelers are 11th in scoring defense this season (19.9 PPG), while ranking 21st in total defense. Earned the sixth-ranked red zone defense in the NFL and tied for the NFL lead with seven red zone takeaways (with Saints and Jets). Pittsburgh allowed the most passing YPG in franchise history (271.9).

The Bengals have not won a playoff game since the 1990 season. Their 24-year streak without a playoff win is the longest active streak in the league and the 6th longest in NFL history. All five of the Bengals playoff wins in franchise history have come at home. Cincinnati has never won a postseason game in which they trailed at any point -- 0-13 in such games.

Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in his playoff career, all with the Bengals. He is currently tied with Jim Mora Sr. for the worst playoff record among head coaches in playoff history.

Bengals offensive ranks: 7th in PPG (26.2); 13th in rush YPG (112.8); 15th in total YPG (358.0) and pass YPG (245.2).

The Bengals offense has taken a downturn with AJ McCarron at quarterback. After going 10-3 with Andy Dalton and averaging 27.2 PPG and 376.9 YPG, Cincinnati is now 2-1 under AJ McCarron, while averaging 21.7 PPG and just 276.0 YPG.

AJ McCarron: Started the final 3 games this season (went 2-1). As a starter: 65.1 comp pct, 184.0 YPG, 4 TD, 0 INT, 100.1 passer rating. Threw 2 INTs this season, both in relief of Dalton in Week 14 versus PIT. Week 14 versus Steelers: 22-23, 280 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 90.6 passer rating.

McCarron will have the fewest starts (3) of anyone to make first playoff start since Joe Webb (2) with the Vikings in 2012. QBs with three or fewer career starts are 2-5 in first playoff start. (Gifford Nielsen, Houston in 1979, and Ron Jaworski, Los Angeles in 1975, account for the only wins of the group.)

FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Week:

Jeremy Hill: 223 rush, 794 yards, 11 TDs. Did not have a 100-yard game all season. Tied for the most rush TDs in NFL. No rushing TDs in four career games versus Steelers.

Giovani Bernard: 154 rush, 730 yards, 2 TD; 49 receptions, 472 yards. One of two players with 700 rushing yards and 450 receiving yards this season (Devonta Freeman).

A.J. Green: 86 receptions, 1,297 yards, 10 TD. Six TD in last six games (TD in five of six games). Four 100-yard games this season -- all against division teams (2 versus PIT, at BAL and at CLE). Green has yet to score a TD in his playoff career.

Marvin Jones: 65 receptions, 816 yards, 4 TD. Career highs in receptions and yards.

Tyler Eifert: 52 receptions, 615 yards, 13 TD.

The Bengals owned NFL's No. 2 scoring defense this season (17.4 PPG allowed) despite ranking just 11th in total defense (340.8 total YPG). Ranked T-6th in takeaways (28), 7th in rush defense (92.3), T-9th in sacks (42) and 20th in pass YPG (248.5).

Carlos Dunlap (13.5) and Geno Atkins (11.0) have the second most sacks among teammates this season with 24.5.

Reggie Nelson: Tied for league lead with 8 INT this season (Marcus Peters).

Under the radar players to watch:

Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt: While the Steelers' secondary has been scorched this season, the front is solid, with second-year pro Stpehon Tuitt cut from playmaking cloth. The defensive end is second on the team in sacks with 6.5 (behind Cameron Hayward's 7). If Tuitt is pushing the pocket against a good Bengals offensive line, AJ McCarron's life will become hell.

Bengals WR Marvin Jones: A.J. Green will garner most of the attention from the Steelers secondary and Jones needs to take advantage of softer coverage. Facing a Steelers defense that gives up a lot of yards, I'll peg Jones as the beneficiary of breakdowns and big plays.

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings -- Sunday, 1:05 PM ET 100


History doesn't like the Vikings chances:
The Seahawks beat the Vikings 38-7 in Week 13 of this season, in a game that was both Seattle's biggest victory of the season and Minnesota's worst loss. Seventeen previous teams have lost to a team by 30-plus points in the regular season and then faced the same opponent again in the playoffs. Only seven of those 17 teams turned the tables for a postseason win.

The Seahawks have won their last three games against 2015 playoff teams by an average score of 38-14. They beat the Steelers 39-30 in Week 12, the Vikings 38-7 in Week 13, and the Cardinals 36-6 in Week 17.

The Seahawks are 8-2 in their last 10 games after starting the season 2-4:
First 6 games: 22.3 PPG; 20.8 PPG allowed; +2 turnover differential.
Last 10 games: 28.9 PPG; 15.2 PPG allowed; +5 turnover differential.

The Seahawks are the only team this season to rank Top 5 in total offense (4th), scoring offense (T-4th), total defense (2nd), and scoring defense (1st).

Russell Wilson: 68.1 comp pct, 251.5 YPG, 34 TD, 8 INT, 110.1 passer rating. Led the NFL this season with a passer rating of 110.1 (Seahawks record). First Seattle player to lead NFL in passer rating. Wilson set the Seahawks' single-season records in several major categories (TD, passing yards, passer rating, comp pct, TD-INT ratio).

Wilson became the first player in NFL history to record 4,000-plus passing yards, 30-plus passing touchdowns, and 500-plus rushing yards in a single season.

Wilson has as many TD passes in his last 11 games (28) as Teddy Bridgewater has in his entire career (28 TDs in 29 games).

Wilson has 24 passing touchdowns and one interception in his last seven games. He is the only player in NFL history with 24-plus passing TDs and one or fewer interceptions in any seven-game span within a season.

Wilson has a better winning percentage in the playoffs (.750) than he does in the regular season (.719).

Seahawks allowed 46 sacks this season (T-6th most in NFL). Seahawks allowed multiple sacks in 13 of 16 games this season. Wilson took 109 QB hits this season (most in NFL).

Wilson had a passer rating of 121.1 versus the blitz this season -- highest in NFL this season. The Vikings blitz on 25.2 percent of pass plays (19th-most in NFL). This season, Wilson led all QBs in passer rating on throws from inside the pocket (119.7, min. 50 attempts) -- 32 TDs, 7 INTs.

Since Jimmy Graham got injured, Wilson has 16 TDs, 1 INT.

Marshawn Lynch has missed the last seven games with an abdomen injury, but is expected to return. Lynch has rushed for 100-plus yards in six of 10 career playoff games (60 percent), a percentage higher than every player with at least five postseason games in NFL history except for Terrell Davis (87.5 percent) and John Riggins (66.7 percent).

Lynch this season: 111 carries, 417 rushing yards, 3 TD - 15.8 carries/game, 59.6 YPG.

Doug Baldwin: 78 receptions, 1,069 receiving yards, 14 TDs. Most receiving TDs in a single season in Seattle franchise history -- Tied for most in NFL this season (Allen Robinson, Brandon Marshall). Baldwin has 11 TD receptions in his last six games --11 TD receptions in his previous 43 games combined. Baldwin was responsible for the NFL's top passer rating when targeted this season (139.9).

Tyler Lockett: 51 receptions, 664 receiving yards, 6 receiving TD -- three receiving TDs in last four games. Third most all-purpose yards in NFL this season (1,915), behind only Antonio Brown and Jarvis Landry: 852 kickoff return yards, 664 receiving yards, 379 punt return yards, 20 rushing yards.

The Seahawks were the only team in the NFL that did not allow an individual 100-yard rusher this season, while Adrian Peterson led the NFL with seven 100-yard rushing games. The last running back to register 100-plus yards against Seattle was Jamaal Charles -- Week 11, 2014. The Seahawks defense faced three players that finished Top 5 in rushing yards (Darren McFadden, Peterson and Todd Gurley). Held those Top 5 rushers to 3.5 yards/carry.

Seattle boasts the No. 1 scoring defense (17.3 PPG) and No. 2 total defense (291.8 YPG). Ranks first in first in rush YPG allowed (81.5), 2nd in pass YPG (210.3) and 4th in third down percent (33.9).

Michael Bennett led the Seahawks with 10.0 sacks and 30 QB hits this season. First career season with double-digit sacks.

Richard Sherman: 2 INT, 14 passes defensed (led team) this season. Allowed 4 TDs in coverage this season and a 84.3 passer rating in coverage this season (45th in NFL among all players with at least 40 defensive targets).

Seattle is currently riding its longest road winning streak of the Russell Wilson era (5 games).

This game will be played at 12:05 PM local time in Minnesota, 10:05 AM on the West Coast. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 11-14 in games played at 10 AM Pacific Time (including playoffs). With Russell Wilson at QB, the Seahawks are 8-9 in such games.

The Vikings went 0-3 against Top 5 total defenses this season, losing by a combined score of 84-47 (to the Broncos, Seahawks, and Cardinals). Minnesota gained only 279.7 YPG and had fve giveaways in those games.

Vikings offensive ranks: 4th in rush YPG (138.2); 16th in PPG (22.8); 29th in total YPG (321.2); 31st in pass YPG (183.0).

Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing yards this season (1,485 yards), while the Seahawks led the NFL in rushing defense (81.5 rush YPG). It will be the 10th time that the NFL's rushing yards leader squares off against the NFL's top rushing defense in the playoffs. In those games, the rushing leader is 4-5 and has never tallied 100-plus yards on the ground.

Peterson had eight carries for 18 yards in Week 13 versus the Seahawks. He set or matched his season lows in carries, yards, and yards/carry (2.3), and finished with the third lowest rushing total of his 124-game career (including playoffs).

Teddy Bridgewater: 65.3 comp pct, 201.9 YPG, 14 TD, 9 INT, 88.7 passer rating. Among all QBs to start 16 games this season, Bridgewater had the fewest TD passes -- next fewest: Alex Smith with 20. Vikings went 7-0 this season Bridgewater had 25 or fewer pass attempts -- 4-5 when Bridgewater had more than 25 pass attempts.

Bridgewater will become the youngest QB in Vikings history to start a playoff game (23 years, 61 days). The previous youngest was Daunte Culpepper, who was 23 years, 344 days old when he started against the Saints in the 2001 Divisional Round.

Bridgewater is 1-4 against Top 5 scoring defenses, with 3 TDs, 8 INTs, and a passer rating of 63.5.

Stefon Diggs: 52 receptions, 720 receiving yards, 4 TD.

Mike Wallace: 39 receptions, 473 receiving yards, 2 TD. Career lows in receiving yards and TD, tied a career low in receptions.

Vikings defensive ranks: 5th in PPG allowed (18.9) and third-down percent (34.5); 13th in total YPG (344.2); T-19th in takeaways (22). Vikings allowed fewer than 20 points in each of their last three games.

Everson Griffen led Vikings with 10.5 sacks, 30 QB hits, and 14 tackles for loss -- T-7th most QB hits in NFL.

Anthony Barr: 68 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8 QB hits, 1 INT, 3 forced fumbles.

Eric Kendricks led Vikings with 92 tackles this season -- First rookie to lead Vikings in tackles since at least 1994. 4.0 sacks, 8 QB hits. 

Under the radar players to watch:

Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett: At this point Lockett is barely under the radar. He joined Gale Sayers as only rookies with 6-plus receiving TDs, 1-plus kick return TD and 1-plus punt return TD. Sunday in front of a national audience, Lockett's explosive playmaking will be in full force.

Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes: Rhodes' season has been a tale of two halves. He struggled for much of the year, but was a lockdown corner the final seven games. Facing Doug Baldwin -- the hottest receiver in the NFL right now -- will be a tall task. If the Vikings are to pull off the upset, Rhodes needs to play the game of his career.

Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins -- Sunday, 4:40 PM ET


Kirk Cousins led the NFL in both completion percentage and passer rating in the second half of the 2015 season, while Aaron Rodgers ranked 32nd and 27th, respectively, in those categories during the final eight games.

After a 6-0 start when the Packers were scoring 27.3 PPG, they scored just 20.4 PPG in their final 10 games, losing six of those contests.

First time in the Aaron Rodgers-era that the Packers will enter the playoffs on a losing streak of two games or more -- seventh straight playoff appearance in the Rodgers era.

Packers ranked 23rd in total offense (334.6 total YPG) this season. Had not ranked 20th or worse in total offense since 1991 (ranked 24th). Third down conversion rate of 33.7 percent (28th in NFL) this season is the worst rate by GB in a season since 1987 (31.3).

Packers have fewer than 275 passing yards in seven straight games, the longest streak with fewer than 275 passing yards by Green Bay since Weeks 9-15, 2005 (seven straight games). Fewer than 300 total yards in three games this season.

Rodgers: 60.7 comp pct, 238.8 YPG, 31 TD, 8 INT, 92.7 passer rating. Rodgers finished the season with his first sub-100 passer rating in a season since 2008, his first year as starter. His 92.7 passer rating in 2015 was the lowest of his career as a starter. Posted a passer rating below 100.0 in 10 straight games.

Rodgers was hit 101 times this season (most in season in his career). The Packers allowed 47 sacks this season (28th in NFL). Since Week 9, no team has allowed more sacks than GB (33); Rodgers has been hit 72 times in that span.

Rodgers has not thrown for 3-plus pass TD in eight straight games -- the longest streak of his career.

Eddie Lacy: 187 carries, 758 rush yards, 3 TD (4.1 yards/carry). After having 124 rush yards versus Dallas in Week 14, Lacy has 117 rush yards in the last three games combined.

Randall Cobb: 79 receptions, 829 receiving yards, 6 TDs. Cobb has not had a 100-yard game since Week 2 versus Seattle. The 14-game streak without a 100-yard game is his longest drought since he didn't have 100-plus yards in his first 20 career games.

James Jones: 50 receptions, 890 receiving yards (career-high), 8 TD. Tied for the most TD receptions on team with Richard Rodgers, led team receiving yards. Five of Aaron Rodgers' eight INTs were when targeting Jones this season.

The Green Bay defense allowed 227.6 pass YPG this season (6th in NFL). Rank 12th in PPG allowed (20.2), 15th in total YPG (346.7) and 21st in rush YPG (119.1). Packers allowed an opposing passer rating of 65.7 in the final four games.

Julius Peppers: Led team with 10.5 sacks this season.

Clay Matthews finished the season with 6.5 sacks. The other three 2016 Pro Bowl inside linebackers combined for 4.0 sacks: CAR Luke Kuechly (1.0), SEA Bobby Wagner (0.5), NaVorro Bowman (2.5).

The Redskins went 3-5 during the first half of the season, scoring 19.8 PPG. They turned it on down the stretch, scoring 28.8 PPG and going 6-2 in their final eight games.

Washington has scored 30-plus points and gained 400-plus yards in each of their last three games, winning them all. The Redskins have just one turnover in those three games.

All nine Redskins wins this season came versus teams that finished .500 or worse. Went 0-2 versus playoff teams, both on the road (44-16 loss at Carolina; 27-10 loss at New England).

Redskins offensive ranks: 10th in PPG (24.3); 11th in pass YPG (255.9); 17th in total YPG (353.8); 20th in rush YPG (97.9).

Kirk Cousins: 69.8 comp pct, 260.4 pass YPG, 29 TD, 11 INT, 101.6 passer rating. Cousins has six straight games with a 100-plus passer rating, the longest active streak.

Cousins led the NFL in completion percentage this season (69.8). He also led the NFL with a 126.1 passer rating in the final eight games this season. In fact, that's the third highest passer rating for any player in the final eight games of a 16-game season (since 1978), behind only Tom Brady when he was the MVP in 2010 (128.2) and Nick Foles in 2013 (126.3).

Yes, Kirk, we do: Cousins had thrown 24 TDs and 27 INTs prior to the "You Like That?!" game against the Buccaneers this season. Including that game and ever since, Cousins has thrown 23 TDs and 3 INTs.

Kirk Cousins career records when throwing interceptions:
0 INTs: 10-3
1 INT: 3-4
2 or more: 0-10

Jordan Reed: 87 receptions, 952 yards, 11 TD. Reed set the Redskins record with 952 receiving yards by a tight end. His four multi-TD games this season were tied with Doug Baldwin, Tyler Eifert and Ted Ginn Jr. for the most in the NFL.

Cousins has been more efficient with Jordan Reed on the field this season:
With Reed: 421 pass plays; 7.7 pass yards/attempt; 24-4 TD-INT ratio; 111.9 passer rating
Without Reed: 148 pass plays; 6.2 pass yards/attempt; 5-7 TD-INT ratio; 73.3 passer rating.

Only Doug Baldwin (139.9) had a higher rating when targeted this season than Reed (129.0).

DeSean Jackson: 30 receptions, 528 yards, 4 TD. Jackson had one 100-yard game this season (Week 15 vs BUF) -- fewest 100-yard games in a season in his career.

Alfred Morris: 202 carries, 751 yards, 1 TD.

The Redskins defense ranks 28th in total YPG (380.6) this season -- No team in NFL history won a Super Bowl with a defense ranked 28th or lower in total YPG allowed. Defensive ranks: 17th in PPG allowed (23.7); 25th in pass YPG (258.0); 26th in rush YPG (122.6).

The Redskins' defense had 14 sacks in final three games of season (T-most in NFL).

Ryan Kerrigan led the team in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (12) this season.

Even though they won all three games, Washington allowed 454.0 YPG in their final three games this season. That's the second most in the league over that span, behind only the Eagles.

Under the radar players to watch:

Packers WR Jeff Janis: Who else but the people's champ? Packers' fans love Janis despite his struggles. Even if he doesn't play a big role stretching the defense, at the very least you can count on the receiver to make several spectacular special teams plays. The Redskins aren't exactly a staple of good special teams play. Janis could provide a big hit causing a fumble or a big return that would turn the tide Sunday.

Redskins DE Chris Baker: Ryan Kerrigan gets the sacks and publicity, but come Sunday Baker will be key in Washington corralling Aaron Rodgers. Baker is third on the team in sacks with 6 and the front's best run-stuffer. The Packers' offensive line played better in Week 17 than it has down the stretch, but Baker is a player who could give Rodgers and Eddie Lacy trouble.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop