Since the NFL adopted its current 12-team playoff format in 1990, home teams are 58-30 in the wild-card round (.659 winning percentage). In the last eight seasons, however, home teams in the wild-card round have experienced diminished success, winning 17 out of 32 games (.531 winning percentage). While all home teams won in the wild-card round in the 2011 playoffs, three of four road teams were victorious in the 2010 wild-card round.
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Rodgers a lone wolf in NFC playoffs
The six AFC playoff quarterbacks have 51 combined playoff starts among them, with 30 postseason wins. The six NFC playoff quarterbacks have nine combined playoff starts (six by Aaron Rodgers) with only four wins (all by Rodgers).
Well, this is a first
2012 is the first time in NFL history that the teams making the top two picks in the NFL draft (the Indianapolis Colts selected Andrew Luck; Washington Redskins selected Robert Griffin III) both made the postseason in the same campaign.
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We meet again
The Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans also played each other in the 2011 AFC wild-card playoffs. Before this weekend, teams have met in the wild-card playoffs in consecutive seasons only three times in NFL history. Each time, the team that won the first matchup repeated as the winner in the subsequent season. In 2011, the Texans beat the Bengals, 31-10.
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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton grew up in Katy, Texas, a 30-minute drive from Houston's Reliant Stadium. Dalton's 3-1 record in that stadium includes two high school victories plus guiding TCU to a Texas Bowl win in 2007. Dalton's only loss in Reliant Stadium was last season, when the Bengals fell, 31-10, to the Houston Texans in the AFC wild-card round.
Let's play two
The Minnesota Vikings visit the Green Bay Packers six days after defeating the Packers in Week 17. It is the 18th time that two teams will face off in their first postseason game after meeting in the final regular-season game. The team that won the final regular-season game also won the postseason rematch eight of 17 times.
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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had 409 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers this season (204.5 yards per game), tied for the fourth-most rushing yards ever by one player against a single opponent in a season. Peterson had 21 rushes for 210 yards and a touchdown in Week 13, and 34 rushes for 199 yards and a touchdown in Week 17 vs. Green Bay. Only the Baltimore Ravens' Jamal Lewis (vs. the Cleveland Browns in 2003), Buffalo Bills' O.J. Simpson (vs. the New England Patriots in 1973) and San Diego Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. the Oakland Raiders in 2003) have had more rushing yards against an opponent in a single season.
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How's that for starters?
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will be the first QB selected first overall in the common draft era (since 1967) to start a playoff game his rookie season.
The Colts are the seventh team in the common draft era to have the first overall pick in the NFL draft and make the playoffs the following season. Of those teams, Indianapolis is one of two that selected a quarterback, and is the only team for which the quarterback suited up for the team that drafted him. Eli Manning was drafted first overall in 2004 by the San Diego Chargers, who reached the playoffs with Drew Brees starting at quarterback.
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Adam Vinatieri's 45 career postseason successful field goal attempts are the most in NFL history. Vinatieri has played in 24 career postseason games, which is tied for the second-most all-time, behind Jerry Rice's 29 games. When Vinatieri takes the field for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, he will pass Larry Cole, Brett Favre, Gene Upshaw and Charlie Waters to take sole possession of second place on the career postseason games list.
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Springboard for success
Either because of the enduring success of the Baltimore Ravens defense or proximity to linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens' defensive coordinator position has been a launching pad for future head coaches. Marvin Lewis (1996-2001), Mike Nolan (2002-2004), Rex Ryan (2005-2008) and Chuck Pagano (2011) all became head coaches after guiding Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense. Only Marvin Lewis stopped elsewhere on his way to becoming an NFL head coach, spending one year as the Washington Redskins' assistant head coach and defensive coordinator before taking over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III (102.4) and Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson (100.0) are the first two rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to finish the season with a passer rating of 100.0 or above.
Who needs that first-round playoff bye?
Winners in the wild-card playoff round have won eight Super Bowls, and at least one Super Bowl participant in five of the past six Super Bowls played during the wild-card round. Both the 2011 New York Giants and 2010 Green Bay Packers played in the wild-card round.
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Stumbling into the playoffs
Since 1990, 28 teams have lost three or more of their last four games of the regular season and made the playoffs, including the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens this season. Only one of the 26 teams from 1990 through 2011 have won more than playoff game, the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who went on to win Super Bowl XLIV. From 1990 through 2011, 11 of those 26 teams lost their first playoff game.