Thursday, February 22, 2024
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NFL What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs

NEW YORK – Below are among the players that can set milestones in the Divisional Playoffs:

  • Houston (C.J. Stroud)
  • Green Bay (Jordan Love, Aaron Jones & Romeo Doubs)
  • San Francisco (Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey & Nick Bosa)
  • Tampa Bay (Baker Mayfield)
  • Detroit (Jared Goff, Sam LaPorta & Aidan Hutchinson)
  • Kansas City (Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce & Rashee Rice)
  • Buffalo (Josh Allen & Dalton Kincaid)

Houston Texans.jpgGreen Bay Packers.jpg   STROUD & LOVE LOOK TO BUILD ON HISTORIC PLAYOFF DEBUTS

Houston rookie quarterback C.J. STROUD and Green Bay quarterback JORDAN LOVE each completed 16 of 21 pass attempts (76.2 percent) and had three touchdown passes with no interceptions for a 157.2 passer rating in their Wild Card victories last week, the playoff debuts for each player. 

This weekend, both have an opportunity to have among the highest passer ratings ever by a quarterback in their first two career playoff starts.

The quarterbacks with the highest passer ratings in their first two playoff starts in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONPASSER RATING
Joe TheismannWashington1982135.2
Rodney PeetePhiladelphia1995132.4
Dan PastoriniHouston Oilers1978131.4
    
Jordan LoveGreen Bay2023157.2*
C.J. StroudHouston2023157.2*
*in first playoff start

Stroud can become the first rookie quarterback ever with a passer rating of 100-or-higher in multiple playoff games.

With three touchdown passes on Saturday, Stroud can surpass MARK SANCHEZ (five touchdown passes in 2009) for the most postseason touchdown passes ever by a rookie and Stroud and Love can join SCOTT BRUNNER (1981) as the only players ever with at least three touchdown passes in each of their first two career playoff games.

Stroud recorded 274 passing yards last week and now has 4,382 passing yards this season. With 281 passing yards at Baltimore on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes), Stroud will surpass ANDREW LUCK (4,662 passing yards in 2012) for the most passing yards ever by a rookie, including the postseason.

The rookies with the most passing yards in NFL history, including the postseason:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONPASSING YARDS 
Andrew LuckIndianapolis20124,662 
C.J. StroudHouston20234,382* 
Justin HerbertL.A. Chargers20204,336 
*entering Saturday

Stroud can also become the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to record 500 postseason passing yards, joining RUSSELL WILSON (572 passing yards in 2012), BROCK PURDY (569 in 2022) and MARK SANCHEZ (539 in 2009).

The rookies with the most postseason passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONPASSING YARDS 
Russell WilsonSeattle2012572 
Brock PurdySan Francisco2022569 
Mark SanchezN.Y. Jets2009539 
     
C.J. StroudHouston2023274* 
*entering Saturday

With a victory on Saturday, Stroud will become the sixth rookie quarterback in NFL history to start and win a Divisional Round playoff game, joining BROCK PURDY (2022), MARK SANCHEZ (2009), JOE FLACCO (2008), BEN ROETHLISBERGER (2004) and SHAUN KING (1999).

The rookie quarterbacks to start and win a Divisional Round playoff game in NFL history:

QUARTERBACKTEAMGAMEFINAL SCORE
Brock PurdySan Francisco2022 NFC Divisional vs. DallasSF 19, DAL 12
Mark SanchezN.Y. Jets2009 AFC Divisional at San Diego ChargersNYJ 17, SD 14
Joe FlaccoBaltimore2008 AFC Divisional at TennesseeBAL 13, TEN 10
Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh2004 AFC Divisional vs. New York JetsPIT 20, NYJ 17
Shaun KingTampa Bay1999 NFC Divisional vs. WashingtonTB 14, WAS 13


Green Bay Packers (2).jpg PACKERS & LAFLEUR SEEKING ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCE

Last week, the GREEN BAY PACKERS became the first No. 7 seed to win a playoff game since the NFL expanded the playoff field in 2020. With a win at San Francisco on Saturday night (8:15 p.m. ET, FOX, FOX Deportes), they will become the third No. 6 or 7 seed to advance to a Conference Championship in the past 10 years, joining San Francisco in 2021 and Tennessee in 2019.

The Packers are seeking their third Conference Championship appearance in the past five years, having also reached the NFC title game in each of head coach MATT LAFLEUR’s first two seasons (2019 and 2020). With a victory on Saturday, LaFleur would become the sixth head coach since 1970 to reach a Conference Championship in three of his first five seasons, joining JIM HARBAUGHJOHN HARBAUGHCHUCK KNOXANDY REID and GEORGE SEIFERT.

In last week’s victory, running back AARON JONES rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns. It marked his third-career playoff game with multiple touchdowns.

With at least two touchdowns on Saturday night, Jones will become the sixth player in NFL history to record multiple touchdowns in four-or-more postseason games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers EMMITT SMITH (seven games), THURMAN THOMAS (five), TERRELL DAVIS (four), FRANCO HARRIS (four) and JOHN RIGGINS (four).

 The players with multiple touchdowns in the most career postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMGAMES
Emmitt SmithHOFDallas7
Thurman ThomasHOFBuffalo5
Terrell DavisHOFDenver4
Franco HarrisHOFPittsburgh4
John RigginsHOFWashington4
   
Aaron JonesGreen Bay3*
*entering Saturday

In six career postseason games, Jones has totaled seven rushing touchdowns. With a rushing touchdown on Saturday, he will tie Pro Football Hall of Famers MARCUS ALLEN (eight rushing touchdowns) and CURTIS MARTIN (eight) as well as LEGARRETTE BLOUNT (eight) for the third-most rushing touchdowns ever by a player in his first seven career postseason games. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRELL DAVIS (12) and JOHN RIGGINS (nine) have more.

The players with the most rushing touchdowns in their first seven career postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAM(S)RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS
Terrell DavisHOFDenver12
John RigginsHOFWashington9
Marcus AllenHOFOakland Raiders8
LeGarrette BlountNew England8
Curtis MartinHOFNew England, N.Y. Jets8
   
Aaron JonesGreen Bay7*
*in first six games

Wide receiver ROMEO DOUBS led the Packers with six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown last week in his playoff debut. He can become the first player in NFL history to record at least 150 receiving yards in his first two career postseason games.

San Francisco 49ers.jpg 49ERS MINING FOR PLAYOFF GOLD

The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS will be making their 2023 postseason debut on Saturday night when they host Green Bay
(8:15 p.m. ET, FOX, FOX Deportes). With a win, they will become the first team to advance to three consecutive NFC Championships since they did so from 2011-13.

Quarterback BROCK PURDY led the 49ers to two playoff victories last season and with a win on Saturday night will become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first two seasons, joining JOE FLACCO (2008-09), BEN ROETHLISBERGER (2004-05), MARK SANCHEZ (2009-10) and RUSSELL WILSON (2012-13).

Running back CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY led the NFL this season with 2,023 scrimmage yards (1,459 rushing, 564 receiving) and tied for the lead with 21 touchdowns (14 rushing, seven receiving). In four career playoff games, McCaffrey has totaled 416 scrimmage yards (254 rushing, 162 receiving) and four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving), with at least 50 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in each game.

With 50 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on Saturday night, McCaffrey will become the fourth running back and sixth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in each of his first five career playoff games.

The players with at least 50 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in the most consecutive games to begin a postseason career in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAM(S)GAMES
Marcus AllenHOFL.A. Raiders7 (Jan. 8, 1983 – Jan. 5, 1986)
Terrell DavisHOFDenver7 (Jan. 4, 1997 – Jan. 17, 1999)
Larry FitzgeraldArizona5 (Jan. 3, 2009 – Jan. 10, 2010)
Curtis MartinHOFNew England, N.Y. Jets5 (Jan. 5, 1997 – Jan. 17, 1999)
Randy MossHOFMinnesota5 (Jan. 10, 1999 – Jan. 6, 2001)
   
Christian McCaffreyCarolina, San Francisco4* (Jan. 7, 2018 – Jan. 29, 2023)
*active streak

Defensive end NICK BOSA totaled 10.5 sacks in the regular season, his third-consecutive season with at least 10 sacks. In nine career playoff games, Bosa has eight sacks.

With two sacks on Saturday night, Bosa will become the fifth player with at least 10 sacks in his first 10 career playoff games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, joining LAMARR WOODLEY (11 sacks), Pro Football Hall of Famer RICHARD DENT (10.5), FRANK CLARK (10) and TERRELL SUGGS (10).

 MAYFIELD, GOFF & HUTCHINSON CAN SET POSTSEASON MARKS IN DETROIT

Former No. 1 overall picks BAKER MAYFIELD and JARED GOFF will meet as opposing starting quarterbacks when Detroit hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo).

In last week’s Buccaneers victory, Mayfield became the first Tampa Bay quarterback to record at least 300 passing yards (337) and three touchdown passes (three) in a postseason game. Mayfield has now recorded three touchdown passes in two of his three career playoff starts.

With three touchdown passes on Sunday, Mayfield will become the third player ever with at least three touchdown passes in three of his first four career playoff games, joining PATRICK MAHOMES and AARON RODGERS.

In last week’s Lions victory, Goff completed 22 of 27 pass attempts (81.5 percent) for 277 yards and a touchdown with a 121.8 passer rating. In marked his second-consecutive playoff game with a completion percentage of 75-or-higher.

On Sunday, Goff can become the first quarterback in NFL history with a completion percentage of 75-or-higher in three consecutive playoff games (minimum 20 attempts per game).

Detroit defensive end AIDAN HUTCHINSON recorded two sacks in his playoff debut last week, his third consecutive game overall with at least two sacks since Week 17 of the regular season. With multiple sacks on Sunday, Hutchinson will become the fourth player to record at least two sacks in four-or-more consecutive games – including postseason – since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, joining SIMEON RICE (five consecutive games in 2002) and Pro Football Hall of Famers KEVIN GREENE (four in 1998) and REGGIE WHITE (four in 1987).

The players with at least two sacks in the most consecutive games since 1982, including playoffs:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONGAMES
Simeon RiceTampa Bay20025
Kevin GreeneHOFCarolina19984
Reggie WhiteHOFPhiladelphia19874
    
Aidan HutchinsonDetroit20233*
*active streak

Hutchinson can also join LAMARR WOODLEY (2007-08) as the only players with at least two sacks in each of their first two career playoff games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.

 CHIEFS SEEKING SIXTH-STRAIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

With last week’s victory, the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS advanced to the Divisional playoffs for the sixth-consecutive season.

With a win at Buffalo on Sunday (6:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+), Kansas City will advance to its sixth-consecutive AFC Championship Game, surpassing the OAKLAND RAIDERS (five consecutive seasons from 1973-77) for the second-longest streak of Conference Championship appearances in NFL history. Only the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (eight consecutive seasons from 2011-18) have a longer streak.

The teams to appear in the most consecutive Conference Championship Games in NFL history:

TEAMSEASONS
New England Patriots8 (2011-18)
Kansas City Chiefs5* (2018-22)
Oakland Raiders5 (1973-77)
*active streak

ANDY REID has appeared in 10 Conference Championships as head coach – six with Kansas City and four with Philadelphia. With a victory on Sunday, Reid would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer TOM LANDRY (10) for the second-most Conference Championship appearances by a head coach in NFL history. Only BILL BELICHICK (13) has more.

The head coaches to advance to the most Conference Championships in NFL history:

HEAD COACHTEAM(S)CONF. CHAMP GAMES
Bill BelichickNew England13
Tom LandryHOFDallas10
Andy ReidPhiladelphia, Kansas City10*
*entering Sunday

Quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES recorded 303 total yards (262 passing, 41 rushing) and had a touchdown pass with no interceptions in last week’s victory. It marked his 12th career postseason win.

With a victory on Sunday, Mahomes would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (13 wins) and BEN ROETHLISBERGER (13) for the sixth-most postseason wins ever by a starting quarterback.

The starting quarterbacks with the most playoff wins in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAM(S)PLAYOFF WINS
Tom BradyNew England, Tampa Bay35
Joe MontanaHOFSan Francisco, Kansas City16
Terry BradshawHOFPittsburgh14
John ElwayHOFDenver14
Peyton ManningHOFIndianapolis, Denver14
Brett FavreHOFGreen Bay, Minnesota13
Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh13
   
Patrick MahomesKansas City12*
*entering Sunday

Tight end TRAVIS KELCE totaled seven receptions for 71 yards last week, his 11th consecutive postseason game with at least five receptions and 10th consecutive postseason game with at least 50 receiving yards.

If he reaches those marks again on Sunday, he will join JULIAN EDELMAN (13 games) as the only players ever with at least five receptions in 12-or-more consecutive playoff games and join Edelman (13 games) as the only players ever with at least 50 receiving yards in 11-or-more straight playoff games.  ​

The players with at least five receptions in the most consecutive postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAM(S)CONSECUTIVE GAMES
Julian EdelmanNew England13 (Jan. 11, 2014 – Feb. 3, 2019)
Travis KelceKansas City11* (Feb. 2, 2020 – Jan. 13, 2024)
Jerry RiceHOFSan Francisco10 (Jan. 1, 1989 – Jan. 17, 1993)
Wes WelkerNew England, Denver10 (Jan. 12, 2008 – Jan. 12, 2014)
*active streak

The players with at least 50 receiving yards in the most consecutive postseason games in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAM(S)CONSECUTIVE GAMES
Julian EdelmanNew England13 (Jan. 11, 2014 – Feb. 3, 2019)
Gary ClarkWashington10 (Jan. 10, 1988 – Jan. 9, 1993)
Julio JonesAtlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay10 (Jan. 8, 2012 – Jan. 16, 2023)
Travis KelceKansas City10* (Jan. 17, 2021 – Jan. 13, 2024)
Jerry RiceHOFSan Francisco10 (Jan. 1, 1989 – Jan. 17, 1993)
*active streak

 ALLEN RUSHING INTO POSTSEASON RECORD BOOKS

Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN totaled 277 yards (203 passing, 74 rushing) and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in last week’s victory. Allen now has 16 rushing touchdowns this season, the most-ever by a quarterback in a season, including the playoffs.

In nine career playoff games, Allen has totaled 491 rushing yards. With nine rushing yards against Kansas City on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS, Paramount+), he will become the fourth quarterback ever to total at least 500 postseason rushing yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG (594 rushing yards), RUSSELL WILSON (527) and COLIN KAEPERNICK (507).

The quarterbacks with the most postseason rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYERTEAMGAMESRUSHING YARDS
Steve YoungHOFSan Francisco22594
Russell WilsonSeattle16527
Coin KaepernickSan Francisco6507
Josh AllenBuffalo9491
*entering Sunday

RICE, LAPORTA & KINCAID CAN SET ROOKIE MARKS

In last week’s Kansas City victory, rookie wide receiver RASHEE RICE led the team with eight receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown in his postseason debut. It marked his seventh consecutive game overall with at least 50 receiving yards.

With 50 receiving yards at Buffalo on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS, Paramount+), Rice will tie MICHAEL CLAYTON (eight consecutive games in 2004) for the second-longest streak with at least 50 receiving yards by a rookie in history, including the playoffs. Only ODELL BECKHAM JR. (nine games in 2014) has a longer streak.

The rookies with at least 50 receiving yards in the most consecutive games in history, including the playoffs:

PLAYERTEAMSEASONGAMES
Odell Beckham Jr.N.Y. Giants20149
Michael ClaytonTampa Bay20048
Ja’Marr ChaseCincinnati20217
Mike EvansTampa Bay20147
Hart Lee DykesNew England19897
Bill GromanHouston Oilers19607
Earl McCullouchDetroit19687
Chris OlaveNew Orleans20227
Rashee RiceKansas City20237*
*active streak

Rice can also join JA’MARR CHASE (2021) as the only rookies ever with at least 100 receiving yards in multiple postseason games.

Detroit rookie tight end SAM LAPORTA and Buffalo rookie tight end DALTON KINCAID each recorded a touchdown reception last week in their postseason debuts. If either of them record a touchdown reception this weekend, they will become the first rookie tight end ever to record a touchdown reception in multiple playoff games.LaPorta can also tie Pro Football Hall of Famer MIKE DITKA (12 touchdown receptions in 1961) for the most touchdown receptions ever by a rookie tight end, including the postseason.

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