The NFL Playoffs got off to a very exciting start last weekend as three road teams won during Wild Card weekend and three of the four games were decided by less than 7 points. We now welcome the big boys back to the action as the top two seeds in each conference return after a bye week.
Here are 3-4 things to watch and know about each matchup this weekend
Colts vs Chiefs
This is the 5th playoff meeting all-time between Indy and KC and the Colts have won all four (1996, 2004 2007, 2014). The 2014 game was a classic! Chiefs led 31-10 at halftime and 38-10 at one point in the third quarter. Colts slowly started creeping back. The score was 41-31 Chiefs entering the 4th quarter and a late 64 yard TD pass for Andrew Luck to TY Hilton gave the Colts the lead and the win, 45-44. It’s going to likely take another 4 TD (not 3 INT) performance from Andrew Luck to get the Colts a win.
Since 1994, Chiefs are 1-11 in playoff games and have lost 6 in a row at home, most recently last year in the Wild Card round vs the Titans.
Andy Reid is 11-13 in his playoffs career. In 19 years as a head coach, he has led his teams to the playoffs in 13 out of those 19 years. Colts first year coach Frank Reich has plenty of playoff experience, coordinating the Eagles in last year’s Super Bowl and also appearing as a QB in Super Bowl XXVII.
Both QBs are awesome – Pat Mahomes threw for the second most yards (5,097) and Andrew Luck threw the fifth most (4,593) and these two QBs finished 1-2 in touchdown passes – 50 for Mahomes and 39 for Luck
Patriots vs Chargers
Patriots are 19-3 at home in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era (Ravens and Jets only two teams to get wins).
Philip Rivers is 0-7 in his career against the Brady-led Patriots. Rivers did lead Chargers to a win over Pats in 2008. but that’s when Matt Cassel started for an injured Brady. Rivers is also 0-2 vs Patriots in playoffs, losing in 2007 and 2008 – in both of those games Rivers has combined to throw 0 TDs and 3 INTs.
Brady and Rivers represent two of the three oldest QBs in this year’s playoffs.
Cowboys vs Rams
This is the 9th all-time meeting between these two teams, each team has won 4 times. First time Cowboys are playing Rams in playoffs in LA since 1985.
Rams beat the Cowboys 35-30 in 2017. Jared Goff threw 2 TDs with 0 INTs and Dak Prescott threw 3 TDs with 1 INT. Todd Gurley ran for 121 yards and had 94 yards receiving and Ezekiel Elliot was held to just 85 yards rushing and also 54 yards receiving. These four will be the difference makers on Saturday night.
Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Philips knows the Cowboys well. Philips went 34-22 in 3+ years as Cowboys head coach between 2007-2010, guiding the Cowboys to a 1-2 playoff record before being replaced by Jason Garrett halfway through the 2010 season. Garrett served as Philips Offensive Coordinator during that time so these two know each other well.
Jared Goff was the first QB (and player) drafted in 2016 and Dak Prescott was the 8th QB (and 135th player) off the board. Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenberg and Connor Cook were among those drafted inbetween Goff and Prescott. Goff got off to a terrible start under the (lack of) tuteledge from Jeff Fisher but has completed 62% of his passes, 65 TD, and 26 INT in 38 starts. In 48 starts, Prescott has completed 66% of his passes, 67 TD and 25 INT. Similar numbers in more games.
Eagles vs Saints
Since the start of the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era, Saints are 6-2 vs Eagles. Earlier this year the Saints beat (down) the Eagles 48-7. But that was with Carson Wentz, who is a much inferior QB to Nick Foles.
During the same Brees/Payton era, the Saints have never lost a home playoff game. Overall, they are 7-5, with all 5 losses coming outside the Superdome, where this game takes place Sunday. Saints lost in this round a year ago, in Minnesota (Minnesota Miracle).
Foles, arguably the greatest QB in NFL history, has three amazing accomplishments to his name. In 2013, in 10 starts, he threw 27 TD and just 2 INT (one of the best TD:INT ratios in NFL history). That same year, in 2013, he also had an NFL record 7 TD passes in one game. Last year, Foles single-handedly beat the Patriots, throwing, catching, and running all over the previously defending champs. And Foles is ~55-0 in his playoffs career with the Eagles. (if you ignore a loss in 2013, Foles is 4-0 over the last two years in the playoffs, but it feels like more).