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Around the NFL: Divisional Playoffs Preview
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11 Jan 2018 02:12 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Philadelphia Eagles wide out Alshon Jeffery. (Image Source: Elsa/Getty Images)

Around the NFL, Divisional Playoffs Edition:

Worst to First

Two teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars, went from worst to first this season. It’s the 14th time in the past 15 years that at least one team has made the turnaround. Four teams that have gone worst to first advanced to the conference championship game, with the 2013 Carolina Panthers one of two such teams to make the Super Bowl, along with the 2009 New Orleans Saints who won it all.   

New Teams

Of the eight teams who did not make the playoffs in 2016 who made the postseason this year, five are still playing. In addition to the Jaguars and Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and Tennessee Titans are playing this weekend after not making the postseason a year ago. Five teams who did not make the playoffs the previous year turning around to make it to the Divisional Playoffs ties an NFL record. It’s the fifth time that’s happened since 1990 and the first since 2000.  

Mr. Bill & Tom Terrific

No postseason coach is more accomplished than Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. Belichick has coached in 36 playoffs games, which is tied for the most ever, and he’s won an NFL-record 26 postseason contests.

Quarterback Tom Brady has led Belichick-coached teams to 25 of those 26 wins, which is the most by a starting passer in the history of the NFL. Brady is 40 years (and 163 days) old and he will take on the Tennessee Titans’ Marcus Mariota who is just 24 years (and 75 days) of age. The age gap of 16 years and 88 days is the largest between opposing quarterbacks in a postseason game.

Other QBs Win Too

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger has 13 postseason wins in his career, which is tied for the sixth most in NFL history. With a win on Sunday, he will tie all-time greats Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, and Peyton Manning for third place.

In the Atlanta Falcons’ 26-13 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Wild Card weekend, quarterback Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards, a touchdown, and a 101.8 rating. That’s his fifth-straight playoff game with at least a 100 rating, tied for the second-longest streak in postseason history. Ryan has also completed at least 70 percent of his passes in his past five playoff games and he can match Troy Aikman for the longest streak in postseason history if he does so again on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Let’s not forget about Drew Brees, who threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns in the New Orleans Saints’ win over the Carolina Panthers last week. It’s his fourth career playoff game with 375-plus yards, which is tied with Kurt Warner for the second most, one behind Peyton Manning for the all-time record.

Heisman Watch

Former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown in his postseason debut as the Tennessee Titans upset the Kansas City Chiefs last week. With a similar effort he can vault himself into NFL history. Former Titan Eddie George has the fifth-most rushing yards through two playoff games with 268, while the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell holds the record (337 yards).  

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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