A statistical look at the 2018 NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday and Sunday, January 5-6, with Wild Card Weekend. On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts play at the Houston Texans (ESPN/ABC, 4:35 PM ET) and the Seattle Seahawks visit the Dallas Cowboys (FOX, 8:15 PM ET). Wild Card Weekend continues Sunday with the Los Angeles Chargers at the Baltimore Ravens (CBS, 1:05 PM ET) and the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to face the Chicago Bears (NBC, 4:40 PM ET).

The following week (January 12-13), the Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday, NBC, 4:35 PM ET) and New England Patriots (Sunday, CBS, 1:05 PM ET) in the AFC and the Los Angeles Rams (Saturday, FOX, 8:15 PM ET) and New Orleans Saints (Sunday, FOX, 4:40 PM ET) in the NFC host the Divisional Playoffs. The Chiefs and Saints own home-field advantage for the Conference Championship Games (January 20) if they win their Divisional contests.

The 2019 Pro Bowl (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC, 3:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 27 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida and Super Bowl LIII will take place on Sunday, February 3 (CBS, 6:30 PM ET), at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

TURNAROUND TEAMS & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD

There are seven new playoff teams in 2018:

BALTIMORECHICAGODALLASHOUSTONINDIANAPOLIS, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS and SEATTLE.

Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:

SEASON PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 6 (Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

Four teams won division titles – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East) and Houston (AFC South) – after missing the playoffs last season.

The divisions with new champions in 2018:

AFC SOUTH AFC NORTH NFC EAST NFC NORTH
2018 Houston Baltimore Dallas Chicago
2017 Jacksonville Pittsburgh Philadelphia Minnesota

In the 17 seasons since realignment, 29 of the 32 NFL teams have won a division title at least once.

How the 2018 playoff teams have fared in the 17 seasons since realignment in 2002 (2018 division winners in bold/italics):

TEAM DIVISION TITLES PLAYOFF BERTHS
New England 15 15
Indianapolis 9 13
Seattle 8 12
Philadelphia 7 10
Baltimore 5 9
Dallas 5 7
Houston 5 5
Kansas City 5 8
Los Angeles Chargers 5 7
New Orleans 5 7
Chicago 4 4
Los Angeles Rams 3 4

Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions since 2003:

SEASON TEAM RECORD PRIOR SEASON RECORD ADVANCED TO
2003 Carolina Panthers 11-5 7-9 Super Bowl XXXVIII
2003 Kansas City Chiefs 13-3 8-8* Divisional Playoffs
2004 Atlanta Falcons 11-5 5-11 NFC Championship
2004 San Diego Chargers 12-4 4-12* Wild Card Playoffs
2005 Chicago Bears 11-5 5-11 Divisional Playoffs
2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-5 5-11 Wild Card Playoffs
2006 Baltimore Ravens 13-3 6-10* Divisional Playoffs
2006 New Orleans Saints 10-6 3-13 NFC Championship
2006 Philadelphia Eagles 10-6 6-10 Divisional Playoffs
2007 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7 4-12 Wild Card Playoffs
2008 Miami Dolphins 11-5 1-15 Wild Card Playoffs
2009 New Orleans Saints 13-3 8-8 Won Super Bowl XLIV
2010 Kansas City Chiefs 10-6 4-12 Wild Card Playoffs
2011 Denver Broncos 8-8 4-12 Divisional Playoffs
2011 Houston Texans 10-6 6-10* Divisional Playoffs
2012 Washington Redskins 10-6 5-11 Wild Card Playoffs
2013 Carolina Panthers 12-4 7-9* Divisional Playoffs
2013 Philadelphia Eagles 10-6 4-12 Wild Card Playoffs
2015 Washington Redskins 9-7 4-12 Wild Card Playoffs
2016 Dallas Cowboys 13-3 4-12 Divisional Playoffs
2017 Jacksonville Jaguars 10-6 3-13 AFC Championship
2017 Philadelphia Eagles 13-3 7-9 Won Super Bowl LII
2018 Chicago Bears 12-4 5-11 ???
2018 Houston Texans 11-5 4-12* ???

           *Tied for last place

The 2018 field also showcases teams that have enjoyed recent postseason success. Since realignment in 2002, the New England Patriots have been to the playoffs 15 times, which is the most in the NFL.

The 2018 playoff teams with the most postseason appearances since 2002 (includes 2018):

TEAM POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
New England 15
Indianapolis 13
Seattle 12
Philadelphia 10
Baltimore 9

Seven of this season’s 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 1999, capturing 12 of the past 19 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI), Ravens (XXXV, XLVII), Colts (XLI), Eagles (LII), Rams (XXXIV), Saints (XLIV) and Seahawks (XLVIII).

SUPER BOWL SEASON WINNER
XXXIV 1999 St. Louis Rams*
XXXV 2000 Baltimore Ravens*
XXXVI 2001 New England Patriots*
XXXVII 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
XXXVIII 2003 New England Patriots*
XXXIX 2004 New England Patriots*
XL 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
XLI 2006 Indianapolis Colts*
XLII 2007 New York Giants
XLIII 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
XLIV 2009 New Orleans Saints*
XLV 2010 Green Bay Packers
XLVI 2011 New York Giants
XLVII 2012 Baltimore Ravens*
XLVIII 2013 Seattle Seahawks*
XLIX 2014 New England Patriots*
50 2015 Denver Broncos
LI 2016 New England Patriots*
LII 2017 Philadelphia Eagles*
*In 2018 postseason

The Baltimore Ravens (.652) and New England Patriots (.630) rank first and second all-time in postseason winning percentage.

The 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:

TEAM WINS    LOSSES PCT.
Baltimore Ravens 15   8   .652
New England Patriots 34   20   .630
Dallas Cowboys 34   27   .557
Seattle Seahawks 16   15   .516
Philadelphia Eagles 22   21   .512
Indianapolis Colts 22   23   .489
Chicago Bears 17   18   .486
New Orleans Saints 8   10   .444
Los Angeles Rams 19   25   .432
Houston Texans 3   4   .429
Los Angeles Chargers 11   17   .393
Kansas City Chiefs 9   18   .333

YOUTH & CONSISTENCY HIGHLIGHT THE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACKS

The 2018 postseason is filled with young stars on the rise and veterans at the top of their game at the quarterback position.

Three quarterbacks – Baltimore’s LAMAR JACKSON, Chicago’s MITCHELL TRUBISKY and Houston’s DESHAUN WATSON – are expected to make their first career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend while Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES, who led the league with 50 touchdown passes, will make his postseason debut in the AFC Divisional round.

New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who has led the Patriots to 10 consecutive division titles and five Super Bowl championships, is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (37), passing yards (10,226) and touchdown passes (71). Brady and Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES, who will make his fifth career postseason start, combined for an NFL-record 874 pass yards in Super Bowl LII last season. Foles had a 115.7 passer rating during the 2017 playoffs to help lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES, a veteran of 18 NFL seasons, will make his 14th postseason start in the NFC Divisional round after leading the league with an NFL-record 74.4 completion percentage and 115.7 passer rating in 2018. Los Angeles Chargers PHILIP RIVERS, in his 15th season, registered his 10th career 4,000-passing yard season and will make his 10th career postseason appearance.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback JARED GOFF and Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT, both selected by their teams in the 2016 NFL Draft, have led their franchises to division titles in two of their first three NFL seasons and each will be making their second career postseason start.

Both members of the 2012 NFL Draft class, Indianapolis Colts quarterback ANDREW LUCK will be making his seventh career postseason start while Seattle Seahawks quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who has led Seattle to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, will be making his 13th career postseason start on Wild Card Weekend. Wilson led Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in 2013 and a Super Bowl XLIX appearance in 2014.

A by-the-numbers look at the 12 quarterbacks in the 2018 postseason:

4 Rookie or 2nd-year Jackson, BAL; Mahomes, KC; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU
7 1st-round Draft picks Goff, LAR; Jackson, BAL; Luck, IND; Mahomes, KC; Rivers, LAC; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU
2 No. 1 overall picks Goff, LAR; Luck, IND (2012)
4 Drafted No. 75 overall or later, or undrafted Brady, NE; Foles, PHI; Prescott, DAL; Wilson, SEA
9 30 years old or younger Foles, PHI; Goff, LAR; Jackson, BAL; Luck, IND; Mahomes, KC; Prescott, DAL; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU; Wilson, SEA
3 35 years old or older Brady, NE; Brees, NO; Rivers, LAC

BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES

(Single postseason)

PASSING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON COMP. ATT. YARDS TD INT
Eli Manning, New York Giants
2011
106
163
1,219
9
1
Kurt Warner, Arizona
2008
92
135
1,147
11
3
Joe Flacco, Baltimore
2012
73
126
1,140
11
0
Tom Brady New England
2016
93
142
1,137
7
3
Tom Brady, New England
2017
89
139
1,132
8
0

RUSHING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON ATT. YARDS TD  
John Riggins, Washington
1982
136
610
4
 
Terrell Davis, Denver
1997
112
581
8
 
Terrell Davis, Denver
1998
78
468
3
 
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders
1983
58
466
4
 
Eddie George, Tennessee
1999
108
449
3
 

RECEIVING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON REC. YARDS TD  
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
2008
30
546
7
 
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
2011
28
444
4
 
Jerry Rice, San Francisco
1988
21
409
6
 
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina
2003
18
404
3
 
Charlie Brown, Washington
1983
14
401
1
 

RECEPTIONS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON REC. YARDS TD  
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
2008
30
546
7
 
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
2011
28
444
4
 
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
2013
28
306
3
 
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina
2015
27
335
3
 
Wes Welker, New England
2007
27
213
2
 

SCRIMMAGE TOUCHDOWNS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON TOTAL TD RUSH TD REC. TD  
Terrell Davis, Denver
1997
8
8
0
 
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
2008
7
0
7
 
Larry Csonka, Miami
1973
6
6
0
 
Franco Harris, Pittsburgh
1974
6
6
0
 
John Riggins, Washington
1983
6
6
0
 
Jerry Rice, San Francisco
1988
6
0
6
 
Gerald Riggs. Washington
1991
6
6
0
 
Ricky Watters. San Francisco
1993
6
6
0
 
Emmitt Smith, Dallas
1995
6
6
0
 
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