(WATCH)Spurs’ Gay on playoff seeding: ‘I like to say it doesn’t matter, but obviously there are teams we match up with better’

The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and Oklahoma City Thunder have all clinched playoff spots in the Western Conference. However, where they will be seeded in the playoffs is still a mystery.

Every team wants to avoid the number one seed in the West, the Golden State Warriors. Currently, San Antonio(47-34) is tied with the Clippers(47-34) for the 7th seed(Spurs hold the tiebreaker), and are a 1/2 game behind the Thunder(47-33) for the 6th seed. If the playoffs started today, the Spurs would play the Nuggets in the first round.

According to Spurs F Rudy Gay, who San Antonio plays in the first round does matter.

“I like to say it doesn’t matter,” Gay said on Friday after the Spurs routed the Wizards 129-112 in D.C. “But, obviously there are teams we match up with better. Going into the playoffs, you have to give it your all, so no matter what we want to be in there and actually compete. So, we have to be ready no matter who it is.”

This season, the Spurs are 2-1 against the Warriors, 2-2 against the Nuggets, and 1-3 against the Rockets. If I’m San Antonio, I would want to take my chances against the Nuggets. While Denver has a lot of talent, this team has a young core that has not tasted the playoffs, which could be an advantage for the more experienced Spurs.

Listen below as Gay talks victory over Wizards, playing in D.C, playoffs, and the “Rodeo Road Trip.”:


Tony Gonzalez on Colts: ‘They’re dangerous as hell’

The Indianapolis Colts are one of the hottest teams in football right now. After starting the season at 1-5, the Colts would win 9 of their next 10 games to make the playoffs. Last week, in the wild-card game against Texans, the Colts dominated the Texans in Houston 21-7 to advance to the divisional round to face the Chiefs at Arrowhead on Saturday.

“They’re dangerous as hell,” former Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez told TMZ Sports about the Colts. “It’s a scary team.”

Gonzalez thinks the Colts-Chiefs will be a very competitive game, and he believes it could be similar to what happened in 2004(2003 season) when the Colts beat the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs 38-31 at Arrowhead.

“I remember back in 2003 when we had the number one offense in the NFL. Priest Holmes and the best offensive line ever, Willie Roaf, Will Shields, and we played against Peyton Manning, and there were no punts in the game,” Gonzalez said. “There were literally no punts in a playoff game, and we had one turnover. They got the ball and went down and scored, and that’s how they won. I gotta feeling it’s going to be close; it’s going to be an exciting game, but I think Mahomes, he’s the real deal, and I think he’s going to score a lot of points.”

They’re a lot of similarities between the 2003 Chiefs and the current version of the team. Both teams put up a lot of points(2003: 30.3 ppg, 2018: 35.3 ppg) and both teams struggled on defense(2003: 29th ranked defense, 2018: 31st ranked defense). Conversely, for the Colts, they had a big-time QB in Peyton Manning back then, and have a QB who is playing at a high level in Andrew Luck. According to the NFL, Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

History could be on the side of the Colts as Indianapolis is 4-0 against Kansas City in the playoffs, including an epic, come from behind victory in the 2013 season when the Colts came back from a 28-point second half deficit to beat K.C. 45-44, but in the end, Gonzalez is going with the Chiefs.

“I’m picking the Chiefs, and not because I have to either, but I think they’re going to play well.”

This has the makings of a very great game. The Colts are playing well on both sides of the ball and the Chiefs defense is not very good, but the Chiefs can put up a lot of points, and the game is at Arrowhead(7-1 at home). The thought is to go with the hot team, which favors the Colts. However, in the AFC, the last five number one seeds have made the Super Bowl.

In his first playoff game, could the moment be too big for Mahomes? I don’t think so. No moment has been too big for Mahomes this season, and with over 5000 yards and 50 touchdowns through the air, Mahomes is probably the league’s MVP.

I expect a back-and-forth contest, and it might come down to who has the ball last, but whatever happens, expect a lot of points at Arrowhead on Saturday.



What to look for in Divisional Round of the Playoffs

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX), look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.​​​​

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:

2010 Green Bay NFC Won Super Bowl XLV
2010 New York Jets AFC Conference Championship
2008 Baltimore AFC Conference Championship
2008 Philadelphia NFC Conference Championship
2005 Pittsburgh AFC Won Super Bowl XL
2018 Indianapolis AFC ???
2018 Philadelphia NFC ???

In the AFC, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-4, No. 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.


WINNING WAYS: The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend, and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dallas, who plays at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX), has 35 playoff wins and can tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), has 34 postseason victories and can surpass the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

Pittsburgh 36 25 .590 6
Dallas 35 27 .565 5
Green Bay 34 22 .607 4
New England 34 20 .630 5
San Francisco 30 20 .600 5​


TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:

2016 Aaron Rodgers (GB) 40 Matt Ryan (Atl.) 38 NFC Championship
2014 Andrew Luck (Ind.) 40 Peyton Manning (Den.) 39 AFC Divisional
2009 Drew Brees (NO) 34 Peyton Manning (Ind.) 33* Super Bowl XLIV
2009 Drew Brees (NO) 34 Brett Favre^ (Min.) 33* NFC Championship
2018 Patrick Mahomes (KC) 50 Andrew Luck (Ind.) 39 AFC Divisional
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Tied for 2nd


AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback TOM BRADY and the Patriots welcome quarterback PHILIP RIVERS and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS).

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:

1/13/19 Tom Brady New England Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers 28,688*
1/24/16 Peyton Manning Denver Tom Brady New England 28,603
1/9/99 John Elway^ Denver Dan Marino^ Miami 27,704
1/16/94 Warren Moon^ Houston Oilers Joe Montana^ Kansas City 27,306
1/22/17 Tom Brady New England Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh 27,162
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Total days as of Sunday, January 13


RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX) to face New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):

Nick Foles 125 179 1,432 10 3 105.2  
Bart Starr^ 130 213 1,753 15 3 104.8  
Kurt Warner^ 307 462 3,952 31 14 102.8  
Matt Ryan 237 351 2,672 20 7 100.8  
Drew Brees 354 537 4,209 29 9 100.7  
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):

Nick Foles 125 179 69.8  
Matt Ryan 237 351 67.5  
Kurt Warner^ 307 462 66.5  
Ken Anderson 110 166 66.3  
Drew Brees 354 537 65.9  
^Pro Football Hall of Famer


SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle AARON DONALD and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX).

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:

Terrell Davis^ Denver 1/11/98-1/17/99 4
Arian Foster Houston 1/7/12-1/5/13 3
John Riggins^ Washington 1/15/83-1/30/83 3
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas 1/15/17-1/5/19 2*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:

Lawrence Taylor^ New York Giants 1986 20.5 Won Super Bowl XXI
Aaron Donald Los Angeles Rams 2018 20.5 ???
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

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.


There are seven new playoff teams in 2018:


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:

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:

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):

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:

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):

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).

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:

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


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


(Single postseason)

Eli Manning, New York Giants
Kurt Warner, Arizona
Joe Flacco, Baltimore
Tom Brady New England
Tom Brady, New England

John Riggins, Washington
Terrell Davis, Denver
Terrell Davis, Denver
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders
Eddie George, Tennessee

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Jerry Rice, San Francisco
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina
Charlie Brown, Washington

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina
Wes Welker, New England

Terrell Davis, Denver
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Larry Csonka, Miami
Franco Harris, Pittsburgh
John Riggins, Washington
Jerry Rice, San Francisco
Gerald Riggs. Washington
Ricky Watters. San Francisco
Emmitt Smith, Dallas

NFL Playoff scenarios for Week 16

With two weeks left in the NFL, teams continue to battle it out for the 12 playoffs spots available.

Here are the playoff scenarios for Week 16:


CLINCHED: Los Angeles Rams – NFC West division title

                     New Orleans Saints – NFC South division title

                     Chicago Bears – NFC North division title

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-2) (vs. Pittsburgh (8-5-1), Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, CBS)

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

  1. NO win OR
  2. NO tie + LAR loss or tie OR
  3. CHI loss or tie + LAR loss

New Orleans clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. NO tie OR
  2. CHI loss or tie OR
  3. LAR loss

) (at Arizona (3-11), Sunday, 4:05 PM ET, FOX)

Los Angeles clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. LAR win + CHI loss or tie OR
  2. LAR tie + CHI loss

) (vs. Tampa Bay (5-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Dallas clinches NFC East division title with:

  1. DAL win OR
  2. DAL tie + PHI loss or tie + WAS loss or tie OR
  3. PHI loss + WAS loss

Dallas clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. DAL tie + MIN loss

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-6) (vs. Kansas City (11-3), Sunday night, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Seattle clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. SEA win + WAS loss or tie OR
  2. SEA win or tie + MIN loss OR
  3. SEA win + SEA clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over WAS OR
  4. SEA win + MIN tie + SEA clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over MINOR
  5. SEA tie + WAS loss + PHI loss or tie

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-6-1) (at Detroit (5-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Minnesota clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. MIN win+ PHI loss or tie + WAS loss


CLINCHED: Kansas City Chiefs – Playoff berth

                     Los Angeles Chargers – Playoff berth

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-3) (at Seattle (8-6), Sunday night, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title and a first-round bye with:

  1. KC win + LAC loss

Kansas City clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

  1. KC win + LAC loss + HOU loss or tie OR
  2. KC win + LAC loss + KC clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over HOU

HOUSTON TEXANS (10-4) (at Philadelphia (7-7), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Houston clinches AFC South division title with:

  1. HOU win or tie OR
  2. IND loss or tie + TEN loss or tie

Houston clinches a first-round bye with:

  1. HOU win + NE loss or tie OR
  2. HOU tie + NE loss

Houston clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. BAL loss or tie OR
  2. PIT loss OR
  3. TEN loss or tie + HOU clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over BAL

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-5) (vs. Buffalo (5-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

New England clinches AFC East division title with:

  1. NE win or tie OR
  2. MIA loss or tie

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-5-1) (at New Orleans (12-2), Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, CBS)

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:

  1. PIT win + BAL loss or tie OR
  2. PIT tie + BAL loss

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. PIT win + IND loss + TEN loss

Preview of Week 16 in the NFL

As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one team still alive in the race to Atlanta.

Two teams – the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Los Angeles Chargers (playoff berth) – clinched a berth in the 2018 NFL postseason last week. The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

In the AFC, the Houston Texans (10-4) can clinch the AFC South division title with a victory, while the New England Patriots (9-5) can secure their 10th consecutive AFC East division title with a win. The Patriots have advanced to the postseason in nine consecutive seasons (2009-2017), tied with Dallas (nine from 1975-1983) and Indianapolis (nine from 2002-2010) for the most consecutive seasons in NFL history with a playoff berth.

The Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) and Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) are tied atop with the AFC West and continue to battle for position in the AFC playoff picture. The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) can secure the AFC North title with a victory coupled with a Baltimore loss. Additionally, the Baltimore Ravens (8-6), Cleveland Browns (6-7-1), Indianapolis Colts (8-6), Miami Dolphins (7-7) and Tennessee Titans (8-6) all look to remain in the hunt.

In the NFC, three divisions have been clinched – the NFC North (Chicago), NFC South (New Orleans) and NFC West (Los Angeles Rams). The battle for the NFC East continues, as the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) can secure the division title with a victory this week, but the Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) and Washington Redskins (7-7) remain in the thick of the race.

With a win in Week 16, the New Orleans Saints (12-2) would clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The race for the two Wild Card positions in the NFC remains competitive, with the Carolina Panthers (6-8), Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) and Seattle Seahawks (8-6) fighting for a position in the playoff picture.

Below are highlights of the Week 16 schedule:

Week 16 kicks off with a Saturday doubleheader on NFL Network, as the Tennessee Titans host the Washington Redskins (4:30 PM ET) and the Baltimore Ravens travel to the StubHub Center to take on the Los Angeles Chargers (8:20 PM ET). Titans running back DERRICK HENRY, who rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns last week and 238 yards with four touchdowns in Week 14, is the fifth player since 2002 to record at least 170 rushing yards and two touchdown runs in consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2006), DEUCE MC ALLISTER (2003), CLINTON PORTIS (2003) and RICKY WILLIAMS (2002). Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS ranks third in the NFL with a 112.4 passer rating and is one of four quarterbacks this season to throw at least 30 touchdown passes (31) and fewer than 10 interceptions (eight).

On Sunday, the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles square off in a battle of playoff hopefuls at Lincoln Financial Field (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The Texans sit atop the AFC South and currently hold the No. 2 position in the AFC. Houston defensive end J.J. WATT had two sacks in the team’s Week 15 victory and is the only player in the NFL with at least 14 sacks (14.5) and five forced fumbles (six) this season. Texans wide receiver DE ANDRE HOPKINS recorded 10 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns in Week 15 and has three games with at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown catch this season, the most in the NFL. Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ leads all NFL tight ends with 101 catches this season and is the first player in franchise history to record at least 100 catches in a single season.

The NFC South champion New Orleans Saints welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon (4:25 PM ET, CBS). Saints quarterback DREW BREES leads the NFL with a 116.8 passer rating and a 74.9 completion percentage, while wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS leads the league with 109 catches this season. Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN has 672 receptions since 2013, tied with WES WELKER (672 from 2007-12) for the most by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

Sunday’s nightcap features the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 45 touchdown passes this season, tied for third-most in league annals through the first 15 weeks of a season and tied for the sixth-most over the course of a single season in NFL history. Seattle is averaging 154.9 rushing yards per game, the highest mark in the league, and features the only trio of running back teammates – CHRIS CARSON (913 rushing yards), MIKE DAVIS (439) and rookie RASHAAD PENNY (413) – with 400 rushing yards each in 2018.



(All times eastern)

Saturday, December 22 Sunday, December 23 (cont’d)
Washington at Tennessee, 4:30 PM (NFLN) Buffalo at New England, 1:00 PM
Baltimore at Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 PM (NFLN) Green Bay at New York Jets, 1:00 PM
Houston at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Sunday, December 23 Los Angeles Rams at Arizona, 4:05 PM
Atlanta at Carolina, 1:00 PM Chicago at San Francisco, 4:05 PM
Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1:00 PM Pittsburgh at New Orleans, 4:25 PM
Tampa Bay at Dallas, 1:00 PM Kansas City at Seattle, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Minnesota at Detroit, 1:00 PM  
New York Giants at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM Monday, December 24
Jacksonville at Miami, 1:00 PM Denver at Oakland, 8:15 PM (ESPN)

Adrian Peterson on Redskins and playoffs: ‘We’re in the hunt’

The Washington Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive after beating the Jaguars 16-13 in Jacksonville on Sunday. With the victory, the Redskins(7-7) are one game behind the Cowboys(8-6) in the NFC East, who were shutout today by the Colts 23-0, and a 1/2 game behind the Vikings(7-6-1) for the final wild-card spot.

Next week, Washington travels to Tennessee to battle the Titans on Saturday.

“At 7-6(7-7), we’re right there. We’re in the hunt.” Redskins RB Adrian Peterson said after the game. It’s all about refocusing on Monday and getting ready for a good Titans team. On the road again, but we have the guys in the building to get it done.”

Redskins WR Jamison Crowder, who had four catches for 46 yards on Sunday, is happy to have a shot at the playoffs.

“We’ve had to overcome a lot.  At the same time, it’s football,” Crowder said. “We’re right in the mix of it.  You just have to keep going. We’re glad to be in the mix, and some teams can’t even say they’re in this position.”

While the Redskins are still in the mix, they will need some help to win the NFC East or get a wildcard spot, which TE Vernon Davis recognizes.

“Hopefully, we will get some help from other teams and keep this playoff push going,” Davis said.

The Redskins showed some fight today, but their offense with QB Josh Johnson running the show, struggled today and will probably continue to struggle. Washington last two games won’t be easy(@Titans, Eagles). Furthermore, they are going to need teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs, so while they are still alive today, it’s still an uphill battle for the Redskins moving forward.

Rodgers on Packers and playoffs: ‘We’re going to need some help’

The Green Bay Packers are struggling right now. They have lost four of their last five games, including last night as they lost to the Vikings 24-17 to fall to 4-6-1. At this point, the Packers are going have to win out and get some help from others to make the playoffs.

After losing to the Vikings on Sunday night, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers discussed the team’s chances of making the playoffs in 2018.

Q: Do you think the playoffs are still realistic for you guys?

A: We’re going to need some help. We need to win these five [games], and then get some help.

Q: You said at one point that you were looking forward to finding that galvanizing
moment for this team. Are you worried that it might not come that it’s too late?

A: We are where we are right now, record-wise, and we are going to need some help from some teams and then we have got to take care of our own business. We are going to have to find a way to win a game on the road. We are 0-6 on the road. We just need to go back home, get some rest, beat Arizona, and then come back, beat Atlanta. Then we need to go to Chicago, a place we’ve won a number of times, beat them. Go to New York around Christmas, beat them, and then come home against Detroit, beat them. Get a little help.

Q: Does a 9-6-1 record get you into the playoffs?

A: I don’t know. But I can tell you that 8-7-1 won’t get in, I don’t think.

Q: What has this season been like compared to other seasons since the playoffs
seem to be more of a reach this year?

A: Yeah it seemed like that in ’16 as well. Nobody thought we could do it. Then we came together in Philly, got the job done. Came around and beat Houston, beat Seattle, went on the road and beat Chicago, came back home and beat Minnesota, went on the road and beat Detroit. We’ve done it before. We just have to find a way. The way our defense played tonight and with the injuries they had, to hold them to 24 points, we got to win this game. So, offensively, we got to be a lot better. We all got to play better, myself included. We started off the game nice. We had a couple good drives, we were rolling there, and we did our unfortunate typical lull and couldn’t get it going again.

Q: On the rest of the season…

A: We’ll see what we’re made of for the last five weeks. Are we going to stick together through these tough times or are we going to start splintering? I’d like to think that the leadership is in place that we can stick together through whatever happens. But these five weeks will show it.

Why LeBron and the Lakers will miss the playoffs this season

I know they have a lot of games left, and I hate to be a prisoner of the moment, but barring any trades, the 2018-19 Los Angeles Lakers will miss the playoffs in the Western Conference, and LeBron James will miss the playoffs for the first time since his second year in the league.

Here’s why:

When LeBron James went to Miami in 2010, he had two stars with him in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Ultimately, James would win two championships with the Heat. When James returned to Cleveland four years later, he had a star waiting for him in Kyrie Irving, and then Cleveland acquired another star in Kevin Love, which helped LeBron win a championship with the Cavaliers.

With the Lakers, it’s just LeBron, and a few guys we hope can be stars. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma,  Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball all have talent, but at this point, the jury is still out on whether they will be stars. Los Angeles brought in veterans like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee. These guys have been in winning situations, but at this point in their careers, they are not difference makers.

Furthermore, James had his most success when he had point guards who could shoot. Mo Williams in Cleveland(first time), Mario Chalmers in Miami, and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland(LeBron’s return to Cleveland). He does not have that in Los Angeles. Rondo and Ball are not great shooters. Therefore, that could have a negative impact on the LeBron and the Lakers.

Finally, the Lakers are in the Western Conference. The following eight teams in the West are better than the Lakers in no particular order: Warriors, Rockets, Jazz, Thunder, Pelicans, Blazers, Nuggets, and Spurs. And if Minnesota can keep Jimmy Butler happy, the Timberwolves are better as well.

At 33 and soon to be 34,  how many great years does LeBron have left? Who knows, but this year could be a waste of one of those years.

In the end, it took 47 wins to make the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Western Conference last season. Barring any trades, can the Lakers win 47 games or more? You be the judge…