NFL’S FINAL EIGHT TAKE CENTER STAGE IN DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
And then there were eight. The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs with a slate of four key games on tap.
On Saturday, January 13, the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3), who won the NFC East and secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, will host the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) at Lincoln Financial Field to kick off the weekend (NBC, 4:35 PM ET). That night in primetime (CBS, 8:15 PM ET), the New England Patriots (13-3), who won the AFC East and own the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will host the Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Gillette Stadium.
On Sunday, January 14, the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3), the AFC North champions, will welcome the AFC South-champion Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) to Heinz Field (CBS, 1:05 PM ET) and the Minnesota Vikings (13-3), who won the NFC North, will host the New Orleans Saints (12-5) at U.S. Bank Stadium (FOX, 4:40 PM ET), the home of Super Bowl LII.
Saturday, January 13
NFC Atlanta at Philadelphia 4:35 PM ET
AFC Tennessee at New England 8:15 PM ET
Sunday, January 14
AFC Jacksonville at Pittsburgh 1:05 PM ET
NFC New Orleans at Minnesota 4:40 PM ET
Among the final eight are the Eagles and Jaguars, who both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Half of the remaining eight clubs – Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Jaguars – finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year. And, with the addition of the Titans, five of the final eight clubs are new teams in this year’s playoff field.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (11-6) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:05 PM ET)
This is the second postseason meeting between the teams. The Jaguars defeated the Steelers 31-29 in the 2007 AFC Wild Card Playoffs (January 5, 2008). Jacksonville leads the all-time series 13-11, including the postseason, and defeated Pittsburgh earlier this season, knocking off the Steelers 30-9 in Week 5 (October 8) at Heinz Field.
The Jaguars defeated Buffalo 10-3 last week as the team earned its first home playoff win since 1999 (January 15, 2000 vs. Miami in the Divisional round). Quarterback BLAKE BORTLES connected with tight end BEN KOYACK for the game’s only touchdown.
In Jacksonville’s Week 5 win at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars recorded five interceptions – returning two for touchdowns – and rookie running back LEONARD FOURNETTE rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jaguars had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: cornerbacks A.J. BOUYE and JALEN RAMSEY, defensive end CALAIS CAMPBELL and defensive tackle MALIK JACKSON.
Pittsburgh won the AFC North for the second consecutive year, the team’s eighth division title since realignment in 2002. The Steelers have 36 postseason victories, the most in NFL history.
Steelers wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN led the league with 1,533 receiving yards and is the only player in franchise history to lead the NFL in receiving yards multiple times. Brown has 582 receptions and 7,848 receiving yards over the past five seasons, the most in NFL history over any five-year span for both categories.
The Steelers had an NFL-best eight players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: running back LE’VEON BELL, kicker CHRIS BOSWELL, wide receiver Brown, guard DAVID DE CASTRO, center MAURKICE POUNCEY, quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER, linebacker RYAN SHAZIER and tackle ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA.