Labriola On

Labriola on Divisional Round, ramifications

The following is a look around the NFL at the matchups for this weekend's Divisional Round of the playoffs:

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON** KANSAS CITY at NEW ENGLAND

PLAYOFF RECORD
Chiefs          9-15
Patriots      28-18

CURRENT COACH'S PLAYOFF RECORD
Andy Reid           11-10
Bill Belichick        22-9

BROADCAST
CBS at 4:35 p.m. ET

Skinny: Some Steelers fans were whining recently that their favorite team hadn't won a playoff game since the 2010 AFC Championship Game. Last week in Houston, the Chiefs won their first playoff game since the end of the 1993 season, which was when they defeated the Houston Oilers in the AFC Divisional Round with Joe Montana as the starting quarterback. In 4 career playoff games, QB ALEX SMITH is 2-2 & has passed for 1,063 yards with 10 TDs vs. 1 INT for 107 rating. Aims for 5th playoff game in row with 97 rating. Won only career start vs. NE (9/29/14) & completed 20 of 26 (76.9 pct.) for 248 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 144.4 rating. KC defense led AFC & ranked 2nd in NFL with 22 INTs. Chiefs had 4 INTs last week, most in playoff game since 12/28/91 vs. Raiders in Wild Card … Coach Bill Belichick & QB TOM BRADY (21) have most postseason wins by head coach-QB duo. Brady's 21 postseason wins are most of any QB in NFL history. Brady is all-time leader in career playoff passing yards (7,345), TDs (53), completions (683) & attempts (1,085). Brady (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX) & HOFer JOE MONTANA are only players to win 3 SB MVP awards.

Impact on the playoffs: The Chiefs are the only team in NFL history to have both a five-game losing streak and a 10-game winning streak in the same season, although the league didn't go to a 16-game schedule until 1978. The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions, but this could be an interesting matchup because of Kansas City's ability to rush the passer. For the Patriots, if Tom Brady doesn't have the services of Julian Edelman and/or Danny Amendola, that could make it easier for the Chiefs pass rush to get to him, and as the New York Giants showed in those two Super Bowl wins over New England, Brady is just like every other NFL quarterback in that he doesn't like to get hit. There also is some question about the health of TE Rob Gronkowski, whose absence would be more costly to the Patriots than missing Amendola and Edelman combined. If the Patriots win, they would have a chance to host the AFC Championship Game if the Steelers upset the Broncos. If the Chiefs win, it'll either be a third game between Kansas City and Denver – the Chiefs won in Denver, and the Broncos won in Kansas City – or the Chiefs will host the Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium, where they won the regular season meeting, 23-13, on Oct 25.


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SATURDAY NIGHT** GREEN BAY at ARIZONA

PLAYOFF RECORD
Packers      32-20
Cardinals      6-8

CURRENT COACH'S PLAYOFF RECORD
Mike McCarthy     8-6
Bruce Arians        0-1

BROADCAST
NBC at 8:15 ET

Skinny: In a statistical oddity, this will be the 15th playoff game in which the Cardinals franchise will have been involved since joining the NFL in 1920, but it will be the third against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have a .615 postseason winning pct. (32-20), which is best in NFL history among teams with 25 games played. Club has 32 playoff wins, 3rd most all-time, behind Pittsburgh and Dallas, both with 34. This is team's 31st playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. Coach MIKE McCARTHY has led team to playoffs in 8 of his 10 seasons as head coach … Arizona won NFC West for 1st time since 2009. Set franchise record with 13 wins. Scored team-record 489 points (30.6 avg.) & led NFL in total offense (408.3 yards per game). Club has won 10 games in all 3 seasons under Coach BRUCE ARIANS. Arians has 34-14 record (.708) with Az. His 34 wins are most in 3-year span in franchise history. Are 19-5 (.792) in past 3 seasons at home.

Impact on the playoffs: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who completed 21-of-36 for 210 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a rating of 93.5 in Green Bay's 35-18 win over the Redskins in the Wild Card Round, has started stirring the pot. "Well, the pressure's all going to be on (Arizona)," Rodgers told ESPN.com. "They're coming off a tough loss at home against Seattle. Before that they blew us out. They're the Super Bowl favorites, and obviously the favorite team on Saturday night, so we've just got to go out, be loose, let it all hang out, because the pressure's all on that side. We're all fans of sports, we know how it goes, anything can happen. We're going in as the underdogs. We're going to be loose and ready to go, and it's going to be their stadium, it's going to be rocking, but the pressure's going to be on them." Who knows whether that's true or not, but the Packers are going to need Rodgers at his free-wheeling best in order to come out with a victory, and if they do, and if Seattle upsets No. 1 seed Carolina, the NFC Championship Game would be played at Lambeau Field.


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SUNDAY AFTERNOON** SEATTLE at CAROLINA

PLAYOFF RECORD
Seahawks    15-13
Panthers        7-6

CURRENT COACH'S PLAYOFF RECORD
Pete Carroll    9-5
Ron Rivera     1-2

BROADCAST
FOX at 1 p.m. ET

Skinny: This will be the third meeting in the playoffs between these teams, and the Seahawks won the first two. QB RUSSELL WILSON led NFL with 110.1 rating. Is 1st QB in NFL history with 4,000 pass yards (4,024), 30 pass TDs (34) & 500 rush yards (553) in season. As starter, is 53-20 (.726), incl. 7-2 (.778) in postseason. His 53 overall wins, 47 regular-season wins & 7 playoff wins are most by QB in 1st 4 seasons. Has 93.9 postseason passer rating, 7th best in NFL history. Averages 8.61 yards per att. in postseason, best in NFL history. Had 3 TDs & 149.2 rating in Div. vs. Car last year. Seattle led NFL in points allowed (17.3) & rush defense (81.5). Ranked 2nd in NFL in total defense (291.8) & pass defense (210.3). Seahawks are 2nd team in NFL history to lead league in points allowed in 4 consecutive seasons. Team has won 6 consecutive road games (incl. playoffs) & defense has allowed 1 offensive TD … Carolina QB CAM NEWTON is only player in NFL history with 30 pass TDs (35) & 10 rush TDs (10) in season. Passed for 3,837 yards & rushed for 636 yards. Is only player in NFL history with 3,000 pass yards & 500 rush yards in 5 seasons. Has 31 career games (incl. Week 6 vs. Sea) with pass TD & rush TD, tied for most in NFL history (HOFer STEVE YOUNG). Had 3 games with 5 TD passes. LB LUKE KUECHLY led team with 118 tackles. Has 11 INTs since 2012, most by NFL LB. LB THOMAS DAVIS was 2nd on team with 105 tackles. Is only player in NFL with 4 sacks (5.5) & 4 INTs (4).

Impact on the playoffs: The Panthers posted the best regular season record in the NFL in 2015, during which they became the sixth team in league history to finish a season 15-1. They joined the 1984 49ers, the 1985 Bears, the 1998 Vikings, the 2004 Steelers, and the 2011 Packers with 15-1 regular season records. Of those teams, the 49ers and the Bears won the Super Bowl, the Vikings and Steelers lost in the Conference Championship Round, and the Packers lost in the Divisional Round to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. This is a matchup of the team with the best record vs. the team that's the most playoff tested in the NFL. The Seahawks are looking to make a third straight trip to the Super Bowl, but each of those previous two trips came via homefield advantage. Cam Newton vs. the Seahawks defense is going to be an interesting matchup for fans to watch, but so will Russell Wilson vs. a Panthers defense that finished in the top 10 in the NFL in six significant categories. If Carolina wins, the Panthers will host the NFC Championship Game, but if the Seahawks win, the conference title will be decided at Arizona or at Green Bay.

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