IT’S PLAYOFF TIME!
It doesn’t matter how you got here. All that matters is that you’re here.
"It’s a new season," says head coach SEAN PAYTON of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, who open the playoffs in Seattle on Saturday. "You start from square one. The teams that are in are now 0-0."
The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 6 with Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in North Texas, begin this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.
"It’s the postseason," says Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl quarterback MICHAEL VICK, whose team hosts the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. "You win or go home. That should motivate everybody. Do your job or you won’t be playing next week. There’s really nothing more to say. This is the season. It starts now."
The Eagles are one of six new division winners – Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle – in 2010, tying for the most such clubs since realignment in 2002 (six in 2003 and 2008).
The 2010 playoff field also features five teams – Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Seattle – that did not make the postseason last year. This marks the 15th consecutive season that at least five teams qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before.
However, the 2010 postseason also showcases teams that have enjoyed recent playoff success. The top six teams with the most playoff berths since 2000 are in this year’s playoffs – Indianapolis (10), Philadelphia (nine), New England (eight), Baltimore (seven), Green Bay (seven) and Pittsburgh (seven).
BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-4) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-6) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
The Ravens enter the playoffs having won four in a row and six of their past seven games.
"Not many teams can say they won 12 games," says Baltimore running back RAY RICE, who had a team postseason record 159 rushing yards in last year’s Wild Card game. "And we had to win 12 games just to get the No. 5 seed."
Ravens quarterback JOE FLACCO has won 32 games in his first three seasons, the third-most by a QB in his first three NFL seasons since the 1970 merger (Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO and MATT RYAN, 33).
"We have exactly what it takes to win a championship," says Ravens wide receiver ANQUAN BOLDIN.
The Chiefs won the AFC West, becoming the latest team to go from "worst-to-first" in its division. This marked the eighth consecutive season that a team went from "worst-to-first" in its division, an NFL record.
"It doesn’t matter what you’ve done," says Kansas City head coach TODD HALEY. "It’s what you’re going to do now."
Igniting the offense this year has been Pro Bowl running back JAMAAL CHARLES, who rushed for 1,467 yards and averaged 6.38 yards per carry, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN as the only running backs in NFL history to rush for at least 1,400 yards and average at least 6.30 yards per carry in a season.
(See the breakdown of stats in the Game Capsule after the 'Jump')
SUNDAY, JANUARY 9, 2011
BALTIMORE RAVENS–AFC NORTH (12-4) AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS–AFC WEST (10-6)
SERIES LEADER:Ravens 3-2
STREAKS: Ravens-Past 2
COACHES VS. OPP: Ravens-Harbaugh: 1-0 / Chiefs-Haley: 0-1
COACHES PLAYOFF RECORD: Ravens3-2 / Chiefs 0-0
VS. COMMON OPP.Bal.: 5-0 (Buf. 1-0, Cle. 2-0, Den. 1-0, Hou. 1-0)
KC: 3-2 (Buf. 1-0, Cle. 1-0, Den. 1-1, Hou. 0-1)
PLAYOFF RECORD: Ravens 8-5 / Chiefs 8-13
LAST WEEK: Ravens-W 13-7 vs. Bengals / Chiefs-L 31-10 vs. Raiders
LAST GAME (9/13/09): Chiefs 24 at Ravens 38. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco passes for 307 yards & 3 TDs, each to different teammate, as Ravens beat Kansas City on Kickoff Weekend.
LAST GAME AT SITE (12/10/06): Ravens 20, Chiefs 10. Baltimore defense forces 3 turnovers & registers 5 sacks as Ravens become 1st visiting team to win in Kansas City in Dec. since 1995.
BROADCASTCBS (12:00 PM CT): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms. Westwood One Radio: Kevin Harlan, James Lofton, Tony Boselli (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 124 (WW1), 125 (Bal.), 123 (KC). XM: 124 (WW1), 102 (Bal.), 103 (KC).
PASSING: Ravens-Flacco: 306-489-3,622-25-10-93.6 / Chiefs-Cassel: 262-450-3,116-27-7-93.0
RUSHING:Ravens-Rice: 307-1,220-4.0-5 / Chiefs-Charles: 230-1,467 (2L)-6.4-5
RECEIVING: Ravens-Boldin: 64-837-13.1-7 / Chiefs-Bowe: 72-1,162-16.1-15 (1L)
OFFENSE: Ravens-322.9 / Chiefs-349.7
TAKE/GIVE: Ravens-+7 / Chiefs-+9 (T3C)
DEFENSE: Ravens-318.9 / Chiefs-330.3
SACKS: Ravens-Suggs: 11 / Chiefs-Hali: 14.5 (1C)
INTs: Ravens-E. Reed: 8 (1L) / Chiefs-Berry (R): 4
PR: Ravens-Webb: 9.5 / Chiefs-Arenas (R): 8.3
KR: Ravens-D.Reed (R): 29.3 (1L) / Chiefs-McCluster (R): 20.3
PUNTING: Ravens-Koch: 43.6 / Chiefs-Colquitt: 44.4
KICKING: Ravens-Cundiff: 117 (39/39 PAT; 26/29 FG) / Chiefs-Succop: 102 (42/42 PAT; 20/26 FG)
TEAMS MEET for 1st time in postseason.
RAVENS: Club makes 3rd consecutive playoff appearance under head coach JOHN HARBAUGH…Ravens are 4-1 in WC games (3-0 on road)…Bal. has won past 2 regular-season games against KC…QB JOE FLACCO joins Pro Football HOFers OTTO GRAHAM & DAN MARINO along with PAT HADEN & BERNIE KOSAR as only QBs to start a postseason game in each of his 1st 3 seasons in NFL. Has 3-2 postseason record. Flacco’s 3,622 passing yards & 25 TDs in ’10 both rank 2nd in Ravens history. In only career meeting vs. KC (9/13/09), Flacco completed 26 of 43 (60.5 pct.) passes for 307 yards w/ 3 TDs vs. 1 INT & 95.8 passer rating…RB RAY RICE had 159 rush yards & 2 TDs, incl. 83-yard rush TD, in last Wild Card appearance. Rice had 108 rush yards on 19 att. (5.7 avg.) in only meeting vs. Chiefs. Incl. postseason, club has 14-4 record (.778) when Rice has 80+ rush yards in game. For career, Rice averages 121.4 rush yards per game when he has 25+ attempts (607 total in 5 games). RB WILLIS MC GAHEE has 3 rush TDs in past 3 postseason games…FB LE’ RON MC CLAIN had rush TD in last game vs. KC…WR DERRICK MASON (61) joined TONY GONZALEZ & Pro Football HOFer JERRY RICE as only players in NFL history w/ 60+ rec. in 11 consecutive seasons. Mason (48) needs 2 catches to reach 50 career postseason receptions…WR ANQUAN BOLDIN has 14 receptions for 190 yards with 1 TD in playoffs…TE TODD HEAP had 5 receptions & 74 receiving yards (14.8 avg.) with 1 TD in last game against Chiefs…Ravens allowed 3rd-fewest points per game this season (16.9)…Balt. has 26 INTs in 13 postseason games…In 7 career postseason games, S ED REED has 7 INTs. Reed had NFL-best 8 INTs in ’10 & has 4 INTs in past 2 games…Club has not allowed RB to gain 100+ rush yards in 13 consecutive postseason games (3rd-longest current streak)…LB RAY LEWIS had team-high 139 tackles in ’10…LB TERRELL SUGGS has 5 sacks in past 5 postseason games…Ravens had 5 players selected to Pro Bowl (K BILLY CUNDIFF, LB Lewis, DT HALOTI NGATA, S Reed & LB Suggs).
CHIEFS: Will host 1st playoff game since 1/11/04…Chiefs made 6-game win improvement this season (4-12 in ’09), largest in club history…KC is 7-1 at New Arrowhead…QB MATT CASSEL will make 1st career postseason start. Cassel posted 13 TDs vs. 3 INTs & 91.6 passer rating at home in ’10. Had +20 TD/INT ratio (27 TDs/7 INTs) this season, best in franchise history. Cassel recorded career-high 27 TD passes this season, tied for 4th-most in franchise history. KC is 5-0 at home when Cassel has 100+ passer rating…Chiefs rank 1st in NFL this season w/ 164.2 rush yards per game…RB JAMAAL CHARLES averaged 6.38 yards per carry (1,467 yards on 230 att.) in 2010 & joined Pro Football HOFer JIM BROWN (291 att., 1,863 rush yards, 6.40 yards per carry in 1963) as only players in NFL history to have at least 1,400 rush yards & average more than 6.30 yards per carry in single season. For career, RB THOMAS JONES averages 81.7 rush yards per game against Ravens (245 total). Jones has 5 rush TDs in 7 career postseason games. In ’10, Jones became 25th player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards (10,045) & 1st ever to accomplish feat playing for at least 5 different teams…WR DWAYNE BOWE led NFL in ’10 with franchise record 15 TD receptions. Bowe is 1st Chief to lead NFL in TD receptions in season since OTIS TAYLOR in ’67 (tied for AFL lead)…TE TONY MOEAKI had franchise rookie TE record 47 receptions this season. Moeaki (556) ranked 2nd behind WALTER WHITE (559 in 1975) for most rec. yards by rookie TE in club annals…Rookie S ERIC BERRY led club with 4 INTs in ’10 & Chiefs are 3-1 when Berry has INT…LB TAMBA HALI had career-best 14.5 sacks this season. Hali had sack in last game vs. Ravens…LB MIKE VRABEL has played in 19 career postseason games & has 8 career sacks in playoffs. Vrabel has 2 postseason TD receptions…LB DERRICK JOHNSON led team with 122 tackles…Club had 3 players selected to 2011 Pro Bowl (WR Bowe, RB Charles & G BRIAN WATERS).