Welcome to Divisional Weekend, where the NFL’s best teams enter the playoff fray.
The second round of the NFL post-season features plenty of juicy storylines, starting with a matchup of two gunslinging quarterbacks and wrapping up with the defending champs against the NFC’s top seed.
We’ve gathered some of our favourite stats to help tell the story of this weekend’s matchups:
Kansas City Chiefs
The marquee matchup of Divisional Weekend could be its first, as the NFL’s leaders in touchdown passes, Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck, face off on Saturday afternoon.
In his first full season as a starter, Mahomes became just the second player in NFL history to throw for 50 TD passes and more than 5,000 yards – joining Peyton Manning as the only other quarterback to achieve the feat.
Luck, meanwhile, is having one of the best comeback seasons in NFL history. He’s reinvented his game under head coach Frank Reich after missing the entirety of the 2017 season, throwing 39 TD passes – two more than Manning did in his comeback-player-of-the-year season in 2012.
Given the fire power of these two quarterbacks, plus K.C.’s 31st-ranked secondary, we could be in for a barn burner at Arrowhead.
The story after the Colts win over the Texans last weekend was the sublime play of Indy’s offensive line, a story that, if you’ve paid any attention to Frank Reich’s team this season, is one you’ve heard plenty of times before.
When Andrew Luck has the complement of a healthy offensive line this season, defences have been hard-pressed to even lay a finger on No. 12. They’ve given up exactly zero sacks when the line is intact.
The Colts offensive line, led by top 2018 draft pick and All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, will need to be at its best on Saturday.
The Chiefs have some glaring problems on defence, but rushing the passers isn’t one of them.
Just like last weekend – and all season long – the play of Indy’s offensive line will go a long way in determining the winner.
Los Angeles Rams
While much of the attention will be on Sean McVay and the Rams’ high-octane offence against Dallas’s stout defence, the outcome of Saturday night’s game could be decided by L.A.’s ferocious interior pass rush led by Aaron Donald.
The favourite for defensive player of the year, Donald faces off against a Cowboys offensive line that has not fared well this season up the middle. The interior of the Dallas o-line gave up 21 sacks on the season, which tied them for 29th in the league.
It’s good that Dak Prescott performs well under pressure, because the Cowboys QB could be seeing a lot of Donald and Ndamukong Suh on Saturday.
The Cowboys, who are 7-1 this season when Zeke rushes for more than 100 yards, will need their star back to be feasting with two spoons on Saturday, as Dallas has had its fair share of struggles on the road.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady continues to defy Father Time as he begins his quest to lead the Patriots to an eighth-straight AFC championship game and a fourth Super Bowl in the last five years.
Brady’s playoff résumé speaks for itself, but it doesn’t make his post-season stats any less remarkable. Take this one, for example: Brady has 20 more playoff wins than any of the remaining quarterbacks suiting up this weekend.
Los Angeles Chargers
One of the big storylines heading into Sunday’s AFC clash between the Chargers and Patriots is the former’s stellar road record: the Chargers are 9-0 this season outside of Los Angeles, their only road loss coming at the Coliseum against the Rams.
And if the past is any indication, we can expect a deep run from these road warriors.
Something’s gotta give this weekend, as the Chargers are facing the only team in the NFL that went undefeated at home this season.