Thursday, July 18, 2024

2024 NFL divisional round playoffs, facts to know: Patrick Mahomes on road, Lamar Jackson’s struggles and more

The headliner for this weekend’s games is top shelf. Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen, again. The opening acts are pretty good, too. A rookie (C.J. Stroud) can upset the MVP (Lamar Jackson). The Packers and 49ers renew their rivalry. Plus, two QBs drafted first overall look to build upon their comeback stories. 

Here’s 15 facts you should know about this weekend from myself and my colleagues at CBS Sports Research

1. Patrick Mahomes on the road: Patrick Mahomes makes his 16th career playoff start on Sunday night in Buffalo, but his 1st on the road. His streak of 15 straight playoff starts without a true road game is the longest streak by a QB in NFL history (Peyton Manning: 12 is second-longest)

2. Chiefs streak on the line: Kansas City is seeking its sixth straight conference championship trip, which would be the second-longest streak ever (2011-18 Patriots: eight in a row)

3. Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen rivals Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: Mahomes and Allen meet for the seventh time on Sunday night, matching Brady vs. Manning for the most matchups by QBs from different divisions in a four-year span. I wrote on Monday about how Mahomes and Allen are the best rivalry since Brady vs. Manning, hands down. 

4. Another thriller? This is the first Chiefs-Bills playoff game since the 42-36 OT thriller won by Kansas City two years ago. It featured the most points scored after the two-minute warning (31) in NFL history and the latest game-tying/go-ahead drive in NFL playoff history (Chiefs forced OT after getting the ball back with 13 seconds left!). 

5. Ravens have it all: The Ravens have the MVP favorite at quarterback, the league’s top rushing offense and top scoring defense. Sounds like an unstoppable combination right? Lamar Jackson was named a first-team All-Pro selection last week. The Ravens are the fourth team since 1970 with a first-team All-Pro QB and No. 1 scoring defense. The other three teams all won Super Bowls (1972 Dolphins, 1978 Steelers and 1996 Packers). 

6. Not so fast: Let’s not forget, Lamar Jackson is 1-3 in his playoff career with more turnovers (seven) than total touchdowns (four). It’s hard to believe C.J. Stroud and Jackson have the same number of playoff wins (one), but it’s true. Another one-and-done (after 2019) would be a very bad look for Baltimore. They could become the first team in NFL history to lose multiple playoff openers after a 14-win season. Jackson could be the first QB ever with more MVPs (two) than playoff wins (one). That assumes he wins MVP (which he will). 

7. Big stage Stroud: C.J. Stroud can become the first QB to beat the No. 1 scoring defense (Ravens) and No. 1 total defense (Browns) in the same postseason (in different games) since Steve McNair did it in 1999 for the Titans. It could be another incredible playoff performance vs. a top defense for Stroud, too. Between the College Football Playoffs and NFL postseason he’s racked up 622 passing yards and seven touchdown passes in two games (and his teams scored a combined 86 points). That CFP performance was against the Georgia No. 1 defense last year. 

8. Houston, we have liftoff: With a win on Saturday at the Ravens, The Texans would have the longest preseason SB odds (200-1) by a team to reach the conference championship in the past 45 years, passing the 1999 Rams (150-1) & 2021 Bengals (150-1. I wrote more about their Cinderella run on Wednesday.

9. First impressions matter: Jordan Love and Brock Purdy are two of the five QBs in NFL history with 30 touchdown passes and 4,000 pass yards in their first season as a full-time starter. So of course they square off with a trip to conference championship game on the line. The other three on that list by the way – Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes and Kurt Warner. 

10. Good as gold: A 49ers trip to the conference championship game is as good as gold. They have reached the conference championship game each of the last six times they *made* the playoffs. The Patriots (eight) are the only team with a longer streak in NFL history. 

11. TD underdogs again: The Packers already beat the Cowboys as a touchdown underdog and they can pull off another upset vs. the 49ers in similar fashion. Only four teams have won multiple playoff games as a TD underdog since 1970 (1996 Jaguars, 2001 Patriots, 2007 Giants, 2012 Ravens). The last three won Super Bowls. 

12. “They wrote me off, I ain’t write back though.” The Geno Smith quote applies to Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield, the former No. 1 overall picks who both won playoff games last weekend after being written off in the last few years. They are the only No. 1 overall picks to win a playoff game with multiple franchises before turning 30. 

13. QB blueprint: There’s a record seven former first-round QBs starting this weekend, the most in a divisional round ever (C.J. Stroud, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Jordan Love). Five were traded up for. The lesson? Be aggressive, move up and get your guy, plus have a succession plan (RE: Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love, Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes and Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson)

14. Better late than never: Half of the remaining playoff teams were not even in a playoff spot through Week 12 (Texans, Bills, Buccaneers, Packers) and all four clinched a playoff spot in Week 18. The last team to win a title after clinching in the final week of the regular season was the 2011 Giants. 

15. Historic offense does not equal a title: The 49ers were an offensive juggernaut this year, averaging 6.61 yards per play, good for the seventh-best mark by any team in the Super Bowl era. But, did you know … none of the top 12 teams on this list won a Super Bowl!

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