Five quick takes looking back on the divisional round of the NFL playoffs:
1. Run the ball and stop the run. It seems so old fashioned in this passing era, but the four winners had a huge edge in rushing yardage. The Rams had a 273-50 margin, New England 155-19, the Chiefs 180-87 and the Saints 137-49.
2. The four winners also had byes so this is the sixth year in a row that both Super Bowl teams will have earned byes. If the Saints and Chiefs both win, 11 of last 12 top seeds will have earned Super Bowl berths. The only exception was Atlanta, which made it as the second seed in 2016. The last time a team won the Super Bowl without getting a bye was Baltimore, which won as the fourth seed in 2012.
3. Sean Payton, the Saints’ coach, made the bold move in the Super Bowl win over the Colts after the 2009 season when he went for an onside kick at the start of the second half and to spark the Saints to the victory. Against the Eagles, down 14-0 in the second period, he went for a fake punt in Saints territory to spark the team’s comeback. If it had failed and the Eagles had taken a 17-0 or 21-0 lead, the Saints probably would have lost.
4. The a best storyline of the playoffs was ruined when Nick Foles last pass went through Alshon Jeffrey’s hands and the Eagles lost to the Saints as their quest for a repeat came to an end. It means New England in 2003-04 is still the last team to repeat. It also was the end of Foles bid to become the first backup to win back-to-back championships. Down by six points with two minutes left, Foles appeared ready to pull off another comeback before Jeffrey let the pass slip through his hand. And it probably was Foles last game as an Eagle.
5. Like Mark Twain’s death, the reports of the demise of the Patriots turned out to be greatly exaggerated. They demolished the Chargers and are now back in the AFC title game for the eighth year in a row. The last time they weren’t in the game was in 2010 when they lost to the Jets in the divisional round