Previewing Saturday’s NFL playoff games
Former local college football standouts Aaron Donald and Tavon Austin take center stage Saturday in the NFL playoffs.
Donald’s Los Angeles Rams face Austin’s Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional round. The winner faces the winner of the Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints game, which will be played Sunday.
A look at Saturday’s playoffs games:
INDIANAPOLIS (11-6) at KANSAS CITY (12-4)
Saturday, 4:35 p.m., NBC
OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 5
LAST WEEK — Colts beat Texans 21-7; Chiefs had bye, beat Raiders 35-3 on Dec. 30
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Colts have as many playoff wins at Arrowhead Stadium (2) as Chiefs. … Chiefs are 0-4 against Indianapolis in postseason. … Kansas City led NFL in scoring efficiency at 52.9 percent. Indianapolis was sixth at 41 percent. … Chiefs led NFL in scoring at 35.3 points per game. Colts were fifth at 27.1 points. … Colts have won five straight and nine of 10 overall. They joined 2015 Chiefs as only NFL teams to win playoff game after 1-5 start with 21-7 victory over Texans. … Colts RB Marlon Mack set franchise postseason record with 148 yards rushing against Texans. Mack has scored TD rushing in five straight games. … Indianapolis had 222 yards passing and 200 yards rushing against Texans. … Colts’ Eric Ebron has 15 TDs this season, one behind Jimmy Graham (2013) for second most in NFL history among TEs. … Indianapolis has not allowed 100-yard rusher this season. … Colts K Adam Vinatieri, 46, has NFL record for FGs made (56) and is second in games (31) and wins (21). … Colts’ Andrew Luck joined Matt Ryan (2016) and Drew Brees (2018) as only QBs to throw TD passes to 13 targets in single season. … Luck was second in league in pass attempts (639) and completions (430) this season. … Chiefs would host AFC title game for first time with win. They have not made game since January 1994. … Kansas City is 0-5 in divisional round at home. Chiefs were 7-1 at home this season. … Kansas City scored franchise-record 565 points, third most in NFL history. … Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes led NFL with seven games with 100-plus passer rating. Luck was third with five. … Mahomes set franchise record for TD passes (50), TD-INT differential (plus-38) and 300-yard passing games (10). … Chiefs had 50 TD passes while punting 45 times this season, joining 2007 Patriots and 1990 Oilers as only teams to accomplish the feat. .. KC’s Travis Kelce was second among TEs with 1,336 yards receiving. He has catch in 79 straight games. … Chiefs tied for NFL lead with 52 sacks despite ranking last in total defense. They forced 27 turnovers while committing 18 for plus-9 differential. … DE Chris Jones had at least one sack in NFL-record 11 straight games. He has 15 1/2 this season. … Chiefs LB Dee Ford had 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles. … Kansas City was second in NFL in red-zone TD percentage (71.8).
DALLAS (11-6) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (13-3)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m., Fox
OPENING LINE — Rams by 7 1/2
LAST WEEK — Cowboys beat Seahawks, 24-22; Rams had bye, beat 49ers 48-32 on Dec. 30
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — These NFC mainstays’ first playoff meeting since January 1986 in Anaheim, when Eric Dickerson rushed for 248 yards and two TDs in 20-0 win for Rams. Franchises have split eight postseason games. Rams are most frequent playoff opponent for Dallas. … Two elite running backs showcased. Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott won second NFL rushing title, while LA’s All-Pro Todd Gurley led league in TDs and finished third in rushing race. … Rams All-Pro DT Aaron Donald (Pitt) led NFL with 20 1/2 sacks, nearly twice as many as Cowboys leader Demarcus Lawrence’s 10 1/2. … Rams finished third in NFL with 18 interceptions. Cowboys were 26th with just nine, fewest among playoff teams. … Cowboys haven’t won playoff game on road since January 1993. … Cowboys haven’t won two playoff games in same season since 1995-96 on the way to last Super Bowl title. Dallas beat Seattle last week in wild-card round. … Cowboys are on five-game losing streak in divisional playoff round. … Dallas’ next playoff victory will be 36th, tying Pittsburgh for most in NFL history. Patriots enter weekend with 34. … Win over Seahawks was Dallas’ 62nd playoff game, passing Steelers for most in NFL history. … QB Dak Prescott hurt Seahawks on ground, rushing for three first downs in fourth quarter and plunging for winning TD. Rams could be similarly vulnerable with subpar rushing defense. … Cowboys punt returner Tavon Austin (West Virginia) spent first five NFL seasons with Rams as first-round pick. He was LA’s leading receiver in 2016 but used largely as ball carrier by coach Sean McVay last season when he couldn’t crack starting receiver group. Traded to Dallas in April. … Rams haven’t won playoff game since 2004-05 season. … Rams finished tied for NFL’s best record at 13-3 after winning second straight NFC West title, earning bye. … LA is second team in NFL history to host playoff game in temporary stadium and first to do it in back-to-back seasons. … McVay seeking first career playoff victory at 32 years old. He’s led LA to 24 wins in two transformative seasons. … Rams are averaging 32.8 points per game against NFC East opponents under McVay. … Rams went 7-1 at Coliseum this season, losing only to Philadelphia. … LA led NFC with 421.1 yards and 32.9 points per game. … QB Jared Goff finished fourth in NFL with 4,688 yards passing to earn Pro Bowl selection. … Donald also led NFL with 25 tackles for loss in self-described best season. Was only unanimous selection for All-Pro team.