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January-09-2003,
NFL HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK.... Did You Know?????...By "Easy" Al Monte

Since the current playoff format took effect in 1990, teams that had first-round byes are 39-9 in the second round.

A total of 221 points were scored in the wild-card round, second most since the NFL went to the 12-team playoff format in 1990. The most came in 1995, when there were 266 points scored in the first round, which included a 58-37 win by Philadelphia over Detroit.

Against 2002 playoff teams, Pittsburgh was 4-2-1 in regular season. The Steelers went 5-3 on road this year. The Steelers have won four of five since QB Tommy Maddox.s return and are 6-1 since losing at Tennessee. Tennessee has won eight of last 10 vs. Pittsburgh. The Titans, after 1-4 start, are NFL.s hottest team, winning 10 of last 11 games. Tennessee QB Steve McNair is 7-3 as starter vs. Steelers, including 5-1 in home games.

Atlanta coach Dan Reeves has more playoff wins (11) than any active coach. QB Michael Vick ranks fourth in NFC with 1.9 INT percentage (421 attempts, eight INT.s) and leads NFL with 6.9 yards per carry. Atlanta rushed for 192 yards last week vs. Green Bay, most in franchise playoff history. Atlanta K Jay Feely finished with club-record 32 FGs. He led NFL kickers with 138 points and tied for second with 16 touchbacks. Philadelphia has won 13 of past 14 NFC games. The Eagles scored a franchise-record 415 points this year.

QB Donovan McNabb will start, his first action in nearly two months. Eagles were 7-3 with McNabb. Without McNabb, Philadelphia went 5-1 behind Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley. San Francisco has won nine of last 10 vs. Tampa Bay. The 49ers advanced in the NFC playoffs for first time in four seasons. QB Jeff Garcia led NFL with 107.6 third-down passing rating, including 13 TDs, one INT. He ranked second in NFL with 30 third-down receptions (433) and first with seven third-down TD receptions. Tampa Bay led the NFL in total defense and allowed league-low 196 points. The 196 points surrendered by Bucs is fifth fewest since 16-game schedule was instituted in 1978. The Bucs led league with 31 INT.s and tied for first in turnover differential at plus 17. Tampa Bay K Martin Gramatica set career highs with 32 FGs and 128 points. Oakland is No. 3 against run in NFL, allowing 90.8 yards per game. The Jets managed just 32 yards rushing in last meeting. New York (8-2 last 10), has outscored its opponents 113-34 in winning last three games. The Jets have scored 30-plus points in three consecutive games for first time since 1988 and back-to-back 40-point games for first time since 1972. The Jets posted first playoff shutout last week, tying second-largest shutout victory in NFL history. QB Chad Pennington (22 TDs, six INT.s) led league in passer rating at 104.2 and completion percentage at 68.9. He was 8-4 as starter. Over last 10 games, the New York defense has allowed 14.3 points and 281.9 yards per game vs. 27.6 points and 402.9 yards in first seven games. Oakland has won seven of its last eight following four-game losing streak. The Raiders have won nine of last 11 against Jets. Oakland was 6-2 at home and has won four of last five home playoff games. QB Rich Gannon, the league MVP, led NFL with 4,689 yards and threw 26 TDs, 10 INT.s. His passer rating of 97.3 was second in NFL only to Pennington (104.2). RB Charlie Garner ranked fourth among AFC total yards from scrimmage leaders (1,903; 962 rushing, 941 receiving). The Raiders are tied for AFC.s second-best turnover margin (plus-12) and recorded best differential among AFC playoff clubs.

SEASON NUMBERS

Pittsburgh and Tennessee went 8-3 vs. common opponents. Atlanta went 1-4 vs. common opponents, while Philadelphia was 4-1. New York and Oakland went 6-3 vs. common opponents. San Francisco is 1-4 vs. common opponents, while Tampa Bay went 2-3.

HISTORY

Atlanta-Philadelphia series is tied 10-10-1 (never met in playoffs). Pittsburgh leads Tennessee 40-27 (including playoffs). San Francisco leads Tampa Bay 12-2 (never met in playoffs). Oakland leads N.Y. Jets 20-13-2 (including playoffs).

POSTSEASON RECORDS

Steelers are 23-16 in the postseason and Titans are 12-15. Falcons are 5-6 in postseason and Eagles are 12-13. Jets are 7-8 in postseason and Raiders are 23-17. 49ers are 26-17 in postseason and Bucs are 3-7.



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