49ers, Eagles head into NFC title game rematch focused on reversing last season's disappointment
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Both teams head into Sunday's rematch of last season's NFC title game with a chance to turn those recent failures into success.
Philadelphia, coming off a Super Bowl loss last season to Kansas City, is the fourth Super Bowl runner-up to start the following season 10-1 or better, joining the 1991 Bills, the 1975 Vikings and the undefeated Dolphins in 1972.
The goal for Philadelphia (10-1) is to match those 1972 Dolphins, one of three teams to win the Super Bowl the year after losing the title game. Dallas did it the previous season with a win over Miami, and the Patriots did it in 2018, after losing to the Eagles the year before.
The Eagles are the fourth team in NFL history to win at least 10 of their first 11 games in back-to-back seasons. They joined the Colts (2005-06), Dolphins (1972-73) and Bears (1941-42).
The Niners have two years of playoff close calls hanging over them, losing the NFC championship game in 2021 to the Rams and last season to the Eagles.
San Francisco has won three straight games to improve to 8-3 and will try to become the fourth team to follow two straight conference title game losses with a Super Bowl crown. The Patriots did it in 2014, the Niners in 1995 and the Raiders in 1976.
The Eagles and 49ers are currently the top two seeds in the NFC, setting the stage for a rare possible NFC title game rematch. The Niners were involved the only other times it happened, playing Dallas three straight years from 1992-94 and in back-to-back seasons in 1971-72.
It has happened five times in the AFC, including last season when the Chiefs hosted the Bengals for a second straight season.
For the sixth consecutive season, a team will go from having a losing record after 11 games to making the playoffs.
With all four teams in the NFC South having losing records, led by Atlanta and New Orleans at 5-6, the winner of that division will raise the total of playoff teams that had a losing record after 11 games to at least 20 in the past 20 seasons.
At least one team with a losing record after 11 games has made the playoffs in 17 of the past 19 seasons, with both Jacksonville and Tampa Bay doing it last season. Philadelphia did it in 2018, 2019 and 2021, while Chicago and Washington pulled off the feat in 2020. The last season it didn't happen was 2017.
Other teams with losing records in the mix for a playoff spot this season are Green Bay (5-6) and the Rams (5-6), who are within a half-game of the final wild-card spot in the NFC.
Eight teams enter Week 13 with at least eight wins, tied for the most with that many wins at this point of the season since the 2002 realignment. It also happened in 2003, 2019 and 2020.
The last two losses by the New England Patriots sure can't be blamed on their defense.
New England followed up a 10-6 loss to Indianapolis in Germany with a 10-7 defeat against the New York Giants on Sunday, becoming the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to lose back-to-back games when allowing 10 points or fewer in each game.
The Patriots were the previous team to do that in 1993, with the other four instances coming in the lower-scoring era of the 1970s.
New England had gone 77-0 with Tom Brady at quarterback when allowing 10 or fewer points in a game during the regular season or playoffs.
WHAT'S THE POINT?
When it comes to scoring differential, the Buffalo Bills have been dominant. The wins and losses tell a different story.
The Bills have outscored their opponents by 101 points — fourth best in the NFL — but have only a 6-6 record to show for it.
Buffalo is one of 269 teams to outscore the opposition by at least 100 points in the first 12 games of the season but only the second to do it without posting a winning record. Philadelphia was 6-6 through 12 games in 1950 despite a plus-113 point differential.
Of the 172 teams since the merger to outscore the opposition by at least 100 points through the first 12 games of the season, 164 made the playoffs. Buffalo has an uphill battle to avoid becoming the first of those teams since the 2005 Chargers to miss the postseason.
The Pittsburgh Steelers finally crossed the 400-yard threshold.
In their first game since firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Pittsburgh put up 421 yards of offense in a win over Cincinnati. It was the first time the Steelers reached 400 yards in a game since a playoff loss to Cleveland in the 2020 season with Randy Fichtner as coordinator.
Canada took over to start the 2021 season and Pittsburgh didn't gain 400 yards once in his 45 games calling plays. The rest of the league combined for 333 games in the regular season or playoffs with at least 400 yards of offense during Canada's tenure.
The Steelers had gone 58 straight regular-season games without gaining 400 yards, the second-longest drought in the past 30 seasons to a 75-gamer for the Raiders from 2005-10.
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