The Kansas City Chiefs earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC off the strength of their high-octane offense. Their defense had major issues throughout the season, though, and many doubted their ability to slow down Andrew Luck and the surging Indianapolis Colts.
The defense silenced the critics on Saturday afternoon by holding Luck to 203 yards passing, while making Marlon Mack (46 yards rushing) a non-factor on the ground. The Chiefs managed to push around the Colts' renowned offensive line, sacking Luck three times—two coming from 30 year-old-linebacker Justin Houston.
C.J. Anderson signed with the Los Angeles Rams in December to fill the void left by backup running back Malcolm Brown, who suffered a season-ending collarbone injury. Anderson dominated in two starts in Week 16 and 17 (logging 299 rushing yards and two TDs) with Todd Gurley sidelined.
Anderson's role was expected to be reduced in the divisional round against the Dallas Cowboys with Gurley returning to action. But that wasn't the case as Anderson carried the ball 23 times, gashing the Cowboys for a game-high 123 yards and two TDs in LA's 30-22 win.
Damien Williams, Kansas City's third-string running back, was not a fixture in the Chiefs' offense until the final weeks of the season. He got his chance once Kareem Hunt was released and Spencer Ware went down with a hamstring injury. He shined at the end of the season and continued his success versus the Colts. He rushed 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 25 yards in the Chiefs' 31-13 blowout of the Colts.
It wasn't just the unheralded tailbacks coming through in the divisional round. Gurley, a First-Team All-Pro the past two seasons and a Second-Team All-Pro in 2015, ran for 115 yards and a score in the Rams' victory over Dallas.
Gurley and Anderson became the fourth pair of teammates in NFL history to rush for over 100 yards in a postseason game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, the NFL's Rookie of the Year and Second-Team All-Pro last season, accumulated 106 total yards in the divisional round. Helping the Saints defeat the Philadelphia Eagles, Kamara logged a game-best 71 rushing yards to go along with four receptions for 36 yards.
New England Patriots rookie Sony Michel bullied the Los Angeles Chargers for 129 rushing yards and three first-half touchdowns. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he is the third player in the last 25 years with three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a playoff game. Ricky Watters accomplished this feat in 1993 with the San Francisco 49ers and LeGarrette Blount did it for the Patriots in 2013.
James White, the league's most dangerous receiving halfback, tied an NFL playoff-record with 15 receptions. His 15 catches went for 97 yards.
Julian Edelman had a monster performance, reeling in nine passes for 151 yards and a score. Suspended for the Patriots' first four games and underperforming relative to expectations for most of the season, Edelman came through with his best game of the year.
The Patriots' pass rush was an area of concern all season. But in their first playoff contest, they somehow found a way to pressure Philip Rivers all game long. They totaled two sacks and the constant pressure on Rivers ultimately led to a nightmarish 49 percent completion rate.
The Patriots led 35-7 halftime, as Rivers endured pressure like no QB had all year.
Earning a First-Team All-Pro selection for the 2018 season, Michael Thomas torched the Eagles for 171 yards and the go-ahead score. The NFL's league-leader in receptions caught 12 passes in the 20-14 win.
The Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Saints and had all the momentum—until cornerback Marshon Lattimore intercepted Nick Foles early in the second quarter and jumpstarted a rally. The Saints immediately turned the Foles interception into a TD to cut the deficit in half.
Lattimore secured his second interception in the waning moments of the contest, intercepting Foles in the red zone to seal the comeback victory for the Saints.