UNC in the NFL: Tar Heels in the NFL Playoffs

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: Tyrod Taylor /

Former Tar Heels prepare for NFL Wildcard weekend

The NFL Playoffs are upon us, and several former Tar Heels will be in action.

On Saturday the first of four wildcard games will kick off. This season, there are former Tar Heels in all four contests.

Several of the players have played a small role, but those small roles could still have a huge impact on a team’s run to the Superbowl. Let’s take a look at which past North Carolina players are still around this postseason.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday January 6th, 4:20 pm)

There are two former Tar Heels playing for the Titans in Da’Norris Searcy and Sylvester Williams. Williams is the Titans’ starting nose tackle, while Searcy is the team’s backup strong safety.

Neither player has been huge for the Titans this season. Searcy finished 14th on the team in tackles with 26. He also recorded an interception. Williams, meanwhile, finished 16th in tackles, but did get in the backfield recording three tackles for loss.

The Kansas Chiefs have no former Tar Heels playing for them.

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (Saturday January 6th, 8:15 pm)


Unlike the Titans, the Los Angeles Rams do have a former UNC player who has made a big impact for the team this season. Robert Quinn is one of the Rams’ starting outside linebackers.

Quinn finished the season second on the team in sacks with 8.5. He also forced two fumbles. This was not a career year for Quinn, but he was a big reason the Rams improved by seven wins this season.

The Atlanta Falcons, meanwhile, just signed Lucas Crowley to their practice squad.

This may not seem like a big deal, as practice squad players don’t play in the games, but current center Alex Mack is questionable for the game against the Rams. His backup, Ben Garland, is now the starting left guard after the Falcons put Adam Levitre on injured reserve.

If Mack were unable to go, it could open the door for Crowley to get an opportunity if he impresses the coaches.

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday January 7th, 1:05 pm)

Brandon Tate has served as the Buffalo Bills main returner this season. The nine-year veteran has 741 combined return yards on 28 kick returns and 20 punts.

Tate has no return touchdowns this season, but could break one at any point, as evidenced by the 40-yard return he had against Cincinnati earlier this season. Obviously, a return for a touchdown would really open the door for a Buffalo win.

The Bills have also used Tate in the passing game this season. Tate finished the year with six receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown. The Bills are hurting at receiver and may design a few more plays for Tate for the playoffs.

The Jacksonville Jaguars do not have any former Tar Heels on their team.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday January 7th, 4:40 pm)

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 24: Julius Peppers
CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 24: Julius Peppers /

Julius Peppers returned to the Carolina Panthers this season and it has been a boon for both parties. Peppers tied for the team lead in sacks this season with 11. They are the most sacks he has had in a season since 2012.

With the addition of Peppers in the fold, the Panthers finished with the third-best rush defense in the NFL.

The New Orleans Saints do not have any Tar Heels on their squad.

In addition to the wild card teams, one other Tar Heel will be playing in the playoffs this season. Mack Hollins is one of the receivers for the NFC-best Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are on bye this week, but might need Hollins to provide a big play for them this postseason.

Well that’s a quick look at the Tar Heels playing in the playoffs this week. If all of the respective teams win, there could be multiple Tar Heels playing again next week as well.

Next: Tar Heels drop one in Tallahassee

Whether or not any of those former UNC players have any impact on the outcome is yet to be seen. However, the key is getting there, and these guys are all there with a chance to make a name for themselves and their squads as they try to make it to the Super Bowl.