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Young quarterbacks, first-year coaches highlight Wild Card Weekend

Photo Credit: Kyusung Gong/AP

The addition of a third Wild Card team in each conference and the subsequent expansion of the playoffs in 2020 has resulted in a Super Wild Card Weekend of NFL action.

For the third consecutive season, there will be six games, with two on Saturday (January 14), three on Sunday (January 15) and, for the second consecutive season, one on Monday (January 16).

Seven of the 12 teams in action this weekend are new to the postseason in 2022, having missed the playoffs a year ago: BALTIMORE, JACKSONVILLE, the LOS ANGELES, MIAMI, MINNESOTA, NEW YORK GIANTS, and SEATTLE.  

Each of the 12 teams playing this weekend hope to earn their first of four wins needed to capture the Lombardi Trophy. Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl 11 times, including in each of the past two seasons.

From young quarterbacks making their first postseason appearance to first-year coaches leading their teams to the playoffs, here are a few things to watch for:


Los Angeles Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT (24 years old) and Jacksonville quarterback TREVOR LAWRENCE (23 years old) will each be making their first career postseason starts when the Jaguars host the Chargers on Saturday night.

Their combined age of 48 years and 45 days will be the sixth-youngest combined age of opposing starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history. The youngest combined age of opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

Lawrence was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and with a win on Saturday would become the fifth quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to win his first career postseason start since 2000.

The Jaguars won their first AFC South division title since 2017 after finishing with the league’s worst record in 2021. With a win on Saturday, Jacksonville would become the first team in NFL history to win a postseason game the season after finishing with the league’s worst or tied for the worst record.

With two touchdowns in the postseason, Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler will become the seventh player in NFL history to record at least 20 touchdowns in consecutive seasons, including playoffs, and the first since Pro Football Hall of Famer Ladainian Tomlinson (2005-06).

Ekeler led the league in scrimmage touchdowns in 2022, totaling 18 touchdowns (13 rushing, five receiving). In 2021, Ekeler tied for the league lead with a career-best 20 touchdowns (12 rushing, eight receiving).


For the first time in NFL history, five teams that hired a new head coach prior to the season advanced to the playoffs – Jacksonville (DOUG PEDERSON), Miami (MIKE MCDANIEL), Minnesota KEVIN O’CONNELL), the New York Giants (BRIAN DABOLL) and Tampa Bay (TODD BOWLES). All five of those coaches will be on the sidelines this weekend, with two facing each other.

When Minnesota hosts the New York Giants on Sunday, it will mark the fourth playoff game since 1970 featuring two rookie head coaches.