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Wild Card Weekend Storylines: Playoff Lenny, Rookie Quarterbacks, Welcome Back, More

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I’m not going to lie, you may be reading this on Saturday, but I wrote it on Friday. It was post No. 11 of the day, so bear with me because I was kind of like this as I read stats to put together this post of Wild Card storylines:

Injuries may have robbed some key players from otherwise terrific matchups this weekend, but there are still plenty of storylines to follow. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Playoff Lenny

The Buccaneers enter Wild Card Weekend with the worst rushing attack in the NFL. Tampa Bay averaged only 76.9 rushing yards per contest this season. Yikes.

However, Leonard Fournette’s alter-ego, ‘Playoff Lenny, ‘ tends to shine brightest under the spotlight of the big stage. Since arriving in Tampa Bay, Fournette has logged 555 scrimmage yards in just five games (111 per game). Fournette has a touchdown in each of those games as well.

Even when Fournette was in Jacksonville, he played well in the postseason. Fournette scored a pair of touchdowns in their run to the AFC title game. Fournette enters Monday night’s game with a touchdown in seven straight playoff games.

Rookie Quarterbacks

Brock Purdy and Skylar Thompson have a chance to become the first rookies since 2012 to win their first playoff game. The last to complete the feat was Russell Wilson with the Seahawks in 2012, a 24-14 win over Washington.

Purdy has a great shot at doing it with the 49ers hosting the Seahawks at Levis Stadium this afternoon. However, Skylar Thompson’s bid for it is far more of a stretch with a visit to Buffalo.

Purdy started five games and played nearly the entirety of six this season after replacing Jimmy Garoppolo on December 4 in the Miami game. Purdy has 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions this season, with a 107.3 passer rating.

Welcome Back!

Seven of the 12 teams in action this weekend is new to the postseason in 2022. The Ravens, Jaguars, Chargers, Dolphins, Vikings, Seahawks, and Giants all missed the playoffs last year.

Here’s the last playoff appearance for each team:

  • Ravens: January 16, 2021 (Divisional Round)
  • Seahawks: January 9, 2021 (Wild Card)
  • Vikings: January 11, 2020 (Divisional Round)
  • Chargers: January 13, 2019 (Divisional Round)
  • Jaguars: January 21, 2018 (AFC Championship)
  • Dolphins: January 8, 2017 (Wild Card)
  • Giants: January 8, 2017 (Wild Card)

Battle of the First Round QBs

Saturday night’s Chargers-Jaguars game features a pair of recent first-round quarterbacks, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (24 years, 310 days old on Saturday) and Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence (23 years, 100 days old) will each be making their first career postseason starts.

Herbert was selected by the Chargers with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lawrence was taken No. 1 overall by the Jaguars in 2021.

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.

First Year Coaches

For the first time in NFL history, five teams that hired a new head coach before the season have reached the playoffs.

Sunday’s matchup between the Giants and Vikings will feature two rookie head coaches, Brian Daboll and Kevin O’Connell. The meeting between Daboll and O’Connell will be the fourth such meeting in a playoff game since 1970.


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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.