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NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview
[Image: douche-philip-rivers-150x150.jpg]It doesn?t matter how you got here. All that matters is that you?re here.

In one of the most storyline-filled NFL playoffs in memory, the scramble to reach Tampa Bay, Florida for Super Bowl XLIII on February 1 begins this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

?We?re all 0-0 now,? exults quarterback PHILIP RIVERS of the San Diego Chargers, one of the teams with standout storylines entering the playoffs:

Three Wild Card Weekend teams ? Atlanta (MIKE SMITH), Baltimore (JOHN HARBAUGH) and Miami (TONY SPARANO) -- are led by rookie head coaches. It is only the second time in history that three rookie coaches took their teams to the playoffs in the same season (1992: BILL COWHER, Pittsburgh; DENNIS GREEN, Minnesota; and BOBBY ROSS, San Diego).

The two first-round rookie quarterbacks who will start in the Wild Cards ? Atlanta?s MATT RYAN (the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year) and Baltimore?s JOE FLACCO ? have accomplished never-before feats. Never in the same season have two rookie QBs started all 16 of their team?s games and taken those teams to the playoffs. Ryan and Flacco also took their clubs to the biggest win-improvements in history by rookie QBs who started every game. Ryan led the 11-5 Falcons to a seven-win improvement over 2007, and Flacco to a six-win jump for the 11-5 Ravens. They will become the first rookie QBs to start in the same postseason.

Call it the ?gumption? playoffs. The field is packed with teams that would just not give up! In addition to the Falcons and Ravens (above), there are the 11-5 Dolphins, who matched 1999 Indianapolis as the only teams in history to make 10-game improvements from one season to the next. The Chargers became the first team in history to start 4-8 and make the playoffs. The Colts began their season at 3-4, then won their last nine. The Vikings started 1-3 and won five of their last six. The Eagles were 5-5-1 in late November and won four of their last five. ?Everybody turned their backs on us,? says Philadelphia safety BRIAN DAWKINS, in essence speaking for all these teams. ?But we believed in one another.?

So let the 2008 NFL playoffs begin ? with nine of the 12 teams with double-digit wins and, for the 13th consecutive season, at least five new teams from the year before:

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