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NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Biggest Storylines in Sunday's Wild Card Games

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 25:   Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts and  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins shake hands after a preseason game at FedExField on August 25, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

As the last two Wild Card Games of the 2013 NFL playoffs get set to kick off, more than just the action on the field will be unfolding before us.

We've got all-time greats nearing the end of their legendary careers, first-year players who are just getting their careers started and coaches that have overcome the odds.

There's something for everyone on the final day of Wild Card Weekend.

Let's take a look at the biggest storylines revolving around the day's action.

 

 

Will This Be the "Last Ride" for both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed?

We know that there's going to be at least one major change coming for the Baltimore Ravens defense after the season:

Ray Lewis told the team today "this will be my last ride."

— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 2, 2013

But will the legendary linebacker be the only key member of the Ravens to walk away from the game after the season is over?

Safety Ed Reed said that he's not thinking about his future right now.

— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 4, 2013

Lewis and Reed have been the faces of the Ravens franchise for more than a decade, wreaking havoc on opposing offenses and clearing a path for both to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day.

Wouldn't it be fitting to see them go into the Hall of Fame together?

Speculation over whether Reed will retire has become an annual rite of passage in the offseason, but after a tumultuous season that saw him become the target of the NFL's attempts to eliminate dangerous hits, could it be that the Pro Bowl safety has had enough?

You'd better believe that thought has crossed the minds not only of the fans who will be in attendance at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, but the other 51 players on the Ravens roster as well.

Emotions will be running high as the Ravens attempt to prolong the careers of two all-time greats for at least another week.

 

Can the Rookies Handle the Pressure?

So far this season, we have seen Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, Seattle's Russell Wilson and Washington's Robert Griffin III thrive under pressure, leading their respective teams to the playoffs and into a heated three-way battle for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, setting some records along the way.

But the playoffs are an entirely different kind of animal, one that brings with it pressure these first-year signal-callers have yet to experience.

As NFL historian Jon Zimmer notes, we've never seen anything quite like this before:

2012 @nfl postseason will be 1st in Super Bowl era with 3 starting rookie QBs (@rgiii, Luck, Wilson)

— Jon Zimmer (@NFLhistory) December 31, 2012

Will one of them crack under the weight of it all?

 

Assistant Coaches With One Foot Out the Door?

NFL teams with head coaching vacancies have significant interest in a pair of offensive coordinators who will be on the sidelines Sunday afternoon in different games: Indianapolis' Bruce Arians and Washington's Mike Shanahan.

ESPN's Adam Schefter says that the Philadelphia Eagles have already made their interest in Arians known:

Eagles requested permission to intervew Seahawks DC Gus Bradley and Colts OC Bruce Arians.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 4, 2013

Shanahan, the son of Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, is also on a number of teams' short lists of coaching candidates, but his dad won't let teams talk to his son just yet, as we learned from the four reporters that handle the NFL Around the League Twitter account:

Mike Shanahan says Kyle Shanahan can't interview for head-coaching job until Washington's season is over. #thanksdad nfl.com/news/story/0ap…

— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) January 1, 2013

It's no surprise that the two are hot commodities, given what they've accomplished this season with rookie quarterbacks under center.

In Arians' case, the job that he did after stepping in for head coach Chuck Pagano, who had to leave the team to win his fight against Leukemia, was nothing short of remarkable.

Look for both Indy's Andrew Luck and Washington's Robert Griffin III to play with a little extra something on Sunday in an attempt to make the decision to leave that much harder for their coaches.

 

Full NFL Playoff Schedule

Wild Card Round        
Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
Cincinnati Houston 1/5/2013 4:30 p.m. ET NBC
Minnesota Green Bay 1/5/2013 8 p.m. ET NBC
Indianapolis Baltimore 1/6/2013 1 p.m. ET CBS
Seattle Washington 1/6/2013 4:30 p.m. ET FOX
         
Divisional Playoffs        
Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
Bal/Ind/Cin Denver 1/12/2013 4:30 p.m. ET CBS
GB/Wash/Sea San Francisco 1/12/2013 8 p.m. ET FOX
Wash/Sea/Minn Atlanta 1/13/2013 1 p.m. ET FOX
Hou/Bal/Ind New England 1/13/2013 4:30 p.m. ET CBS
         
Conference Championships        
Team 1 (ROAD) Team 2 (HOME) Date Time TV Info
NFC NFC 1/20/2013 TBD TBD
AFC AFC 1/20/2013 TBD TBD
         
Super Bowl XLVII        
Team 1 Team 2 Date Time TV Info
AFC Winner NFC Winner 2/3/2013 TBD CBS

 

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