The AFC’s final four are set for this year, and the field looks rather familiar—after all, half of them hail from the AFC North. What makes the group unique is that they are started by the youngest group of quarterbacks in NFL history, with all four starters having been drafted since 2017, including three from the 2018 class.
The Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns both made it out of the AFC North this season as wildcards—much to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ chagrin, of course—each of them led by first-round quarterbacks from the 2018 class. The Browns selected Baker Mayfield first overall, and the Ravens took Lamar Jackson 32nd.
Joining them from that class is Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, who was also a top 10 pick. All three of them secured their first playoff victory of their careers this past weekend. This was Jackson’s third attempt, however, while for Allen it was his second, and Mayfield, his first.
With Jackson and Allen squaring off this weekend—marking just the fourth time in NFL history two quarterbacks 24 or younger faced off against each other in the postseason in the Super Bowl era—it’s guaranteed that at least one member of that class will advance to the conference finals, if not both.
But the other quarterback in question is, of course, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, who already has five playoff victories under his belt since being selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In fact, he is the defending Super Bowl MVP, and still just 25 years old.
Mayfield joins him in the age range of 25, marking the first time in NFL history that all four starting quarterbacks in the divisional round of a conference playoff bracket are 25 or younger. This is in direct contrast to the bracket on the other side of the league.
Outside of Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, this year’s NFL marks among the oldest group of quarterbacks, and will feature the oldest matchup in NFL history when Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints hosts Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the two adding up to a combined age of 85. You could practically fit the Steelers’ entire receiving corps in there.
Of course, Pittsburgh fans were hoping to be the combo breaker in the AFC by sending their 38-year-old arthritic starter, Ben Roethlisberger, to the divisional round. And they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids, specifically Mayfield and his cohorts in Cleveland.