Here we are, Week 1 of the 2012-2013 NFL season, and an astounding five rookie quarterbacks will start for their respective teams on Sunday.
No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck will start at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears, No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III will face the New Orleans Saints, Russell Wilson will lead the Seattle Seahawks against the Arizona Cardinals, Brandon Weeden will match up against a determined Philadelphia Eagles squad and Ryan Tannehill will try to get the Miami Dolphins out of the gutter versus the rising Houston Texans.
Wilson figures to have the best team around him this season, which could see him succeed more than some of the other rookie signal-callers. He also plays in the NFC West, which includes the sub-par Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.
How will each rookie fare in Week 1?
Excuse me if I think this isn't going to go swimmingly for Miami Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill.
The Dolphins have looked horrible as an entire unit all preseason, and it's hard to see Tannehill having much success against one of the best defenses in the league when his starting receivers are Rishard Matthews and Davone Bess.
The Texans gave up the third-fewest yards per drive last season (24.97) and the fourth-fewest points per drive (1.47), via FootballOutsiders.com. You add a rookie pass-rusher like Whitney Mercilus who has the potential to do damage in the NFL, and you have a truly frightening defense.
In the Dolphins' third preseason game this year, Tannehill went 11-of-27 for 112 yards and an interception. That's 4.1 yards per attempt, folks.
It's going to be a rough beginning for Tannehill this season. The best thing he can do is learn from this experience.
The Eagles are hungry (and probably a little angry) this year after a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2011.
I don't see that going well for Brandon Weeden.
In the Browns' third preseason game against the Eagles, Weeden went 9-of-20 for 117 yards while getting sacked three times.
Rookie running back Trent Richardson, who figures to do big things in the NFL, will play on Sunday, but he's coming off a knee injury, and the Eagles run defense has been revamped in the offseason (complete with former Texans inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans).
Don't expect Weeden to do much against Philadelphia.
To say Russell Wilson has impressed in Seattle this offseason would be an understatement.
He wrestled the starting job away from prized free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn, and it was 100 percent deserved.
You look at what Wilson did against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Seahawks' third preseason game, and there's a lot to like. He went 13-of-19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 58 yards on just two carries.
The 23-year-old doesn't have a whole lot of dynamic options in the passing game, but I expect the Seahawks to have some success running the pigskin against the Cardinals, which should open things up for Wilson.
Look for a solid opening game from the youngster and his first NFL win.
This is a tough one for me.
I love Robert Griffin III's game, and I think he was the right pick for the Redskins at No. 2 overall in this year's draft, but he hasn't exactly "wowed" in the preseason.
On the other hand, he's facing the New Orleans Saints, who are known to give up a boatload of yards and points through the air (ahem, Alex Smith, ahem, 49ers, ahem, NFC divisional playoffs).
On top of that, the Saints aren't great getting to the passer, and that should help Griffin out in the early goings.
Griffin won't win this game, but I expect him to have a decent showing in his first NFL start.
Andrew Luck has all the tools to be the next Peyton Manning for the Colts.
I'm just not buying that he's going to come roaring out of the gate against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The Bears allowed 1.56 points per drive last season (seventh in the NFL) despite getting worn down in the second half of the season after quarterback Jay Cutler was injured. This is a team that still has a top-10 defense and is hungry to make up for the second-half slide last season.
There's also the fact that we can't deny Indy's offensive line is mediocre. Youngster Anthony Castonzo was a great addition last season, but the rest of the line worries me.
Luck will have a few moments of brilliance, but in the end, he'll have a below-average performance.
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