NFL Playoff Projections 2013: Young Quarterbacks Will Define Postseason
If you're looking for some normalcy after a 2012 NFL season full of broken records, amazing individual comebacks, head-scratching upsets, historically embarrassing blowouts and several comedic performances by the New York Jets, I have bad news for you.
Things are about to get weird in the postseason.
The 2013 bracket isn't completely solidified, but imagine a scenario where every other starting quarterback in the postseason is making his first-ever playoff appearance.
There's a reason that would be such an unbelievable occurrence. More often than not, teams with rookie quarterbacks are in rebuilding mode. Talented young signal-callers are constantly coming into the league, but it usually takes them a while to hit their immense potential. They aren't ready to lead teams to the postseason right away.
But this season has been different. It's been the perfect storm of young quarterbacks where six special players have all found a way to get their teams to the promised land.
Andrew Luck, surrounded by mostly rookies, has turned the Indianapolis Colts from a two-win team into a double-digit-win playoff team.
Not only has he broken the rookie record for passing yards in a season, but he's been much more valuable than his up-and-down stats (21 touchdowns, 18 interceptions) would indicate.
In case I forgot to mention it, Andrew Luck's 7th GW drive ties all-time NFL record, not just for rookies. Peyton Manning did it twice— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) December 23, 2012
Yeah, that's pretty decent.
Similarly, Robert Griffin III, the man who was drafted right after Luck, has transformed the Washington Redskins from NFL laughingstock to legitimate contender.
Thanks mostly to Griffin's 3,100 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns (to just five interceptions), 752 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns and a QB rating of 104.1, the Redskins are one victory away from winning the NFC East.
Griffin hasn't just been one of the most dynamic rookies in the NFL, but he has completely changed the game with his amazing playmaking skills.
Luck and Griffin have both done what everyone thought they were going to do. They are just doing it much earlier than anticipated.
Who is your Rookie of the Year?
Russell Wilson, meanwhile, has been a complete surprise.
After being drafted in the third round of the NFL draft, mostly because everyone seemed to think he resembled a hobbit, Wilson immediately won the Seattle Seahawks' starting job over a guy they paid a lot in the offseason and ran away with it.
Seattle has a fantastic defense and running game, but Wilson has transformed the offensive attack into an equally dominant unit that has scored 150 points over the past three games.
One hundred. And fifty.
Oh yeah, that includes 42 points in a win over the San Francisco 49ers, owners of quite possibly the best defense in the league.
Wilson had his bouts of inconsistency early in the season, but over the second half of the year, he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
From NBC Sports' Ben Maller:
Seahawks Russell Wilson is 5-1, 11 TDs, 1 INT with 114.9 rating in last 6 games– best of any NFL quarterback since Week 9.— Ben Maller (@benmaller) December 24, 2012
To ignore Wilson, who has 2,868 yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 431 rushing yards and three rushing scores and has proven to be nearly untouchable in the backfield, would be appalling.
But all three are truly special in their own ways. None of them are normal rookies, and there's a good chance they will all be competing in a truly unique postseason.
And that's not all.
Colin Kaepernick, a dynamic second-year man with the ability to bust a long touchdown both through the air and via the ground, will also be there with the San Francisco 49ers.
Andy Dalton, who is secretly still just 25 years old and in his second season, has continued to get better for the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals. Throwing to A.J. Green also helps.
Christian Ponder hasn't been perfect, but he has learned how to smartly manage the game for the Minnesota Vikings, who are a win over the Green Bay Packers away from the postseason.
Add it all up and you would have six quarterbacks—three rookies and three second-year players—in the playoffs under the age of 26. That's a lot of youth, a lot of excitement and a pretty good indication of where the league will be in five years.
It will be different, but it will be a good different.
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