NFL Rookie of the Year 2012: Predictions for Top Candidates in Week 17

Aidan Reynolds@@aidanreynoldsContributor IIIDecember 28, 2012

Robert Griffin III has positioned himself at the front of the Rookie of the Year race.
Robert Griffin III has positioned himself at the front of the Rookie of the Year race.Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

There is one week of the regular season remaining, which gives the Rookie of the Year candidates another week to impress. For those out of the reckoning, it's not going to make much difference, but for the players in the middle of the discussion, it can make all the difference.

Below are the top three candidates and how the Week 17 games will affect their chances.

Andrew Luck

The Indianapolis Colts were in tatters going into this season, with nothing but hope for a quick turnaround.

The drafting of Andrew Luck got them exactly that, and the Colts secured a playoff spot just one year removed from the Peyton Manning era.

Luck faces the Houston Texans in his final game of the regular season, which will be an interesting test for him. An argument against Luck for ROY is that he has had an easy schedule, and that his fourth-quarter comeback drives are akin to an arsonist putting out his own fires—he has 21 touchdowns to 18 interceptions.

This game is unlikely to make a difference to Luck's ROY chances, which were minimal to begin with. The Texans are already in the playoffs, so even if Luck torches them there will always be an argument against his achievements due to that.

Russell Wilson

Over the last seven weeks, Russell Wilson has featured more and more in the ROY conversation. He is one touchdown behind Peyton Manning's rookie record, with 25, and the Seattle Seahawks are 6-1 during that stretch. He has thrown just one interception and 15 touchdowns, while the Seahawks have convincingly beaten the 49ers and secured a playoff spot.

Wilson faces the St. Louis Rams this week, who edged a close 19-13 victory in September. Wilson has grown immeasurably since then, but the Rams will still represent a tough challenge for the rookie.

Chris Long has been immense along the defensive line all year, so St. Louis will look to seal the edge and prevent Wilson escaping the pocket. He's proved he can beat teams with his arm, but even an adequate showing from Wilson would severely damage his ROY chances.

Robert Griffin III

Griffin has brought hope to Washington for the first time in over a decade, and the way he has dragged his team back from 3-6 to 9-6 deserves all the plaudits in the world.

In truth, Griffin has stayed at the same level all year—barring a couple of average games against Pittsburgh and Carolina—and it's been the rest of the Redskins that have started to catch up to his level, rather than the other way round.

His injury in Week 15 caused him to miss a game, which automatically makes the ROY award more difficult to attain, but his final game is the most important of all the candidates.

Any time the Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys, it's a big game. When the two play each other for the division title, it's even bigger. When the two play each other for the division title in Week 17, it's the biggest game of the season.

If Griffin wins this, get ready to crown him Rookie of the Year.

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