This is the week of the rookie quarterback. All the fuss that surrounded the five starting first-year QBs back in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season, has culminated with three of them starting in Wild Card weekend.
It really is an incredible story. Who would have thought that Russell Wilson, a third-round pick out of Wisconsin, Andrew Luck, who joined a 2-14 team from 2011, and Robert Griffin III, a running quarterback playing for an old school coach like Mike Shanahan, could coax three wonky teams into the playoffs?
Now, in fairness, the Seahawks defense has been on the verge of greatness for the past couple of years and in 2012, things came together, but in Washington and Indianapolis, nobody truly believed back in September that the Colts and ‘Skins would be participating in the post-season while the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants would be watching on TV.
This is the first time in NFL history that three rookie quarterbacks have led their respective teams into the playoffs. In fact, Luck (11-5), Wilson (11-5), Griffin III (9-6) and Griffin’s backup, rookie Kirk Cousins, (1-0) have combined for 32 wins this season. What’s even more incredible is that the amazing success of these rookies has come the season after their previous teams went 7-9 (Seattle), 5-11 (Washington) and 2-14 (Indy).
“I don’t know that there’s ever been three in a field of 12, but those three guys are unique, all three of them,” Broncos coach John Fox told the Denver Post this week. “There’s probably not too many (quarterback) classes that had those type of guys make that much of an impact early.”
No kidding. History will be made this weekend, no matter the outcome of the four playoff games.
Last week the Doc was 10-6 straight up (167-89) and 7-9 (131-125) against the spread. The Coach was 13-3 straight up (170-86) and 10-6 against the spread (135-121).
This week, The Doc writes our insightful rationalizations while the Coach eats Funyuns and yells at the TV. Let’s take a close look at Wild Card Weekend:
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at Houston Texans (12-4) Line: Texans by 4.5
In a rematch of last year’s Wild Card game, the once mighty Texans host the up and coming Bengals who haven’t won a playoff game since 1990! The girl who served me my beer last night at Smitty’s wasn’t even born yet! The Texans with their eight Pro Bowl selections are a better team on both sides of the ball, and look for J.J. Watt to have Andy Dalton running for cover. The Coach says: “The Vikings exposed Houston. Houston has scored just one touchdown in its last 10 quarters. Meanwhile, during the past eight games, the Bengals have allowed only 12.8 points per game. It will be close, but Cincinnati will beat the slumping Texans.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at Green Bay Packers (11-5) Line: Packers by 7.5.
Do the Vikings have the Packers number? Will AP gallop to another 200 yard game? Will Ponder silence his critics? Will lightning strike twice? The answer to all these questions is “NO”! The Coach says: “Does ol’ Noodle Arm have one more miracle? If he does, Leslie Frazier should be coach of the year.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (10-6) Line: Ravens by 7.
Can the Ravens do it one last time for Ray Lewis, who returns to at least the sidelines for what could be the last time ever? And then factor in the return of Chuck Pagano, who’s fighting spirit has propelled the Colts to surpass every one’s expectations this season. Teamed with the fact the Pagano is a former Ravens assistant coach who knows Baltimore’s D very well, I smell an upset. Andrew Luck comes into his own in this one. The Coach says: “Ray Lewis is back and we all know that he’s murder on an offense.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE COLTS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Washington Redskins (10-6) Line: Seahawks by 3.
Two of the best rookie QB’s of all time go head to head in what is sure to be a high scoring game. Russell Wilson has proved to be the surprise of the season and RG3 has given the Redskin faithful something to get excited about for the right reason for the first time in years. Seattle’s defense will be the difference here, but the ‘Skins will keep it close. The Coach says: “The Seahawks lock-down defense is just too good. They’ll shut down the Washington rushing game and since there hasn’t been much of a passing game, the Seahawks will win by a touchdown.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.