Clash of generations in NFL playoffsWith Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson set to make playoff debuts, the year of the rookie continues in the National Football League.
But defense and experience win championships and few know the road to the Super Bowl better than longtime quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
The wild-card weekend kicks off on Saturday with the Cincinnati Bengals visiting the Houston Texans, followed by NFC North rivals the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings renewing hostilities on Lambeau Field’s famous frozen tundra.
Sunday’s games will be a rookie quarterback showcase. Luck, the number one overall pick in last year’s draft, will lead the resurgent Indianapolis Colts against the Baltimore Ravens, with Griffin, selected number two by the Washington Redskins, going against the Seattle Seahawks and their brilliant first-year quarterback Wilson.
More intriguing, however, is the possibility of a clash of the generations in the divisional playoffs the following weekend when Manning and the AFC top-seeded Denver Broncos join the action along with Brady and the number two seeded New England Patriots.
In the NFC, the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons and No. 2 San Francisco 49ers await their conference’s wild-card winners.
While NFL fans have been mesmerized by the dynamic talents of Griffin, Luck and Wilson, the old guard of Brady, Manning and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers have trophy cases that contain Super Bowl rings and most valuable player awards.
Rodgers and Manning finished the regular season with the top two quarterback ratings, generating plenty of MVP buzz. They were followed by Griffin and Wilson.
Luck completed his first campaign by grabbing the single-season rookie passing yards record as the Colts went from last place to the playoffs in one year.
Wilson tied Manning’s single-season rookie record with 26 touchdown passes, leading an explosive Seattle offense that became to first in 62 years to register back-to-back 50 point games.
While the spotlight will be focused on the trio of rookies, the pressure will be on two other quarterbacks.
The apprenticeship and honeymoon is over for Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco, taken 18th overall in that same draft class. The two must prove they are finally ready to deliver a championship.
The wild-card weekend will also feature the NFL’s top three rushers - Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris and Marshawn Lynch. Reuters
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