The NFL playoffs begin this weekend and for once the quarterbacks bear the least recognizable names. At least on the AFC side.
You know Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Won a couple of Super Bowls. Been around since 2004. But do you know Matt Moore, who will oppose him under center for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday? You do not.
Moore has replaced the injured Ryan Tannehill, and that is a theme common to this weekend’s AFC games. Backups, uncertainty, unknown quantities at the most critical position – this might not be attractive.
Consider the other AFC first-round game, Saturday’s matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans. Oakland lost budding star Derek Carr to a fractured tibia and then Matt McGloin, making his first start since 2013, suffered a shoulder injury. So Connor Cook will take the snaps for the Raiders. This marks the first time in NFL history a rookie quarterback’s first start is in the playoffs.
The Texans, meanwhile, are back to Brock Osweiler, the expensive but unsuccessful passer they lured away from the Denver Broncos. He lost his job to Tom Savage – yes, that Tom Savage – but Savage suffered a concussion in the regular-season finale and now the Texans are back to Brock.
Thankfully, it’s business as usual in the NFC. The New York Giants’ Eli Manning hasn’t missed a start since 2004 and he’ll be seeing Aaron Rodgers work his magic for the Green Bay Packers. Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions will pit his skills against Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
A curious alignment in the AFC. Injuries have a way of skewing outcomes and destinies. Interesting times are just ahead.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman