Christmas Eve was a rough one for two of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks. The Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Titans’ Marcus Mariota each left the second halves of their Week 16 games on carts thanks to a pair of broken fibulas.
Mariota’s injury closed the door on an uneven playoff push in Nashville. Carr’s bum wheel likely razed his MVP chances and puts his team’s first postseason appearance since Nickelback was an emerging young talent in the hands of a backup.
Other teams have had their postseason fates altered by the fickle hands of the injury gods. Thanks to the stretch run of the 2016 season, and Ryan Tannehill’s sprained ACL, NFL fans may be treated to a showdown between Matt McGloin and Matt Moore.
It hardly seems fair when the other starting quarterbacks in the AFC playoffs include a four-time Super Bowl winner (Tom Brady) and a two-time Super Bowl winner (Ben Roethlisberger).
There’s more playoff experience among the starter quarterbacks in the NFC. Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, and (if the Packers clinch a spot) Aaron Rodgers all have Super Bowl rings. Depending on if the Lions or Washington lock down a playoff berth, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins have both played in the postseason. So has Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
For four of the 10 teams already officially in the playoffs, they’ll be trotting out a quarterback who has zero experience on this big of a stage.
The Raiders have plenty of talent; Amari Cooper, Donald Penn, and all 265 pounds and 57 years of Sebastian Janikowski rank among the team’s standouts. But despite placing seven players on the AFC Pro Bowl team, Oakland’s success rises and falls on two men — and one of them won’t return this season.