NFL Witnessing New QB Hierarchy As Next Generation Begins Ascent
There was a "passing of the torch in the NFL this weekend," as the next generation of QBs are "proving their worth by making their mark in the playoffs," according to George Willis of the N.Y. POST. This season's divisional round "doesn't have many of the familiar names that have starred in the past," such as the Patriots' Tom Brady, the Saints' Drew Brees and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. They are "spectators now, clearing the way for a younger collection of quarterbacks trying to create its own playoff legacies." If the future "hasn't arrived, it's certainly pounding on the door, especially in the AFC," as Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Texans' Deshuan Watson and Ravens' Lamar Jackson will all play this weekend. Meanwhile, the Seahawks-Packers NFC Divisional Round game will feature Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, both of whom are "in their primes ... but seem ancient among the group" (N.Y. POST, 1/7). In S.F., Ann Killion writes other than Wilson and Rodgers, the "rest of the field is young and relatively untested." The "new generation of quarterbacks has arrived" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/7). In DC, Jerry Brewer writes while Brady and Brees "may not be done playing," it is "not their era anymore." That will become "even clearer as the playoffs progress without them, and the nation becomes more fascinated with the electrifying talents" of Mahomes, Watson and Jackson (WASHINGTON POST, 1/7).
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: In K.C., Pete Grathoff notes the '02 playoffs was the "last time the AFC's final four didn't include" Brady, Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. One of the four QBs left -- Mahomes, Watson, Jackson or the Titans' Ryan Tannehill -- will start in Super Bowl LIV, "ending a string of dominance by Brady, Manning and Roethlisberger that was interrupted just once" by Joe Flacco in Super Bowl XLVII (K.C. STAR, 1/7).