After last Sunday’s epic matchup between Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, are we witnessing the next golden generation of quarterbacks?
If you happened to be watching the final two minutes of Sunday Night Football you would have seen 25 points, multiple lead changes and two stars defining the modern quarterback, running and gunning their respective teams forward. After bearing witness to the Mahomes-Allen show one thing’s for certain, it is not going to be easy getting out of the AFC without a star quarterback on your team.
The playoff campaigns of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers ended last weekend and both players face an uncertain future. With the recently announced retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees and Phillip RIvers last year there is a sense of upheaval in the quarterback ranks.
Brewing in the AFC are four star quarterbacks that can propel their teams into the playoffs for the next decade. Mahomes and Allen are at the top, both unique: Mahomes with an uncanny ability to evade the pass rush throwing side-arm fastballs and overhead hammer throws, Allen charging like a tight end with the talent to hit a tightly spiralled hail mary at will. These two represent the future at the position, flexible dual-threat athletes that can hurt you with passing and movement.
They are not alone, this weekend in the Championship series Mahomes will face Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals for a place in the Super Bowl. The betting odds may favour Mahomes after their stunning victory but don’t overlook the Bengals. Joe Burrow has taken a giant leap forward in his second year. The number 1 draft pick from 2019 has transformed Cincinnati from a bottom dwelling outfit, to one on the verge of the Super Bowl after recording their first postseason victory against the Las Vegas Raiders since 1991.
Whatever the result – spread betting and fixed odds favour the Chiefs – between the Bengals and Chiefs let’s hope we get another example of why the NFL is in good hands, at least in the AFC.
To add more wood to the talent pile you also need to contend with Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers and former MVP Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens who were left on the outside of the playoffs looking in this season, yet both are young and supremely talented. They are no longer the game’s future prospects, but its current stars and will look to make their ascent in the coming seasons. They will however have to go through Mahomes, Burrow and Allen.
Changing National Football Conference
The NFC on the other hand, is going through some growing pains as far as quarterback development goes. There is no quintet of talent emerging at the same time like in the AFC. Indeed there are perhaps seven quarterbacks who have been the league MVP or have at some point been a forerunner for the award. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford.
Four are on the wrong side of 30 years old, with Brady, Ryan and Wilson moving closer to retirement. Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott were unceremoniously dumped in the first round of the playoffs and only Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams has raised his game to the level currently being enjoyed in the AFC playoff bracket.
Rodgers On the Move?
Aaron Rodgers represents the most interesting case of the NFC quarterbacks. After another excellent regular season with the Green Bay Packers earning top seed, the Packers fumbled at home against Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers in the wild card round. An offseason of uncertainty beckons, with rumours around teaming up with former Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathanial Hackett, who has been recently installed as the Denver Broncos head coach.
Moving to Denver however would mean jumping into a division with Mahomes and Herbert, and a conference with Burrow, Allen and Jackson. An exciting proposition, but not the ideal situation for a future hall-of-famer at the tail end of his career. Especially when one considers the near term outlook for the Packers’ current divisional rivals the Bears, Vikings and Lions as rebuilding and ripe for the picking. It still is the Packers division to lose.
Whatever Rodgers decides to do, it is quite clear that it’s going to take some time before a young promising quarterback emerges in the NFC. Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals is the standout, whereas Trey Lance of the San Francisco 49ers and Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears could become superstars. Given enough time and care of course.
Seeing one of the greatest collections of QB talents emerge all around the same time in one conference is going to make for some incredible sporting competition. If the Mahomes-Allen battle at Arrowhead last weekend is anything to go by we are in for one hell of a ride. It’s going to be must watch tv for the next ten years.