The NFL is best when quarterback play is at its peak, and it’s possible there never was a deeper quarterback group.
The old guard is still going strong. Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady lead likely playoff teams in their late 30s, and Drew Brees was also before his injury. The future is also bright. Patrick Mahomes took over the NFL and is only 25 years old. We saw young quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson engage in an epic duel on Monday night. Other young quarterbacks like Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson give the NFL a great foundation for the next decade.
We can clearly see the contrast between the young and the old at the Saturday shift. If you make a list of the top three NFL MVP contenders, it should probably be Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, 37, and Josh Allen, 24. Allen’s Buffalo Bills face the Denver Broncos and Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers face the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, a pair of games that can be streamed live on the Yahoo Sports app.
Allen was 8 when the Packers drafted Rodgers in the first round.
Josh Allen leads Bills against Broncos
There are similarities in the paths Rodgers and Allen took to become NFL stardom.
Both were from California and not from glamorous places. Rodgers is from Chico and Allen from Firebaugh. Both went to middle school because neither had a Division I scholarship offer out of high school. Neither had many options when leaving college; Rodgers went to Cal and Allen went to Wyoming. They both became first-round picks.
They have differences as players. People were skeptical of Allen leaving college due to his issues with accuracy. Rodgers tied an NCAA record with 23 straight goals in a game, against a strong USC defense. But there are similarities. Both have incredible arm strength. They can also beat defenses with their legs, although Rodgers doesn’t do that as much in his late 30s.
Allen’s development has been rapid. His first season he showed the vagueness that was a problem in Wyoming. But his completion percentage over his three seasons has dropped from 52.8 to 58.8 to 68.6. Allen has also improved his touchdown and interception rate each season. The Bills are 10-3 heading into Saturday morning against the Broncos and Allen’s fantastic year is catching the attention of MVPs.
But in the MVP race, Allen is still far behind a quarterback 13 years his senior.
Aaron Rodgers continues to push MVP against Panthers
The Rodgers revival has been one of the big stories of the NFL season.
It’s not that Rodgers was ever bad, but it’s been a while since he’s been a legitimate MVP contender. This season, Rodgers has 39 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The Packers are 10-3 and are currently the No.1 seed in the NFC. They can keep the home court advantage thanks to the NFC playoffs with three more wins, and it starts on Saturday night against the Panthers.
Rodgers is playing as well as ever, but he won’t have many more punches left to win a second title. The Packers have already drafted their alleged replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round this season. Rodgers could still have plenty of good seasons in Green Bay yet and not be able to get a No.1 seed and take his team to a Super Bowl again. Things change quickly in the NFL and nothing is guaranteed year after year.
Allen and Rodgers both rose to the ranks of the NFL’s top quarterbacks thanks to similar backgrounds. Rodgers has won MVPs, a Super Bowl ring and is on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Allen has a long way to go to reach any of these heights, but his improvement in his third season has been remarkable.
The two quarters will be in the spotlight on Saturday, two periods of quarters each at the peak of their art.
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