In many seasons this would be a discussion over the NFL MVP, but this year it’s a debate for who should win the Rookie of the Year award.
In what could be one of the closest races in NFL history, the Colts’ Andrew Luck, the Redskins' Robert Griffin III, and the Seahawks' Russell Wilson can all make a claim for this year’s prize.
The favorite at the start of the season, Luck had immense pressure on him when the Colts made him the No. 1 choice in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he also had to follow in the footsteps of NFL legend Peyton Manning.
Juxtaposed to Manning from the start, the Colts are 8-4, and Luck has already surpassed Manning’s win total as a rookie by five games with four left to go.
While Luck's numbers are strong, he's not superhuman. He's passed for 3,596 yards and 17 touchdowns, yet his passer rating is just 76.1, and he’s tossed 16 interceptions, thanks to four games with multiple picks.
Griffin also could have succumbed to suffocating pressure in Washington after the Redskins surrendered three first-round and one second-round picks to snag him at No. 2 overall.
Instead, the former Baylor star has scorched the league with exceptional play, especially during Washington’s current three-game win streak over NFC East foes. Washington remains in the playoff picture with a 6-6 record.
During the streak, Griffin has passed for 647 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception. He is now third in the league in passer rating at 104.4, along with 17 passing and six rushing touchdowns, and 2,660 passing yards.
Griffin has had his struggles, as well. He posted his lowest completion percentages and passer ratings of the season during a three-game slide.
Then there is Wilson, who trekked a far different path to stardom.
Griffin and Luck were the presumed starters heading into the training camp, while third-round pick Wilson earned a surprise starting role over veteran Matt Flynn. The Seahawks had signed Flynn for $19.5 million over three years, but Wilson wowed head coach Pete Carroll and the decision has paid huge dividends.
With 19 passing touchdowns and 2,344 passing yards, Wilson helped propell Seattle to a 7-5 record. Behind Wilson, the Seahawks currently hold the final NFC Wild Card spot thanks to a huge overtime against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, a shocking upset of the New England Patriots on October 14, and a shocking and controversial win over the Green Bay Packers in Week Three.
Who wins the award this year will likely come down to their efforts in the final four weeks. Luck has the inside edge after turning the Colts around from a horrid 2-14 record last year, but schedules could play a huge role.
Griffin, like Luck, has two more games against teams with winning records, while Wilson has just one.
The quarterback that makes the least mistakes in the final games, and guides their team to the playoffs, will be likely be voted as the top rookie of 2012.