Rookie starting quarterbacks rarely finish with a winning record in the NFL’s regular season, but it does happen. However, a rookie has never led his team to a Super Bowl victory in his first pro season. That could all change this winter with the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck.
Entering Week 15, Luck already has set numerous league rookie records, including single-game passing yardage with 433 in a win over the Miami Dolphins on November 4. Luck has thrown for at least 300 yards in six games, also a rookie mark. The No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford is on pace to break both the rookie season touchdown and yardage mark and will blow past nearly every rookie number that Peyton Manning, the guy Luck replaced in Indianapolis, put up back in 1998.
However perhaps even more astounding, is that Luck has the Colts at 9-4 (also 9-4 ATS) and almost a lock to clinch an AFC wild-card spot. Indianapolis was nearly 0-16 a year ago and was expected to be the worst team in the NFL this season as the franchise started over post-Manning. Luck not only is a favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year – although he will have competition from Washington’s Robert Griffin III – but should get some NFL MVP votes. He has led the Colts back in the final minutes to win a handful of games. Indianapolis is a terrific 8-1 this season in games decided by a touchdown or less. That only loss was Week 3 when Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert threw a miracle 80-yard winning touchdown pass with 45 seconds remaining.
The Colts franchise has reached four Super Bowls, two while still in Baltimore. The most memorable was Super Bowl III in Miami when Baltimore was a huge 18-point favorite over the New York Jets – the biggest spread in Super Bowl history – but were beaten 16-7 by game MVP Joe Namath and Co. It’s a game credited with turning the Super Bowl into the pre-eminent sporting event in the United States and made Namath a legend as he had guaranteed a victory.
Two years later, the Colts beat Dallas 16-13 in Super Bowl V back in Miami. Baltimore was a 2.5-point favorite with the total at 36. That game was historic because Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley was named the MVP, the only player on a losing team to ever win the award. He intercepted two passes in the loss.
Manning reached his first Super Bowl in the 2006 season, XLI, again in Miami. Manning was named the MVP in a 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears on a rainy night. Tony Dungy became the first black coach to win the championship. The Colts were 6.5-point favorites and the total went under 49.
Manning’s last Super Bowl was XLIV in Miami once more. The Colts were 4.5-point favorites (total of 56.5 was the largest ever) but lost to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 31-17. With the Colts having possession and down a touchdown, setting up Manning for a potential tying drive, cornerback Tracy Porter stepped in front of a Manning pass to Reggie Wayne and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown with 3:12 remaining for the final points. Brees won MVP honors.
Can Luck make history this year? The Colts will have to win three road games simply to get to New Orleans and perhaps beat Manning’s Denver Broncos along the way. Indianapolis is 40/1 to win Super Bowl XLVII and 20/1 to win the AFC.