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Playoff Rookie Quarterbacks
The NFL playoffs continue this weekend with the divisional round as four teams that rested last week will hit the field. One of those squads will feature a rookie quarterback making his playoff debut as Dak Prescott will look to lead Dallas past Green Bay on Sunday. Rookie signal-callers aren’t exactly the best bets in the NFL postseason as history tells us by owning a substandard record both straight-up and against the spread.

Prescott becomes the 16th rookie to quarterback a playoff game since 1983, but his predecessors have compiled an 8-15 SU and 11-12 ATS record. Six of these quarterbacks have won their playoff debut with the last one being Seattle’s Russell Wilson in the 2012 Wild Card round at Washington in a 24-14 victory as three-point favorites. Wilson joins a group alongside Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Ben Roethlisberger, Shaun King, and T.J. Yates that picked up a postseason win in their first opportunity.

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Plenty of successful quarterbacks (and one Hall-of-Famer) didn’t fare as well in their first playoff start as a rookie. Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Bernie Kosar, Jim Everett, Andrew Luck, and that Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino all lost in their postseason debuts in their first season. The most recent quarterback to start a playoff game was Oakland’s Connor Cook, who was thrust into that role after Derek Carr and Matt McGloin each were injured late in the season. Needless to say, Cook struggled by throwing three interceptions in a 27-14 setback at Houston.

Cook was making his first professional start against the Texans, which hurts the numbers for rookies, while former Raiders’ first round bust Todd Marinovich made his second career start in the 1991 Wild Card round loss to the Chiefs. Yates outdueled fellow rookie Dalton in the 2011 Wild Card round as Houston beat Cincinnati, 31-10 as four-point home favorites.

Not one rookie quarterback has ever reached the Super Bowl, but Flacco, Sanchez, Roethlisberger, and King all went to the conference championships in their first season. Flacco led Baltimore to a pair of road victories at Miami and Tennessee in 2008 before bowing out to Pittsburgh as six-point underdogs in the AFC Championship. The next season, Sanchez paced the Jets past the Bengals and Chargers in the first two rounds before losing to the Colts in the AFC title game.

Three active quarterbacks that started as rookies in the postseason are still alive in these playoffs (Ryan, Roethlisberger, Wilson). Out of that trio, Roethlisberger is the only quarterback that made his debut at home, beating the Jets in the divisional round before getting blown out by the Patriots in the AFC Championship in 2004. Bringing it back to Prescott, who faces Green Bay at home, rookie QB’s own a 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS at home, including a 1-3 ATS mark in the home favorite role.

From a totals perspective (not doubling up on Yates/Dalton and Wilson/Griffin matchups), the OVER has cashed in 10 of 19 opportunities. Only one game had a total of 50 or higher as Ryan and the Falcons lost to the Cardinals on the road in 2008 by a 30-24 count on a 52 total. The total on the Cowboys/Packers matchup is currently sitting at 52.

In his first start against the Packers back in Week 6 at Lambeau Field, Prescott threw three touchdown passes in a 30-16 victory over Green Bay. In seven of eight home games, Prescott didn’t throw an interception, while owning an 11/1 touchdown to interception ratio at AT&T Stadium. However, Dallas closed the season on a 1-5 ATS run, while Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers owns a solid 5-1 ATS mark as a road underdog in the postseason.

NFL Rookie QB's in Playoffs Since 1983
Quarterback Year/Opponent Score/Line ATS Result Total Result
Dan Marino, Mia 1983 vs. Seattle 20-27 (-8) L/L OVER 36.5
Jim Everett, LA 1986 vs. Washington 7-19 (+4.5) L/L -
Bernie Kosar, Cle 1986 vs. Miami 21-24 (+10) L/W -
Todd Marinovich, LA 1991 at Kansas City 6-10 (+5) L/W UNDER 35
Shaun King, TB 1999 vs. Washington 14-13 (-5.5) W/L UNDER 44.5
Shaun King, TB 1999 at St. Louis 6-11 (+14.5) L/W UNDER 44.5
Ben Roethlisberger, Pit 2004 vs. N.Y. Jets 20-17 (-9) W/L OVER 35
Ben Roethlisberger, Pit 2004 vs. New England 27-41 (+3) L/L OVER 35
Matt Ryan, Atl 2008 at Arizona 24-30 (+1.5) L/L OVER 52
Joe Flacco, Bal 2008 at Miami 27-9 (-4) W/W UNDER 38
Joe Flacco, Bal 2008 at Tennessee 13-10 (+3) W/W UNDER 34
Joe Flacco, Bal 2008 at Pittsburgh 14-23 (+6) L/L OVER 35
Mark Sanchez, NYJ 2009 at Cincinnati 24-14 (+2.5) W/W OVER 34
Mark Sanchez, NYJ 2009 at San Diego 17-14 (+9) W/W UNDER 43
Mark Sanchez, NYJ 2009 at Indianapolis 17-30 (+8) L/L OVER 40
Andy Dalton, Cin 2011 at Houston 10-31 (+4) L/L OVER 38
T.J. Yates, Hou 2011 vs. Cincinnati 31-10 (-4) W/W OVER 38
T.J. Yates, Hou 2011 at Baltimore 13-20 (+7.5) L/W UNDER 37
Robert Griffin III, Wsh 2012 vs. Seattle 14-24 (+3) L/L UNDER 44.5
Russell Wilson, Sea 2012 at Washington 24-14 (-3) W/W UNDER 44.5
Russell Wilson, Sea 2012 at Atlanta 28-30 (+3) L/W OVER 46.5
Andrew Luck, Ind 2012 at Baltimore 9-24 (+7) L/L UNDER 48
Connor Cook, Oak 2016 at Houston 14-27 (+4) L/L OVER 37.5

  
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