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Super Bowl chase begins Saturday

Jan. 4, 2013 at 9:05 PM   |   Comments

HOUSTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The battle for the NFL title begins Saturday with three rookie quarterbacks featured along with a veteran trying to win the Super Bowl with his second team.

Wild card playoff games will take place during the weekend in Houston, Green Bay, Baltimore and Washington and for the first time in seven years every playoff participant won at least 10 games during the regular campaign.

It will all start in Houston, where the Texans will host Cincinnati in the first of Saturday's games. Green Bay will then take on Minnesota for the second week in a row. The Vikings defeated the Packers in Minneapolis last Sunday to earn a playoff position.

On Sunday, Indianapolis will be at Baltimore and Seattle will visit Washington. Denver, New England, Atlanta and San Francisco earned first-round byes and will host games next week.

This year's playoffs follow a regular season in which more points were scored than in any other NFL campaign. Nine teams scored at least 400 points and seven of them qualified for the post-season.

Minnesota's Adrian Peterson came within eight yards of equaling the all-time single-season rushing record of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson in 1984. Peterson had seven games of at least 150 yards, which tied Earn Campbell for the most in any one year.

Quarterbacks Robert Griffin III (Washington), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) and Russell Wilson (Seattle) all led their teams to the playoffs in their rookie campaign. This is the first time since the Super Bowl was first played after the 1966 season that three rookie signal callers have started a game in the playoffs.

Griffin boosted the Redskins into the Super Bowl chase after they opened the season 3-6. They are the first team in 14 years to reach the playoffs after such a start. Indianapolis becomes the second team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to get to the post-season after winning two or fewer games the year before.

Peyton Manning, meanwhile, resumed his record-breaking career in Denver this season after a neck injury kept him out of action during his final year with Indianapolis.

Eleven quarterbacks have won two or more Super Bowls and Manning hopes to join that group after guiding Indianapolis to the crown 6 years ago.

New England's Tom Brady, meanwhile, will be trying to become part of the elite group of quarterbacks with four Super Bowl championships to their credit. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana won four titles during their career. Brady has captured three, as did Troy Aikman.

Five of this year's playoff teams -- Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston, Minnesota and Seattle -- have never won the NFL crown.

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