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Are we seeing a changing of the guard at the quarterback position in the AFC?

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A new QB is guaranteed to represent the American Football Conference in the Super Bowl in 2020

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Mahomes. Jackson. Watson. Tannehill.

One of these four quarterbacks will be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl for the 2019 season. They’re the “new kids on the block” so-to speak when it comes to February football.

Brady. Manning. Roethlisberger. Flacco.

These are the four names of the AFC quarterbacks playing in the Super Bowl dating back all the way to 2003. The best way to classify these players are “the old guard.”

Obviously, we are looking at a new name in the Super Bowl for the AFC in February to cap off the 2019 season. One of the four “new kids” will have the chance to begin a new era which started when Ryan Tannehill was in high school and the other three quarterbacks were in elementary school. There is no guarantee that even two of these players wind up appearing in a Super Bowl in their career, but for Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson especially, there is still a lot of football to be played in their career.

The true question is if there is a changing of the guard when it comes to quarterbacks in the AFC. In other words, will any of the “old guard’ who have dominated the Super Bowl appearances ever reach the big game again?

Yes, Peyton Manning has been retired for the last four seasons so we know we definitely won’t see him in the big game anymore. Joe Flacco has only appeared in one of the Super Bowls but still was mixed in with these other three Hall of Fame players. His less-than-mediocre season in Denver was cut short with a season-ending neck injury which came after he criticized his coaching staff for not being more aggressive. There’s a good possibility his NFL days are very limited.

Tom Brady is on the wrong side of 40 and is currently not under contract going into the 2020 off-season. There are an awful lot of questions as to what he plans to do in the future whether it be in New England or somewhere else, but there is still a chance he could be coming back for one more push for championship. And, most importantly, Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a season in which he was placed on the Reserve/Injured List for the first time in his career. It will still be a couple months until he is able to know how well he can throw a football.

So do we know the new faces of the quarterback position in the AFC in the next few years? I believe three of these players who are still alive in the AFC playoffs are prime candidates to take the reins from the old guard. Ryan Tannehill has already played seven seasons in the NFL, and while he has a good chance to help lead his team further into the playoffs I don’t think his name screams “superstar of the future” when brought up in conversation. He’s sort-of the Joe Flacco of the group. But as for Mahomes, Jackson, and Watson, two of the three players have already reached All-Pro status, much like their predecessors of Brady and Manning. Only time will tell if these players can have the longevity of a Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger.

So while the 2019 season may give us a changing of the guard at the quarterback position in the AFC, there is still a small window before it may take full effect. One of these new players will reach the big game this season, but don’t be surprised to see Brady and Rothlisberger doing their best for one last run and getting to the championship game. Whether or not either one of them can get there remains to be seen. Like way too many things in life, we may not realize it was the last time until well after it’s gone.