Robert Griffin III Will Begin Cementing Rookie of Year Award with Win vs. Ravens

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after the Redskins defeated the New York Giants 17-16 at FedExField on December 3, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III has already won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award—we just don't know it yet.

Embroiled in a heated battle with Andrew Luck (and to a lesser extent Russell Wilson), the Washington Redskins quarterback is in perhaps the closest battle for the award in league history. 

However, starting with Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens, Griffin will begin separating himself from the pack. 

Obviously, you would have to be living in a self-imposed sports exile to not know about Griffin's exploits. The Redskins' dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 2,660 yards and 17 touchdowns against only four interceptions, and run for 714 yards and six touchdowns. 

Griffin broke Cam Newton's record for most rushing yards by a rookie quarterback in Week 13. By the time the final whistle sounds on Week 17, Newton's record will look like a relic, like it had been set before they created that crazy thing called the forward pass. And, of course, Newton was a rookie just last season.

Blowing records away starts this week for Griffin against Baltimore. Though still widely respected around the league, the Ravens' defense has glaring holes that he should have no problem exploiting.

Heading into Week 14, the Ravens rank 23rd against the pass and run and are 25th in total defense. Baltimore's top cornerback (Lardarius Webb) and defensive leader (Ray Lewis) will be out on Sunday and former Pro Bowl pass-rusher Terrell Suggs is struggling with injuries.

Facing a similarly depleted defense last week, Steelers third-string quarterback Charlie Batch looked better than in his prime, so Griffin should have no trouble having a strong outing. If the Redskins' papier-mache defense can hold up, they should come away with what's seen as a banner win.

Still, regardless of what happens Sunday, one could argue the relative merits of Griffin and Luck (and Wilson) until your face turns purple with passionate rage and not come to a conclusion.

Luck's statistics are just as impressive. His 3,596 passing yards heading into Sunday put him on pace to break another Newton record, and he's not a stiff in the pocket either, rushing for 216 yards and five touchdowns.

However, Luck struggles with turnovers. The Colts' signal-caller has thrown 16 interceptions already, which is tied with Drew Brees for the most in the NFL.

Griffin's lack of turnovers is where his case carries the most weight. To put Griffin's four interceptions another way, he has as many picks as Luck does multi-interception games.

One could cite Griffin's 10 fumbles as evidence that he's obviously not some perfect bastion of ball protection. Luck has nine.

Some would venture to argue that Griffin has a better supporting cast than Luck. In some ways, that's true. There is no one resembling an Alfred Morris in the Colts' backfield to help siphon the offensive load away from Luck. 

Nevertheless, that won't matter to the voters. Following Sunday's game against the Ravens, the narrative sets up beautifully for Griffin to run away with the award. 

Washington already has won straight coming into Week 14, all against NFC East opponents. After Sunday's contest against Baltimore, the Redskins' schedule is a bit of a cakewalk. None of their opponents are above .500 and only one (Dallas) ranks inside the top half of the NFL in total defense. 

That means it's completely within the realm of possibility that the Redskins will run the table with seven straight wins, end up 10-6 and in the playoffs. Indianapolis' schedule also sets up for the team to finish 10-6 or 11-5. But with two matchups against the Texans remaining, it's hard to see Luck's narrative matching Griffin's by the time ballots are due. 

Wilson's play in Seattle also deserves mention, but this is a two-man award. A win on Sunday for the Redskins will help spur a scintillating late-season run that will leave voters no choice but to make Griffin the Rookie of the Year.