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Discussion: The NFL playoffs

FootballSportsNFLSeattle SeahawksColin KaepernickSan Francisco 49ersRobert Griffin III

This week's special Thursday edition of our NFL Google+ hangout -- "NFL Slam with Mark and Sam," starring Times NFL columnist Sam Farmer and Mark Thompson of "Mark and Brian" radio fame -- will start at 12:30 p.m. today on this blog post and will cover a host of topics.

One topic will include the NFL playoffs. As Farmer wrote earlier this week,

"Toss out the Green Bay Packers' Rodgers and Baltimore's Joe Flacco, and the combined number of playoff starts by the other six quarterbacks in the first round is one.

"That's one start by the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton, and none by the Washington' Redskins' Robert Griffin III, the Indianapolis Colts' Luck, the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, the Minnesota Vikings' Christian Ponder, and the more experienced Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans. The San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, off this week, also will be making his postseason debut.

"This isn't an anomaly, but the direction the league is heading. The idea of keeping a young quarterback on the sideline, holding a clipboard for a seasoned veteran, is going the way of leather helmets. These playoffs will be a showcase for that nudge-them-out-of-the-nest philosophy.

"When you talk about trying to confuse the rookie quarterbacks, well, that ain't happening anymore," said former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, a CBS analyst. "You're not seeing the ugly interceptions. The late-down-the-middle, never-saw-the-safety interceptions. We're not seeing many of those rookie mistakes anymore. These guys have already gone through those wrecks. They've already been through that process."

"NFL Slam with Mark and Sam" is usually held every Monday and Friday at 11:30 a.m. You can watch it on this blog post. If you have questions for Mark and Sam, email them to sportshangout@latimes.com and we will try to get them answered live during the chat.

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