Pat’s Points on NFL Playoff QBs
Regular season numbers are great, but January wins and Super Bowl titles are how we ultimately judge the most important position in the NFL.
This edition of #QuickSlants is unlike the Sunday Morning QB–it’s not about fantasy numbers, projections, or which signal callers I’m rooting for (okay that plays a minor role perhaps) on any given game day.
These confidence rankings encompass which quarterbacks teams, coaches and fans would trust the most to win this weekend.
When it’s all said and done, Peyton Manning will be a top-five QB almost universally in the minds of football writers, historians and fans, but do I have more confidence in him than say Joe Flacco to be able to win this week?
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Jury is Out
8. Cam Newton (Playoff Record: 1-1, Super Bowl Record: 0-0)
Newton’s lone Playoff victory came last week against Ryan Lindley. A win is a win, but I’m pretty sure almost anyone could have mustered the 80 yards of offense needed to beat the Cardinals in Carolina. The Panthers franchise QB possesses an amazing skill set and he’ll need every ounce of that to escape Seattle with a victory. Newton hasn’t shown the wherewithal to beat the game’s elite quarterbacks or teams. Instead of sticking to his reads he relies on his physical skills and looks to run too early; often times the results work out but against a disciplined Seahawks defense he’ll need to be razor sharp–something he’s not ready to be at this point.
7. Tony Romo (Playoff Record: 2-3, Super Bowl Record: 0-0)
From a straight numbers perspective, a strong case could be made that Romo belongs in the MVP conversation this season. Closer inspection however reveals that DeMarco Murray and even Dez Bryant are more valuable to the Dallas Cowboys. The only remaining QBs in the Playoffs that stand to benefit more than Romo by winning a Super Bowl are Peyton Manning (legacy) and Russell Wilson (new contract looming). Romo is well on his way to shedding the “choker” label, but a poor performance and a loss against Green Bay and we’ll hear the same old song regarding the face of the Cowboys, “He can’t win when it counts.”
I think Romo is a very solid QB, but he does make mistakes and misses receivers too frequently; when games and seasons are on the line Tony Romo’s history doesn’t instill confidence. That can all change with three more wins. He’s tough as nails, but he can be rattled.
6. Andrew Luck (Playoff Record: 2-2, Super Bowl Record: 0-0)
Since before the day he was drafted it’s been the #QuickSlants stance that Andrew Luck will be the next big thing among NFL QBs. While that wasn’t exactly going very far out on the proverbial limb, Luck has shown the winning edge, attention to detail and intangibles that turn ordinary quarterbacks into NFL legends. Luck’s postseason losses have come to Joe Flacco and Tom Brady, two proven winners playing for better all-around teams. Beating the Denver Broncos, and to a lesser degree Peyton Manning, this weekend will automatically elevate Luck to the next tier–albeit temporarily unless he then goes on to beat Flacco or Brady in the AFC Championship game. Luck’s time is certainly coming, but the Colts will need to add a few more pieces before the team becomes legitimate Super Bowl contenders every season.
Proven Winners, But…
5. Russell Wilson (Playoff Record: 4-1, Super Bowl Record 1-0)
In Wilson’s lone Playoff defeat (30-28 to the Falcons in 2013) he passed for 385 yards and added 60 more on the ground. This kid’s got major game. Of course the knock on Wilson is that the Seahawks powerful running game and dominant defense are the reasons for the team’s success. While that is certainly a valid point, Troy Aikman won three Super Bowls by handing off to Emmitt Smith while Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson leaned on run-first teams with all-time great defenses to win Super Bowl rings. Russell Wilson is a winner in every sense of the word, and if Seattle is able to keep the pieces in place he could make a run at Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana’s four rings.
4. Peyton Manning (Playoff Record: 11-12, Super Bowl Record 1-2)
Eight one-and-dones in the Playoffs. We’ve heard and said it before, “The Greatest Regular Season NFL QB ever,” but no quarterback has more to lose this postseason than Peyton Manning. Tom Brady has three rings and Gisele. Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco already have as many rings as Peyton does and their careers are a long way from over. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are just getting started. Peyton is very near the end; the time has to be right now for No. 18 in what could very well be his last, real chance. The arm strength is noticeably less, and despite the thoughts of several @TodaysPigskin colleagues, I don’t believe a week of rest will mean everything is back to normal and Manning is destined to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns this week. Even if he does and the Broncos advance to the AFC Championship, a familiar foe that’s conquered him before will be ready, willing, and able to do it again. The writing is on the wall, but at least he got one…
3. Joe Flacco (Playoff Record: 10-4, Super Bowl Record 1-0)
The Ravens QB has won five straight Playoff games and six of his last seven. For his career, Flacco has 21 postseason TD passes compared to just 8 INTs. The regular season numbers don’t spell this out, but his performance in January and February does–he’s as clutch as they come. Cool Joe Flacco isn’t about to lose his composure playing against the New England Patriots this weekend. The Ravens have a strong defense and a commitment to the running game–two things that always travel well in the Playoffs. Flacco doesn’t blow you away and his regular season numbers are pedestrian at best, but he throws a beautiful deep ball, stands in the pocket and delivers in the game’s most crucial moments. Beating Brady this week and then Peyton or Luck next will ensure the name “Flacco” becomes synonymous with winning postseason football forever in Baltimore and across the NFL.
2. Aaron Rodgers (Playoff Record: 6-4, Super Bowl Record 1-0)
Forget about the partial tear in his calf, he’s the man. The soon-to-be-MVP has the most complete game in the league right now. He’s incredibly smart with a quick release. He’s got a huge arm and a fire in his belly. He’s tasted success and he’s hungry for more titles. While his mobility to move around the pocket and buy time for
his receivers will be limited, Rodgers will play well on Sunday. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape and don’t bet against Aaron Rodgers making another run. He might not put up 350+ yards and 3 TDs against Dallas because the Packers will look to get the ground game going with Eddie Lacy, but he’s certainly capable of doing so.
1. Tom Brady (Playoff Record: 18-8, Super Bowl Record 3-2)
So much of the talk this week has centered around whether Joe Flacco is better right now than Tom Brady is and let’s put that to rest with a resounding HELL NO! Nobody has done more with less around him than the Golden Boy and no QB in NFL history has won more postseason games. Down four with two minutes remaining, give me Brady every time–and I hate the Patriots. People give credit to the system, the head coach and the Patriots Way, but without Tom Brady New England might still be looking for their first Lombardi Trophy. Until Flacco, Manning, Luck, Wilson, and Rodgers clearly out-play him when it matters most, Mr. Bundchen will continue to be the best in my book when the entire scope of the NFL season and postseason is taken into account.
And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Today’s Pigskin Wants to Know:
Which QBs will meet in Super Bowl 49?
Which QB would you want if your team needed to win one game?
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