Quarterbacks have such a large impact on the game nowadays that a breakdown of the pivots starting for the eight teams remaining in the NFL playoffs gives you a feel for how things might conclude. Quite interestingly this year, though, some of the stronger teams have quarterbacks who haven’t performed as well as some of the underdogs.
It was extremely difficult to rank these guys, because some are legends who appear to have lost a step, while others have great playoff reputations but haven’t been as good in general. But here goes it…
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: He’ll probably be the 2014 MVP and offensive player of the year. He’s also got a 103.1 career playoff passer rating and a Super Bowl victory under his belt.
2. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Romo hasn’t had much playoff success but he led the Cowboys to victory on wild-card weekend and has actually won two of his last three postseason games. Plus, he led the NFL in completion percentage and passer rating during the best season of his career.
3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: The man rarely makes mistakes, rises to occasions, has a Super Bowl already and a 102.0 career playoff rating. Don’t forget that while he wasn’t as dominant as Rodgers or Romo during the regular season, he had a ridiculous 849 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: The 2014 passing touchdown leader completed 70.5 percent of his passes while posting a 104.0 rating in a dominant victory over a good defensive team on wild-card weekend. It looks as though he’s finally arrived.
5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Brady fell into some ruts as the season wore on and he hasn’t been good in his last few playoff appearances. He only ranks ahead of Peyton Manning because he’s helped get the Patriots to five Super Bowls.
6. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: He had a really weak second half of the season and it’s not as though Manning’s got a great playoff track record. You get the feeling he’s set up to fail this postseason.
7. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Here’s a guy who’s had a passer rating of 106 or higher in five consecutive playoff games and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13-to-0 in that span. But Flacco was still the 16th-rated passer during the regular season, behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill and Eli Manning. It’s hard to gauge where he belongs.
8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: He just isn’t consistent enough and he’s yet to prove anything in the playoffs. Only seven qualified quarterbacks had lower passer ratings during the regular season, and Newton also had a sub-60 completion percentage. He finally has a playoff victory under his belt, but the former top pick did not look very sharp against the Cardinals last Saturday.