We’re down to the elite eight in the NFL, and there are dozens of ways to compare the four AFC teams and four NFC teams that will hit the field in the divisional playoffs on Saturday and Sunday.
But one of the most important comparisons pertains to the quarterbacks who will lead their respective teams into battle.
Here’s how we rank the remaining starting signal-callers from bottom to top.
8. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: The third-year Mississippi State product is usually pretty efficient and won’t cost you many games, but he’s been good-not-great ever since a strong rookie season. He’s the only starting quarterback remaining who probably can’t carry his team on his back.
7. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams: He’s a Pro Bowler coming off back-to-back strong seasons, but the third-year California product recently went through a horrendous December rut in which he completed just 55.3 percent of his passes while posting a 1-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 54.8 passer rating over the course of three games. That’s scary.
6. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers: Also a Pro Bowler, Rivers was the league’s fifth-highest-rated passer during the regular season. But he threw six interceptions and posted a measly 68.2 rating in the final three games of the regular season and wasn’t much better in the wild-card playoffs.
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Finally healthy and comfortable behind a tremendous offensive line, the seventh-year former top pick has really found a groove. He’s as capable as any quarterback on this list, and he’s got plenty success under his belt, but he still threw a few too many picks this season.
4. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles: There’s something intangible that gives Foles a strong ranking here. He’s clutch, and he’s got another special run going. More tangibly, he ranks first among 74 quarterbacks with at least 150 playoff pass attempts with a passer rating of 105.2.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: This is all about Brady’s playoff pedigree. After all, the dude has 27 playoff wins and no other quarterback has more than 16. He was good again as a 41-year-old this year.
2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Mahomes will likely be this year’s MVP and offensive player of the year, and that’s deserving considering his statistical edge over every other quarterback in the league while running the NFL’s highest-scoring offense. But because he’s been prone to turnovers and because he’s yet to start a playoff game in his career, he is runner-up to…
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: The league’s highest-rated passer from the regular season set a new single-season record for completion percentage (74.4) while commanding the league’s third-highest-scoring offense. But he’s also been here, done this in January. The former Super Bowl MVP has a triple-digit career postseason passer rating.