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Evaluating the Playoff Quarterbacks

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*Sigh* I miss seeing Brady Quinn on the sidelines twice a year. He’s just so easy to make fun of.

We’re nearing the playoffs and the air is ripe with QB drama. Drew Brees has just broken the single season yardage record, but it’s been overshadowed by Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculous 45 TDs to 6 interceptions year. Tom Brady has been lights out, and with fewer weapons than A Rodg and Breesus, and Rivers isn’t even on the radar. As we head in to the playoffs, which QBs are the most likely to succeed? Will Brady make a come back? Will Big Ben extend his ridiculous playoff win percentage?

Well, let’s start with the Rodgers/Brees MVP debate: It’s Rodgers. I’m sorry guys, Drew Bress has really done something amazing this year, but it is nothing in comparison to what Rodgers is doing right now. It just isn’t. The difference between 41 TDs and 13 INTs and Rodgers’ 45/6 is astronomical. Considering how mediocre the Packers’ defense has been all season, those numbers may be the only thing that has kept this Packers team winning. As far as the playoffs are concerned, both of these guys have been there and done that. This will be an interesting year in the playoffs because there will be a pretty high number of QBs who have either been to a Super Bowl, or been there and won it. Big Ben and Tom Brady are on top of the pack being the only two with multiple rings, but Brees and Rodgers are both set up to win in the post season, and Eli Manning is there with a ring as well.

I’ve heard a lot of people say Brees and the Saints will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, and where I’d like to get on that bandwagon, I can’t in all conscience do so. The Packers are the team to beat right now in the NFC, not the Saints. Getting beat by the Chiefs did knock the Pack down a peg or two, but they’re still the most explosive and have the most reliable, most dangerous QB out there right now. I must admit, I have a particular amount of anger towards Rodgers built up from last year, so if Breesus and the Saints can find a way to get to the ‘ship, I’ll be a happy(ier) man.

Then there is the AFC. Who’s the first QB that comes to mind when you think AFC? That’s right: Joe Flacco. Err…wait, that’s not right. Whatever. Flacco has some playoff woes, and this will definitely be his best chance to date to try and get out of his playoff funk. The Steelers have beat up on Joey in the playoffs several times already, making him look like a fool, particularly in the second half of games. If Joe ever wants to shake the weeeeny image, he’s going to have to show us he can win in the playoffs. Until then, we’ll just assume they’ll be out of it, if not in the wild card round, then after their bye week.

The real star in the AFC has been Brady and he’s been playing real under the radar. The media still loves to blow him, but it’s not as rampant as it once was, mostly thanks to most of the sports castors now having a very elaborate man-crushes on Aaron Rodgers. It’s like he invented a cure for cancer only he’s just really good at football. Anyways, Brady. Tom Brady has done what most QBs only dream of having been to four SBs winning three of them. He’s been lights out in the playoffs before, and he’s bound to do it again, especially if the majority of his games will be played in New England in front of Patriots fans. He’s a force to be reckoned with, but we saw earlier this season how the Steelers can dominate them. If the Steelers had to go to NE for a game and won, I’d really start shaking this innate fear that we have to play them every now and then.

Then there is Big Ben. Ben is a lights out QB in the playoffs. He’s better, sharper, and wins games. Obviously his two pick game against the Pack in the SB last year is still tasting bitter, but he’ll be looking to make up for that this year once he hits the post season. I think Ben is set for one of the most electrifying playoff performances of his career this post season. The offense has a plethora of weapons (do you know what a plethora is??), who should all be healthy come playoff time, and the Steelers could still get a bye if the stars align. Either way, the key to Ben’s success will be two-fold: 1) It will depend on the health of his offensive line, particularly Maurkice Pouncey, and 2) It will depend on his own health, which is greatly effect by #1. I would look for Mike Wallace to make a little bit of a comeback in the playoffs. People are starting to catch the drift that AB is the go-to guy which will likely leave some one on ones with Wallace. Ben hasn’t been the most accurate on the long ball, but they’re long overdue for some of that magic.

Among the other QBs potentially making it in is Tim Tebow. Tebow still has a lot to prove after losing the last couple of weeks, and will get his chance in the playoffs to prove to himself and everyone watching that he can contend at a high level. Either that or he’ll throw five picks and that will be the end of it. Seriously, Tebow could go either way, I think. They will likely have to play the Steelers in the first round which could be a great matchup.

Dalton looks to make his NFL playoff debut as a rookie and we all know how that will likely turn out. Rookies don’t usually do well in the playoffs because, well, they’re rookies. I remember something Big Ben said about his rookie season after making it to the AFC Championship game. He said he didn’t realize how long the season really was, and therefore didn’t take care of himself enough. Rookies have no way of knowing how to pace themselves for this kind of season, and it starts to take it’s toll in the playoffs. I would expect a first round loss, except they are going to likely be playing the Texans, who lost their QB in Matt Schaub. Their backup has been capable, but again, new playoff players can’t usually succeed. It is simply a way of life.

On the other side of the NFL there is Alex Smith and the 49ers. We got a chance to see just how crafty Smith and the 49ers can be and I’ll be interested to see what they can do with the first round bye week. They’re new to the playoffs as it’s been some time since their last appearance, and they’ve got a “young” QB at the helm. Smith isn’t particularly young, he’s just been flying under the radar having a rather un-inspiring career before this season. Because of that first round bye they are in a better place that some other younger teams, but they will still have to play some team like the Lions or the Giants, both teams that could beat the 9ers.

Which brings up Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning. Both of these dudes can ball in their own right and could make some noise in the playoffs. It wouldn’t surprise me if either of these teams went in to San Fran and (if they can keep the lights on) beat the 9ers.

Some stuff could change depending on who does what this week in the NFL, but it’s fun to ponder who might be build for longevity and who’s going to be watching the rest of the playoffs from the couch at home after round 1. This post wouldn’t be complete without a Super Bowl prediction. I am going to try and be as objective as I can here.

Super Bowl prediction:

NFC: Packers VS AFC: Steelers

final score: Packers 27 Steelers 34

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think it’s more than doable. If I were going to make a bet, I’d probably say Patriots/Packers final score Pack 34 Pats 45, but it pains me too much to put it in bold and all separated and stuff.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMeckler, I tweet a lot.

 

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