It's playoff week! I'll be hitting you every day of this week with some NFL knowledge (as proven by yesterday's writing, written after I wrote this intro, which I'm gonna keep), whether it be strictly Chiefs related or league-wide (or as Sam Elliott might tell ya....WORLDWIDE!).
Today I'm gonna rank all of the starting quarterbacks lucky enough to still be around for the playoffs. Tomorrow I plan on ranking the teams in order of chances of winning the Super Bowl. Then after that, it should be all CHIEFS!!!
1. Tom Brady, New England- This wasn't as easy a selection as you might think. If not for his monstrous season this year, I maybe could've justified sliding Brady to #2. This season, Brady broke his own record of best TD/INT ratio of all time. But he didn't just beat it, he CRUSHED it. His first year with Moss and Welker in 2007 netted 50 TD/8 INT (6.25 TD/INT). This year, with some newly sprouted locks of love (I should've seen it coming!), he went off for 36 TD/4 INT. That's a 9.0 TD/INT ratio, BY FAR the best ever. But, since he orchestrated what may have been the best postseason game of all time (vs. Jax: 26-28, 262 yards, 3 TD), Brady has put together three straight mediocre-at-best playoff games, including his worst playoff performance ever against Baltimore last year. It would be interesting to hear the feedback if the Patriots were to get upset again this season. It would greatly damage one of the few perceived absolute truths in the NFL.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans- Really wanted to put Brees at #1 because he may be only a season away from disrupting the ongoing Brady/Manning greatness debates. Brees threw a lot of picks this year (2nd most in the NFL), but he still has my trust after the Saints run last season. With little else to say about The Mole, check out this video....
3. Ben's Big Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh- The forgotten one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He never, ever gets mentioned in the same company as Brady, Manning, Brees, or even Rodgers (with the exception of Mike Wilbon who constantly praises R-Berger). People brush aside his 2 Super Bowl victories because the Steelers are a good running team with a good defense. I'm sorry, how, exactly, was Tom Brady winning his Super Bowls in New England? Were they with, perhaps, the greatest defensive mind in NFL history? He is still 5 years younger than Brady in the chase to see who will end their career with more.
4. Michael Vick, Philadelphia- You may have noticed in my recent Chiefs article talking about Matt Cassel (#3) that I listed Vick as a "maybe" if given the option of taking him over Cassel. The reason why he's so high on this list, and low on that list, is because of health concerns. I don't think Vick will ever be able to stay healthy for an entire season, which is a huge factor for a franchise QB. However, for one game, he remains incredibly dangerous. Plus, there is the chance that this is just Mike Vick's year and nobody's gonna stop him.
5. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis- This may seem low for one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but to be honest, I debated putting him even lower. He has definitely taken a step back this season, which could be attributed to the injuries on offense, but I don't think it all is. If that's the case, then reports of Peyton's longevity may be greatly overstated. Also, I just don't see Peyton as an elite playoff quarterback in the NFL. I think this happens a lot to smart players who are fully aware of what's at stake in these games. You don't want a player, especially a QB, out there overthinking the situation. You want someone who is just seeing and reacting, an ignorance-is-bliss type of player. Ironically, Peyton's best quality (his awareness) is sort of his downfall in the playoffs.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay- The end of the elite QB's in the NFL as far as I am concerned (with the addition of Phlip Rivers). Rodgers has played only one playoff game in his career, and threw for 423 yards and 4 TD on the way to putting up 45 points, none of which was enough. It was a Rodgers' fumble returned for a touchdown in overtime that sent the Pack home. He'll need to put up similar numbers this year for the Packers to succeed, because they have very little running game to speak of. I wouldn't put it past him though. He has the most to gain of any other playoff QB this season.
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta- I get that ESPN really wanted me to believe in Matty Ice and his trusty baseball cap. Look, they said, he is the clutchest quarterback in the NFL! He got lucky that there was no offensive pass interference call on the Ravens in that comeback. But, he staged a nice comeback against the 49ers, they're good right? Look, he may be good, but before we slobknob Mr. Ice's iciness lets see him do it in a big time game. They were setting him up to fail with all that praise, and the Falcons should feel relieved that he may have gotten it out of his system against the Saints, instead of saving it for the playoffs.
8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore- As much as I wanted to put Cassel ahead of Flacco (because I do believe he is better), I can't do it with Flacco's playoff experience advantage. Despite Flacco's 3-2 career playoff record, he has yet to really play well in a playoff game. He has yet to throw for 200 yards in any of those starts. He went 9-23 in a win at Miami. He threw 3 picks against the Steelers. He went a whopping 4-10, 34 yards, 1 INT, against New England last year. Then he came back with 2 INT's against Indianapolis. His best playoff game to date: 11-22 for 161 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT against Tennessee in his rookie season. After losing this weekend, he will have the same postseason winning % as Rex Grossman.
9. Matt Cassel, Red n' Yellow- You might wander where Icy Matt's head is at after coming off what was truly a horrendous performance (although not all his fault) on Sunday, after avoiding it all season. He was never the same after getting slammed to the turf by John Henderson, which was flagged for a late hit. My only question, is why don't teams commit those acts more often? It's a mere 15 yards, while the effects on the quarterback can last the entire game. Don't be surprised to see more of the same from the salty Balty defense this weekend. I can't wait to see how Cassel responds in his first playoff game of his career, and to see just how much he learned from #1 on this list. He will need to come up huge on Sunday if the Chiefs are able to prevail, but can cement his name in Chiefs lore with a victory.
10. Jay Cutler, Chicago- However much I abhor Jay Cutler (and believe me, I abhor much), I will say that he could succeed more in the playoffs than in the regular season. Everybody tends to get a little conservative come playoff time, and sometimes gunslingers are able to take advantage of this (think Kurt Warner). It's a certain fearlessness that factors into it. Cutler is extremely dumb on the field (while, ironically, very smart off of it), which can serve as a good thing in a one game setting (not good for long-term effectiveness). It's the opposite of what I argued for Peyton Manning at #5.
11. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets- The Sanchize really didn't improve like Jets fans had hoped for this season, despite the upgraded WR corps. In fact, I honestly believe the Jets would be a much more dangerous team if they threw the cagey Mark Brunell out there. Then, maybe the Sanchize could just be moved to WR....
12. Default Quarterback, Seattle- Whether it's The Bearded Clam or The Bald Hawk, the Seahawks will, undoubtedly, trot the worst quarterback on to the field this weekend. It was awesome to see how Seattle's crowd totally won that game for the team on Sunday night, and was very reminiscent of the Monday Night game at Arrowhead earlier this year. The Seahawks' fans are on the top tier along with the Chiefs, Packers, Bears, and Dolphins fan bases.