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Ranking the 14 NFL playoff-bound quarterbacks

The NFL playoffs have arrived.

This time of year on the football calendar is when quarterbacks are asked to rise to an even greater challenge as teams fight to reach the Super Bowl. And most of the time, a team can only reach that championship game if their QB performs like a star.

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There are 14 QBs with their eyes on Super Bowl LVI and their campaign starts this weekend.

Here’s a ranking of those QBs:

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14) Mac Jones, Patriots

Rookie Mac Jones certainly made a name for himself in the NFL this season.
Rookie Mac Jones certainly made a name for himself in the NFL this season. (Winslow Townson/AP)

Jones had an impressive rookie campaign. He was efficient as he completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. But he is still a rookie and the odds for that new a QB in the playoffs aren’t great — 18 rookie QBs have made one or more starts in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era and their record is 9-18 record. Jones also has struggled against teams with winning records; He’s got 11 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions with a completion percentage of 63 against teams with winning records.

13) Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Roethlisberger hinted at his plan to retire after this season most recently on Dec. 30. The veteran QB is cooked and his arm isn’t what it used to be. This season he logged 22 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and became a dink and dunk quarterback. He averaged 6.2 yards per attempt, which was fourth worst in the NFL. His intended air yards per attempt was 6.7, which was the second fewest.

12) Jalen Hurts, Eagles

Hurts has shut some critics up and helped lead the Eagles to the playoffs. He’s shown promise as a dual threat. He passed for 3,144 yards but also added 784 yards with 10 touchdowns on the ground.

11) Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

Since Week 9, Garoppolo had the third best passer rating (103.2) with the sixth most touchdown passes (14). The 49ers went 7-3 in that span. Garoppolo and the 49ers reached Super Bowl LIV and lost to Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs. This is the first time Garoppolo and the Niners returned to the playoffs since 2019.

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10) Ryan Tannehill, Titans

Tannehill and the Titans locked in the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Tannehill’s season wasn’t close to his 2020 year when he produced 40 total touchdowns. He had 28 touchdowns, but there were injuries to key players Derrick Henry, AJ Brown and Julio Jones. They’re healthier going into the playoffs, so Tannehill has fire power around him. Expect that trio to make Tannehill dangerous.

9) Derek Carr, Raiders

The Raiders making the playoffs amidst all the turmoil surrounding the Raiders is a testament to Carr. He finished with 4,804 passing yards, which was fifth most in the NFL. This will be Carr’s first ever layoff appearance, but after everything the Raiders dealt with in 2021, playoff football won’t shake him.

8) Matthew Stafford, Rams

Stafford’s first year in L.A. was fantastic. He threw 41 touchdowns, which was second most in the NFL, with a passer rating of 103. He did toss 17 interceptions, tied with Trevor Lawrence for most in the league and that’s concerning. Stafford can take over the game and blow it. But his ceiling is outstanding.

7) Kyler Murray, Cardinals

Kyler Murray is an ultimate dual threat quarterback.
Kyler Murray is an ultimate dual threat quarterback. (John McCoy/AP)

Murray can destroy you through the air and on the ground. He averaged 270 yards passing, which was eighth most in the NFL last season. He also was electric on his feet as he totaled 423 yards running with five touchdowns. Murray off script is dangerous. If the play breaks down, Murray can shake a defender out of his cleats or extend the play to find a receiver down the field.

6) Joe Burrow, Bengals

Burrow, in his second year, led the Bengals to the AFC North title. That’s impressive. He threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns while completing 70% of his passes, which was the best in the NFL. And he’s throwing to an elite corps led by Ja’Marr Chase, who was second team All-Pro, with 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. A QB is only as good as his weapons sometimes and Burrow has many.

5) Josh Allen, Bills

Allen is the most athletic specimen at QB in the NFL. He does things that 99% of QBs all-time can’t do. His ability to scramble and fire a heat seeking missile off balance, is outstanding. His 2021 wasn’t MVP worthy like his 2020 season, but it was still very good. Allen finished with 4,407 passing yards with 36 touchdowns and added 763 rushing yards with six touchdowns.

4) Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Prescott is the heart and soul of the Cowboys. They go as far as he takes them. Prescott threw 37 touchdowns in 16 games, which was tied for fourth most, in his first season back from his lower body injury that ended his 2020 season. In Prescott’s three previous playoff games, he totaled seven touchdowns with two interceptions and 794 yards passing. One thing about Prescott is he’s built for playoff football. The Cowboys are 1-2 in those starts but he’s not the reason for those two losses.

3) Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes is hoping to bring his Kansas City team back to the Super Bowl.
Patrick Mahomes is hoping to bring his Kansas City team back to the Super Bowl. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

The former league MVP and Super Bowl MVP QB is arguably one of the greatest talents we’ve ever seen. There’s an argument to be made that every time the Chiefs step onto the football field, they have the best QB. In Mahomes’ eight playoff games, he logged 21 total touchdowns and threw for 2,324 yards with only four interceptions. And in the 2021 season, he threw 37 touchdowns. Expect him to shred defenses again this postseason.

2) Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Rodgers had the highest passer rating (111.9) in the NFL and is set to win the MVP after having another dominant season. His 37 touchdown passes compared to his four interceptions is ridiculous. And the road to the Super Bowl goes through Lambeau Field, so good luck to defenses trying to stop him.

1) Tom Brady, Buccaneers

Brady is the G.O.A.T. and should be the MVP for the 2021 season. He leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (43) and passing yards (5,315). I can’t rank him better than one when he’s been playing like this. And did I mention he has seven Super Bowl rings?

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