By Nate Gice
Having a great quarterback is the key to victory in the National Football League. Aside from Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Ravens, a solid (and consistent) signal-caller is required in order to make a Super Bowl run.
Following the end of wild-card weekend, there are eight teams and eight quarterbacks left in the playoff mix. What happens over the next few weeks will define the careers of those eight quarterbacks. Who will shine and who will not shine?
It was a difficult task, but I have ranked every quarterback in the postseason based on past and recent performances.
8) Cam Newton, Panthers
It is good to see that Cam Newton is playing like Cam Newton again. Although he was inconsistent at times against Arizona last week, he showed some flashes of brilliance. He finished with 198 yards through the air and two touchdowns along with 35 yards rushing. Newton did, however, make some poor throws along the way.
It will be interesting to see how Cam performs in Seattle on Saturday. In his previous meeting with Seattle, he finished with only 171 and no touchdowns.
7) Andrew Luck, Colts
Luck was marvelous throughout the regular season, but he has been inconsistent down the stretch. On Sunday against Cincy, Luck played incredibly. However, he doesn’t look like a playoff-ready quarterback just yet. And Denver won’t make it any easier for the third-year superstar. I expect Luck to make some mistakes, which is natural. But can he rebound from those mistakes?
6) Tony Romo, Cowboys
Let’s give Tony Romo a round of applause. Not only is he a legit MVP candidate, but he also has Dallas in a good position to do the impossible: win the Super Bowl.
Despite a slow start, Romo lit up Detroit in the second half on Sunday. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to jump on Romo’s bandwagon just yet. Romo’s strictly a pocket passer who doesn’t handle pressure very well. With that in mind, I have a feeling that Green Bay will blitz early and often.
5) Peyton Manning, Broncos
I bet you are surprised to see Manning at #5 on this list. Well, I have my reasons. First of all, Manning hasn’t been the Peyton Manning that we are accustomed to seeing over the past few weeks. Second of all, age and injuries have caught up to the future hall of famer. That is a bad combination. Manning is still one of the all-time greats, but history is against him this season. Denver will defeat Indianapolis with ease, but Manning doesn’t have the arm to compete with the AFC’s best.
4) Joe Flacco, Ravens
In a word, Flacco was flawless against the Steelers. The stats don’t show it, but Flacco was as effective as any quarterback during wild-card weekend. Without his heroics, the Steelers would have moved on.
Remember, Flacco has a ring. He is no slouch in the postseason, as he has demonstrated throughout his career. In fact, he is 5-0 in his past five playoff starts. The odds are against him and the Ravens this weekend, but they were in 2012 as well….
3) Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Rodgers may be banged up right now, but I’d take a banged up Aaron Rodgers over 80% of the other quarterbacks in the league. He is still arguably the finest quarterback in the NFL, even though he is limited outside the pocket.
Aside from his magical Super Bowl run in 2010, Rodgers and the Packers have struggled in the postseason. This years Packers, however, are a special team. And Rodgers is as special as they come. Romo and the Cowboys will challenge the Pack at Lambeau in the “Ice Bowl II”, but I’d take Rodgers over Romo any-day.
2) Tom Brady, Patriots
When it comes to players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, you never expect anything other than excellence. It has been the same exact story this season. Brady has been on fire over the past few weeks, leading the Pats to the no. 1 seed in the AFC. Going into the divisional round, the Pats are heavily favored to reach the Super Bowl for a sixth time in fourteen years.
However, it won’t be an easy road for Brady. The Ravens’ secondary may be depleted, but they will challenge Brady. Baltimore will do whatever they can to slow down Tom and New England’s passing attack. I’d favor Brady in that matchup, though.
1) Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Last season was like a dream for Russell Wilson. No one expected an underdog like the Seahawks to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but they did. And they owe it all to Wilson and what he did throughout the 2013 season.
This season is different. The Seahawks are the quiet favorites once again and Wilson is heating up at just the right time. Wilson is as dynamic as any quarterback in the league right now, making Seattle’s offense difficult to stop. He may not have the strongest arm in the world, but he is clutch and he has playoff experience.
That is what makes him the #1 quarterback in my postseason power rankings.