Much has been made — and rightfully so — about the caliber of quarterbacks that are playing in the NFL’s Championship games on Sunday. We haven’t seen this much talent on championship weekend since the 1992-1993 season, when we saw Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, and Troy Aikman.
As far as the guys playing this Sunday, we’re talking about four of the best quarterbacks in football from the 2016-2017 season. Three of these guys have Super Bowl rings to their name, and the only one who doesn’t is the reigning MVP of the league.
But how do they stack up against each other? Here are our “Power Rankings” for the four quarterbacks, in order from “worst” to “first”….
4. Ben Roethlisberger — You can only marvel at the caliber of quarterbacks that are playing this weekend, when Ben Roethlisberger is the fourth best one of the group. We’re talking about a quarterback that’s led the Steelers to four conference championship games, winning three of them. Perhaps even more impressively, the Steelers have never had a losing season in Roethlisberger’s 13-year career. The cast of characters around Roethlisberger has changed over the years, but he’s been the one steady presence for that franchise for over a decade. That being said, it’s somewhat ironic that Roethlisberger will be the player under the biggest magnifying glass this Sunday, considering his struggles in road games this past season. Since the start of December, Roethlisberger has thrown one touchdown and four interceptions in the Steelers three road games. In nine road games this year (including last week’s game against Kansas City), Roethlisberger is averaging 236.4 passing yards per game, compared to the 264 yards per game he throws at home . He’s thrown nine touchdowns — and nine interceptions — in those nine games, and his average quarterback rating is a rather putrid 48.47. Given how well Le’Veon Bell is running the football for the Steelers, it wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprising to see New England devise a game plan that’s focused on making Roethlisberger come into Foxborough and beat the Patriots himself.
3. Aaron Rodgers — How can we possibly put Aaron Rodgers this low in the rankings, considering what he’s done since the end of November? It’s a fair question. There might not be a single quarterback in the NFL who could’ve made that throw, with that level of accuracy, that Rodgers made to Jared Cook at the end of their game against the Cowboys. Over the Packers eight-game winning streak (including the postseason), Rodgers has thrown 23 touchdowns and only one interception (the latter of which came only this past week). He was able to run the Packers offense, even without the security of his best wide receiver in Jordy Nelson. The only reason Rodgers isn’t higher on this list is because of the way the offense has sputtered at times in the Packers two postseason games, such as the beginning of their game against New York, and the third quarter of the game against Dallas. But when Rodgers gets hot, he’s the most dangerous quarterback in the game.
2. Tom Brady — Most people would say that if you had to choose one quarterback to play in one game, with the highest possible stakes on the line, they’d choose Tom Brady. They’d probably be making the right decision, too. Many media analysts and personalities wondered how Brady would fare, after missing the first four games of this season due to suspension. Would he be rusty? Would he be the same guy, considering he’s not getting any younger? How many people realize that Tom Brady is almost exactly seven months away from his 40th birthday? Instead, Brady came in and had another MVP-caliber season, throwing 28 touchdowns — and only two interceptions — in 12 games this year, averaging 296 yards passing per game (good for 4th in the NFL). He is the master conductor that runs the Patriots offense with lethal precision.
1. Matt Ryan — Matt Ryan tends to get overlooked because he doesn’t make the eye-popping highlight plays like Aaron Rodgers, or he hasn’t been a perennial playoff winner like Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. But there’s a reason that Ryan was just voted the Most Valuable Player in the NFL this past season. Ryan finished the 2016 season ranked among the top three quarterbacks in nearly every major passing statistic, including completion % (#3), passing yards (#2), yards per attempt (#1), touchdown passes (#2), and passer rating (#1). He’s masterfully run the innovative attack that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has designed all season-long. And it wasn’t just a function of Ryan force-feeding the football to superstar wide receiver Julio Jones, either. He connected with 13 different players on touchdown passes this season, including five different tight ends. He’s utilized the resources around him the way a crafty golfer uses the clubs in his bag, pulling out the right one at the right moment. All season long, nobody has played the quarterback position at the level that Ryan has.
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