NFL Playoff Predictions: Projecting Stats for Each QB in Conference Championship
And then there were four. Only the Conference Championship games separate us from the game we have been waiting for since September: Super Bowl XLVI.
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Stats: 20/34, 250 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
If the Baltimore Ravens were not enjoying their most successful season since they won the Super Bowl over a decade ago, Joe Flacco would be the story of Baltimore. And not in a good way.
This season was expected to be a breakout season for Flacco, but it has been anything but. Flacco has posted his worst stats across the board since his rookie season. Fortunately, he has a dominant defense and an explosive Ray Rice to fall back on.
Due to New England's anemic pass defense, I expect Flacco to have a better day than the 176 yards on 52-percent passing he had against Houston on Sunday, at least in the box score. Flacco's interception could be costly against an opportunistic New England defense.
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Stats: 20/31, 275 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
Playoff hero Alex Smith? That is a phrase I thought I would never say or write in this lifetime, but the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback keeps proving me wrong.
Smith followed up the best season of his career by out Drew Brees-ing Drew Brees. He has limited the turnovers that plagued his career and threw absolute strikes against the New Orleans Saints. Now he must face Eli Manning, who is rapidly becoming one of the best big-game quarterbacks in the NFL.
Smith will have mostly a good day, but a dominant Giants' D-line will force him into a throw he will regret.
Stats: 34/50 364 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions
With the elimination of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady is the last of three quarterbacks standing who had legendary 2011 seasons.
Now, Brady has the chance to reach his record-setting fifth Super Bowl. From there, he has the opportunity to join Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl rings. All that stands in his way is a Ravens defense capable of dominance.
Brady has been vulnerable to dominant pass rushers in the past. He just won his first playoff game in four years, but if the Ravens defense is on, it will be a rough day for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. His box score will look OK but only because the entire New England offense revolves around his right arm.
Expect a lot of hits to surround those two interceptions.
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Stats: 284 yards, two touchdowns
With one more win, Eli Manning can do no worse than big brother Peyton in terms of success at the highest level. Now he will go against the best defense remaining in the playoffs.
Quite simply, Eli has been there before. He has a penchant for "The Moment" and will do it again. He will not light up the box score, but he will escape with another victory.