Power Ranking Every Quarterback in the 2013 NFL Playoffs

Dan Wilkins@@DanWilkinsNFLCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2012

Power Ranking Every Quarterback in the 2013 NFL Playoffs

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    In the 2013 NFL Playoffs, like so many other years, much of any given team’s success will hinge on the play of their starting quarterback. 

    In this year’s group, we predictably have several elite quarterbacks with playoff experience. What has not been so predictable is the number of young quarterbacks leading their team to the playoffs as well.

    Conventional wisdom would put those with experience above those without, but the way some of the young guys are playing right now can't be ignored.  

    In the playoffs, it is and always will be about getting hot at the right time. Anything can happen. 

    Here are the QB Power Rankings of the 2013 NFL Playoffs.

12. Christian Ponder

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    Christian Ponder has struggled for the better part of the season, and it doesn’t get any easier for him facing the defenses that the NFC playoffs have to offer. Lucky for the Vikings, they haven’t had to rely on Ponder all year long. 

    The Vikings have qualified for the playoffs completely on the back of Adrian Peterson and the running game. Without him, the Vikings would likely be looking at a top-10 draft pick, rather than another game this week. 

    Odds are that the Vikings will need to have the same kind of output from Peterson and the running game for any chance of success in the playoffs. At this point, especially without Percy Harvin, the passing game can’t exactly be relied on.

11. Andy Dalton

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    Andy Dalton is constantly improving as a quarterback, but falls into the lower end of those playing for playoff teams this season. 

    He’s got A.J. Green on the outside, and that alone gives any quarterback a chance. However, you can bet that every team will try to make Andy Dalton find another way to beat them. 

    At this point, playoff success would likely come from what has been a solid defensive unit throughout the year.

10. Colin Kaepernick

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    Since taking over for Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick has provided this 49ers offense with much more big play potential. His ability to push the ball downfield, as well as extending plays with his legs, provides a valuable dimension. 

    If the 49ers are going to go deep in the playoffs once again, Kaepernick’s play will have to play a huge part. Getting further than last year would settle the Kaepernick/Smith debate once and for all. 

    However, if the 49ers are sent home early, the debate will surface in a big way once again. 

9. Matt Schaub

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    The Houston Texans have been dominant at times in 2012. While Matt Schaub has been a big part of that at times, he remains outside of the elite quarterback conversation. 

    In an offense built entirely around a successful running game, Schaub and the passing attack have struggled when forced to play from behind. Losses to the Packers, Patriots and Colts are prime examples of which. 

    For the Texans to succeed throwing the football, they need to establish and maintain success in that running game first. To this point, it doesn’t seem like their passing game can go out and win them games on their own like some others around the league.

8. Joe Flacco

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    In 2012, Joe Flacco has had very good games, and he’s had very bad games. 

    With the defense continuing to struggle, the Ravens will need the good Joe Flacco to step up in these playoffs. Without home field advantage, where both he and the entire Ravens team seem to be much better suited, the task will become even taller. 

    Despite some playoff experience, and even success, Joe Flacco is not yet on the level of some of the other quarterbacks in the playoffs.

7. Russell Wilson

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    After being a third round pick in April’s draft, not many people would have foreseen Russell Wilson leading the Seattle Seahawks into the playoffs as soon as this season. Well, he continues to prove the doubters wrong, game after game. 

    Much of Seattle’s success has come as a result of their dominant play on defense, but Russell Wilson just keeps getting better as well. A four TD performance against the 49ers on Week 16’s Sunday Night Football proved that no stage and/or opponent is too big for him. 

    If Wilson can continue to take care of the ball, and essentially play as he has, Seattle could very well do some damage in the NFC. 

6. Andrew Luck

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    Andrew Luck, despite being a rookie, has put his team on his back as much as any quarterback in the league thus far. As a result, he has them in a playoff position that very few, if any would have predicted back when the season started. 

    Yes, Luck makes his fair share of mistakes much like every rookie does. However, his ability to lead his team to victory, quite often in comeback fashion, has been incredible to watch. 

    The talent of the other teams in the playoffs may be a little too much for the Colts this time around, but there is no denying that Andrew Luck will be an elite QB in this league sooner rather than later.

5. Robert Griffin III

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    RGIII is another rookie QB that has exceeded expectations, despite being lofty to being with. For this Redskins team to go on the kind of run that they have, and win the NFC East, has been extremely fun to watch. 

    Defenses have yet to solve RGIII and the Redskins’ option-read offense, and they may not do so. The ability that he brings throwing the ball makes it that much more complicated to defend. 

    The running game, which obviously includes RGIII, will be the key to the Redskins success this postseason. If they can continue to dominate in that area, and control the clock, anything is possible. 

    Ryan has shown flashes of greatness, but will need to show that he and this offense can do it against elite teams in the postseason before being any higher on this list.

4. Matt Ryan

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    Matt Ryan comes in at No. 4 for now, but could easily be further down the list. As much as Ryan had success this season, he and the Falcons offense seemed to struggle in some odd situations. 

    Near losses against teams like Arizona and Oakland, with a combined 8 interceptions thrown between the two, really stand out. 

    The question facing Ryan, and this entire Falcons team, is if they can finally translate regular season success into a playoff win. With home field advantage, and the best record in the NFL, one would think so, but we’ve seen this story before.

3. Aaron Rodgers

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    After what has been somewhat of an up and down season for the Packers, they seem to be hitting their stride at just the right time. Such a time that seems quite similar to that of their 2010 Super Bowl campaign. 

    Over the past few years, Aaron Rodgers has established himself as one of, if not the best quarterback in the NFL. With his receivers finally seeming to be back at full strength, he could enjoy even more success in the playoffs than he did in the regular season. 

    If the offensive line can protect, against what will be some very good NFC pass rushes, the sky is the limit for Aaron Rodgers and this Packers team.

2. Tom Brady

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    Leading the Patriots, as the AFC’s No. 2 seed, Tom Brady has more playoff experience and success than any other quarterback right now. 

    What’s most interesting about this year, is that Brady likely now has more offensive talent around him than he’s ever had. 

    Whether this results in a second straight trip to the Super Bowl, we don’t know. However, what we do know is that you just do not bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs.

1. Peyton Manning

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    Many thought he was done. Many others thought it would at least take a little bit of time to return to the form that we have expected from him. 

    In the end, it never mattered what we all thought. Peyton Manning now leads the Broncos into the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 1 seed, on the heels of what has been one of the most impressive seasons of his career. 

    With 11 straight wins, and now having locked up home field advantage in the weaker AFC, Manning is in the best position of any playoff quarterback. Nobody wants to play Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos right now.