Ranking the Best Remaining QBs in NFL Playoffs

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 8, 2013

Ranking the Best Remaining QBs in NFL Playoffs

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    The NFL playoffs are in full swing, and we've brought the field down from 12 teams to only eight. As we saw in the Wild Card Games, the quarterback position remains the most crucial for success in the playoffs.

    The Minnesota Vikings were forced to start Joe Webb, and the team was unable to get anything going on offense. In the AFC, neither Andy Dalton nor Andrew Luck could move the ball well enough, and both their respective teams ended up losing.

    The remaining eight quarterbacks will attempt to push teams forward to the next round starting Saturday afternoon. We rank the best remaining quarterbacks in these NFL playoffs.

8. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

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    Experience is so crucial in the NFL playoffs, which is why we have our first three quarterbacks ranked so low. Colin Kaepernick comes in at No. 8 mostly because this is his first-career playoff start.

    While Kaepernick has been extremely dangerous at times since taking over for Alex Smith in Week 11, his struggles with accuracy late in the season are a little worrisome for Saturday's game. In his first four starts, Kaepernick completed an average of 69.4 percent of his passes. 

    His last three starts saw him with a 55.3 percent completion rate. Considering how the Green Bay Packers were able to completely shut down the poor man's version of Kaepernick in Joe Webb, this could spell trouble for Kaepernick.

    Look for the second-year quarterback to struggle in his first playoff game against a defense in Green Bay that is quickly improving.

7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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    Much like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson is a young player who has the privilege of playing on a huge stage this weekend. While Wilson looked extremely poised in his win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, we need to remember this is still a rookie quarterback.

    We also can't forget that the Seattle Seahawks still run their offense through Marshawn Lynch. Lynch finished with 132 rushing yards and a touchdown while averaging well over six yards per carry. That isn't to say that Wilson isn't capable of making big plays on offense, it's just that he isn't the focal point.

    However, in order for Seattle to win in the divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson is going to need to make a number of huge plays. If he can do that, and the Seahawks can successfully move the chains with Lynch, they'll have a great shot at getting another road victory this weekend.

6. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

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    Despite being one of the more consistent quarterbacks in the league, Matt Schaub only has one playoff victory during his career. That win came against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.

    Needless to say, Schaub doesn't have much experience going on the road in the playoffs. With Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as his opponent, we could definitely see Schaub struggle on Sunday.

    However, what Schaub has going for him is the fact that he is surrounded by a number of weapons. Both Arian Foster and Andre Johnson had solid games against the Bengals, and they'll need to be just as good to pull the upset against the Patriots.

    Few quarterbacks have been as underrated throughout their careers as Schaub. On Sunday, he'll have a chance to prove just how good he is.

5. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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    This may seem a little high to rank Flacco, but he probably had one of the best quarterback performances of all the Wild Card Games.

    His career record in the playoffs is 6-4, with four of those wins coming on the road. That is good news for the Baltimore Ravens, who will travel to play the Denver Broncos on Saturday.

    Where Flacco still struggles at times is with turning the ball over. In his four playoff losses, Flacco has thrown a whopping seven interceptions. However, in his six wins, he's only thrown one interception.

    The only way that the Ravens are going to beat the Broncos in Denver is if Flacco can limit his turnovers. If the ball starts getting away from him, it could be a long day for Baltimore.

4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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    While Matt Ryan has yet to win a playoff game, he ranks higher than the other quarterbacks on this list due to being a more talented player.

    Ryan is coming off a career year for the Atlanta Falcons. He set career highs in quarterback rating, completion percentage, yards and touchdowns while leading the Falcons to 13 wins. For a majority of the season, he was considered a legitimate MVP candidate.

    In order for Ryan to break his streak of losing in the playoffs, he is going to need Roddy White and Julio Jones to have a huge game. Unfortunately, White and Jones will go against two of the best cornerbacks in the league in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

    This game could be the defining game of Ryan's career. A loss would forever discredit whatever he does during the regular season, while a win will put him closer to "elite" status.

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    After a slow start to the season, Aaron Rodgers is hitting his stride when the Green Bay Packers need him the most. He was brilliantly effective against the Minnesota Vikings Saturday night and will look to keep playing at a high level against the San Francisco 49ers this week.

    What makes Rodgers such a great playoff quarterback is his knack for making big plays. Whenever Green Bay needed a play to keep a drive going, Rodgers delivered. That is what playoff quarterbacks need to do, and few do it better than Rodgers.

    The good news for Rodgers is that it looks like he might start getting some help from the running back position for the first time this season. DuJuan Harris looked very good against the Vikings and will need to continue his strong play this weekend.

    Rodgers has a chance to get back into the best-quarterback-in-the-NFL conversation with a win over San Francisco on the road this weekend.

2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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    What Peyton Manning has done this season has been simply amazing. The big question is whether his year off will have any effect on how he performs during the playoffs, where Manning has had some struggles in the past.

    His career playoff record is a rather mediocre 9-10. Manning has also lost his first game in the playoffs seven times during his career, including the last time he was in the playoffs in 2010.

    The good news for the Denver Broncos is that they were able to win a playoff game with Tim Tebow as their quarterback last year. Manning has been fantastic all season long, so don't be surprised to see him continue his high level of play against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend.

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Until Tom Brady retires, he will be the No. 1 playoff quarterback. He's simply been that good for such a long period of time that he deserves this ranking every year.

    There isn't a quarterback in the league right now who understands how to win in the playoffs like Brady does. He has more rings, more Super Bowl appearances and playoff wins than any quarterback left in the playoffs right now.

    Brady is the definition of a playoff quarterback and should continue his fantastic career in these playoffs.