Half of the quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL playoffs have gorillas on their backs.
While Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have been there, done that and Russell Wilson is an overachieving rookie, the rest of the passers are shouldering tremendous pressure this postseason.
Here’s a ranking of the QBs who have the most pressure on them and why.
4. Colin Kaepernick
Alex Smith is still looking over Kaepernick’s shoulder.
The second-year quarterback hasn’t done anything to warrant being benched. But neither did Smith. The former No. 1 overall pick has completed 26 of his last 28 pass attempts and until Kaepernick proves he’s the better player, Smith will be waiting to take his job back.
3. Matt Ryan
Matty Ice is a nickname that suggests a clutch gene. Ryan has never won a playoff game, though.
If he chokes against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Ryan better brace himself for overwhelming criticism. With an arsenal of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, a lack of respectable weapons is no longer a valid excuse for his postseason struggles. With the road to the Super Bowl going through the Georgia Dome, Ryan must finally live up to his nickname.
2. Matt Schaub
On a team stacked from top to bottom, Schaub has become the weak link on the Houston Texans. He has only one playoff win under his belt and he was dragged across the finish line by his defense, which held the Cincinnati Bengals offense to just six points. For crying out loud, Schaub surrendered more points than the Texans D by throwing that interception that Leon Hall turned into a touchdown.
If he gets Houston eliminated, Schaub will be on the hot seat.
1. Joe Flacco
Which QB has the most pressure on him?
Flacco doesn’t want to be the quarterback that cost Ray Lewis his last NFL game. Retirement is knocking on Ed Reed’s door as well, and he still hasn't won a ring. That’s the reason why Flacco, while he’s had far more postseason success than the other passers on this list, has the most pressure on him.
Despite his impressive playoff resume, Flacco still has critics galore who believe he was carried by the Ravens defense all these years. Without an elite stop unit behind him against the Denver Broncos, Flacco will either shut them up or prove them right on Saturday.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.