Divisional Playoffs QB Player Rankings
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1. Aaron Rodgers (@ Atl)
Last week in Philadelphia, Aaron “it out” showed his playoff mettle by throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 21-16 victory over mighty Mike Vick and the Eagles. He’ll be going on the road yet again this week, and this time it will be against a team he threw for 344 yards and a TD against earlier in the year, while also rushing for another 51 yards and a score. With rookie RB James Starks suddenly coming into his own, Rodgers should feel less pressure than ever before and has a chance at a 300-yard, multi-TD game come Saturday.
2. Tom Brady (vs NYJ)
Alright, so Brady’s streak of multi-TD, zero-INT games sits at nine going into this game. What are the chances of him continuing this insanity? Normally I’d say pretty good, considering the fact that he torched the Jets back in Week 13 to the tune of four TDs, 326 yards and no INTs. However, Rex Ryan and the Jets will be much more prepared this time around and will look to control the clock, thus giving Brady less time to put up extreme numbers like he did before. Don’t get me wrong, because if anything is a sure bet in the playoffs, it’s that Tommy Bundchen gets the job done. Just don’t expect the same sick display he put up last time.
3. Jay Cutler (vs Sea)
The Bears said they plan on pounding the ball down Seattle’s throat this week, but Chicago’s idea of the running game isn’t quite the same as others. Cutler’s one big drawback is his propensity to throw interceptions, but with Seattle ranking near the bottom of the league in that category, I expect Mike Martz to give Cutler every opportunity to throw the ball. The Seahawks pass D is pretty darn bad (especially away from home), so expect Jay to have himself a nice game on Sunday.
4. Ben Roethlisberger (vs Bal)
Roethlisberger didn’t get to play in the Steelers' first game against the Ravens this year due to his suspension, but he did just fine in the second, throwing for 253 yards and a TD en route to a 13-10 victory in Baltimore. I can’t say Big Ben turns it on come playoff time as his career regular season and playoff averages are almost identical, but with the Ravens only soft spot on D being their pass defense, you can bet Pittsburgh’s game plan will allow for some pretty good numbers out of Roeth this Saturday.
5. Joe Flacco (@ Pit)
Joe Cool actually did pretty well in his two games against the Steelers this season, averaging 261 yards and one TD a game, but the numbers won’t come as easy this time around. Flacco may have had the best game of his playoff career against KC last week, but the Chiefs weren’t nearly as experienced as the Steelers are. His season average against them of 261 and a TD is the ceiling this Saturday.
6. Matt Hasselbeck (@ Chi)
The only way the Seahawks were going to beat the Saints last Saturday was if Matt Hasselbeck put up the game of his life…which is exactly what he did. In his 12-year career, Matty had thrown for four or more touchdowns in a game just five times, while the feat actually doubled his previous playoff high of two (in nine playoff games). The Seahawks will need his heroics again this Sunday to get past the Bears, and though I like his chances to put up some decent numbers (threw for 242 yards and one TD against them in Week 6), the possibility of a another four-TD performance is nil.
7. Matt Ryan (vs GB)
Ryan quietly turned in a top-10 fantasy season while leading the Falcons to the best record in the NFC at 13-3. His 28 TDs (career high) ranked sixth in the league (tied with Rodgers), while his four separate three-TD games doubled the amount he had in 2009. What’s even better is that three of those four games came in the Falcons home dome (where he plays much better statistically). However, none of those games came against a pass D like Green Bay’s and in their Week 12 meeting, Ryan was only able to scrounge out 198 yards and one TD. Temper your expectations for Matty Ice in this one.
8. Mark Sanchez (@ NE)
It’s unreal how many things Dirty Sanchez has working against him this weekend. First, his shoulder is still less than 100 percent. Second, he plays terrible in the cold weather. Third, his right tackle was just lost for the season. Fourth, he’s thrown two TDs compared to seven interceptions over his last seven games (including last week). Fifth, the mental hurdle he’ll have to climb after the beatdown the Patriots gave him in Week 13 is enormous. Basically, I’m not expecting much this Sunday afternoon, but crazier things have happened and usually do with Rex Ryan running the show.
9. Charlie Whitehurst (@ Chi)
The only chance Whitehurst has of seeing the field in this one is if Hasselbeck’s hip injury becomes a factor, which it very well could due to his recent injury history and inflated age.