AFC and NFC Championship QBs Bound For Hall Of Fame?

Josh WarrenCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2011

AFC and NFC Championship QBs Bound For Hall Of Fame?

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    We're down to the NFC and AFC Championship games, and in a postseason filled with plenty of QB talent, only four remain.

    Some Hall of Fame-bound QBs already have fallen, including Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

    However, four young talents are vying for a spot in the Super Bowl and perhaps the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Let's take a look at their chances.

1. Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Rodgers has been a monster this post season by dismantling the Atlanta Falcons, completing 31 of his 36 passes, gaining 366 yards in the air and throwing for three touchdowns.

    So, how does he stack up as a Hall of Famer?

    Age: He's only 27 years old. As late as Brett Favre played, there's no pressure on Rodgers to retire early, unless he chooses.


    Health: This is a problem area for Rodgers.

    Though the NFL has made no official rulings on concussions besides increasing fines on cheap hits, there could be a day when players are "suggested" to retire sooner, depending on previous injuries.

    Rodgers himself may choose early retirement to avoid long-term health repercussions.

    Resume: No blemishes here. Since Rodgers took over as a starter for the Green Bay Packers, he has had a QB rating of 100-plus in three of four years.

    His post-season numbers are monstrous. He has a completion percentage of 73 in post-season play, with 10 touchdowns to just one interception. Two victories to one narrow loss isn't a bad record, either.

    Like any player who makes it to Canton, you have to have a good cast and crew around you.

    Green Bay always manages to build a decent team, and as long as the trend continues, Rodgers will have success. He makes the team around him better.


    The Verdict: He's not a first-rounder yet, but he's in.

2. Jay Cutler

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    Though his first two seasons with the Bears haven't been stellar, Jay Cutler has promise to be a franchise QB, and he's certainly done his part in the post season this year.

    As he gets ready to butt heads with Aaron Rodgers, he comes into the NFC Championship off one of his best games all year: Two rushing touchdowns, two touchdowns through the air and 316 total yards.

    How does he fare?

    Age: Like his Green Bay counterpart, Cutler is only 27 years old. If he can keep himself upright and work on his awareness in the pocket, he likely has at least eight or nine good years ahead of him.


    Health: Cutler did suffer a concussion this season after he was beaten senseless by the New York Giants in week four.

    He does have diabetes, but it does not seem to deter him when he plays.

    If he can keep up a healthful diet and lifestyle, he has very little health concern. He just needs an offensive line.


    Resume: Not the very best just yet.

    Although he usurped Jake Plummer from the starting role in Denver a few years ago, he failed to get the Broncos to the post season while he was there.

    In his first season with the Bears, he led the league in interceptions.

    This year he's managed to right the ship, passing for 23 touchdowns to 16 interceptions, 10 fewer than the year before.

    His first post-season start was impressive, but Cutler will have to build on that.

    He needs a Super Bowl ring (or two or three) if he realistically wants a shot at Canton.


    The Verdict: It's hard to say it, but I just don't see it happening. Cutler will fall short of the Hall of Fame.

3. Ben Roethlisberger

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    I may not be his biggest fan, but Big Ben has had a pretty amazing career.

    Not many quarterbacks come into the league and make a splash the way he did. Nor do many young quarterbacks have not one, but two Super Bowl rings, either.

    Let's get right to the facts.

    Age: Only 28. Compared to Cutler and Rodgers, he's already ahead of the curve.


    Health: For guys like myself who ride motorcycles, it was both tragic and frustrating to see a news caption about an NFL QB getting in a bike wreck.

    Big Ben gets hit hard all the time, but he has the body and the build for it.

    Pittsburgh always seems to put up a good offensive line too, so it's hard to imagine him having consecutive games under fire.

    Health isn't a big issue for the big guy.


    Resume: Two Super Bowl rings. A smattering of playoff victories. Constantly leading his team into the postseason. A great team always seems to be built around him.

    Need I say more?

    There's no way around it. Big Ben is a great QB, and he's built like a bear.

    He's hard to take down, he finds a way to win big games, and since he became Pittsburgh's starter, he's played in 11 playoff games.

    The Verdict: As I said, a formality. Big Ben will keep playing better, keep winning and be a first-round Hall of Famer.

4. Mark Sanchez

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    Despite having a terrible regular season in his first year, Sanchez still racked up an impressive number of post-season wins.

    The Jets are a strong team, and they have no problem building around him.

    Age: This kid is only 24 years old.

    He's been to the AFC Championship game twice now, and he's only three years older than me. This guy is going to be around for at least 10 more years.


    Health: He may not be the toughest QB alive, but he hasn't had any pressing health issues yet.

    As long as he has a strong offensive line, he'll be fine for years to come. Someone may want to knock on wood, there.


    Resume: Don't look at his regular season stats. If Peyton Manning is currently the king of the regular season, Sanchez is well on his way to being the post-season prince.

    In just two seasons, Sanchez has played five post-season games and won four of them.

    In those games, he's thrown for 922 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He's not quite up to Aaron Rodgers' numbers, but he's also not as experienced.

    If you extrapolate his numbers, three more years might just be what he needs.

    As usual, a good team needs to exist around a player to get him into Canton, and Sanchez has experienced veterans, youthful talent and a good coach.


    The Verdict: Keep the team together, keep Sanchez on the fast track to success, and punch his ticket. He's young, but he will be in Canton one day.