Aaron Rodgers and 9 Others We'd Want on Our Team in the Playoffs
The NFL playoffs are all about players having ice water in their veins. It doesn't matter if it's a player who plays the most important position on the field such as quarterback or an irrelevant kicker who becomes a hero over night.
In January, anyone can be a hero.
Here are some players, some more well known than others, that teams would love to have on their team during the postseason because of their track record to succeed when the stage is biggest.
The New England Patriots would be nothing without Tom Brady. They have the worst ranked defense in the NFL, but the road to the Super Bowl from the AFC will probably be running through New England.
Brady transcends over every other quarterback in the league because he wins. Forget that he hasn't won a playoff game since 2007. He hasn't had a great supporting cast since the Patriots' 18-1 season.
Despite their lack of success in the postseason recently, the Patriots know that even with this team they can win the Super Bowl because Brady is under center.
Brady has thrown 28 touchdowns in his 18 playoff games and has three Super Bowl rings under his belt. That's the most from any quarterback, and it's yet another reason why teams would love to have Brady in the playoffs.
He'll give anyone a chance to win in the clutch.
After a disappointing fumble that lost the game for the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wild Card game two seasons ago, Rodgers stepped up huge last season during the playoffs.
He threw nine touchdowns and just two interceptions against the NFL's best. He was absolutely unstoppable. His passer rating all time in the playoffs is 112.6.
If Tom Brady was the quarterback of the 2000s, Aaron Rodgers looks like he's going to be the quarterback of the 2010s. He already has one ring to pad his case, and it definitely won't be a surprise if he leads the Packers to the NFL's first back-to-back run since Brady's Patriots did it almost a decade ago.
Eli Manning makes this list for two reasons.
One of them is obvious. He provided the biggest clutch performance of the decade when he and his band of Giants upset the 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Secondly, he's having an MVP-type season this year. If the Giants can defeat the Cowboys this Sunday, New York will have a hot quarterback who can be deadly when he's on top of his game, as evidenced by the 2007-08 run.
In that year's playoffs, Manning threw six touchdowns with one interception. Aside from defeating the Pats in the Super Bowl, Manning also was efficient in one of the coldest games in recent memory at Lambeau Field during the NFC Championship.
When Manning is confident in his abilities, which he is right now, he can become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. This is why teams would die to have him on their team in January.
If there's a quarterback that plays better when he's hurt or in horrendous weather, it's Ben Roethlisberger.
The status of his body or the elements don't matter when Big Ben takes the field in January. He has a 10-3 lifetime postseason record along with two Super Bowl rings. He could've had a third last year if Rashard Mendenhall didn't cough up the ball late in the game.
Although Big Ben hasn't put up the best stats in the playoffs, he still brings intangibles that help his team win.
Also, let's not forget how clutch he is. He threw one of the most amazing spirals in recent history against the Arizona Cardinals in the dying moments of the Super Bowl to give the Steelers the championship.
If that's not something that teams want in the playoffs, then I don't know what is.
Criticize him all you want, Mark Sanchez is a prime-time performer in the playoffs because of his 4-2 record. Let's not forget that all four of his wins have come on the road in hostile environments like Indianapolis and New England.
It may be true that he hasn't performed well in some of his playoff wins as evidenced by his 62.4 rating in last year's AFC Wild Card game against Indianapolis, but he's won those games and he's played well in both playoff games that he's lost.
Last season against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship, Sanchez threw two touchdowns and had a 102.2 passer rating in a late comeback attempt against the Steelers.
The year prior to that in a loss to the Colts, he had a 93.3 passer rating with two touchdowns and an interception. Oh yeah, he was a rookie, too.
Sanchez is young and he has to develop in many ways, but one thing he does well is rise to the occasion in playoff games. This is undeniable based on his numbers and his win-loss record in January playoff games.
If he can sneak into the playoffs this year, don't be surprised if Sanchez pulls off a few big wins again.
Talk about accurate.
Drew Brees has not thrown an interception in a playoff game since 2006. In fact his touchdown to interception ratio in his playoff career is 15-to-2.
Brees has Super Bowl ring to prove that he's clutch quarterback in the playoffs.
In his only Super Bowl appearance, Brees completed 32 of his 39 pass attempts with two touchdowns. That kind of accuracy in a huge game like the Super Bowl is something everyone should marvel upon.
With Brees' accuracy, the Saints will have a chance to do remarkable things this January. He's done it in the past, and he's having a record breaking year statistically this season in terms of passing yards.
Why wouldn't anyone want this guy on their team in the playoffs?
Who said kickers can't make an impact in the playoffs?
He plays for the Colts and he won't be making any kicks in the postseason this season, but Adam Vinatieri is 45-for-54 in his career in the playoffs.
We're talking about pressure situations here in January.
Game on the line.
It doesn't matter. Vinatieri just drills field goals.
Vinatieri has four Super Bowl rings to go with his impressive resume. He won three with the Patriots and one with the Colts. He's played in six overall.
He also hit two game-winning field goals to secure Super Bowl victories for the Patriots in the early 2000s. These are the most pressure packed situations in football, and he was able to drill both field goals through the uprights to give the Patriots the championship.
So many games are lost in football because of missed kicks. With Vinatieri, teams are assured that special teams won't be a problem.
Larry Fitzgerald is an athletic freak and one of the best wide receivers in the game. If he had a better quarterback than John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, who knows how much better he would be?
Fitzgerald's Cardinals have made the playoffs twice when his quarterback was the legendary Kurt Warner. With Warner under center, Fitzgerald caught seven touchdown passes and led the Cardinals to an NFC Championship.
In the Super Bowl game against the Steelers, he caught a would be game-winning touchdown before Ben Roethlisberger performed his own heroics to give the Steelers the win.
When Fitzgerald scores a touchdown in the playoffs, the Cardinals are 5-1. He's never had less than six receptions in a playoff game.
Teams know that he's a wide receiving threat and try to do everything to stop him, but they fail to do so.
This January, we're going to see if Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson are as effective as Fitzgerald was in his playoff appearances. Maybe the two Johnsons will be able to make this list next season.
Matt Hasselbeck has had a long illustrious career that he should be proud of. He's had his fair share of playoff successes, too.
If Tennessee sneaks in as the wild card, don't be surprised if they pull off some upsets because of their veteran quarterback.
Hasselbeck has 18 career touchdowns in the postseason with just nine interceptions. Seven of those 18 touchdowns came last season when he played for the 7-9 Seahawks, and he led them to a huge upset against the Saints.
As mentioned before in the Brady slide, quarterbacks need to have a good supporting cast to win Super Bowls. The only time this happened for Hasselbeck was when he had MVP running back Shaun Alexander along his side. They went to the Super Bowl that year and lost to the Steelers.
That being said, Hasselbeck gives his team a chance to win in the playoffs and sometimes that chance can be capitalized if other players show up.
So what if he shot himself? This is a slideshow about playoff success, not best NFL role model.
Plaxico Burress made one of the most important catches in New York Giants history when he scored the game-winning touchdown against the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
It was his only touchdown in that year's postseason, but that doesn't mean he didn't have success. He had 11 catches in the NFC championship.
So is he too old to provide an impact for the Jets if they make the playoffs?
His numbers in the regular season show that he can still be a huge factor. He has eight touchdowns this year, and if the Jets make the playoffs, watch out AFC.
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