NFL Playoffs: Ranking the 4 QBs Remaining

Josh Toyofuku@jtoyofuku8Contributor IIIJanuary 22, 2012

NFL Playoffs: Ranking the 4 QBs Remaining

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    Championship Sunday has arrived and that means there are only four quarterbacks left in the playoffs.

    The New England Patriots and Tom Brady will host Joe Flacco's Baltimore Ravens as they battle for the AFC title. Meanwhile,in the NFC, Eli Manning and the New York Giants will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers and Alex Smith. 

    With the season's biggest games to date just around the corner, let's take a look at each of those quarterbacks.

4. Joe Flacco: Weaknesses

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    The Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco is easily the worst quarterback in the playoffs.

    It's not that he's horrible, he's just completely average and has played just well enough throughout the season to ride the coattails of Ray Rice and the Baltimore defense.

    Flacco finished the regular season tied for sixth in touchdowns (20), seventh in the AFC in yards per game (225.6) and passer rating (80.9) and tied for eighth in yards per pass (6.7).

    Not exactly elite numbers.

Joe Flacco: Strengths

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    While Flacco didn't have the best numbers in the regular season, he got the job done and has improved in the playoffs.

    His passer rating is up to 97.1 and he has thrown two touchdowns compared to no interceptions. Also, Flacco has won playoff games before—Flacco has won at least one playoff game each of the past four seasons.

    The likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and both Manning brothers haven't done that.

3. Alex Smith: Weaknesses

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    No one saw Alex Smith leading the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship Game, but here he is.

    The biggest problem with Smith right now is that this is his first time playing in the postseason in his seven-year career. This is an uncharted territory for him, his teammates and his coaches. 

    On top of that, he has been a better version of Flacco—he gets the job done but the team's success is based on the Niners defense and running back Frank Gore.

Alex Smith: Strengths

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    Alex Smith may be inexperienced in the playoffs, but he certainly didn't show it during last week's victory over the New Orleans Saints. The lead changed four times in the final four minutes and Smith did a great job managing the offense to victory.

    Before fumbling the ball against the Saints, Smith played a key part in an offense that didn't turn the ball over in the final 22 quarters of the regular season.

    So far, through one game in the playoffs, Smith has thrown three touchdowns compared to no interceptions with a passer rating of 103.2.

2. Eli Manning: Weaknesses

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    Eli Manning of the New York Giants has been doing a lot right in both the regular season and postseason. But that doesn't mean he is without flaws.

    He has only thrown one interception through two playoff games, but in the regular season, he finished tied for seventh-most with 16 of them.

    Manning also isn't terribly mobile and was sacked 28 times in the regular season and twice so far this postseason.

    The younger Manning brother also suffered from dropped passes all season. Giants wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz tied for 10th in the league with seven dropped passes each.

Eli Manning: Strengths

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    Eli Manning has done this before. He knows how it feels to be the underdog.

    He did it in 2007-08 when the Giants upset the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field and went on to beat the undefeated New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Could 2011-12 bring the same fate?

    It very well could because Manning has looked great in his two games this postseason. He's thrown six touchdowns and only one interception while completing 67.7 percent of his passes. Manning has a passer rating of 121.8 and has really broken out of his former title, "Peyton's little brother."

1. Tom Brady: Weaknesses

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    Is there really anything that the New England Patriots' Tom Brady is doing wrong? Not really.

    If anything might hurt him, it's his injured left shoulder that kept him out of practice for a day this past week, but the Patriots say he's good to go. 

    Beyond that, one of his favorite targets, tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter last week. He is expected to play against the Baltimore Ravens, but with head injuries, you have to be cautious and wonder if he'll be as effective as usual.

    The Ravens do seem to know how to play against Brady though—his 55.9 completion percentage against the Ravens is his lowest percentage against any team.

Tom Brady: Strengths

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    Where do you begin? Tom Brady is a man on a mission.

    In the playoffs, Brady leads all quarterbacks with a quarterback rating of 137.6, an average of 10.68 yards per pass, and a 76.5 completion percentage. He also tied a playoff record by throwing six touchdowns against the Denver Broncos last weekend.

    Is there anyone in the league, in or out of the playoffs, who is better than Tom Brady? I don't think so.

    Brady has been in this position before and he knows how to finish it—with a Super Bowl ring.