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Don't Bet Against Joe Flacco in the Playoffs

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2015

Jason Bridge/USA Today

The man who is destroying quarterbacks, obliterating Hall of Famers and up-and-comers alike, looks like a bus driver.

Nothing against bus drivers, but if Joe Flacco were behind the wheel outside the state of Maryland, passengers would present their MetroCard for payment, ask him for the time, then put on their Beats by Dre. They wouldn't give him a second look. Flacco's face is human camouflage.

Flacco is so bland, his blood type is mayonnaise. That face, that Flacco demeanor—a combination of toll collector and Keanu Reeves—conceals that he is an empire wrecker. A quarterback killer. A stone-cold winner.

I've written this before, but as Flacco heads to New England to play the Patriots, it bears repeating. Because in many ways, the man with a pulse so low he registers as an android is making history.

First, the QB killer part. In his last five postseason games, these are the players Flacco has beaten: Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick and Ben Roethlisberger. Luck is a future great, Manning and Brady are definite Hall of Famers, Roethlisberger is on that track, and Ron Jaworski once said Kaepernick would be one of the greats of all time. Also in that stretch, Flacco has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Take away Kaepernick and that is a highly formidable group of players Flacco has beaten. Yes, I know, stop screaming that Flacco has played with great defenses. He has. But so did Roethlisberger and Brady earlier in their careers. So did Joe Montana. So did many of the passing greats.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens defense, going all the way back to that incredible season when it broke records and wills, has always gotten most of the credit. That's the Trent Dilfer Effect. It's time to recognize that Flacco is driving the Ravens now.

Flacco doesn't do a pregame jig. He's not a pithy quote like Steve Smith. He's just been good. And quiet. And really good. And really chill.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, following the Pittsburgh Steelers game, said Flacco was the best quarterback in football. Brian Billick, the ex-Ravens coach, said Flacco was better than Brady. Both thoughts are flawed, expressed by two men with obvious bias. Yet those beliefs are only on the outskirts of insane, not in the central business district.

Flacco is presenting a Joe Montana-ian level of playoff excellence that in terms of mistakes—the lack thereof—could end up being unchallenged. It starts with this, via the NFL: "Flacco made his NFL-record tying 14th career postseason start in his first seven seasons—tying an NFL record" against Pittsburgh.

Flacco is also in elite company with 166 straight playoff passing attempts without an interception:

Consecutive playoff pass attempts without an interception
Quarterback, TeamSeasonsAttempts
Drew Brees, Saints2007-2012226
Joe Montana, 49ers1989-1991179
Steve Young, 49ers1994-1996173
Joe Flacco, Ravens2012-present166
NFL Communications

Look at Flacco in the playoffs since 2010. It's actually kind of startling:

YearW-LCmp-AttCmp%YdsTDsINTsRating
20101-141-6464.13903190.0
20111-136-6357.14824196.1
20124-073-12657.91,140110117.2
20141-018-2962.125920114.0
Total7-2168-28259.62,271202106.0
pro-football-reference.com

That's why Billick says he's better than Brady. Flacco has been almost flawless in the playoffs, while Brady hasn't been.

"It's not really about out-dueling Tom or him out-dueling me," Flacco told reporters this week.

It is, despite Flacco's objections, so much about Flacco versus Brady. Again, Brady is better. Brady is historic. But part of what makes the game this week the best playoff game of them all is watching Flacco chase Brady's greatness—and seeing if Brady can keep surpassing what has become almost zealously unreal expectations, playing against a quarterback and a team that not only don't fear him and Bill Belichick but relish playing them.

When Flacco beat the Steelers last week, it was his seventh playoff road win, the most since the merger in 1970. You know what Peyton Manning's postseason road playoff record is? It's 2-5.

We've seen a lot of Manning Face in the playoffs, because he hasn't been a fraction as impressive in the playoffs as Flacco.

Now, we're seeing Flacco Face. And you know what Flacco Face looks like?

I forgot.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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