Two ”gunslingers,” a “game-manager” and a “winner.” As quarterbacks in the NFL, it’s commonplace for these guys to get labeled along the way.
What’s accurate, what’s reputation, what’s relevant and, more importantly, what are the odds that any of it matters once the playoffs roll around?
Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler induce white-knuckle, fingernail gnawing. Mark Sanchez has Jets fans praying that he just stays within himself, and allows the game to come to him. Ben Roethlisberger has Steelers fans assuring each other that Big Ben will pull something out, no matter what the situation.
Of the remaining QBs, Roethlisberger is the only one with hardware. He has the history, the defense, the organization and the home field. There’s almost no reason to think he’s not the odds-on favorite to be in Dallas representing the AFC. Almost.
Jay Cutler gets to host the NFC Championship Game with a stout defense, a solid running game and a home-field advantage that includes rowdy fans, really nasty weather and possibly the worst field conditions in the NFL.
Mark Sanchez has to travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers with a whole world of experience against him, and fighting a serious home-field advantage...Just like when he beat Manning at Lucas Oil Stadium in the first round and then again a week later when he did it to the invincible Brady, Belichick and the Gillette Stadium faithful.
But then again that isn’t really the whole story.
The Steelers just went through a war with Baltimore. How much do they have left?
The Bears offense is about as Jekyll and Hyde as they come, and they haven’t been tested. The Seahawks on the road this year were pathetic.
The Jets were geared up for the Patriots, and had plenty of history to draw on. What are the odds of pulling off the underdog thing three weeks in a row against the best defense left in the playoffs?
Aaron Rodgers has no proven running game against a stingy Bears defense that ranked second against the run. He’s going to do it on a horrible field in what most likely will be horrible weather.
So what does all of that mean?
It means the NFL playoffs are the greatest spectacle in sports, and if I knew what it meant I’d be a billionaire and banned from Vegas.