Postseason QB power rankings: When playoffs begin, there's Tom Brady and then there's everyone else
The Lord of the (seven) Rings is back in his environment.
When the NFL wild-card weekend gets underway this weekend, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers takes center stage as the greatest postseason quarterback the league has ever known. And will ever know, at least in my lifetime.
While Aaron Rodgers may have had a better regular season — Brady stands alone when legacies are made.
There are 14 quarterbacks in the playoffs. Brady has 34 playoff wins (and 11 losses). The other 13 combined have 38 wins (and 30 losses). That includes such luminaries Ben Roethlisberger (13 wins) and Rodgers (12 wins).
Brady has seven Super Bowl rings. The other 13 have four (two by Roethlisberger, one each by Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes).
Here's the measure of Brady's postseason greatness as opposed to his contemporaries — when playing against the best opposition in the playoffs, his winning percentage of .756 is only slightly less than his .769 (243-73) record in the regular season.
Rodgers, by comparison, has a .675 winning percentage in the regular season (139-66-1) that dips to .571 (12-9) in the playoffs. Roethlisberger is .668 (165-81-1) in the regular season and .591 (13-9) in the playoffs.
Peyton Manning? He was 186-79 in the regular season (.702) and 14-13 in the playoffs (.519).
It's worth noting for Joe Montana fans that the 49ers (and Chiefs) quarterback, like Brady, was nearly as good in the playoffs (16-7, .696) as the regular season (117-47, .713).
One interesting blast from the past — Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers had an even better playoff percentage (14-5, .737) than regular-season percentage (107-51, .677).
Given all that, my postseason quarterback power rankings have a predictable name at the top:
1. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay (34-11, 7-3 in Super Bowl)
The Bucs went from wild card to Super Bowl champion a year ago and could do it again. It starts against Philadelphia Sunday in what should be the biggest mismatch of the weekend.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (12-9, 1-0 in Super Bowl)
Rodgers and Co. can rest up for a week as the top seed and then embark on another title game quest. They've lost in the NFC Championship Game in three of the last five years.
3. Patrick Mahomes Kansas City (6-2, 1-1 in Super Bowl)
Mahomes has been more mistake-prone this season, but he has been nails in the postseason until running up against the Bucs in the Super Bowl a year ago. The Chiefs host Pittsburgh Sunday night.
4. Josh Allen, Buffalo (2-2)
Has generally acquitted himself well as a postseason quarterback, with 1,081 yards passing, five TDs and just one pick in addition to 237 yards rushing. The Bills face New England for the third time Saturday night.
5. Dak Prescott, Dallas (1-2)
Has performed well under playoff pressure in three down-to-the-wire games with 794 yards passing, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 95.7 passer rating. Cowboys host the 49ers Sunday.
6. Derek Carr, Raiders (0-0)
By far the most experienced of the five playoff first-timers having made 127 regular-season starts. Led Raiders to playoffs in 2016 but was sidelined by a broken fibula in Week 16. Raiders visit Cincinnati Saturday.
7. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati (0-0)
Supposedly 100% after sitting out the regular-season finale, Burrow is as good as it gets as a downfield thrower. Concerns? Could be slowed by inclement weather and he's been sacked 51 times. The Raiders, their opponent, can rush the passer.
8. Kyler Murray, Arizona (0-0)
Is Murray a special game-changing talent or an entertaining gimmick? Looks like the former but the playoffs are where reputations are made. Was 1-1 against the Rams, Monday night's opponent, with 651 yards passing, 100 yards rushing.
9. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (2-1, 0-1 in Super Bowl)
Is it just me or are some of Garoppolo's slow starts of late cause for concern, even if he recovers in the end? Pretty much was a handoff machine in the 2019 playoffs and struggled late in a Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. Dallas is up first on Sunday.
10. Matthew Stafford, L.A Rams (0-3)
Stafford arrived via trade to take the Rams to the next level. He's been spectacular and spectacularly error-prone. Like the first half against the 49ers and then the second half in Week 18, for instance. The Rams host Arizona Monday night.
11. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (2-2)
Can't deny Tannehill led the Titans to the top seed and the bye in the AFC. Has never thrown for more than 209 yards in four playoff games and was twice under 100. Some team will force him to throw and it could be trouble.
12. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (13-9, 2-1 in Super Bowl)
Has the Chargers to thank for getting first-round date in Kansas City Sunday night. Surviving like an aging former power pitcher on slow curves and change-ups, hard to see Pittsburgh getting past Mahomes and the Chiefs.
13. Mac Jones, New England (0-0)
Jones had been deftly handled by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Like, for instance, the game he threw three times in a win over Buffalo — which is Saturday night's opponent. Level of play dropped off late in the season.
14. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (0-0)
Just 16 touchdown passes in 15 starts and sometimes shaky as a passer but had 784 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. For Hurts to take down Brady in the playoff opener would be one of the all-time playoff upsets.