All four QB’s remaining in the playoffs have some fairly extensive postseason experience. Matt Ryan might be the one exception in this group, but even he has six playoff games under his belt. Tom Brady leads the pack with a 23-9 record, including 11 AFC Championship Games. In those 32 games, he has 58 TD’s, 30 INT’s, and has been sacked 54 times. Ben Roethlisberger is next with a 13-6 record, including five AFC Championship Games. But he only has two TD passes in his last three postseason games.
Over in the NFC, Aaron Rodgers is 10-6 in his postseason career. As everyone knows, he’s been particularly hot of late with 91 pass attempts and 6 TD passes in his last two games against the Giants and Cowboys. Matt Ryan is just 2-4 in the postseason, but he’s another one with a hot hand. He’s thrown 9 TD’s in his last three games, including three against the vaunted Seahawks defense in last week’s playoff game.
What’s interesting about all four of these QB’s is they have winning records in the situations they will face this weekend. Brady is 16-3 at home in the playoffs, Ryan is 2-1 at home, Big Ben is 6-3 in road playoff games, and Rodgers is 5-4 in postseason away games. Something’s got to give!
Defense wins championships, the run game is critical late in the year, but you need an elite QB to compete for a championship. These four are a combined 48-24 in 72 career postseason games.
FEEDING THE STREAKS
Ben Roethlisberger has led the Steelers on a nine-game win streak. Two of the four QB’s playing on Sunday – Brady and Rodgers – are in the midst of eight-game win streaks, and Ryan has won five straight. Over the last eight games, Ben and Brady have both thrown 18 TD’s, three INT’s, and have been sacked seven times each. Talk about a mirror image!
In that same span, Rodgers has thrown an incredible 21 TD’s and just one INT, though he’s been sacked 19 times. In his last five games, Ryan has tossed 15 TD’s without an INT and taken 11 sacks.
GETTING TO THE QB
You can see from the numbers how critical these QB’s are to the success of their respective teams. So one of the primary goals of each defense this week will be finding ways to get these guys on the ground. I expect to see a fair amount of inside pressure against Brady and Ryan, like we saw Houston do to New England last week with Jadaveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. Neither QB is particularly mobile, and both like to operate out of the pocket from the midline. If you can knock them off their spot, you can slow their roll a bit.
Ryan gets rid of the ball very quickly, and I expect that the Patriots will have a plan to deal with inside pressure after last week. Both are facing young secondary units, so I look for quick slants and outlets to the perimeter receivers, giving them a chance to run after the catch. Atlanta had success stacking their receivers last week, and Brady has that long-standing two-way go with Julian Edelman where they can make the defense wrong on every snap.
You can’t do that against Roethlisberger and Rodgers. Ben is so big and strong, and hard to bring down, and while he’s not as mobile as he used to be, he will escape under pressure, and he’s always got his eyes downfield looking to throw deep outside the pocket. We’ve all seen what Rodgers can do when he breaks contain, and while he throws an extremely accurate ball on the run, he also has the athletic ability to tuck it and run it himself. Playing contain with the ends and squeezing the pocket down will be key for the Patriots and Falcons this week.Add to My RFN