The NFL playoffs are finally here. The field is stacked with some great teams and even better quarterbacks. To celebrate the arrival of the best time of year for football fans, I ranked all of the quarterbacks in the field based off their play this season.
12. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Allen has come a long, long way since last season-- but not nearly far enough. He's thrown for 3,089 yards this season and cut down on his mistakes, tossing 20 touchdowns to only nine interceptions. He's also the biggest threat on the ground in the playoffs this side of Lamar Jackson, regularly extending drives on scrambles and is a pretty solid short-yardage runner. But Buffalo hasn't won games because of Allen this year, and has lost some because of him. His sub-60 percent completion percentage indicates his accuracy still leaves something to be desired, and for every jaw-dropping deep ball he heaves (See: John Brown against the Patriots), he'll miss a wide-open guy in the middle of the field. The talent is clear, but he's the last quarterback anyone would trust in these playoffs with the game on the line.
11. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Speaking of trusting quarterbacks with the game on the line, is there anyone else you'd want to drive your team down the field with the clock waning than Brady? No. But for the rest of the game, you'd take just about anyone else available. The greatest quarterback of all time has not lived up to the lofty standards everyone has come to expect this season; he threw for 4,057 yards and 28 touchdowns, but averaged only 6.6 yards per attempt, and his touchdown percentage is the lowest of his entire career. Even if you want to chalk it up to poor offensive line play or lack or reliable targets, it's impossible to deny that Brady just hasn't been good this season. He may yet return to form when it really counts and make everyone, including me, regret doubting him, but that doesn't seem likely this season.
10. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy G has bounced back from a torn ACL, and at times looked like the guy who deserved the massive extension he received from San Francisco. He's sixth in the NFL with touchdown passes at 27 and had three immaculate games, most notably the heavyweight matchup against the Saints. But there have been more times where his tendency to force balls into windows that aren't there have hurt the team, ranking eighth in the NFL in both interceptions thrown and interception rate. Which version of Garoppolo shows up next week will determine the Niners' Super Bowl hopes, and the fact that it's even a question means he ranks in the bottom half in comparison to his peers.
9. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Tannehill has played like a man possessed since given a second chance in Tennessee. He threw 22 touchdowns in 10 games with only six picks and completed an astounding 70 percent of his passes, ranking only behind Drew Brees and Derek Carr in that regard. He's thrown a touchdown on 7.7 percent of his passes, more than everyone not named Lamar Jackson. Tannehill isn't a game-breaker, which is why he doesn't slot higher, but he's operating at an elite level of efficiency right now in tandem with the Titans' dangerous run game. Tennessee will be in rough waters if they need to rely entirely upon Tannehill to win the game, but if everything is clicking, they're tough to beat.
8. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz somehow threw for over 4,000 yards this season despite none of his receivers topping 500. That's a remarkable stat in of itself. He's managed to overcome the Eagles' rash of injuries to their skill players almost entirely on his own, throwing for 27 TDs and completing 63 percent of his passes this season. But he's had a few dud games this season where he threw for less than 200 yards and hasn't completely taken over games when Philly needed him most.
7. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Cousins has played like a top-10 QB for the majority of the season. He threw 26 TDs and completed nearly 70 percent of his passes en route to the playoffs, including four 300+ yard games and two games with four touchdown passes. But when going up against stiff competition, Cousins hasn't been nearly as effective, most recently seen against the Packers on Monday Night Football. If Dalvin Cook is healthy, Cousins dominates on the play action pass like few other quarterbacks. But his reliance on Cook, combined with a reputation (fair or not) for folding in big games makes it hard to rely on him.
6. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
When he's healthy, Watson can make anything happen. He completed 67 percent of his passes to the tune of 3,852 yards and 26 touchdowns. There doesn't seem to be a throw he can't make when he's feeling it. But he threw a career-high 12 interceptions this season, and may not have Will Fuller, one of his favorite targets. If he's 100 percent, Watson is as dangerous as they come. But if he's still hobbled by his ankle injury that clearly impacted him during the final weeks of the season, his ability to improvise is limited, and it hamstrings the Texans' offense. But he shows up when the lights are brightest, and you can count on him to keep Houston in the game no matter who they face.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers hasn't adopted his world-destroying form we all thought he would when paired with a good offensive mind like head coach Matt LeFleur. He still threw for 4,000 yards at 7.7 yards per attempt and a 26:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It wasn't his best season by any means, but his big comeback against Detroit in Week 17 to secure homefield advantage proved the Rodgers we all know and fear is still in there.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson was an MVP candidate for most of the season, and for good reason. The Seattle QB finished the year with 31 TDs and only five interceptions with 4,110 yards passing and averaged eight yards per completion. He had more than his fair share of the patented scrambles that result in throws everyone thought would be incomplete but actually went for touchdowns. He slowed down near the end of the year with a pair of uncharacteristically inefficient games against the Cardinals and Niners as the team's run game fell apart due to injury. But Wilson is a football wizard at the height of his powers, and possesses the capacity to single-handedly win his team playoff games.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
The finger injury Brees suffered early in the season may have ultimately been a good thing. The 40-year-old has been on an absolute tear over the last few weeks, throwing 15 touchdowns and no interceptions for 1,188 yards in the last four games of the year. He may be the QB with the hottest hand going into the postseason, and no one wants to face this version of Brees with Michael Thomas and his record-breaking season at his disposal.
2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes' sophomore campaign was hindered by a knee injury suffered early on, but he rounded into form as the playoffs approached. He hasn't had any eye-popping games statistically, but led his team to six straight wins to end the season with what has become a standard cadre of absurd throws. There's no one quarterback in the NFL that strikes fear into the hearts of defenses like Mahomes. He can, and will, make every throw from every angle at every level of the field. No one is more dangerous from the pocket in the league.
1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
But no one player is as all-around lethal as Lamar Jackson this season. The soon-to-be MVP threw for a league-leading 36 touchdowns and accounted for seven more on the ground. When defenses made him throw the ball, he tore them apart. When they tried to make him beat them on the ground, he did that too. He's been red-hot all season, the fulcrum of a red-hot Ravens team that ended the season with the best record in the league. He hasn't proved it in the playoffs yet, sure, but there's nothing to suggest he'll fold when the lights are brightest. 2019's breakout star will continue to prove he belongs next to the top quarterbacks in the league, and should continue to astound on every play.