I’m doing this list from the perspective of, who do I trust the most? You’ll find those quarterbacks higher up the list and the quarterbacks I trust the least at the bottom. This year is interesting because four of the 12 playoff quarterbacks have never started a playoff game before. There are also seven new teams in the playoffs who failed to make it last year. With that amount of turnover and inexperience, we should be in for some good games.
Here’s my list for most trustworthy quarterbacks in the playoffs this year.
12. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
Trubisky had some promising games earlier this year. He even threw for 354 yards and six touchdowns in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he hasn’t topped 300 yards since Week 10. I’m not saying he has to throw for that many yards to win, the Bears do have one of the best coaches and defenses after all, but I can’t put my full faith in Trubisky. He’s improved a lot since last season, but he’s still hit or miss most weeks.
11. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
People compare Jackson to Robert Griffin III a lot, but I’m going to compare him more to Tim Tebow. He wins games in an unconventional fashion, with a lot of running and some passing mixed in and has a whole customized system around him. Tebow won a playoff game the year he took over as a starter for the Denver Broncos. I think Jackson and the Ravens have a shot to win a game as well. Maybe even two if they’re lucky. Eventually though, like with Tebow, Jackson will run into a defense that will force him to play uncomfortably and then things will crumble. It’s just a question of when that will happen.
10. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott is like a combination of Jackson and Trubisky for me. Sometimes he can put up good passing numbers but have a great overall game because he’ll run effectively. Other times he doesn’t do either and everything falls apart. That happened in Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts and in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks. He’s more consistent than Trubisky but still has that hit or miss factor.
Prescott has only played in one playoff game. Back in 2016, the Cowboys lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round, but Prescott threw for 302 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, completed 63.2% of his passes, and finished with a 103.2 quarterback rating. Against most teams that would have been good enough to win, but you know, Aaron Rodgers can be tough to beat. Dallas needs Prescott to keep his completion percentage up and turnovers down this postseason.
9. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Things were going great for Goff until Week 13. From then until the end of the season (five games) he threw for six touchdowns and six interceptions on 58.89 completion percentage. Even though he threw four touchdowns in the final week of the regular season, he only completed 57.69% of his passes. At his best Goff is an MVP candidate, at his worst he can be a below average starter. It’s a wide range and makes his production hard to predict. For that reason, I find it hard to trust him, even though I want to. Since I’ve harped on some of his worst performances, let me remind you that Goff threw for 465 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions and a 78.79 completion percentage against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4.
8. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Saint Nick has given his heart and soul to the city of Philadelphia. He pulled off that miracle playoff run last season to win Philly its first Super Bowl, and now he’s back for more. He is dealing with some bruised ribs, but quarterbacks have played through worse injuries in the past and been fine. From Week 15 through the end of the season (three games), Foles averaged 320.66 passing yards per game and a completion percentage of 76.99, which would be an NFL record if he put up that percentage for a full season. He did throw one interception in all three final games, but he also passed for six touchdowns during that time. I’m tempted to rank Foles higher because of these magical performances he puts together, but the magic has to run out eventually, right?
7. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Watson’s game isn’t totally different from Prescott’s, but the former college champion is more consistent and has a potent clutch factor. Watson threw for 260.3 passing yards per game and added 34.4 rushing yards per game this season. He completed 68.3% of his passes and finished with 26 touchdowns to nine interceptions. I think his numbers will be even better in the playoffs though.
Yes, Watson has never played in an NFL playoff game before, but he led Clemson to the National Championship in 2016. While that doesn’t mean he’ll bring Houston to the Super Bowl, it does show he knows how to perform on a big stage. If you remember, Watson threw a last-second touchdown in the National Championship to win the title. I think he can bring some of that to the NFL playoffs. The one thing Houston should worry about is how often Watson gets pressured. He was sacked a league-leading 62 times during the regular season.
6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson has already been to two Super Bowls, a feat only one player on this list can best. Wilson is 1-1 in the big game and has extensive postseason experience, at least compared to the quarterbacks listed so far. In 2017, Wilson was an MVP candidate until the final few weeks of the season. His total numbers haven’t been on that level this year, but he still set personal bests in passing touchdowns (35), quarterback rating (110.9), and tied his career low for interceptions in a season with seven. The Seahawks offense is focused less on Wilson this year and more on the team’s league-leading running game. That certainly helped Wilson out this season and it will help the Seahawks out during the playoffs.
Since the run game is working so well, I have a lot of confidence in Wilson because he no longer has to go off to win big games. I mean, the Seahawks rolled over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14 and Wilson threw for just 72 yards. He didn’t even have to throw for 300 yards when the Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs and he only passed for 185 yards (with four touchdowns) when Seattle put up 43 points in Week 13.
5. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Rivers was an MVP candidate coming down the stretch, but he fell off in the final quarter of the season. Through the last four games of the season, he threw just four interceptions compared to six interceptions. He also posted a 75.3 rating during this stretch. Rivers is a future Hall of Fame quarterback and has the ability to bounce back in the playoffs, but he’s cooled off after a strong start to the year. Rivers also doesn’t have the best track record in the playoffs. In nine career playoff games, his completion percentage is 60.2, he’s thrown just 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and his rating is 85.2. He has a good chance to improve those numbers this time around, but I’m not completely confident in him.
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
After enduring the mental struggle of overcoming a career-threatening injury and bouncing back at a Pro Bowl level, I don’t think Luck will be easily shaken this postseason. Yes, he’s prone to taking chances and occasionally puts on his Brett Favre gun-slinger hat, but he actually has a lower interception percentage this season than Rivers. The one area that sometimes worries me about Luck is his completion percentage. As I said, he likes to sling it. However, Luck set a personal best in completion percentage this season with 67.3%. He also put up his best quarterback rating ever (98.7).
For those who knock Luck’s postseason experience, he led the Colts to the Conference Championship game in 2014 and pulled off that memorable Wild Card weekend comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. He does have a disturbing touchdown to interception ratio in the postseason though (9:12) and a low completion percentage (56.5%).
3. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
After crossing 5,000 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns in Week 17, I think Mahomes secured the MVP this year. It’s crazy to think this guy is just in his second professional season. That does mean he’s never been in a playoff game before though. He did watch from the bench last season when Alex Smith and the Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card round, but that doesn’t count. Even if he’s playing in his first playoff action, Mahomes has been so good this year and is so naturally talented that I can’t see him having a terrible game. He might not have all great games, but they’ll be good enough for the Chiefs to win some games and maybe compete for a Super Bowl. The one thing the Chiefs have to worry about is the version of Mahomes from Week 11, the one who threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. That’s not the guy Andy Reid wants to show up in the playoffs.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Putting Brady ahead of Mahomes on this list was a hard decision. I wanted to rank Mahomes higher, but Brady has gone to the last two Super Bowls and is known for getting it done when it matters most. He’s the most experienced quarterback in the playoffs this year and that will definitely help him at some point this postseason. While Brady didn’t put up MVP numbers this season like he did last year, he still played at a Pro Bowl level. He may be more limited physically now that he’s 41 years old, but his mind is still sharp enough to land him at this spot.
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
He may have thrown four interceptions in the final five weeks of the season, but he only had five total interceptions on the season to go along with his record-setting completion percentage (74.4%) and 32 passing touchdowns. Brees also led the league in game-winning drives and fourth quarter comebacks. He may not win the MVP award, and he probably won’t after Mahomes’ final push during the regular season, but Brees is still the most consistent and reliable quarterback in this year’s playoffs.