Pivot-al Great 8: Remaining NFL playoff teams boast quite the quarterback collection

 

 
 
 
 
Tom Brady, New England Patriots — Positive: Been there, done that. Career playoff records include most wins, TDs, yards passing. Negative: Working with a thin crop of receivers; if Julian Edelman (broken left foot) isn't effective, could spell trouble.
 
 

Tom Brady, New England Patriots — Positive: Been there, done that. Career playoff records include most wins, TDs, yards passing. Negative: Working with a thin crop of receivers; if Julian Edelman (broken left foot) isn't effective, could spell trouble.

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It's quite a list: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer and Alex Smith.

A particularly elite collection of NFL quarterbacks will be in action this weekend. Never before have the last eight teams in the playoffs featured starting QBs that already own a combined nine Super Bowl championships, according to STATS.

"A star-studded cast," said Joe Theismann, QB of the 1983 Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins. "What it really tells me is — and it should send a message to everybody — if you don't have a quarterback of this quality, it's going to be very difficult to get to the level of competing for a championship."

Brady has four titles, Roethlisberger two, and Manning, Rodgers and Wilson one apiece. That group also accounts for nine NFL MVP awards (five for Manning; two apiece for Brady and Rodgers). The other three guys, meanwhile, were the No. 1 overall pick in the draft: Newton and Palmer, both in the conversation for league MVP this season, plus Smith, whose team is on an 11-game winning streak.

"They're all outstanding decision-makers," said Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott, who helped Joe Montana win four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. "What they're really good at is taking advantage of what the defence gives them."

When Lott watches today's star quarterbacks, he does so with an eye to how he would game-plan as an opponent.

"You're trying to figure out what you would do to try to slow them down or get them out of their rhythm. You're not going to stop them," Lott said. "But you want to try to take something away and force them to try to do something else with the football."

Last season is the only other time five previous champs started at quarterback in the divisional round; that bunch owned seven titles at the time.

On Saturday, it'll be Smith's Kansas City Chiefs at Brady's New England Patriots, followed by Rodgers' Green Bay Packers at Palmer's Arizona Cardinals. On Sunday, Wilson's Seattle Seahawks are at Newton's Carolina Panthers, before Roethlisberger's Pittsburgh Steelers play at Manning's Denver Broncos.

"They all bring something different to the table. They all bring great leadership; that's the constant. But when it comes to being able to play the game, everybody's a little bit different," Theismann said, "and I think that's what makes this group so exciting."

Here is a look at the elite eight, listed alphabetically:

TOM BRADY, Patriots

Age: 38.

Drafted: 6th Round, 199th Overall, 2000.

Super Bowl titles: 4 (2002, 2004, 2005, 2015).

Playoff W-L, stats: 21-8, 53 TDs, 26 INTs, 89.0 rating.

This season: 36 TDs, 7 INTs, 4,770 yards, 102.2 rating.

Positive: Been there, done that. Career playoff records include most wins, TDs, yards passing.

Negative: Working with a thin crop of receivers; if Julian Edelman (broken left foot) isn't effective, could spell trouble.

His words: "I would say I'm not the easiest guy to play with. I think there are a lot of high expectations and I try to put a lot of pressure on everybody to get the best out of us."

PEYTON MANNING, Broncos

Age: 39.

Drafted: 1st Round, 1st Overall, 1998.

Super Bowl titles: 1 (2007).

Playoff W-L, stats: 11-13, 38 TDs, 24 INTs, 88.5 rating.

This season: 9 TDs, 17 INTs, 2,249 yards, 67.9 rating.

Positive: No one is better at diagnosing an opposing defence.

Negative: Age is a tough foe, and Manning's health has been a problem this season. Is this his last hurrah?

His words: "In the playoffs, you certainly just want to do your job to help your team win, no matter how old you are or how long you've been playing."

CAM NEWTON, Panthers

Age: 26.

Drafted: 1st Round, 1st Overall, 2011.

Super Bowl titles: 0.

Playoff W-L, stats: 1-2, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 80.5 rating.

This season: 35 TDs, 10 INTs, 3,837 yards, 99.4 rating.

Positive: Adds a dimension with his running ability (636 yards, 10 TDs). Excelled in red zone this season (24 TDs, zero INTs).

Negative: Small sample size, but been much shakier in post-season than regular season.

His words: "My (playoff) record is not what I want it to be."

CARSON PALMER, Cardinals

Age: 36.

Drafted: 1st Round, 1st Overall, 2003.

Super Bowl titles: 0.

Playoff W-L, stats: 0-2, 1 TD, 1 INT, 66.5 rating.

This season: 35 TDs, 11 INTs, 4,671 yards, 104.6 rating.

Positive: Playing the best football of his career. Master of the deep throw.

Negative: The only member of this group who never has won a playoff game.

His words: "Butterflies are a good thing, nerves are a good thing and excitement is a good thing, so I am not trying to tail anything off."

AARON RODGERS, Packers

Age: 32.

Drafted: 1st Round, 24th Overall, 2005.

Super Bowl titles: 1 (2011).

Playoff W-L, stats: 7-5, 25 TDs, 7 INTs, 100.3 rating.

This season: 31 TDs, 8 INTs, 3,821 yards, 92.7 rating.

Positive: With up-tempo offence, uses smarts to outfox defence. Unparalleled combination of touch and arm strength.

Negative: Clearly misses Jordy Nelson, out all season. Facing tough Arizona defence.

His words: "It's tough to win these type of games. You've got to know how to do it -- and we obviously do."

BEN ROETHLISBERGER, Steelers

Age: 33.

Drafted: 1st Round, 11th Overall, 2004.

Super Bowl titles: 2 (2006, 2009).

Playoff W-L, stats: 11-5, 22 TDs, 19 INTs, 83.8 rating.

This season: 21 TDs, 16 INTs, 3,938, 94.5 rating.

Positive: Able to withstand or move away from rushers, giving receivers extra time to get open.

Negative: Dealing with injured right shoulder and absence of best receiver (Antonio Brown, concussion).

His words: "Anytime a thrower has a ... shoulder injury, it's not good."

ALEX SMITH, Chiefs

Age: 31.

Drafted: 1st Round, 1st Overall, 2005.

Super Bowl titles: 0.

Playoff W-L, stats: 2-2, 10 TDs, 1 INT, 107.0 rating.

This season: 20 TDs, 7 INTs, 3,486 yards, 95.4 rating.

Positive: Protects ball; 1.4 interception percentage since 2011 is second-best in NFL. Good runner.

Negative: Will have to decipher Bill Belichick's defensive schemes.

His words: "The mentality doesn't change. It's 'there is no tomorrow."'

RUSSELL WILSON, Seahawks

Age: 27.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 75th Overall, 2012.

Super Bowl titles: 1 (2014).

Playoff W-L, stats: 7-2, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 93.9 rating.

This season: 34 TDs, 8 INTs, 4,024 yards, 110.1 rating.

Positive: Establishing himself as an elite thrower; led NFL in passer rating.

Negative: Would ease his workload if he had more help from a running back; Marshawn Lynch has been injured.

His words: "You don't care about all the statistics. You don't care about how hard the journey, or how easy the journey, was. Ultimately, it's the finish. It's how you finish and how you find ways to win."

 
 
 
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Tom Brady, New England Patriots — Positive: Been there, done that. Career playoff records include most wins, TDs, yards passing. Negative: Working with a thin crop of receivers; if Julian Edelman (broken left foot) isn't effective, could spell trouble.
 

Tom Brady, New England Patriots — Positive: Been there, done that. Career playoff records include most wins, TDs, yards passing. Negative: Working with a thin crop of receivers; if Julian Edelman (broken left foot) isn't effective, could spell trouble.

 
Tom Brady, New England Patriots — Positive: Been there, done that. Career playoff records include most wins, TDs, yards passing. Negative: Working with a thin crop of receivers; if Julian Edelman (broken left foot) isn't effective, could spell trouble.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos — Positive: No one is better at diagnosing an opposing defence. Negative: Age is a tough foe, and Manning's health has been a problem this season. Is this his last hurrah?
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers — Positive: Adds a dimension with his running ability (636 yards, 10 TDs). Excelled in red zone this season (24 TDs, zero INTs). Negative: Small sample size, but been much shakier in post-season than regular season.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals: Positive: Playing the best football of his career. Master of the deep throw. Negative: The only member of this group who never has won a playoff game.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Positive: With up-tempo offence, uses smarts to outfox defence. Unparalleled combination of touch and arm strength. Negative: Clearly misses Jordy Nelson, out all season. Facing tough Arizona defence.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers — Positive: Able to withstand or move away from rushers, giving receivers extra time to get open. Negative: Dealing with injured right shoulder and absence of best receiver (Antonio Brown, concussion).
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs — Positive: Protects ball; 1.4 interception percentage since 2011 is second-best in NFL. Good runner. Negative: Will have to decipher New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick's defensive schemes.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks — Positive: Establishing himself as an elite thrower; led NFL in passer rating. Negative: Would ease his workload if he had more help from a running back; Marshawn Lynch has been injured.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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