2017 NFL Playoffs demonstrate importance of quarterback position

In the 2018 NFL Playoffs — and particularly on Championship Sunday — the winning team is usually the team with the better quarterback.

 

On Sunday, the AFC and NFC Championship games were different in many ways — one was a thriller requiring a fourth-quarter comeback, and the other was a snorer that was decided before halftime.

But one thing was the same: the team with the better quarterback won the game.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles played perhaps the most clutch game of his four-year career, but was no match for the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, who has competed in over two season’s worth of playoff games over his 18-year career. Bortles’ quarterback rating failed to reach 100, while Brady finished with a 108.4 quarterback rating before heading to the podium to hoist the AFC Championship trophy.

The second game of the day had a starker contrast between quarterbacks, with the Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles throwing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns, while the Minnesota Vikings’ Case Keenum threw two interceptions and completed just half of his pass attempts. Foles — with his 141.4 quarterback rating — is on to Super Bowl LII, and Keenum — who finished the day with a 63.8 quarterback rating — is done for the season.

This trend has been consistent over the 10 games that have been played in the 2018 NFL Playoffs. Seven of the 10 games, the quarterback with the higher quarterback rating also came away with the victory — and the remaining three QBs were unlucky to lose.

Alex Smith’s Kansas City Chiefs lost by one to the Tennessee Titans after quarterback Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass to himself. Ben Rothlesberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers lost by three to the Jaguars, in a poorly coached game that cost Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley his job. And nobody can fault New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees, who fell victim to the “Minneapolis Miracle.”

In the NFL, defense can certainly win championships, but the team probably won’t get the chance without a good quarterback.