Every year, at the end of the football regular season, I throw together some NFL quarterback ratings, so I’ve got something to use for next year’s fantasy football season.  Then just for fun, I rate just the playoff quarterbacks.  Now the first list is based just on numbers and career diagrams.  The playoff list throws in a lot of intuition, so it’s almost certainly not reliable.  In the past, I’ve done this list just for me, but this year I decided to write it up and put it on the blog.  This isn’t for everyone.  It isn’t for most people.  But if it is, I hope you enjoy it.

This year’s list includes seven quarterbacks that are either surefire Hall of Famers or will be if they string together a few more good seasons to round out their careers.  It is unusual to have this kind of quarterback quality in the playoffs.  In addition to the likely or possible Hall of Famers, there is also one talented and intriguing rookie, one guy that defines the term “average NFL quarterback,” and three guys that were rescued from local homeless shelters over the past couple of weeks.  So, without further meaningless drivel:

1.  Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) – For some reason it’s hard to wrap my mind around this, but Rodgers at 33 is on the downward side of his career and I think its probably time to start thinking about his legacy in the sport.  The consensus before this season was that Tom Brady was at or near to being the best quarterback in NFL history and then Brady went out and had a sensational season at age 39, pretty much surgically removing the larynxes from the remaining dissenting voices.  I’d be happy to go along with that, but I think by the end of his career Rodgers should be considered better.  Rodgers is great at everything that Brady excels at (accuracy, release speed, decision-making, leadership) and adds the ability to run, as opposed to Brady, who really can’t outrun me and couldn’t when he was 22.  For Rodgers to get support for being the best quarterback ever, he’s going to have to continue to put up great number for another five years or so, but I think he’s up to it.

Rodgers certainly had great numbers this year and if I wanted to go to the Super Bowl, he’d be the guy I’d want at quarterback.

2.  Matt Ryan (Atlanta) – Ryan just puts up consistently good numbers every year and in my mind he’s probably the most underrated quarterback in the NFL.  Yeah, he’s got Julio Jones to throw to, but he always put up decent numbers even when Jones was hurt.  He’s got to have another couple of good seasons, but I’d think he’d be a pretty good bet to get into the Hall of Fame.  This season he’s getting some support for league MVP.  If he wins MVP, that would significantly improve his case.  If the Falcons win the Super Bowl, which is not impossible, that would improve his case as well.

3.  Tom Brady (New England) – Even missing four games, he had the greatest season ever for a 39 year old quarterback.  If Brady were a baseball player, there would be rumors abounding that he was using PEDs.  My bet is that he starts crashing next season, but maybe he’s made some kind of weird Faustian bargain that lets him play until he’s 50 and includes a supermodel wife.  He’s already defying any previously known quarterback logic.

4.  Matthew Stafford (Detroit) – Stafford, when healthy, has been as good as any quarterback on this list.  This year, he stayed healthy and he should be getting more consideration for league MVP than I think he’s getting.  What he did was truly amazing. Detroit lost their best receiver from last season and has only average at best running backs to support a mediocre running game.  Somehow Stafford dragged this so-so outfit to a playoff spot.  He could get some Hall of Fame support if he can stay healthy for another three seasons, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.

5.  Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) – His offense has got more weapons than a Smith and Wesson factory, but he’s been doing this for several years now and a few of those seasons, he pretty much did it on his own.  He has two Super Bowl wins, which is the magic number for a Cooperstown invitation if you’re a quarterback.  My opinion is that this is a stupid reason to vote someone into the Hall of Fame, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been outvoted on this subject.  Big Ben’s career has been such that he would get Hall of Fame consideration even without the Super Bowls.  Interestingly, he played poorly in both of his Super Bowls.

6.  Russell Wilson (Seattle) – He was higher on this list last season, but he’s been playing with a lot of nagging injuries which have sapped his best quality, his ability to run.  If I had to pick one guy on this list to invite to my house for dinner, I’d pick Wilson.

7.  Eli Manning (New York Giants) – Eli, like Big Ben, has won two Super Bowls, so he’s considered a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.  Excluding the Super Bowls and the fact that he’ll get a lot of pull from his brother’s vortex, his case is weaker than Roethlisberger’s.  He throws A LOT of interceptions and the Giants’ defense was exceptional in each of those championship seasons.  They are exceptional again this year and kept the Giants afloat late in the season, when their offense, led by Manning, only managed 15 points a game.  Unlike Roethlisberger, Manning played very well in both of his Super Bowl appearances, winning MVP both times.  With that on his resume, you really can’t keep him out.

8.  Dak Prescott (Dallas) – The Cowboy offense is pretty nearly unstoppable and it is tempting think that Prescott’s rookie season success was solely due to the great offensive line and the second best running back in the NFL and one of the best wide receivers in the game.  It was an ideal situation for a rookie, but Dak made the most of the situation and never faltered beyond a rare bad game here and there.  This is just a gut feeling, but I think he would have found success on other teams as well.  Maybe not the Browns, but other teams that actually cared about winning.

9.  Alex Smith (Kansas City) – Alex rated out surprisingly poorly this year in fantasy football (he was 23rd in total points).  He never rates very high.  I don’t think he’s ever been in the top ten.  This season, he didn’t run nearly as often, possibly due to some undisclosed injury and he’s hamstrung by the fact that Andy Reid hates throwing the deep ball worse than he hates walking away from the all-you-can-eat buffet table.  Still, Alex rarely makes stupid blunders, and as a Chiefs fan who’s suffered through some awful quarterbacks over the years, I’m happy he showed up when he did.  He’d rate a lot higher most years, but this is a pretty unique season for playoff quarterbacks.

10. Matt Moore (Miami) – Over the years, when Matt Moore has gotten a chance to play, he hasn’t been terrible.  I mean, he didn’t exactly make anyone forget Dan Marino, but he’s had some success, and in the right situation, he could have been a starter for some teams.  I’m probably the only person that thinks this but I think Miami actually has a chance in Pittsburgh.  A slight, tiny, miniscule chance, but a chance nonetheless.

11. Brock Osweiler (Houston) – Osweiler stepped into the starting quarterback role for a team with one of the best running backs in the league (Lamar Miller), one of the best wide receivers in the league (DeAndre Hopkins), and one of the best rookie wide receivers in the league (Will Fuller) and successful meshed those parts into a morass of ineffectiveness.  The Texans would kill to have Alex Smith as their quarterback.  They’d be willing to inflict serious permanent injury to get Matt Moore.

12. Connor Cook (Oakland) – The dude’s a rookie and his first NFL start is about to happen in a playoff game against what is statistically the best defense in the NFL.  I see looming disaster.  If Derek Carr were on this list, he’d rate in the top five.  This is almost enough to make me feel sorry for Raider’s fans.

Nah, I’m kidding.

Now for some fearless predictions for this week’s playoffs.

Raiders/Texans – With the “looming disaster” coming to save the day for Oakland, I’m guessing they’ll throw the ball maybe eight or ten times.  The Raiders running games is really good, but expect the Texans to stack the defense against the run, so it may be tough sledding for Oakland.  Oakland’s defense is kinda terrible, but so is Houston’s offense.  The first team to get to double digits is probably going to win this one.  I flipped a coin and it came up Raiders, so I’ll go with the Raiders, 10-7.

Lions/Seahawks – As good as Matthew Stafford has been, I just can’t envision them going to Seattle and winning.  The Seahawks figure out a way to pull it out, 24-17.

Dolphins/Steelers – Miami’s defense is actually pretty good and Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t very good, but the Steelers are going to score a lot of points against any defense, no matter how good they are.  Steelers win, 31-24.

Giants/Packers – Now THIS is the game of the weekend. Giants defense has been exceptional the last half of the season and the Packers offense is nearly unstoppable these days. I could see this game being decided by a field goal late or even going into overtime. It is very easy to imagine either of these teams in the Super Bowl.  Packers, 31-28.