All-time Super Bowl QB rankings: Tom Brady tops 61-man list

Five Super Bowls ago, the dominant pregame storyline centered around whether Peyton Manning was poised to become the greatest quarterback of all time.
Tom Brady’s preposterous stretch since then, including four more Super Bowl bids, two huge fourth-quarter comebacks and one MVP award all but settled that particular debate. Returning to the big game with this particular Patriots team almost feels like running up the score.

Brady’s place atop the quarterback mountain stands in stark contrast to the stature of his Super Bowl LIII counterpart, Jared Goff, who will be a few months younger than Brady was back in February of 2002, when the Patriots dynasty was born against the Rams. But where does Goff stack up against other Super Bowl starters overall?

To figure that out, I combed through the resumes of all 61 Super Bowl starting quarterbacks, including Goff. It’s important to note that for players like Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr, who started Super Bowls but whose peak years came before the Super Bowl era, I considered their entire careers, not just what they did from 1966 onward. I ranked all quarterbacks based on career achievements, with regular-season excellence, All-Pro/Pro Bowl appearances and seasons as top-five and top-10 players at the position carrying more weight than just Super Bowl success. (Spoiler: Jim Plunkett did not have a better career than Dan Marino. Sorry.)

The good news for Goff: He’s already ahead of a few Super Bowl starters. At 24 years old with the biggest game of his life ahead, he has a long runway to improve his resume.

To the rankings!

G.O.A.T. pasture

1) Tom Brady (Super Bowl record: 5-3 with Patriots)

2) Johnny Unitas (1-0 with Colts)

3) Joe Montana (4-0 with 49ers)

4) Peyton Manning (1-1 with Colts; 1-1 with Broncos)

5) Dan Marino (0-1 with Dolphins)

6) Brett Favre (1-1 with Packers)

These are the six men who could conceivably have an argument as being the greatest ever, although the breadth of Brady’s career now makes it difficult for the rest of the group. The first nine seasons of Brady’s career — which included three titles and an undefeated regular season — now look like an appetizer to Brady’s dominant Gronk-era peak.

It’s impossible to truly compare across eras because the game has changed so much, but Unitas (who played from 1956 to 1973) edges out Montana (1979-1994) and Manning (1998-2015) for the No. 2 spot because Johnny U was so clearly the best of his era and a transformative figure for the sport. Unitas collected three MVPs and five first-team All-Pro nods, and he displayed a sneaky statistical dominance compared to his competition.

Manning ultimately overwhelms Marino and Favre with individual honors and consistency. He was so rarely outside the league’s top-three quarterbacks during a career that included five MVPs. Marino is probably the best pure passer of this group. He was never supported with a top-10 running game, and he rarely played with a good defense. He shouldn’t suffer too much, historically speaking, just because of Don Shula’s personnel decisions. Favre has perhaps the strangest resume. He combines a brilliant peak with three consecutive MVPs and a career famous for its durability with some lesser efficiency stats than the rest of the tier. Still, there’s not that much separating any of these guys.

The best second tier ever

7) Steve Young (1-0 with 49ers)

8) Aaron Rodgers (1-0 with Packers)

9) John Elway (2-3 with Broncos)

10) Roger Staubach (2-2 with Cowboys)

11) Drew Brees (1-0 with Saints)

12) Bart Starr (2-0 with Packers)

It’s wild how similar the resumes of Young and Rodgers look. They both had to wait before taking over for all-time greats who just happen to be in the tier above. They each have two MVPs. They were both as athletic as any top quarterback who has ever played. Young’s teams went 94-49 in his starts, from 1985 to 1999. Rodgers’ teams have gone 100-57-1. Young gets the slight edge for now because his seven-year peak ranks with that of any quarterback who has ever played, but it’s only a matter of time before Rodgers moves up.

Elway was a physical marvel, won an MVP and earned three second-team All-Pro nods in his career (1983-1998), but his passing numbers (3,217 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 picks per year), when adjusted for his era, don’t stack up with the rest of the top 10. Staubach is a great “What if?” because he didn’t become a full-time starter until he was 29 years old. He’s still the consensus best quarterback of the 1970s and led the league in passer rating four times. He probably gets downgraded too much for the era he played in. Starr, who has a reputation for being a “winner” of the ’60s and early Super Bowl era without generating great stats actually has … pretty great stats. So does Brees, who just turned 40 — and just completed one of his best NFL seasons.

In (or should be in) the Hall of Fame

13) Fran Tarkenton (0-3 with Vikings)

14) Ben Roethlisberger (2-1 with Steelers)

15) Troy Aikman (3-0 with Cowboys)

16) Terry Bradshaw (4-0 with Steelers)

17) Joe Namath (1-0 with Jets)

18) Bob Griese (2-1 with Dolphins)

19) Len Dawson (1-1 with Chiefs)

20) Jim Kelly (0-4 with Bills)

21) Kurt Warner (1-1 with Rams; 0-1 with Cardinals)

22) Ken Anderson (0-1 with Bengals)

23) Ken Stabler (1-0 with Raiders)

Like Brees, Tarkenton was an undersized, undervalued but consistent star with an incredibly long run of statistical dominance. Roethlisberger has been a top-five quarterback for the better part of his career, especially after his second Super Bowl triumph (following the 2008 season). Aikman’s peak (1991-96) was impressive, but unfortunately too short. Bradshaw wasn’t great in the seasons preceding his first two Super Bowl triumphs (1975 and ’76), but he wound up being a league MVP and finishing in the top five in yards per attempt five times. Namath gets extra credit for his impact on the game, although it’s worth noting Griese had three more Pro Bowl appearances (eight to Namath’s five), one more All-Pro nod (two to one) and far more seasons in the top five in yards per attempt. The offensive line and running game help, but Griese deserves some legacy love!

Dawson was the best passer in a pass-happy league, leading the AFL in passer rating for five straight years (1964-68). Kelly, like Aikman, had a brilliant peak that wasn’t quite as long as that of some others listed here. Warner had a singular career, starting late before winning two MVPs and leading two different teams to the Super Bowl. Anderson still should be considered for the Hall of Fame, as he was the rare player to win MVP, Comeback Player of the Year and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. He led the league in passer rating four times and earned a first-team All-Pro selection and two second-team nods, which is more than plenty of the names above him. Stabler finally got into the Hall in 2016, unfortunately after his passing.

Fun to watch

24) Donovan McNabb (0-1 with Eagles)

25) Boomer Esiason (0-1 with Bengals)

26) Daryle Lamonica (0-1 with Raiders)

27) Matt Ryan (0-1 with Falcons)

28) Earl Morrall (0-1 with Colts)

29) Eli Manning (2-0 with Giants)

30) Steve McNair (0-1 with Titans)

31) Russell Wilson (1-1 with Seahawks)

32) Rich Gannon (0-1 with Raiders)

McNabb was a top-10 quarterback for nearly all of his career, very often in the top five. I’m surprised he doesn’t get more Hall of Fame consideration. Esiason won an MVP (1988) and led the league in yards per attempt in that season and 1986. Lamonica was someone I didn’t fully appreciate until this exercise. While he was fattening up on a soft AFL, he made five Pro Bowls and nabbed two AFL Player of the Year awards. He finished his career 66-16-6 as a starter! Ryan has a number of seasons as a top-10 quarterback, although his MVP campaign of 2016 stands out as an anomaly.

Full List

By: Gregg Rosenthal

Which top NFL playoff team is at biggest risk of divisional-round upset?

An upset alert shouldn’t be necessary to make the top-seeded teams in the NFL playoffs aware of the imminent threat facing them this weekend.

Three of the four outfits that advanced from last week’s wild-card round, after all, did so on the road. And only once this decade (in 2015) have the top two seeds on each side advanced to the conference championship games.

But while this weekend’s traveling teams collectively posted a 18-14 mark as visitors this season, the foursome of teams hosting after a first-round bye (the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams) combined for a 28-4 record at home.

In light of that, we asked our NFL experts: Which team coming off a first-round bye is at the biggest risk of falling in a divisional-round upset?

Nancy Armour

I love Patrick Mahomes and everything he’s done for the Chiefs this season, and would like to think he’s going to be the one to end Kansas City’s long, long, long history of playoff heartbreak. Especially against the Indianapolis Colts. But until it actually happens, I can’t ignore the karma. Kansas City has lost 10 of its last 11 playoff games – that one victory came against Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texans – and is 0-4 against Indianapolis in the postseason. That includes the most crushing loss of all, the 2013 wild-card game in which Kansas City blew a 28-point lead and lost 45-44. Mahomes and Andy Reid have said all the right things this week, but I’m going to have to see it to believe it.

Jarrett Bell

The Chiefs. After watching all three quarterbacks who made their playoff debuts last weekend lose, that’s not a good omen for projected MVP Patrick Mahomes. No, the NFL-record 6 consecutive playoff home losses by KC isn’t on Mahomes…who wasn’t even born the last time the home team won in the playoffs at Arrowhead. But there’s just something spooky about that. Add Capt. Andrew Luck maybe carving up a suspect Chiefs defense, and I think we might see this No. 1 seed bite the dust. Of course, Mr. 50 Touchdowns has spent an entire season proving doubters wrong. And on a personal note, Andy Reid has made me look foolish multiple times when picking against him. But to borrow phrasing from my former colleague, Gordon Forbes, I just can’t shake the feeling KC’s season is about to be BBQ’d.

Nate Davis

Maybe the question for the bye week playoff teams should be, “Who’s not at risk?” All of them feel fairly vulnerable to me with the exception of New Orleans. But maybe the Rams are in the most jeopardy. Their “home” game threatens to be overrun by Cowboys fans and a team that seems well-equipped to pull off the upset at the L.A. Coliseum, where the Rams lost their wild-card contest to the Falcons a year ago. Dallas just locked down Seattle’s top-ranked ground game and will next face Todd Gurley, who’s probably going to be less than 100% after a knee issue forced him to miss two games. More worrisome, as much talent as the Rams defense has, it surrendered a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry … and is now tasked with slowing league rushing champ Zeke Elliott and highly mobile QB Dak Prescott? Gulp.

Jori Epstein

The Rams. The Cowboys’ top-5 run D is riding momentum after holding the Seahawks – 160 yards per game in the regular season – to 73 in a wildcard win. Rams all-pro running back Todd Gurley, on the other hand, is returning from nearly a month on the sideline with knee inflammation and soreness. Dallas will have its hand full containing an offense that’s averaged 37.1 points at their home Coliseum. Dak Prescott, too, must take care not to turn over the ball. But if the team follows the blueprint it used to hold the ball 9:40 more than the Seahawks last week, Ezekiel Elliott can capitalize on a Rams defense allowing a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry. Add in the star-studded Cowboys fans expected to line the Coliseum? Dallas upsets a young L.A. offense to reach its first NFC Championship Game in 23 years.

Full List

Bing Predicts: NFL Wild Card

Winners and losers from NFL Week 11

From thrilling last-second wins by teams that are fighting to stay in contention to a horrifying injury that could shape the NFC playoff race, NFL Week 11 had it all.

A six-game winning streak was snapped in agonizing fashion. A team many thought would contend for the title suffered a sixth-straight loss. A team many thought was out of contention is right back in it thanks to a second-straight road win.

Those are among the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 11.

Winner: Captain Andrew Luck has Colts on a roll

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts lost five of their first six games this season. It looked like Andrew Luck’s redemption tour was going to be delayed by a year, at least, despite some solid play from him early. But since that awful start, both Luck and the Colts have started playing some outstanding ball.

With 297 yards and three passing touchdowns Sunday in a 38-10 blowout win over the Tennessee Titans, Luck extended his streak of at least three passing touchdowns to seven consecutive games.

His Colts have now rattled off four wins in a row and are in second place in the AFC South, knocking at the door to get into the playoffs. Should they complete the comeback and make the postseason, then Luck deserves to be included in the MVP conversation, along with Comeback Player of the Year.

Loser: Washington suffers déjà vu in worst possible way

© Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) reacts after breaking his leg in the second half against the Houston Texans during the second half at FedEx Field. 

Thirty-three years ago to the day, the Washington Redskins were issued a staggering gut punch. Joe Theismann suffered a horrifying broken leg that is still to this day considered among the most gruesome in professional sports.

On Sunday, Washington lost Alex Smith in the same exact manner. He broke his right tibia and fibula while being dragged to the ground on a sack. He was carted off, taken to the hospital in an ambulance and required immediate surgery. To nobody’s surprise, he will miss the rest of the season, head coach Jay Gruden announced after the game.

Washington also lost Sunday’s game in heartbreaking fashion — falling to 6-4 on the season. The team will be bringing in a bunch of veterans on Monday to see who might back up Colt McCoy.

Barring some crazy developments, it’s hard to see this team finishing off the season strong without Smith. Though it still leads the NFC East, Washington will be hard pressed to hold that lead. On the season, it is minus-one in point differential and closes out the campaign with four of its last six games on the road.

Winner: Cowboys rising 

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Dallas couldn’t win on the road earlier this year and entered Week 9 with a 3-5 record. It looked like the ‘Boys were headed for another disappointing season. But the past two weeks have seen this team come together for two straight road wins, and Sunday’s victory in Atlanta was very impressive.

Ezekiel Elliott and the big guys up front are getting back to dominating folks at the line of scrimmage. The dynamic dual-threat running back followed up Week 10’s 187-yard game with an incredible 201-yard showing against the Falcons.

Now just one game behind Washington in the NFC East, featuring an offense that’s starting to click and a defense that can really get after folks — and with four of their final six games at home — Dallas is in great shape to win the division.

Loser: Jags are toast

© Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Jon Bostic (51) brings down Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field.

The Jacksonville Jaguars gave it their all on Sunday. For a while it appeared they had Big Ben Roethlisberger and Co. in the palm of their hands, as the Pittsburgh Steelers could do next to nothing in the first half.

Despite a monster game from Leonard Fournette. Despite two Jalen Ramsey interceptions against Big Ben, and three interceptions overall. Despite the best showing Jacksonville has put up in weeks. The Jags lost. They lost their sixth game in a row. They’re now 3-7 on the season. Oh, by the way, Blake Bortles is still not the guy.

This team is done. A franchise many pegged to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII is unofficially out of the playoff chase, and it is officially the biggest disappointment of the 2018 season.

All the Winner and Losers

By: Jesse Reed

Winners and losers from NFL Week 4

The one thing NFL fans can always expect is that the unexpected is bound to happen. This certainly was the case in NFL Week 4, as some stunning events unfolded around the league.

An undefeated team was absolutely throttled and looked completely inept in the process. A quarterback who’s generally been unimpressive early in his career busted out with a performance that any legend would be proud to claim.

We’ll focus on both of those situations and plenty more looking at the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 4.

Brocketship Comes Off Bench, Dominates Colts

Written by Chris Wesselling at NFL.com

Brock Osweiler came off the bench to generate three touchdowns, leading the Denver Broncos (5-9) to a 25-13 comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts (3-11) in Week 15. Here’s what we learned during Thursday night’s action:

1. It’s fair to wonder if Trevor Siemian has started his last game for Denver. The recently reinstated starting quarterback gave way to Osweiler after sustaining a left shoulder injury on a first-quarter sack by Barkevious Mingo. General manager John Elway’s primary directive for 2018 is to find a franchise quarterback after cycling through Siemian, Osweiler and Paxton Lynch in a lost season, Broncossources recently confirmed to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Although the team’s brass once harbored high hopes for Siemian as a diamond in the rough, former coach Gary Kubiak’s pet project has been done in by durability issues and persistent struggles in the face of defensive pressure. Even with the 2016 first-round investment in Lynch, Elway is expected to take an aggressive approach at the game’s most important position as his Super Bowl window threatens to slam shut. Will Elway take another dip into the Manning well, making a run at the eminently available Eli next offseason?

2. Thanks to the sterling performance from Osweiler in relief, coach Vance Joseph is building on the momentum provided by last week’s shutout victory over the Jets. The Broncos are giving the embattled first-year coach the benefit of the doubt for next season, Rapoport added Thursday, but the team’s brass is keeping a watchful eyeon its performance in the final month. To that end, Joseph should be earning a modicum of leeway entering next week’s matchup versus the injury-ravaged Redskins.

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Jim Irsay Thinks Andrew Luck’s Injury Is All In His Head

Written by Will Brinson at CBS Sports.com

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Indianapolis Colts have a major mess on their hands at the quarterback position. Andrew Luck is battling a major shoulder injury and is shut down for the year, with his long-term health very much up in the air. Making matters much worse, Colts owner Jim Irsay is apparently questioning Luck in private conversations.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy appeared on the “Dan Patrick Show” on Monday and, as first caught by Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com and confirmed by Patrick on Tuesday, said Irsay claims Luck’s injury is “in his head.”

“I don’t know what’s going on there. Jim Irsay made a comment to me about six weeks ago, ‘It’s inside his head now,'” Dungy said.

Worth noting: This was during one of the commercial cut-ins of the show and, as Patrick noted Tuesday, it is very possible/likely that Dungy did not know his mic was on. Paul Pabst of the show reached out to Dungy to confirm the quotes Tuesday, and relayed that Dungy heard the comments from Irsay during a “group conversation in September.”

“Wait, it’s inside Luck’s head?” Patrick asked.

“Yeah, [Irsay] said that when I was out [in Indianapolis] for Peyton’s ceremony,” Dungy replied.

“Wow. I really wonder if Luck’s future is in Indianapolis. I really do,” Patrick said.

“They obviously believed [Luck would be back Week 1] because they did nothing to prepare for him not being there,” Dungy said after a lengthy pause.

Irsay tweeted in January, when Luck had surgery on his shoulder, that his quarterback would be ready for the season. He very explicitly created raised expectations for Luck, even though the surgery Luck was dealing with clearly was more invasive than your average shoulder surgery. You could easily argue the comments from Irsay and the comments from the Colts since then have served to mislead their fans.

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Andrew Luck Placed On IR, Hasn’t Played Yet This Season

Written by Gregg Doyel at Indy Star.com

The good news, people, is that quarterback Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury is not career-threatening. The Indianapolis Colts say so, and let’s be optimistic here:

They have to be right, eventually.

When it comes to Luck’s shoulder, the Colts have been wrong every step of the way since September 2015. That’s when his injury first sidelined him, causing him to miss two games. Here we are, 26 months later, and only now are the Colts putting Luck on injured reserve. He hasn’t played in 2017. He won’t play in 2017. Andrew Luck has the largest contract in Colts history, what was once the largest contract in NFL history, and he won’t play a down of football in 2017 …

… because of an injury that happened in 2015.

Incompetent? Oh, that’s not even a question. Of course the Colts are incompetent.

That’s not a word the Colts would use, obviously. They prefer “optimistic.”

“We all were optimistic that this was going to work out sooner than later,” says first-year general manager Chris Ballard, who inherited this mess and now is the poor sap trying to explain it. “But unfortunately the human body — everybody’s human body is different and we are where we are. There’s not much we can do about it.”

Can you imagine being an NFL free agent after this season and choosing to play for a team so, um, optimistic that it botched its quarterback position — and its quarterback — as badly as this one? Owner Jim Irsay uttered these words in October 2016, when Luck was on the injury report weekly with a shoulder injury that was a year old at that point. “He is fine,” Irsay said, “and the shoulder is something that just disappears into the woodwork when he wins his next MVP or when he wins a Super Bowl.”

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Jags Blank Colts And Win 27-0

Written by Jim Ayello at Indianapolis Star.com

Sorry, Indianapolis Colts fans. It gets worse.

Not only did the Colts get embarrassed by an AFC South rival at home, blown out 27-0 at the hands of the once-lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, but they did it in historic fashion. The Colts had gone 375 games in a row — the third longest streak in NFL history — without being shutout. That streak, spanning 24 years, ended Sunday.

Unfortunately, the Colts’ dysfunction goes deeper and gets worse.

How much worse? Let us count the ways:

0 

Not only the number of points the Colts scored, but the total yards gained by Jacoby Brissett on a highly questionable quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 from inside the Jaguars’ 10-yard-line. After the game, Colts coach Chuck Pagano pointed to confusion about the play call despite it coming after a timeout. Both Pagano and Brissett said the play was their fault.

1

The number of times a Colts drive lasted longer than nine plays. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s lifeless crew went three-and-out three times and turned the ball over on downs twice.

2

The number of receptions by T.Y. Hilton. The Colts’ leading receiver snagged just two passes for 27 yards, as The Ghost once again disappeared in a big game. Two is also the number of times Hilton blamed the offensive line for the Colts’ inept offense.

3

The number of points the Jaguars were favored by heading into Sunday. Turns out that number should have been much, much bigger. Expect Las Vegas to list the Bengals as heavy favorites next week in Cincinnati.

4

The number of injuries to key players. The Colts lost their best offensive lineman (Ryan Kelly, hamstring), sack leader (John Simon, stinger), defensive back with the most passes defended (Rashaan Melvin, concussion) and the guy leading the team in interceptions (Malik Hooker, knee) all in the first half. That, folks, is the definition of adding injury to insult.

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Andrew Luck Suffers Another Setback To Get Back To Field

Written by Mike Wells at ESPN.com

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will stop throwing for the time being because of soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder, general manager Chris Ballard said Wednesday.

“The doctors and the trainers have decided to give him a cortisone shot to kind of take away some of that inflammation that’s been happening,” Ballard said.

“He’ll continue to rehab. We’re just going to shut down the throwing right now to get this thing calmed back down.”

Luck, who had shoulder surgery in January, practiced for two days two weeks ago and then amped up his workload during his two days of practice last week.

“I’ve watched every session of him throwing, and it’s been going really well,” Ballard said. “His velocity is good, his motion is good, all that is coming along at a good rate. It’s the soreness right now that we’re dealing with and have to get through.

“Understand this: Every player is different. Every rehab is different. Every surgery is different. That’s why we never put a timeline on this. Every guy is different. The good news is, Andrew is very in-tuned with his body and he’s being honest about what’s going on. That’s what we want and what we need.

“We want to get to a point where he can practice every day. His long-term success is at what we’re looking for.”

Ballard would not put a date on when Luck will resume practicing. He also didn’t shut the door on the possibility of putting his franchise quarterback on injured reserve, which would officially end his season.

“No, not at this time,” Ballard said about Luck potentially going on IR.

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