There are eight teams and eight starting quarterbacks remaining in the 2017 NFL Playoffs and the disparity in postseason experience in each game is startling.
If you came here looking for someone to tell you that the game of football is a one-man sport, you may want to head elsewhere. There will be no talk of Tom Brady beating someone like this is tennis, handball or bowling.
We are down to the final eight teams when it comes to crowning a Super Bowl champion. That includes the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in each conference. But one of the big stories revolving the remaining clubs and the four games this weekend is the quarterback story in which there is a great difference in terms of experience behind center in each instance.
On one side, you have four veteran signal-callers that have played and started a combined 75 postseason games. Each of those men has started at least one Super Bowl and three of those performers NFL championships on their resume.
Meanwhile, the other four quarterbacks have combined for three postseason starts.
So what do we make of all this? The numbers are at least interesting, to say the least:
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
Matt Ryan vs. Nick Foles
The leader of the defending NFC champion owns a disappointing 4-5 playoff record. However, Matt Ryan has thrown 10 touchdown passes without an interception in his last four postseason appearances dating back to last season, albeit a lost fumble in Super Bowl LI was indeed costly.
On the other hand, the last time the Eagles were in the playoffs, Nick Foles put up the enclosed numbers in a 26-24 home loss to the New Orleans Saints in the 2013 Wild Card round.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Marcus Mariota vs. Tom Brady
At the very least, Marcus Mariota has done one thing in the playoffs that the legendary Tom Brady hasn’t managed. That’s throwing a touchdown pass to himself.
But it is interesting to note that the five-time NFL champion and four-time Super Bowl MVP and the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and three-year pro have helped orchestrate some of the biggest comebacks in NFL postseason history.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers
Blake Bortles vs. Ben Roethlisberger
Talk about balance? In his first postseason appearance and the Jaguars’ first playoff appearance since 2007, Blake Bortles threw for 87 yards and ran for 88. In any case, Jacksonville did not turn over the football in the 10-3 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills.
For Ben Roethlisberger, his playoff numbers are hardly overwhelming. But he’s also in the tournament for the 10th time in his 14-year career.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Drew Brees vs. Case Keenum
You could certainly make a case that the Vikings are playing the best football these days when it comes to this remaining group. And it’s also important to note that you can make a case for Keenum being the perfect component for this balance Minnesota team.
However, while Drew Brees and the Saints haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013, he comes off a sensational performance in last week’s win over Carolina and won’t be affected by playoff nerves.