Value of the veteran QB shows in playoffs

The Vikings enter this year's NFL playoffs with the most veteran of quarterbacks, and almost every team in the 2009 postseason has a veteran at the helm. In fact, four of the six top-rated passers had a bye. Last year, the teams with the pedestrian QBs were eliminated early.

The 2009 season has bled over into the 2010 playoffs and, for fans of teams like the Vikings, the addition of quarterback Brett Favre is being cited as one of the contributing reasons why the Vikings have a chance to make a Super Bowl run.

But the Vikings are far from alone. This year's quarterback class in the playoffs is about as strong as it has ever been, as most of the game's top quarterbacks are represented in the postseason. That wasn't necessarily the case last year. Two rookies – Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan – were in the postseason dance, along with pedestrian NFL starters like Tarvaris Jackson, Kerry Collins, Jake Delhomme and Chad Pennington. Of the 12 playoff teams, it could be argued that six had average or inexperienced quarterbacks. In the end, five of those six lost the first playoff game they played, as teams with experienced quarterbacks like the Steelers, Cardinals and Eagles went deep into the playoffs.

This year, the playoff landscape is markedly different, as most of the best QBs in the league are preparing for a run to Miami. There is only one rookie in the group – Mark Sanchez – and the only other quarterback with no playoff experience is Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, who is viewed by some as the most mechanically sound quarterback in the game.

Of the 12 starting quarterbacks in the playoffs this year, four of them have Super Bowl rings on their résumés – Favre, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. There are also some of the league's most respected and highly rated quarterbacks as well – Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer. Even Joe Flacco has earned his stripes, last year becoming the first rookie to lead his team to a conference championship game.

This year's playoff field is about as wide open as it can get. Of the four teams that earned first-round byes, it isn't surprising that they were the four quarterbacks with the highest passer rating in the league – Brees, Favre, Manning and Rivers – and, of the 13 quarterbacks that had a passer rating of 90 or above, 11 of them led their teams to the playoffs and the other two – Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Matt Schaub of the Texans – were both alive for a playoff spot when their teams finished their respective seasons.

A case can be made for just about every team in the postseason tournament to make a Super Bowl run and, in just about every instance one of the primary reasons is the play of their respective quarterbacks. The Vikings have seen what having a Hall of Fame type QB has done for their offense and their Super Bowl aspirations, and most of the other teams in the postseason can argue the same.

In the end, only one team will hoist the Lombardi Trophy overhead and only one quarterback will say he's going to Disney World, but the one thing almost all of them have in common is a quarterback with talent, ability and swagger leading the way. This year's playoffs promise to be exciting from start to finish, but perhaps never in the recent history of the game have so many of the game's top quarterbacks been in position to make a Super Bowl run. For most of them, their seasons will end on a losing note, but the dozen QBs in this year's postseason are going to make things very interesting along the way.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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