This is always a fun discussion even if this one might be two weeks premature. Simply, as you read this article right now, who is the best playoff quarterback? Not all-time. Just now. It might just be Joe Flacco.
The first reaction you may have is the fact that Flacco has not won a Super Bowl. Obviously, that's true. That fact may not be dependent on how the soon-to-not-be an impending free agent has played. Take a look at the table below about how the quarterbacks below have performed during their last seven playoff games:
NAME WINS COMP ATT C% YDS Y/A TD INT Joe F. 5 128 220 58.2 1,725 7.8 15 2 Peyton 2 191 287 66.6 2,183 7.6 14 6 Eli M. 6 161 266 60.5 1,894 7.1 11 5 *Mark S 4 95 157 60.5 1,155 7.4 9 3 Tom B. 3 181 292 62 1,995 6.8 16 10 Rodgers 5 165 250 66 1,889 7.6 14 4 Ben R. 5 130 210 61.9 1,603 7.6 8 6 Drew B. 4 211 318 66.4 2,408 7.6 19 3 *Six career games
The table seems to imply what the public perceived after Eli Manning's second improbable Super Bowl run. Manning may be the best playoff quarterback right now, but Flacco is certainly in the discussion. Eli Manning is 5-1 on the road while Flacco is 6-4 as the visitor in 12 playoff games. The Ravens, though, are more consistent than Manning's Giants. Flacco had made the playoffs each of his first five seasons in the league and then has won at least one game every year. The Giants have missed the post-season three times during the last five seasons.
It must be mentioned that Manning had the luxury of having a defense that matched-up well against their opponents in those games and had two supreme performances in the Super Bowl along with one amazing catch and one amazing drop/bad throw last year. Of course, Manning himself made some crucial throws in those two Super Bowl wins that had great catches on the back end of them.
What has Joe Flacco done? Well, he did make a great throw to Lee Evans last year against the Patriots only to see a no-name defensive back knock it out of the hands of the Ravens receiver. A short time later, Billy Cundiff's miss happened. His other recent loss also was to another eventual Super Bowl loser in 2010. They lost by seven on the road to their rival. The Ravens only managed 18 carries for 35 yards in that game, but the Steelers were the better team and Flacco had a bad third quarter. The defense allowed 24 points in the second half. The biggest lead that the Giants have given up in the playoffs was an 8-7 lead against the Eagles in 2008.
The paragraph above is not to say that Flacco has not had support or some luck. During his playoff wins, the Ravens rushing attack has had 31 or more carries in all five wins and more than 115 yards in four of them. He also had help from the single worst defensive play in the Divisional Playoffs during my lifetime. Though, I'm guessing it took some skill to throw a frozen rock 65 yards in the air at the time.
Eli Manning has had three game-winning 4th quarter or overtime drives in those last seven playoff games. Flacco has had one. He simply has not had to do it much. Flacco and the Ravens crushed the Chiefs 30-7 in one game. T.J. Yates helped them put up 17 first quarter points against Houston. They led most of the game against the Colts. He led three consecutive touchdown drives yesterday to put the Patriots on the ropes. Is it better to be "clutch" or is it better to just be good and make the opposing team predictable?
No one is going to argue that Joe Flacco is the best quarterback in the league. Obviously, the other big names on the list above all have hardware. What if Flacco wins two Sundays from now? Maybe then elite won't be spelled without F-L-A-C-C-O. With that, I think the former Delaware Blue Hen would have to be holding the title belt of best playoff quarterback. At least for one year.