The Final 8 QBs: Who Has An Edge?

01/18/2024 The Final 8 QBs: Who Has An Edge?

By: Jeff Yoder

Analyzing the Remaining 8 Quarterbacks in the NFL Playoffs Based on Expectations — Which Ones Have the Juice?

The NFL Playoffs are down to eight teams, and that means just seven games remain until we crown the champion of Super Bowl LVIII. Which quarterback will hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 11? There’s no way for us to know for sure, but analyzing the expectation levels for the last eight gunslingers could help. C.J. Stroud has set the world on fire, but can he go all the way? Does Patrick Mahomes really have the moxie to do it… again?! Is Jared Goff about to take Detroit to the promised land? Or maybe it’s the year Lamar Jackson lets every team know they messed up by not making him an offer last season.


Let’s separate the quarterbacks into classes of expectations entering the divisional round.


Tier 1: Low Expectations

1st-Year QBs Playing With House Money

C.J. Stroud (Texans) and Jordan Love (Packers) represent the two lowest remaining seeds in each division, and they’ll need to slay giants on the road against the Ravens or 49ers, respectively. It’s unlikely, but these two young QBs are playing with house money. Love isn’t a rookie like Stroud, but neither franchise was expected to be part of the final eight with first-year starters. The fact that they’re here is a testament to these two young leaders. Both QBs had eerily similar numbers in the Wild Card Rounds (16/21, 272-274 yards, 3 TDs, no interceptions). This is probably the end of the road for Stroud and Love, but you never know. They’re not expected to win, so playing free could benefit them.


Tier 2: Some Expectations

Experienced Gamers Who Want It Bad

Baker Mayfield (Bucs) and Jared Goff (Lions) have a chip on their shoulders, and they face each other on Sunday afternoon. The Bucs haven’t been starved of postseason success thanks to Tom Brady, but Mayfield has an underdog mentality with something to prove. Goff is no different, and riding the high of the Lions’ first postseason win in 30-plus years should help. Neither QB is an MVP candidate, but they both need a deep playoff run for the sake of their career outlooks. They’ve both been traded at some point in their careers despite being former No. 1 overall picks. Make no mistake about the talent level of the other QBs, but one of these two might want it more after the career journey they’ve been through.


Tier 3: High Expectations

MVP-Caliber QBs Who Expect a Super Bowl

Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Brock Purdy (49ers) are probably the two-best traditional quarterbacks in the NFL, and their franchises entered the year with a Super Bowl mindset. Mahomes already owns two rings, and even though Purdy doesn’t have one, his weapons on offense have the 49ers’ roster positioned for greatness. Even if Purdy doesn’t get it this year, the 49ers will be back. These two have high expectations, but their coaches and supporting casts likely aren’t feeling overwhelming pressure. They’re great teams with great QBs, and expectations are high, but not desperate.


Tier 4: Sky-High Expectations

The Guys Who Need a Lombardi ASAP

Josh Allen (Bills) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens) sit atop our list of expectational tiers. Neither quarterback has won a Super Bowl despite being elite over the past five years. Jackson has an MVP, and he’s the favorite to win the award again this season after collecting that $260 million contract. Allen has been buried in the media for turnovers when things go bad in Buffalo, but he has the Bills riding a six-game win streak and thinking this is the year. Both QBs don’t just have high expectations, but sky-high desires from their fan bases. Jackson and Allen (both in the AFC) need to rid the division of another Chiefs parade. If not, they’ll risk being known as elite talent that can’t win in big games.


We’ll find out which quarterbacks rise to the top of the Divisional Round this weekend.


NFL Divisional Round (Schedule)

AFC: Texans at Ravens (Sat. 4:30 pm ET, ESPN)

NFC: Packers at 49ers (Sat. 8:15 pm ET, FOX)

NFC: Bucs at Lions (Sun. 3:00 pm ET, NBC)

AFC: Chiefs at Bills (Sun. 6:30 pm ET, CBS)


Read More

ESPN: Mahomes Gears Up For Allen Again, Compares Rivalry to Brady-Manning

Yahoo! Sports: Ranking the 8 NFL Quarterbacks Left in the 2024 Divisional Round


Photo: Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images