When the playoffs arrive, many consider experience, especially for quarterbacks, as a crucial ingredient, essential for success (although history teaches us otherwise). There are five quarterbacks on teams that will or might make the postseason with more than 10 playoff appearances, and seven with a Super Bowl appearance: Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Tom Brady.
Andy Dalton, Bengals – 4
Experience doesn’t mean success: Dalton has taken the Bengals to the playoffs four times in four years, but has been on the losing side in all four games, completing just 55.7% of his throws in these games, while throwing one touchdown and six interceptions. Funny thing is, he’s having the best season of his career, but his injury might mean he won’t be in the postseason, while A.J. McCarron gets a chance to show his stuff.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – 5
Ryan and the Falcons need a miracle to make it into the postseason, but like Lloyd Christmas who thought he had a chance with a hot redhead in Aspen back in the 90’s, we’ll keep the Falcons in this discussion. Ryan and the Falcons were in the postseason four times from 2008 to 2012. Only in the 2012 season he managed to taste victory, before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game. He has a 9-7 TD-INT ratio in the playoffs, with a passer rating of 85.2.
Andrew Luck, Colts – 6
Luck might not be in the playoffs – because of injuries, and because the Colts are probably not going to make it. Since being drafted, he’s taken the Colts to the postseason each time, and got them one step further each year, so far blocked by the Patriots twice, last time in the AFC championship game. In six games he has nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions, with a 70.8 passer rating.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – 8
Wilson, like Luck, has been in the playoffs in each season since entering the league. But there’s a big difference. Wilson has been to the Super Bowl twice and has won a playoff game in each postseason trip; at least one. He’ll also be in it this year. A Super Bowl champion, he also has one of the most famous mistakes (goal line interception) in SB history. He has a 97.8 passer rating in the postseason with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, also rushing for a couple.
Matt Hasselbeck, Colts – 11
At 40, Hasselbeck shouldn’t be in this discussion. But Andrew Luck has been playing injured all season when he’s not missing games, and Hasselbeck, until the last few games, looked like he was going to take the Colts to a fourth consecutive postseason. All of his playoff games have been with the Seahawks (2003-2010 seasons period), including going to the Super Bowl after the 2005 season, losing to the Steelers. He his 5-6 as a starter in the postseason, throwing 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with a 84.2 passer rating.
Eli Manning, Giants – 11
Manning, like a few others on this list, is here because of mathematics deciding the Giants still having a shot, although they’re almost into their winter vacation at this point. Manning has eight games out of the 11 in the two Super Bowl runs that ended with upsetting the New England Patriots. The other three came in one-and-done postseason appearances. Overall he’s 8-3 as a postseason starter with 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, posting a 89.3 passer rating.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – 12
Rodgers has 11 starts in the postseason, with his first appearance in a 42-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks back in January 2008 being as a backup, without even throwing the ball once. In his 11 starts, he’s 6-5, including the Super Bowl run after the 2010 season that ended with beating the Steelers. He has 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in the playoffs, posting a 101.0 passer rating.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – 15
Roethlisberger has been making the postseason with the Steelers since his rookie season, and this includes three Super Bowl trips, including one with road wins in three games before lifting the grand prize. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, losing on the third trip, and hasn’t tasted a postseason win since January 2011, losing his last three games. He has 21 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions in the playoffs but also three touchdown runs, while posting a 83.3 passer rating.
Peyton Manning, Broncos – 24
It’s incredible to think of such an accomplished quarterback as something of a loser, but Manning, despite his one Super Bowl victory, will probably go down as something of an underachiever when it comes to his postseason performances. He’s 11-13 as a starter in the playoffs, including nine one-and-dones, often with home field advantage. He’s been to the Super Bowl three times, only once coming out with a smile on his face. He has 38 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions in his postseason career, posting a 88.5 passer rating. He also ran for three touchdowns. It’s not quite clear, even if he’s healthy, if he’ll play in this postseason.
Tom Brady, Patriots – 29
Is Brady the greatest quarterback in history? Greatest postseason quarterback? That’s an argument for Brady, Manning and Joe Montana fans to have. We’re here about numbers. Brady owns most of the playoff records simply by being there almost every year, making six Super Bowl trips and winning four of them. He is 21-8 in the playoffs, throwing 53 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions, also rushing for five touchdowns. His passer rating isn’t all that, 89.0.