Here’s quick take on the strengths and weaknesses of the Quarterbacks still playing in the NFL playoffs.
#1 – Tom Brady – New England
Brady’s prolific and efficient regular season continued in a big way in the divisional round vs. Denver. The Ravens will need to disrupt Brady immediately at the snap of the ball. Four-man fronts have rarely affected Brady’s accuracy, as they leave Brady too much time to find the best throw.
Strengths – Experience in post-season; 2011 performance; Perfect fit and QB personality for his team’s personnel
Weaknesses – Right now? None
#2 – Eli Manning – New York Giants
Manning has had arguably his best three week stretch as an NFL Quarterback – all in must-win scenarios for the Giants. He has also shown a knack for fourth quarter heroics this season – including a near-comeback in a 27-20 loss to San Francisco back in November.
Strengths – Experience in post-season; Recent familiarity with San Francisco; Success over last three games
Weaknesses – History of stretches in which he has too many turnovers (INTs and/or fumbles)
#3 – Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
Flacco is as much maligned in Year 4 as he has been at any point of his NFL career. Some of the criticism is warranted, as Flacco has seemed to hold the ball too long more often this year – seeming to reverse the progress he made as a passer in ’09 and ’10. Still, Flacco possesses above-average arm strength and has shown an ability, at times, to lead his team when trailing.
Strengths – Experience in post-season; Arm strength
Weaknesses – Hesitance on some throws; TD-INT ratio in 2011
#4 – Alex Smith – San Francisco 49ers
Smith has been a classic game manager for San Francisco during their improbable run to the NFC Championship game. His mistakes have been minimal, and he has not been asked to do too much.
Strengths – An evolving efficiency, in which Smith makes few major mistakes; Athleticism that allows him to make plays when protection breaks down; Great decisions and performance in his first career playoff game last week
Weaknesses – Lack of playoff experience; Effectiveness in deep passing game is below-average by high NFL standards.