To have and have not
Rating the playoffs QBs, division-round oddities, more
Posted: Wednesday January 9, 2008 12:07PM; Updated: Wednesday January 9, 2008 1:09PM
The NFL's Super Bowl tournament is down to its elite eight, and here are the divisional round storylines that intrigue me ...
This year's elite eight quarterback lineup breaks down nicely into two very distinct groups of four. Four of them have won or played in a Super Bowl: Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Matt Hasselbeck. And four of them have never made the big game: Tony Romo, Eli Manning, David Garrard and Philip Rivers.
Our QB power rankings at the moment:
1. Tom Brady -- The league's newly minted MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
2. Peyton Manning -- Somehow overlooked this season despite winning one more game in the regular season than he did during the Colts' Super Bowl run of last year (13-3 to 12-4).
3. Brett Favre -- A renaissance season for the ages for No. 4.
4. Eli Manning -- Riding two games worth of confidence and momentum into Dallas.
5. Tony Romo -- One touchdown pass, five interceptions, five sacks, three fumbles, one sore thumb and one over-exposed girlfriend (you know what we mean) in his past three games. For a second straight December, he went from Romo to No-Mo (as in, no momentum).
6. Matt Hasselbeck -- He owns four playoff wins in the past three seasons, and that's more than all but Peyton Manning among this group of passers.
7. David Garrard -- Pretty shaky first career playoff start last week at Pittsburgh, but he's coming off a superb and highly underappreciated season.
8. Philip Rivers -- A strong second half against Tennessee not only saved the Chargers, but it made Rivers the first San Diego quarterback since Stan Humphries (remember him?) to win a playoff game.
Curiously, the coaching field breaks down along a very similar line. The first set has combined for a 40-27 playoff record and five Super Bowl titles. It's led by New England's Bill Belichick, with his 13-3 playoff record and three Super Bowl rings.
Then comes Seattle's Mike Holmgren, who's 13-10 in the postseason, with one Super Bowl title, and Indy's Tony Dungy, he of the 9-8 playoff mark and one Super Bowl championship. Also in that group is 11-year head coaching veteran Tom Coughlin of the Giants, who owns a 5-6 career record in the playoffs, with two AFC title game appearances when he was in Jacksonville.
The other four coaches still alive in the postseason represent the flip side. They've combined for just a 3-5 career playoff mark, and two of those wins came in last weekend's first round. That group is led by San Diego's Norv Turner, whose postseason record improved to 2-1 with the Chargers' defeat of Tennessee.
Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio is 1-1 in the playoffs after the Jags' win at Pittsburgh. Dallas' Wade Phillips seeks his first career playoff victory at home against the Giants on Sunday. He's 0-3, having lost once when he coached Denver ('93) and twice in Buffalo ('98 and '99). Green Bay's Mike McCarthy is the only playoff rookie in the field. He'll be making his postseason coaching debut at home against Seattle on Saturday.
The dream scenario of a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl matchup has never stayed alive this long before. For the first time, brothers Peyton and Eli Manning are both playing in the divisional round. Eli's Giants lost in the first round in his previous two playoff seasons of 2005 and '06.
Do you realize that the last time the NFL had a Manning-less postseason was '01? That was the year that then-Colts head coach Jim Mora so graciously gave us his immortal "Playoffs?'' sound bite. Since then, the Manning brothers have combined to make nine out of a possible 10 trips to the postseason, with only the Giants failing to advance in Eli's rookie season of '04. The Mannings are 8-6 in the playoffs in that span.