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This Ranking of the Top Playoff QBs of the Decade is Proof Positive That Stat Nerds are Trolling Us

This little nugget came across my timeline this morning. And after I mopped up the coffee I spit all over my laptop and got my Joaquin Phoenix' Joker-like laughing fits under control I thought there's something blogworthy in this. 

But as I gathered myself and tried to decide how best to attack such an already preposterous list, I realized I'd done this before. Not long ago. In late May, as a matter of fact:

Bear in mind, this is the same analytics site, using the same data, and coming up with two very different conclusions. Unless I'm missing something. Maybe Pro Football Focus has unearthed some hidden data. Or found a Lost Aaron Rodgers Wild Card game we'd all somehow missed. Perhaps after the first list someone came bursting onto the factory floor over at Cris Collinsworth's little geek shop yelling at the foreman like the newspaper reporter in a Turner Classic Movie, "Stop the presses, Chief! I got some new information on Eli Manning that will set this town on its ear!!!" 

Then again, it's possible these two Tweets are talking about two completely different postseason decades. Though I'm not seeing a mention of Bart Starr or Sid Luckman, so I'm going to assume these are both about 2010-19.

No. Somehow over the past seven weeks of summer, the advanced stats crowd has managed to decide that in the playoffs, Rodgers has somehow gotten better, Manning and Nick Foles are still good, though not quite as good, and that Tom Brady and Matt Ryan have been leapfrogged by Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. All from the comfort of their homes, beaches and golf courses. 

Here's the thing. I like PFF. I take their analysis for what it is. And tend to use it when it confirms my biases and ignore it when it disproves them. But this is just untoward. I mean that. It is not toward. It's like a politician saying something to play to a crowd and then say something completely different to pander to another audience in some other city. And I'm not so much angry as I am ... well, disappointed. 

Well I do not have to change my response to yet another ludicrous assertion that Aaron Rodgers has been a better quarterback - post- or regular season - than Tom Brady. Not this decade. Not any decade. Here's what I said in May and here's what I'm saying in July:

With all due respect to Eli Manning, Nick Foles and Matt Ryan, I won't even dignify their spots on this ranking ahead of Brady with a breakdown. Other than to point out that, while their postseason records against Brady in this decade are a combined 2-1, their overall playoff records are 12-8. Brady's is 16-7. And all four of Eli's wins came in the same postseason, which was nine years ago. 

But rather get lost in the weeds getting into all those guys, let's just compare the records of Rodgers and Brady. From the more reliable, cold, dispassionate, fact-based, zero opinion Pro Football Reference: 

Brady Rodgers.jpg

From the years 2010-19:

  • Brady and Rodgers TDs per game are almost identical.
  • Brady has more interceptions, but has thrown for an average of 45.7 more yards.
  • Rodgers' passer rating and completion % are higher, but the differences are negligible.
  • Brady has been asked to carry his team far more, with more attempts, completions and yards.
  • Rodgers has run more but taken far more sacks.
  • They have the same number of losses. Brady has 60% more wins. 
  • Rodgers won a Super Bowl at the start of the decade. Brady went to eight straight championship games and five Super Bowls.
  • In those Super Bowls, Brady led a go ahead touchdown drive in the 4th quarter or overtime in all five. One was sudden death, and defense blew the lead in two of the other four.
  • In one of those losses, he threw for 505 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as his defense allowed scores on eight of their opponent's 10 possessions and two drives of over 7:00 (basically a quarter of the game).
  • Brady won three rings, which is as many as the other four names in this ranking combined.

And it's worth noting that during this period, Rodgers was throwing to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, who combined for seven Pro Bowl appearances. While Brady was fighting for championships by getting 128 yards out of Chris Hogan, 151 out of Danny Amendola and 141 out of Julian Edelman. 

There, Collinsworth. See that, PFF? It's easy when you do your homework to stand by the courage of your conclusions and not have to change your analysis like the weather. 

And just as a bonus, I'll present you with this fun fact I discovered yesterday, if you take every NFL team's winning percentage for any 10 year period - not just specific decades but just 10 consecutive seasons, Tom Brady's Patriots own eight of the top 11 spots. So you were saying about Rodgers, Mahomes, Foles, Manning and Wilson??? Analyze that, nerds.