Last week, I formulated a power ranking system to try and predict the NFL Divisional round playoffs. The system turned out pretty accurate, I was 4 for 4 on my column picks after flipping and flopping on Steelers/Chiefs all week long. My ranking system took into account three categories: coaching, how hot a team is, and quarterbacks. It’s safe to say, elite quarterbacks came to play, the last four standing in the conference championship games without a doubt in the top 5-10 QB’s in the league no matter how you rate them. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan are proof that the NFL is a quarterback driven league, and you need one in order to win it all. I also predicted that the Patriots and Packers would meet in Super Bowl 51 based upon my power rankings, and it’s safe to say this is the matchup that everyone wants, both the fans and the NFL/TV networks.
All due respect to Big Ben, who is a multiple time Super Bowl winning QB, and 2017 MVP front runner Matt Ryan, we all know where the spotlight and interest is on Sunday. It starts and ends with the #12’s. Battle of the 12’s! Brady and Rodgers are on a collision course to finally try and solve the argument on who is the best QB in the league is today. Remember, Brady has started almost 15 full seasons as a starting QB, compared to only 9 full seasons as a starter for Rodgers. You have people that say Brady is the greatest ever, but there has been a surge the last few seasons to put Rodgers in the G.O.A.T. category. Rodgers has a long way to go still, so the G.O.A.T argument will continue until Rodgers calls it a career. Both sides argue that their #12 is undisputedly the current best QB in the game, and the argument sort of goes around and around depending on how you analyze the situation. Let’s break down the arguments with key categories that will break down the advantage to either #12. The categories I choose are as follows: Hot Factor, Career Record, Mobility, Organizational Support, and Hot GF/wife Factor. As we found out last week, my ranking systems don’t lie.
Hot Factor- Advantage: Rodgers
Other than Matt Ryan, no QB has been on a current hot streak like Rodgers is. During the Packers eight game winning streak, Rodgers has been on fire. We can throw out 2016 full season stats because Brady didn’t play the first four games, which really was his own fault. I won’t hold that against him though, and take a look at the final 8 games the two QB’s played, including both the Pack and Pats 1st round playoff games.
Rodgers stats in those eight games are as follows: a 68.9 completion percentage, averaged 298.1 yards passing per game, and 21 TD’s and 1 INT. That beats Brady’s final eight games where he has a 61.2 completion percentage, averaged 275.1 yards passing per game, and had 18 TD’s and 3 INT. If you are looking at who is playing better right NOW…not in 2008, than Rodgers has the advantage.
Career Record- Advantage: Brady
Even though this category has nothing to do with how they are playing right now, I will include it to be fair to the Brady side. Tom Brady’s career record as a starter (all games, including playoffs) is a staggering 206-61. Rodgers is 99-51. Even if Rodgers plays as long as Brady, the Pats QB is still on pace to have a better overall career record. Brady has four Super Bowls to Rodgers one, so Tom currently has him beat in that category as well (Since Rodgers has been in the league, Brady has only won one Super Bowl, and same amount as Rodgers has in that 12 year span). The Super Bowl thing gets blown out of proportion; I’d rather point to Brady’s career record of consistency to make an argument that he is better than Rodgers. Would you say Terry Bradshaw is better than Dan Marino? Bill Russell better than Michael Jordan? In both examples the less talented athlete has way more rings, yet no one claims that Bradshaw is a top five QB of all time. The sane, logical reason is that football is a team game. Although it seems like Rodgers is a one man show sometimes for the Pack, he needs help and a little bit of luck just like any other QB leading their squad.
Mobility- Advantage: Rodgers
This category is not arguable. Whether you use the eye test to see that Rodgers makes more happen with his legs than Brady does, or by looking at career rushing stats, there is no comparison. Rodgers advantage can’t only be seen by rushing stats, but also in the way he creates more time and extends plays. Let’s take a deep dive into the stats in case you need more convincing.
Brady: 15 years as starter- 940 career rushing yards for 17 TDs.
Rodgers: 9 years as starter- 2, 544 career rushing yards for 25 TDs.
This is never mentioned by talking heads or hot take artists, but the numbers are glaringly in Rodgers favor. If he plays as long as Brady, Rodgers will reach around 4,000 yards rushing with 40 TD’s. If this happens he will end up ahead of Michael Vick who rushed for 3,954 yards, (3rd all time for QB’s) and be right around Steve Young who ended up with 4,239 career rushing yards. Randall Cunningham looks safe at 4,928 yards, but Rodgers will be in the top 3 when it is all said and done.
Organizational Support- Advantage: Brady
The Patriots and Packers have both been ridiculously consistent over the past 20 years or so. Both teams went through coaching and QB changes, Bledsoe to Brady, Favre to Rodgers. One could argue that the Pats have benefited from being in one of the worst divisions in football over that time period, but the Vikings-Bears-Lions haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire during that time either in the NFC North. Personnel-wise, I’d say they teams are even, both draft well, with the Pats taking a few more chances in Free Agency. At the same time, they have dumped some younger players a few years early to the detriment of their overall team in order to save cap space. The reason Brady has the advantage is Bill Belichick. He is light years ahead of the sometimes incompetent Mike McCarthy, and that’s a huge deal for a starting QB. The Pats went 3-1 when Brady was suspended for the 1st four games of this year. Put in the same situation, the Packers would have maybe gone 1-3 if they are lucky. Unquestionably, Brady has better support and a better relationship with Belichick than Rodgers does with McCarthy.
Hot Wife/GF Factor- Push!
The fifth and final category has nothing to do with football, but is one that people talk about when it comes to affecting their play on the field. Gisele Bundchen and Olivia Munn are Hall of Fame quality significant others, so much so that the media and fans blame them if the QB’s go into slumps. Is Olivia Munn bad for Rodgers? Has she distanced him from his family? It’s nonsense and ripe ammo for hot take artists, but really has nothing to do with performance on the field. Granted, if I was coming home to either of these beautiful ladies who both happen to be rich and famous as well, my motivation might not be at 100% when I’m winning at life. Still, this theory is reaching to make something a story that isn’t. I give this a push because although Giselle has more money, Rodgers and Munn aren’t married (smart move for any pro athlete, IMO!) where Brady and Giselle are.
After analyzing all 5 categories, we have a tie! It looks like we will have to decide this argument in Super Bowl 51, if both teams can get there. It will be the ultimate opportunity for Rodgers to silence the haters and take over the QB throne from Brady. It also can be Brady’s chance to grab his much sought after 5th Super Bowl ring, surpassing Bradshaw and Montana for the most ever for a starting QB. If we can get the Packers/Patriots matchup, be prepared for media and hot take Armageddon! Brady vs. Rodgers….12 vs. 12….winner takes the mantle of best QB in the game, and can possibly get a leg up for the greatest of all time at the most famous position in sports.
NFC and AFC Championship Game Predictions
Packers (+4.5) over FALCONS– I know the Packers are banged up in the secondary, and that the Falcons are hot at home, but I can’t resist taking the + points with Rodgers. The Falcons running game with Freeman and Coleman might be the biggest problem the Pack faces, especially with their ability to catch the ball out of the back field. I see this game coming down to the last possession, much like their matchup in Atlanta earlier in the year won by a Ryan TD pass to win the game with 30 seconds or so left. I’ll stick with my rankings from last week and take the Pack.
Final- Packers 35-Falcons 34
Steelers (+6) over PATRIOTS– This game is similar to the Packers/Falcons where you are giving a talented offensive team a lot of points, even if they are on the road. Roethlisberger will have Bell and Brown running wild on the Pats D, and the Steelers D will learn from what the Texans did last week to slow down Brady and Blount. I would be more concerned with containing Blount if I were Tomlin and the Steelers. I see a close one that comes down to Belichick out coaching Tomlin in the 2nd half to steal a late win.
Final- Patriots 24- Steelers 20
Buckle up and get ready for Sunday, it should be a wild ride! I’m sticking with last week’s power ranking formula to predict at Patriots vs. Packers matchup in Super Bowl 51, a rematch of Super Bowl 31 in New Orleans. We also can finally answer the question of who is better, Brady or Rodgers. It might go a long way in how we rank all time QB’s in the next 20 years.
Make sure you follow us on Twitter @LvSportsPress, as well as like us on Facebook and Instagram. We have a new VSP weekly podcast up this week talking NFL, UFC, and MLB Hall of Fame news. There is still more football to be had, before we turn out the lights on the 2016 season. Enjoy the ride in these final weeks leading to Super Bowl 51.