NFL Quarterback Rankings: Ranking the 4 Remaining Quarterbacks Heading Into the Championship Games

NFL analyst Jason Yamaguchi ranks the top four quarterbacks remaining in the NFL playoffs. Has Joe Burrow leaped Patrick Mahomes?
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NFL Quarterback Rankings: Ranking the 4 Remaining Quarterbacks Heading Into the Championship Games

Championship Sunday is almost here, with two fantastic matchups in store for us. The four best teams in the NFL have all survived to the final four, a rare occurrence in a league whose playoff structure usually invites major upset outcomes due to the one-and-done format. All four remaining squads have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl — in fact, most look-ahead lines have the spreads of all four possible Super Bowl matchups set under a field goal. In other words, not only are we likely to see two great conference championship games this weekend, but the Super Bowl will probably be one of the most competitive in recent memory.

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First, though, we need to determine the winners of both conferences. The first game on Sunday features two teams that, down the stretch, rose far above the mediocre pack in the NFC — the 49ers and the Eagles. The Eagles, who are favored by 2.5 points, will be hosting the game; the hostile environment and stout defense will be Brock Purdy's toughest test as a starter to date. On the other side of the bracket, the Chiefs will be hosting their fifth-straight AFC title game, a stunning feat that speaks to the pure dominance of Patrick Mahomes since he first entered the league. The Bengals, fresh off of a massive upset win in Buffalo last weekend, will look to knock off the Chiefs for the second-straight year and advance to the Super Bowl once again.

As always in the NFL, quarterback considerations remain front and center as the playoffs progress. Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain on Saturday in the win against Jacksonville. This injury nagged him throughout the second half of the victory and is sure to impact his mobility against Cincinnati. Joe Burrow's stock has never been higher after yet another stellar performance in the Divisional Round; people are starting to compare his ability to Mahomes'. Purdy's accomplishments have generated their fair share of buzz — the seventh-round rookie is 8-0 as a starter after taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in the middle of the season. And, of course, Jalen Hurts has enjoyed his best season as an NFL QB yet.

So, how do these four quarterbacks measure up to one another? When ranking players in any sport — especially football — it's important not to overreact to any game and fall prey to the recency bias that plagues most NFL discourse. Still, the nature of a 17-game regular season and 4-game (max) playoff dictates that the only way to evaluate players is within the limited sample sizes of performances with which they provide us. As such, here is my best, albeit imperfect, attempt at ranking the four quarterbacks still competing for the greatest prize in the sport of football.

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NFL Playoff Quarterback Rankings

1. Patrick Mahomes

Super Bowl MVP Odds (+350) (Bet $100 to Collect $450) Click here for the best odds, available at DraftKings

As mentioned above, some media personalities have tried to create a debate about whether Joe Burrow deserves to be viewed as the best quarterback in football. Burrow is a great player, but any debate of that nature would be forced and outright incorrect. Patrick Mahomes has been the best quarterback in the NFL for the better part of five seasons now. He has not had a top-10 scoring defense in his back pocket for any of those five seasons (for reference, Tom Brady has had a top-10 scoring defense in 16 of his 21 seasons as a full-time starter). Yet, Mahomes has led the Chiefs to five straight AFC Championship appearances. Even heading into this season, Mahomes had his fair share of doubters, with many writing off the Chiefs due to the loss of Tyreek Hill. Despite that, Mahomes went out and turned in his best season since 2018, almost certainly securing his second league MVP while putting the Chiefs in a prime position to compete for the Lombardi once again. There is no debate for this top spot — Patrick Mahomes is in a tier of his own.

2. Joe Burrow

Super Bowl MVP Odds (+350) (Bet $100 to Collect $450) Click here for the best odds, available at DraftKings

Last season, I thought that Joe Burrow was receiving too much credit for the Bengals' run to the Super Bowl. His play was mediocre for much of the playoffs; Burrow required three Ryan Tannehill turnovers to get past the Titans and failed to lead a scoring drive in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. However, Burrow's performance over the course of this 2022 season has left me no choice but to appreciate him for what he is: one of the few elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Last week's win over the Bills was probably his most impressive performance to date. With three offensive line starters out due to injury, Burrow and the Bengals' offense nevertheless went into the Buffalo snow and scored 27 points, good enough for a comfortable win. Burrow was surgical, completing 23-of-36 passes for 242 yards and two scores. He will need to be just as good, if not better, for the Bengals to beat the Chiefs on Sunday; there is no reason to think he won't be.

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3. Jalen Hurts

Super Bowl MVP Odds (+350) (Bet $100 to Collect $450) Click here for the best odds, available at DraftKings

Jalen Hurts has always been a tough quarterback to rank for one main reason: the Eagles have put so much talent around him that it is nearly impossible to isolate his impact on the offense. Philadelphia's offensive line is the best in the league, probably by a significant margin. They boast three elite aerial weapons A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. Their run game, even outside of Hurts, is excellent. And yet, it isn't entirely fair to hold all of that against Hurts. He has executed the offense at a near-perfect level for most of the season, something that most quarterbacks would probably struggle to do. While Hurts does not belong in the MVP conversation, his superb production as a runner and improved efficiency as a passer do leave him somewhere on the fringe of the upper echelon of NFL QBs. He easily settles into the third spot on this list for me.

4. Brock Purdy

Super Bowl MVP Odds (+750) (Bet $100 to Collect $850) Click here for the best odds, available at DraftKings

Brock Purdy is similar to Hurts in that any evaluation of his value must be separated from his raw production. Anyone who has watched the 49ers this season knows exactly why this is the case — Purdy has perhaps the easiest job of any quarterback in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan's offensive wizardry consistently leaves defenses off balance and seemingly unprepared for each successive play. When an offense has the talent of San Francisco's — namely Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle — a high level of creativity on the play-calling side can generate an unstoppable offense, no matter who is under center. This is basically what we have seen for most of the season, with Purdy being asked to hit open receivers, hand the ball off, and take care of the football — and not much else. He has done all three of those things successfully, but questions remain as to whether his true talent level will cap his upside, especially against a team of the Eagles' caliber. Only time will tell.

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Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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