Ranking NFL's Final 4 QBs Heading Into Conference Championships

Photo: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL postseason is in full swing as we now stand just one day’s worth of games away from the upcoming Super Bowl. There has been a lot of promising quarterback play throughout the playoffs and some surprises all around, but only four players suiting up as the starter remain in the race for the Lombardi Trophy. Here’s a look at how they rank.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

The bar is set here for quarterbacks assuming the No. 1 spot at the position—it is a tough one to achieve. The former Air Raid signal-caller out of Texas Tech has had plenty of success over his NFL career while showcasing the golden standard of quarterbacking and he’s been on top of his game lately. 

Mahomes was the better quarterback in his latest performance despite the fight Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills put up as the Chiefs soared to a 42-36 overtime victory. In that game, Mahomes completed 33-of-44 passing attempts for 378 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

His head coach Andy Reid told him toward the end of the game that when “things get grim, be the grim reaper.” It’s safe to say he did just that as he propelled his team to victory in a close one.

Mahomes is best characterized as a gifted quarterback with the ability to run—something he’s showcased through five years in the NFL, completing 66.1% of his passes for 18,991 yards with 151 touchdowns and 37 interceptions to go with 1,189 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

2. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

The case for Comeback Player of the Year was competitive throughout the regular season, but if you want to add postseason accolades to the mix, there’s no better choice for the honor than Burrow. It only took a matter of weeks after he was selected first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft for him to become the most important player the Bengals had on the roster, and that’s taking both sides of the ball into consideration. They don’t call him “Joe Brrr” for no reason—he’s got ice in his veins and has shown composure in even the toughest of situations. That’s saying a lot considering his offensive line allowed him to be sacked a total of nine times in the 19-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round.

Coming off a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery with extensive rehabilitation and recovery time, Burrow has been impressive regardless of circumstance, completing 70.4% of his passes for 4,611 yards with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in the 2021 season. Burrow brings everything to be desired in a franchise quarterback: an unshakeable level of confidence, pocket presence, a high level of accuracy at all levels of the field, and the ability to both evade pressure and use his speed and mobility to make plays of his own. Just the way Mahomes has given quarterbacks a level of play to set a goal to achieve, Burrow is quickly establishing the same.

3. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Stafford leaving Detroit has proven beneficial for both parties with the Rams set to make an NFC Championship appearance and a potential run for the Lombardi Trophy. Stafford was more than efficient in his most recent outing, a 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as he completed 28-of-38 passes for two touchdowns with zero interceptions, also recording a rushing touchdown.

This past season, Stafford completed 67.2% of his passes (tied for a career-high) for 4,886 passing yards with 41 touchdowns (tied for a career-high) and 17 interceptions in what’s been nothing short of a successful year making his first-season debut with the second team of his NFL career.

Stafford has had a number of impressive moments through the air this season—and he continued to impress in that category against Tampa Bay.

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Who would have drawn this one up? Garoppolo leading the 49ers to an appearance in the big title game? It’s very much become a reality after San Francisco got the 13-10 win over the Green Bay Packers in a low-scoring affair that didn’t wow on the stat sheet or for either team, offensively speaking.

Garoppolo left some to be desired, completing 11-of-19 passes for 131 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. So far, throughout the postseason, Garoppolo has completed 27-of-44 passes (61.4%) for 303 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

So, it’s not incredibly surprising that he’s the biggest underdog at the position remaining in the Super Bowl race considering he hasn’t scored a touchdown through the air or on the ground since the 27-24 overtime win over the Rams on Jan. 9. On the big stage, he’s got a chance to deliver and redeem himself.

While Garoppolo has had some strong moments and has played a role in the 49ers advancing as far as they have, he’s shown some areas for concern, like performance under pressure.


Written By:

Crissy Froyd

Feature Writer

Crissy Froyd is a graduating senior at LSU, also serving as the managing editor of the LSU division of USA TODAY SMG. Crissy has specialized primarily in quarterback analysis and features for the better part of her career and covers the Tennessee Titans in addition to the LSU Tigers.

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