NFL playoff QB power rankings: The best and worst starters in 2022, from Tom Brady to Mac Jones

The 2021-22 NFL playoffs feature five quarterbacks making their first postseason start. 

Former No. 1 picks Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray are in that group, along with former Alabama stars Mac Jones and Jalen Hurts. Veteran Derek Carr rounds out that group. 

That group will look to challenge the establishment. Seven-time Super Bowl champion and three-time MVP Tom Brady is at the top of the list, along with two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers in the NFC. Patrick Mahomes II has led the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Will those quarterbacks dominate again? 

Sporting News ranked the 14 quarterbacks in this year’s playoffs based on a combination of factors. Who would you take right now? How much does playoff experience factor in? Who do you trust with the game on the line? 

Here are those QBs sorted by age and their postseason track record from youngest to oldest: 

This is what we came up with. It’s Brady and everyone else: 

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NFL playoff QB power rankings 2021-22

1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers 

2021 Stats: 5,316 yards, 45 TDs, 12 INTs 

Who else would it be? Brady is a seven-time Super Bowl champion, and he continues to play at a MVP-caliber level. Brady led Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl championship through the Wild Card round last season, and he faces the same challenge this season. He’s played in 10 Super Bowls, three more than the rest of the field combined. He beat the next two QBs on this list in last year’s postseason. Will that be the case again? 

2021 Stats: 4,115 yards, 37 TDs, 4 INTs

It’s the same setup as last season. Rodgers put the Packers in position to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2010. Green Bay has home-field advantage, and Rodgers might be named the MVP for the second straight season. He’s playing at the customary high level after an offseason full of rumors that he might be on the way out. Rodgers is 5-3 in postseason starts at Lambeau Field. He’s also 1-4 in the NFC championship game.

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2021 Stats: 4,839 yards, 37 TDs, 13 INTs

Kansas City might not be the No. 1 seed, but Mahomes still is the quarterback to beat in the AFC. In his last six AFC playoff games, Mahomes averaged 294.3 yards with 15 TDs and no interceptions. He’ll have to lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl from the Wild Card round for the first time, but he’s also the only AFC quarterback with Super Bowl experience.

2021 Stats: 4,449 yards, 37 TDs, 10 INTs

Prescott’s comeback season has been incredible, and he closed the regular season with 13 TDs and no interceptions in Dallas’ last four games. Now, the next step is leading a playoff run for the Cowboys. Prescott is 2-1 with five TDs and two interceptions in three career playoff starts. All three have been one-score games. Prescott showed Dallas could play with Tampa Bay in Week 1. A potential rematch is coming in the divisional round.

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2021 Stats: 4,611 yards, 34 TDs, 14 INTs

Too high? Burrow led the NFL in yards per attempt (8.9) and completion percentage (70.4). He closed the season on a tear with home victories against the Ravens and Chiefs. He had 971 passing yards, eight TDs and no interceptions in those games. The former No. 1 pick will make his playoff debut, and he can help the Bengals win their first playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991. Burrow will continue to climb up these rankings. Cincinnati can make a run because they have arguably the hottest quarterback right now. It’s a toss-up with our next QB, but right now we got Burrow.

2021 Stats: 4,407 yards, 36 TDs, 15 INTs

Allen led the Bills to the AFC championship game last season, and that experience should pay off in another potential run. He averaged 270.3 passing yards with five TDs and one interception in four playoff starts, and he can endear himself to Buffalo fans by knocking off New England in the AFC Wild Card round. Can Allen take what he learned from last season’s run and get the Bills back in the Super Bowl? We’re about to find out. 

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2021 Stats: 4,886 yards, 41 TDs, 17 INTs

This is why Stafford came to Los Angeles. He has put up another big season in terms of total yardage and TDs, but interceptions at the wrong time remain a problem. Stafford led the Lions to the playoff three times, and he averaged 302.7 yards with four TDs and three interceptions in those games. The pressure to break through is there, and getting through the elite NFC quarterbacks ranked ahead of him will be a tremendous challenge.

2021 Stats: 3,740 yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs

The two-time Super Bowl winner’s farewell tour is having an after-hours party after the Steelers snuck in the playoffs. The 39 year old is making his 23rd postseason start, and his last playoff victory was on Jan. 15, 2017 against the Chiefs. Kansas City beat Pittsburgh 36-10 in Week 16, but if this somehow is a close game in the end Roethlisberger has been down this road before. Roethlisberger has the career credentials, but there are other quarterbacks we’d take right now.

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2021 Stats: 3,734 yards, 21 TD, 14 INTs

Is this too low for the 33-year-old veteran? Tannehill led the Titans to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, after all. He’s 2-2 as a starter in the AFC playoffs, and he’s averaged 133.5 passing yards with six TDs and two interceptions in those games. Tennessee might get Derrick Henry back for this run, and Tannehill is capable of leading a Super Bowl run given the setup with the Titans.

2021 Stats: 4,804 yards, 23 TDs, 14 INTs

You can make a strong argument he should be higher based on the last month. Carr has huge numbers, and the four-game winning streak that included victories in elimination games against the Colts and Chargers was impressive. It’s taken eight seasons for Carr to finally break through to the postseason, and we’re not sure how he will react to that stage. Carr had a 94.4 QB rating on the road this season, and Burrow is making his first playoff start, too. That could lead to an entertaining Wild Card matchup with the Bengals.

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2021 Stats: 3,787 yards, 24 TDs, 10 INTs

The former No. 1 pick will make his playoff debut, and that tantalizing playmaking ability makes the Cardinals a dangerous team. Arizona did lose four of their last five games, and Murray became more active as a scrambler down the stretch. He had 383 passing yards and two interceptions in the last meeting with the Rams.

2021 Stats: 3,810 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs

Garoppolo has dealt with criticism and injuries, but he’s just two years removed from taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He was 4-3 against teams in this year’s playoffs, and that included close losses to Tennessee and Green Bay. The 49ers snuck in the playoffs, and they are a dangerous seven seed because of it. Hey, Garoppolo knows what it takes to get there.

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2021 Stats: 3,144 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs

Hurts is another former Alabama quarterback who will be making his playoff debut. Hurts rushed for 784 yards and 10 TDs this season, and he had eight games with at least 20 yards rushing. Hurts was an experienced winner at two programs in college, but he starts with the ultimate test against the Buccaneers and Brady.

2021 Stats: 3,801 yards, 22 TDs, 13 INTs

Jones led Alabama to the College Football Playoff championship last season, and now he has the Patriots and Bill Belichick back in the playoffs. The rookie will face endless comparisons to Brady as a result, but he will need to play better on the road. Jones had six TDs and six interceptions with an 85.4 rating in eight road starts this season. Buffalo has a top-five defense, too. 

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