The Super Bowl has been over for a few weeks now. A debate raged for a good while after around Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl winning quarterback, Joe Flacco. The debate was over this:
Is Joe Flacco an elite NFL quarterback?
I listened to the debate, tossed around a few thoughts, looked up few statistics, debated if I should even get my thoughts together on this issue and then came up with what follows:
To determine if an NFL quarterback is indeed elite, the definition of elite needs to be decided upon. Is an NFL quarterback elite because of the number of NFL championships he has won? Is an NFL quarterback elite because of the amount of yards and touchdowns he throws every year? Is an NFL quarterback elite because of the won-loss records of his team each year? Is an NFL quarterback elite because we all just kind of know who the elite quarterbacks are?
I do not think there is consensus at all among anyone and everyone on how to determine if an NFL quarterback is elite.
I took a look at the the five NFL quarterbacks most widely considered to be elite quarterbacks today:
I then took Joe Flacco and gathered up the same important statistics. Joe Flacco has been in the NFL for five years (2008-2012 seasons). Therefore, I gathered up statistics for all of these quarterbacks and their teams for only the past five years. (Tom Brady missed nearly all of the 2008 season. Peyton Manning missed all of the 2011 season)
I will give my take concerning Flacco like this:
Five playoff appearances in five years (each of his NFL seasons).
This is equalled only by Brady and Peyton Manning who made the playoffs in each of their four full seasons within this stretch.
Super Bowl Appearances
Each of the other five quarterbacks have only one Super Bowl appearance in the last five years as well.
Super Bowl Wins
Rodgers, Brees and Eli Manning each have won one Super Bowl in the past five years. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have not won a Super Bowl in the past five years.
Conference Title Appearances
Each of the other five quarterbacks have only 1 conference championship appearance a piece in the past five years.
Brady has 4 division titles (one for each season he has played in the past five years). Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Brees each have 2 division titles in the past five years. Eli Manning has 1 division title in the past five years.
Average Wins Per Regular Season
Brady has averaged 13 wins a year for the four years he has played over the past five years. Peyton Manning has averaged 12 wins a year for the four years he has played over the past five years. Rodgers, Brees and Eli Manning have averaged 10 wins a year each of the past five seasons.
Average Playoff Wins Per Season
Peyton Manning has averaged 1 playoff win in the four years he has played out of the past five years. Rodgers, Brees and Eli Manning have averaged .8 playoff wins in each of the past five years. Tom Brady averaged .75 playoff wins in the four years he has played out of the past five years.
Average Passing Yards per Season
Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Peyton Manning all averaged more passing yards per season over the past five years. Eli Manning averaged less passing yards per season over the past five years.
Average TD Passes per Season
Each of the other five quarterback averaged more TD passes per season over the past five years.
Average Int per Season
Rodgers and Brady each averaged less Int per season of the past five years.
Peyton Manning, Brees and Eli Manning each averaged more Int per season over the past five years.
Average Fumbles per Season
Each of the other five quarterbacks averaged less fumbles per season over the past five years.
Average QBR (Quarterback Rating)
Each of the other five quarterbacks averaged a higher QBR per season over the past five years.
Average Game Winning Drives per Season
Rodgers and Brady each averaged less game winning drives per season over the past five years. Eli Manning also averaged 3 game winning drives per season over the past five years. Peyton Manning and Brees averaged more game winning drives per season over the past five years.
Team Total Offense Rank Average
Each of the other five quarterbacks led teams that had higher Team Total Offense Rank Averages over the past five years.
Team Total Passing Offense Rank Average
Each of the other five quarterbacks led teams that had higher Team Total Passing Offense Rank Averages over the past five years.
Team Total Rushing Offense Rank Average
Each of the other five quarterbacks led teams that had lower Team Total Rushing Offense Rank Averages over the past five years.
Team Total Defense Rank Average
Each of the other five quarterbacks led teams that had lower Team Total Defense Rank Averages over the past five years.
The telling statistic comparison seems to come down to the final two team categories - Team Total Rushing Offense Rank Average and Team Total Defense Average. Baltimore had a markedly better running game than any of the teams led by any of the other quarterbacks over the past five years. Baltimore also had a vastly superior defense than any of the teams led by any of the other quarterbacks over the past five years.
In fact, these two statistical categories and comparisons coupled with the Baltimore’s season and playoff success over the past five seasons clearly reveal that the Baltimore Ravens have been the best team in the NFL for the past five years.
In light of that discovery, that all then means this:
Joe Flacco has been the quarterback of the team that has been the best team in the NFL for the past five years.
The term, elite quarterback is a rather nebulous term.
It is still a nebulous term in light of these statistics from the previous five years. A quarterback who passes for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns in the regular season does not guarantee his team a league championship. A quarterback who leads his team to a lot of regular season wins does not guarantee his team a league championship. A quarterback who wins a division title does not guarantee his team a league championship. A quarterback who takes his team to multiple conference title games in the space of five years time does not guarantee his team a league championship (of these six quarterbacks, only Flacco has taken his team to more than one conference championship game - and he has done it 3 times).
Drew Brees has passed for nearly an average of 1419 more yards and average of 18 more touchdowns per season over the last five years and has no more league championships than Joe Flacco over that same time period.
Aaron Rodgers has an average QBR Rating of 73.02 over the past five years that is 19.01 points higher than Joe Flacco’s 55.03 QBR Rating but has no more league championships than Flacco over the same period of time.
Peyton Manning has had the 3rd highest Average Ranked Passing Offense in the four seasons he has played during the past five years to Joe Flacco’s Average Passing Offense Rating of 20 over the same time frame and still has the same number of league championships as Flacco.
Tom Brady has the 4th highest ranked Average Total Offensive Team in the four seasons he has played during the past five years to Joe Flacco’s Average Total Offensive team of 12 over the same time frame and still has the same number of league championships as Flacco.
Eli Manning has led his team to an average of 10 wins and 6 losses in the regular season and an average of .8 playoff wins per year over the past five years to Flacco’s average of 11 wins and 5 losses during the regular season and an average of 1.8 playoff wins per year during that same stretch - and we now call Eli Manning and elite NFL quarterback.
As a result of all of this figuring and comparing, I think none of these quarterbacks is elite over the previous five year time period.
The previous five years is all we can investigate because Joe Flacco has only been in the NFL and playing for the previous five seasons. Each one of these quarterbacks is beatable. Each one of these quarterbacks has failed in the playoffs. Only four of these six quarterbacks has won only a single league championship in the five year timeframe.
All that has been revealed it seems is that the Baltimore Ravens have been the best team in the NFL for the past five years. We could say that the Baltimore Ravens are the NFL's elite team, couldn't we...
(I have misplaced my quarterback comparison spreadsheet. Once I dig it up I will post it here)
Statistic source: Pro-Football-Reference.com
The two NFL conference championship games are over.
The Super Bowl 47 representatives have been determined.
Most importantly, how did my crystal ball serve me -
San Francisco beat Atlanta. I got this one correct. The Falcons came from in front to lose.
Baltimore beat New England. I was wrong on this one. The Patriots were shut out in Second Half.
I went 1 for 2....a 50% success rate. That is about the same chance I give both the Forty-Niners and the Ravens to win this week. This Super Bowl is pretty evenly matched. I don't have a team in this fight (see the sad state of the Chicago Bears) so enjoying this game will be easy and stressless.
My pick now: Baltimore Ravens
My reasoning now: Baltimore has been so close for the last few years (see a dropped pass and a missed field goal in the AFC Championship game last year) and they now know what it takes and how to win in these games - and they will close out the deal this year.
San Francisco is a really good team. They were close last year too (see a few mis-timed fumbles in the NFC Championship game last year), but the veterans on the Ravens roster will not let this chance get away from them.
The Harbaugh's are both excellent coaches.
The family is in for a win-win day.
I think the rest of us are in for quite a good game.
My crystal ball shines toward the Ravens.
The NFL playoffs are heating up.
Three of the teams that competed in last year's Conference Championship games last year are back again this year.
Only the New York Giants - last season's Super Bowl winners - did not earn a spot in the title games this weekend; the Giants failed to even make the playoffs this year, but that is another story.
Unabashedly, here are my picks:
San Francisco @ Atlanta
I was betting on Seattle beating Atlanta last week - and that nearly happened.
San Francisco ran and passed all over Green Bay and I didn’t see that coming in that manner, either.
So with full confidence, I think the Falcons will falter to the Forty-Niners in a game that won’t be close. I still don’t trust Atlanta and I don’t trust them in the playoffs. The Seattle defense stumbled all over themselves in clutch time (see the Denver defense) and handed them the game last week.
The contender comes to play this week: San Francisco 31 Atlanta 17
Baltimore @ New England
Baltimore was handed the game last week - thank you Denver.
I have completely forgotten who New England beat last week - not a big test for them, apparently.
With all absent-mindedness, I think the Patriots will stroll right past the Ravens in a game that will be close for at least a quarter and maybe the First Half but after that the relentlessness of Brady and that offense will overwhelm Baltimore. This is not the Raven defense of old - this is the same Tom Brady and his crew always comes to play.
The perennial power asserts themselves: New England: 38 Baltimore: 21
The result -
San Francisco vs. New England in the Super Bowl.
We will find out how my crystal ball works in a day or so...
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