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March 4, 2024

Quarterback Shakeup Defines Unpredictable 2024 NFL Playoffs

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Jan 17, 2024

The 2024 NFL playoffs have seen several surprises already, with major quarterback injuries and standout performances shaking up the perceived hierarchy heading into the divisional round. While favorites like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen remain frontrunners to lift the Lombardi Trophy, underdogs like Brock Purdy and Daniel Jones have inserted themselves into the conversation with their play last weekend.

Top Contenders Maintain Edge

The Bills and Chiefs earned first-round byes after locking up the AFC’s top two seeds, and their elite quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes are still viewed by many as the favorites to meet in another AFC Championship tilt.

Mahomes put together another MVP-caliber season for the Chiefs, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns (41) and passer rating (106.2). His dynamic playmaking gives Kansas City a chance in any game. Meanwhile, Allen addressed one of his few weaknesses from last year by cutting his interceptions nearly in half. He remains one of the most dangerous dual-threat QBs in the league.

2024 NFL Playoff Quarterback Rankings

Quarterback Team Key Stats
Brock Purdy 49ers 13-0 record as starter, 107.3 passer rating
Josh Allen Bills 35 TD passes, 10 interceptions
Patrick Mahomes Chiefs 41 TD passes, 5 INTs, 106.2 rating
Geno Smith Seahawks 30 TDs, 11 INTs, 100.9 rating

However, the paths for KC and Buffalo got more difficult after the wild card shakeup. Instead of facing Derek Carr or Mac Jones, they now must contend with red-hot Brock Purdy and Daniel Jones, who are playing with supreme confidence at the moment.

Injuries Create Opportunities

The complexion of these NFL playoffs changed dramatically when dynamic Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson went down with a knee injury in Week 13. Without the 2019 MVP’s explosive running ability, the Ravens offense ground to a halt and they stumbled into the postseason having lost six straight.

Backup Tyler Huntley showed well in relief of Jackson initially, but then he too got injured right before the wild card matchup with the Bengals. That forced third-stringer Anthony Brown into action for his first career start, and unsurprisingly he struggled mightily against the stout Cincinnati defense.

The Ravens failed to score a touchdown with Brown, only managing field goals on their first two drives before he threw a pick-six that essentially put the game away. It was an admirable effort considering the circumstances, but Baltimore’s Super Bowl hopes evaporated when Jackson went down.

Rookie Purdy Outduels Brady

An injury also paved the way for the emergence of Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy. After losing starter Trey Lance in Week 2, the 49ers were still rolling behind veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. But then Garoppolo broke his foot in Week 13, forcing the last pick in the 2022 draft into action.

Not only did Purdy keep San Francisco afloat, he has thrived beyond anyone’s expectations. He won all five regular season starts and continued his astonishing run in the wild card rout over the favored Buccaneers. Purdy outplayed Tom Brady, throwing for 332 yards and three total touchdowns without a turnover.

He became the first rookie quarterback to beat Brady in the postseason, and his play has to put him near the top of any playoff QB rankings at the moment. The 49ers are scoring over 37 points per game in his starts, and he has shown exceptional poise and accuracy for a seventh-round selection asked to take over a contender.

Purdy will face his biggest test yet against the Cowboys defense. But if he passes that exam, San Francisco will be viewed as a top Super Bowl threat in this NFC – even over Philadelphia with Hurts’ shoulder issues.

Daniel Jones Steps Up for Giants

While Purdy’s rise is more shocking given his draft position, the improvement Daniel Jones showed this season has made him a quality starter after years of uncertainty. Tasked with carrying New York’s offense following Saquon Barkley’s injury, Jones has been up to the task with seven touchdowns over the last three must-win games.

Jones was sharp against the Vikings, throwing for 301 yards and two scores without a turnover. He also added 78 rushing yards as the Giants pulled off the upset. The former first-round pick has the Giants back in the divisional round for the first time since their last Super Bowl run.

He will need to maintain that high level this coming weekend to keep pace with the Eagles. But suddenly the Giants offense looks more dynamic than anticipated, thanks in large part to Jones’ career-best campaign.

Outlook for Divisional Round and Beyond

This coming weekend’s matchups feature plenty of intriguing QB battles. Purdy vs. Prescott and Jones vs. Hurts will go a long way in determining who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl. In the AFC, Mahomes and Allen still appear on a collision course, but Smith and Burrow have enough talent to challenge the status quo.

Injuries have created opportunities that seemed unlikely just a month ago. While Mahomes and Allen remain the safest picks to advance, discounting Purdy, Jones and Smith would be foolish given their recent trajectories. The final four is truly up for grabs across both conferences.

No matter who emerges from the divisional round, surprises and uncertainty seem destined to shape the remainder of this NFL postseason. For once, there may be no clear Super Bowl favorite as we approach the final stages. And that parity could culminate in a classic championship game come February.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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