As we await the imminent start of the NFL Championship games, four football players are set to be under more scrutiny and focus than any other time in their lives.
As quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez are all used to the limelight that comes with being a leader of an NFL franchise. Each player is considered to be a 'franchise'
quarterback for their organizations and as such sit atop a pedestal above their compatriots.
Of the four quarterbacks two of them have been to this stage before, but only one has taken the next step and appeared in a Superbowl. Ben Roethlisberger's experience sets him apart from the rest of the remaining signal callers.1.Ben Roethlisberger Age:
Roethlisberger's season started out drowned in turmoil as he served a 4 game suspension. After returning to the starting lineup in week 6, Roethlisberger never looked back. He has been more focused than in seasons past and has looked much healthier that has reflected his rushing and throwing statistics. Roethlisberger hasn't thrown an interception since a week 13 trip to Baltimore. The biggest difference between Roethlisberger and seasons past is very subtle as he used the time during his suspension to polish off his mechanics. Roethlisbergers release is now smoother and faster which has resulted in a 17 touchdown to 5 interception season.
Roethlisberger is the head of the class of this crop of quarterbacks due to his clutch performances. He is the most clutch quarterback in the league over the past 3 years when the game is on the line.2.Aaron RodgersAge:
27. Playoff Record:
Rodgers may very well be the top player in this class, and potentially the whole league, after this season should the Packers win the Superbowl. As far as talent goes Rodgers is the best of this group, he has proven his ability in the clutch with a 120 QB rating in his first 3 playoff games. The Packers will only be able to go as far as Rodgers takes them which is a huge compliment to his leadership and quality under center.
His performance against a tough Bears defense will go a long way to determining his status as an elite playoff performer.3.Jay CutlerAge:
27. Playoff Record:
The most inexperienced remaining quarterback has played 1 playoff game since high school. Cutler had a magnificent performance in his first outing against the Seahawks, but the Seahawks folded on that day without much resistance. Cutler is an inconsistent thrower who is as likely to throw 4 interceptions as he is touchdowns. He is unproven at this stage of the season but must perform if his team are to go to the Superbowl.
It is no coincidence that the Bears will rely on their defense and special teams to beat the Packers because Cutler cannot be relied on to perform when it matters.4.Mark SanchezAge:
24. Playoff Record:
Sanchez is the only member of this quartet that does not carry his offense. The Jets are a run first team for a reason as Sanchez cannot sufficiently pick apart opposing defenses. Sanchez main responsibility is to take care of the football and not lose the game for the Jets. He is a liability that the offensive coaches need to compensate for with high percentage throws and repeated run calls.
At 24 years of age Sanchez has a bright future ahead of him but right now he is not anywhere near an elite quarterback.