Early Super Bowl LVI and LVII Props

Superstar QBs Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen
Superstar QBs Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Conference Championship - Walkthrough is not looking past the Cincinnati Bengals—we swear we are not—but how are AFC teams supposed to keep up with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills over the next five years?

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for the 4K, 5G, PS5 generation: bigger, bolder, faster and—in the thrills-per-minute sense, not the historic sense—better. Neither quarterback is going away anytime soon. The Chiefs have won the first two playoff rounds, just as Brady often got the better of Peyton, but the Bills are sure to win their share of coin tosses (hush) in the future. How can the rest of the conference possibly keep up?

The Bengals? Yep, they can do it. They just need to select an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2022 draft. And an offensive lineman in the second round. And…

The Chargers? Justin Herbert belongs in the chat. Just draft a run defender in the first round, a run defender in the second … maybe throw a tight end in there, too.

The Ravens? Maybe, though 2019 recedes a little further into memory every year.

The Patriots? Maybe. But if anyone but Bill Belichick showed up with "Caretaker quarterback, running, and defense!" as a solution to the Chiefs-Bills problem, he'd be laughed out of the conversation in five nanoseconds.

The Browns or Titans? What did we just say about caretaker quarterbacks, running, and defense?

The Colts? Their caretaker quarterback leaves the front gate open for the biker gang, which may be why Jim Irsay is now producing back-of-the-limo spoken-word poetry.

Anyone else? Hello? Maybe? Not this year, not next year, not on a realistic timetable as any of the other AFC teams are currently constructed.

Don't look to the NFC to save you, either. Tom Brady's going to be sleeping on the couch if he plays another year. The Packers are sending kissy-face texts to Aaron Rodgers, who is not responding. The Rams could win a Super Bowl this year and have the bank foreclose on them next year. Sean Payton has visions of a VIP tent at Augusta and sportfishing the Gulf of Mexico dancing in his head. The Cowboys? Let's not dignify that with a response until Payton boats a few marlin.

The conference storylines have played out this way for my entire lifetime, and I am an old dude. The NFC gets mini-empires grinding against each other as they rise and fall. The AFC is defined by quarterback duels, usually one-on-one with occasional interlopers: Mahomes-Allen as Brady-Manning, Burrow as unproblematic Ben Roethlisberger, Herbert filling Philip Rivers' shoes a little too comfortably. Long ago, it was John Elway versus Jim Kelly for the right to lose the Super Bowl while Dan Marino set the passing records. Mahomes vs. Allen looks like the latest iteration of a long tradition.

The Bengals may throw ice water on this Bills-Chiefs future fantasy on Sunday, at least temporarily. But let's check the DraftKings opening lines for next year's Super Bowl winner (as of Wednesday morning):

DraftKings Odds for Super Bowl LVII
Team Line
KC +700
BUF +800
TB +1000
LAR +1100
GB +1200
DAL +1200
SF +1400
CIN +1400
BAL +1800
TEN +2000
NE +2000
LAC +2200

Those Buccaneers odds will plummet the next time Gisele grants an interview to Paris Match. Otherwise, the house is thinking what we're thinking. The Bengals are having a fun run. The Mac Jones story was cute. But the future belongs to the Chiefs and Bills.

Heck, if I were a Bills fan, I would place a 2022 wager at these odds now. And if I were a Cowboys fan, I would invest in a nice safe savings bond.

Prop Watch: Super Bowl LVI MVP Odds

That's right: you can avoid the last-minute rush, place your wager for Super Bowl MVP right now, and get much better odds than you will get next week!

Let's look at the favorites:

Super Bowl LVI MVP Odds
Player Line
Patrick Mahomes +175
Matthew Stafford +350
Cooper Kupp +800
Jimmy Garoppolo +800
Joe Burrow +1000
Deebo Samuel +1600
Tyreek Hill +2000
Travis Kelce +2000
Aaron Donald +2500
Ja'Marr Chase +3500
Elijah Mitchell +4000
George Kittle +4000

Not to look past the Bengals—we swear we are not—but Jimmy Garoppolo has better Super Bowl MVP odds than Joe Burrow. That's the inevitable result of the 49ers having a greater probability of an upset on Sunday than the Bengals.

Imagine actually wagering on Garoppolo to win a Super Bowl MVP award two games out. I would need about +8 billion to be interested. Fortunately, the house provides 49ers believers with Deebo, Kittle, and Mitchell as plausible alternatives: if the 49ers win the Super Bowl, one of them must do something incredibly cool. (Nick Bosa is at +8000.)

Since the 2000 season, quarterbacks have won 13 Super Bowl MVP awards, including Mahomes in 2019. Four defenders have won the award: Von Miller in 2015, Malcolm Smith for the 2013 Seahawks, Dexter Jackson for the 2002 Buccaneers, and Ray Lewis in 2000. Four wide receivers have been honored: Julian Edelman in 2018, Santonio Holmes for the 2008 Steelers, Hines Ward for the 2005 Steelers, and Deion Branch for the 2004 Patriots. The results illustrate that voters will choose a receiver who has a big game over even his famous quarterback in some circumstances, and that a defender can win with a multi-sack or multi-pick performance. (Or, in Lewis' case, if he's the superstar and the whole defense dominated). As such, Deebo, Kupp, Tyreek, Chase, and Donald are all reasonable wager options.

No running back has won Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis in 1997. Mitchell is the only non-committee back in the Final Four, and he's an unlikely choice. No tight end has ever won, nor has any specialist. Super Bowl LIII would have been Rob Gronkowski's chance to win: he caught six passes for 87 yards in a defensive duel, with two huge catches on the lone Patriots touchdown drive, and he blocked like a madman all game. The voters chose Edelman instead. (I would have chosen punter Ryan Allen for pinning the Rams at the 6-, 2-, and 7-yard lines in a 13-3 game, but I'm a weirdo). Kelce or Kittle would have to really stand out to earn MVP notice.

Lovers of gonzo props and wacky storylines can wager on Odell Beckham at +5000 (Twitter would achieve sentience and take over society), Von Miller at +5000 (two-time Super Bowl MVP!), Jessie Bates at +10000 (his Dexter Jackson moment), or Sony Michel at +15000 (the Rams take a 10-0 first-quarter lead and Michel runs 30 times for 120 yards to mulch the clock).

In summary, you can get Mahomes at +175 and Stafford at +350 right now, and the odds won't nearly be as tasty if they actually reach the Super Bowl. Not to look past the Bengals—we swear we are not—but both plays have their merits if you feel strongly about the Chiefs or, possibly, the Rams.

Sony, Darrell, and Darrel

'Tis the season to worry about running backs.

Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson finished 12th in the NFL in DVOA and 14th with 123 DYAR in the regular season, despite playing just 12 games. Henderson has been out since Week 16 with an MCL injury but was designated to return from injured reserve before the Buccaneers game. Sony Michel, a painter's van in a league full of hotrods and Sherman tanks, finished 27th in DVOA, just a tick above average. Cam Akers, a back who looks versatile and dynamic on tape, fumbled twice against the Bucs: once at the goal line and once while trying to run out the clock (which is supposed to be Michel's job, anyway).

The difference between an outstanding running back and a mediocre one is extremely marginal, as every Football Outsiders reader knows. But conference championship games and Super Bowls often come down to extremely marginal advantages. The Rams could not run against the Buccaneers, and it nearly cost them the game. Similarly, Derrick Henry appeared sluggish against the Bengals, failing to convert in two short-yardage situations, and it's one of the reasons we aren't talking about the Titans anymore. In the Final Four, everything matters.

Henderson is the quickest of the three Rams backs. He has the most receiving value, though the Rams don't use their backs in the receiving game much anymore. He's a steady pass protector when called upon. The Rams may need their three-headed backfield against a 49ers run defense which ranked second in the NFL in DVOA. Three extra yards on a screen pass or a fresh-legged Michel in the fourth quarter could be the margin of victory.

Over in Kansas City, Jerick McKinnon has stepped up in a huge, unexpected way in the postseason: 11-135-1 receiving, 22-85 rushing through two games. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has returned and finished second among running backs in DYAR last weekend, fueled in large part by two 20-plus-yard runs.

Edwards-Helaire appears to be more effective when rotated with a back who can handle more of the receiving chores. Darrel Williams disappeared after fumbling an exchange with Mecole Hardman on one of those derpy Chiefs trick plays against the Steelers and has not been seen since. It's reportedly a toe injury—Andy Reid doesn't doghouse his players that vindictively—and Williams could return on Sunday to give the Chiefs their own three-headed backfield. Williams finished second to Cordarrelle Patterson in receiving DYAR for running backs this season: again, this is not a case of replaceable parts, because we are at the granular level where 5 yards of YAC could determine who wins the Super Bowl.

Ironically, the one team that doesn't have a three-headed backfield is the one that rode one to the Super Bowl a few years ago. The 49ers have relied on Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel as a one-two backfield punch since Mitchell's return from injury in Week 17. Even Kyle Juszczyk was not getting carries until he surprised the Packers twice last week. Deebo is delightful, Mitchell has had a fine season, but a moonlighting all-purpose guy and a sixth-round rookie aren't an ideal backfield pairing at playoff crunch time, especially for the one team that can in no way count on its quarterback.

We're not looking past the Bengals—we swear we aren't—but Joe Mixon ranked 32nd in DVOA this year, in part because of Cincinnati's shaky offensive line, and we are pretty sure that his backup is Stanford Jennings.

Leaderboard of the Week: Times Sacked in a Single Postseason

Not to look past the Bengals—you're tired of the gag by now—but Joe Burrow has already been sacked 11 times this postseason. That ties him with Eli Manning in 2011, Deshaun Watson in 2019, and Wade Wilson in 1988 for eighth on the single-postseason sack list.

Here's the list:

Most Sacks in a Single Postseason
Player Team Postseason Sacks
Wade Wilson MIN 1987 14
Len Dawson KC 1966 13
Steve Fuller CHI 1984 13
Donovan McNabb PHI 2013 12
Jim Plunkett OAK 1980 12
Bart Starr GB 1967 12
Roger Staubach DAL 1975 12
Joe Burrow CIN 2021 11
Eli Manning NYG 2011 11
Deshaun Watson HOU 2019 11
Wade Wilson MIN 1988 11

Yes, that list is a Deadpool sandwich. And no, the Marvel character Wade "Deadpool" Wilson is not named after the Vikings quarterback, at least not directly. He's directly named after Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson, an established and popular DC character when Deadpool made his 1991 debut.

I always found it odd that no one at Marvel checked or cared that creator Rob Liefeld gave his new antihero the same name as an NFL quarterback who had been to the playoffs several times in that era. It would be like watching the new Spider-Man movie and seeing some dude fly in with a sword and declaim, "Lo, it is I: the mighty Ryan Tannehill!" Of course, most comic characters didn't occupy a central place in popular culture back then. Ripping the other comics company off, on the other hand, was standard practice, as was not being able to draw feet.

Who were we talking about again? Oh yeah: the Bengals.

If you had to hazard a guess, you might think that the quarterbacks above Burrow on the sack list all got through their first playoff game or two unscathed before slamming into a Steel Curtain or such in an eight-sack blowout. Some did just that. But others took a more Burrow-like path by surviving their big-sack game and moving on, all the way to the Super Bowl in a few cases:

Roger Staubach endured five sacks at the hands of The Purple People Eaters in a first-round victory over the Vikings (Carl Eller had three sacks in the game). The Cowboys then held the 1970s version of the Rams' Fearsome Foursome sackless in the NFC Championship Game before taking a seven-sack beating from L.C. Greenwood (four) and the Steel Curtain Steelers in a Super Bowl X defeat.

(OK, wait, timeout: Burrow has now endured one less sack than a guy who faced the Purple People Eaters, Fearsome Foursome, and Steel Curtain in the mid-1970s, when defenses were allowed to commit international human rights violations. Do you get why I am so confident that the Bengals won't be moving on?)

Bart Starr took just one sack from the OG Fearsome Foursome in the 1967 playoffs, then eight more from the Cowboys (three from Jethro Pugh) in a chilly NFL Championship Game you may have heard tales about. The AFL Champion Raiders got to him three more times.

Jim Plunkett was the first quarterback to go from the wild-card round to the Super Bowl, spreading his sacks across four games. He endured six sacks from the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game. We don't talk about Super Bowl XV around here.

We also don't talk about Donovan McNabb's four-sack, three-interception meltdown against the Panthers in the 2003 NFC Championship Game around here. But we do talk about McNabb's survival of an eight-sack evening against the Packers the previous week. Remember fourth-and-26? The Packers were doing dumb stuff in the playoffs long before Aaron Rodgers showed up.

Steve Fuller was Jim McMahon's very busy stunt double for several years. He took five sacks against Washington in the first round, but Joe Theismann took seven sacks at the hands of Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, and others; that's just what Bears football was like in the 1980s. But poor Fuller got sacked eight times in the next round by a 49ers defense led by Fred Dean and Gary Johnson.

The Bills sacked Len Dawson eight times in the 1966 AFL Championship Game, but the Chiefs blew them out 31-7. The Chiefs went 12-2-1 that year, the Bills 9-5-1, but the Bills hosted the game because the AFL alternated the host site each year by division back then. (But tell me more about how we need to take overtime rules to the Supreme Court.) The sacks are rarely talked about when old-timers reflect back on the game, perhaps because the Bills fumbled the opening kickoff and went downhill from there, perhaps because "sacks" had not even entered the vernacular yet. Anyway, tack on five more Dawson sacks from the Lombardi Packers in the first Super Bowl.

Wade Wilson, who spent years trading Vikings starts with Tommy Kramer, relieved the injured Kramer against the newly formed Dome Patrol Saints and took four sacks in a blowout win. The 49ers produced just two sacks the next week. Then came Dave Butz, Dexter Manley, and Washington, who sacked Wilson eight times on their way to the Super Bowl.

As the leaderboard indicates, Wilson went on to 11 more sacks in the 1988 playoffs. The Vikings, a team still alternating between two journeymen at quarterback, decided they were one player away from the Super Bowl and traded half of the state of Minnesota to the Cowboys for Herschel Walker. The rest is history.

So Burrow is just three sacks short of an all-time record. Four sacks would also place him among the top 50 in career postseason sacks. Nine more sacks—let's say four in an upset on Sunday, then five in the Super Bowl—would give Burrow 20 postseason sacks, tying him for 35th with Ron Jaworski (one of the most sacked humans in history), Craig Morton, Cam Newton, and Fran Tarkenton, a scrambler who played 11 postseason games in the grimdark 1970s, many of them against defenses with nicknames.

For the record, Patrick Mahomes ranks 29th all time with 23 postseason sacks. Matthew Stafford is not on the list because he rarely reached the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo is not on the list because he is rarely allowed to throw in the playoffs. Tom Brady holds the all-time record with 79 postseason sacks. For obvious reasons, this is a pretty good list to climb. Staubach, forever dodging the Vikings, Rams, and Steelers, ranks a distant second.

The good news is that Burrow is at least in semi-elite company. The all-time single-postseason sack list is full of Hall of Famers and near-Hall of Famers, with a few Wilsons and Fullers sprinkled in. Both a team and its quarterback have to do a lot right to keep advancing in the playoffs while getting knocked around so much. If the Bengals cannot advance this week, they should at least be able to make quick upgrades and take the next step like the 2004 Eagles and 1984 Bears did.

Just don't trade for Herschel Walker, guys.


91 comments, Last at 28 Jan 2022, 3:50pm

1 "Matthew Stafford is not on…

"Matthew Stafford is not on the list because he rarely reached the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo is not on the list because he is rarely allowed to throw in the playoffs."

Also because both have exactly 5 playoff starts under their belt (for those who are curious, Stafford has been sacked 9 times, Garoppolo 8).

2 Credit Where Credit Is Due



Enjoyed the article. Just one thing, artist Rob Liefeld is the CO-creator of Deadpool, a credit he shares with writer Fabian Nicieza. For as talented as Liefeld was (a debatable point), he couldn't write his way out of a paper bag.

3 But if anyone but Bill…

But if anyone but Bill Belichick showed up with "Caretaker quarterback, running, and defense!" as a solution to the Chiefs-Bills problem, he'd be laughed out of the conversation in five nanoseconds.

It has historically worked for Harbaugh and Shanahan, too.

21 Not really

Yes but, Flacco was playing pretty good in the playoffs already in 2010 and 2011 (in 2012 he won the S.B.). He had 7 TD's and only 2 INT's in those 2 prior years, with an avg. Rating of 92, and he led his offense to an avg. of 22 pts. even in those 2 losses--he was 2-2 in those 2 years prior.

27 The similar-in-concept…

The similar-in-concept Billick Ravens did it the same way, though.

That's only two rings, but that's as many as Peyton or the Favre-Rodgers hydra had, and one more than the Brees-Rivers combo.

55 The Billick Ravens did it 20…

The Billick Ravens did it 20 years ago, in a whole different era of offensive football.


I mean, go back and look at the quarterbacks they faced in that run. Lord have mercy what a lineup. Steve McNair and Roch Gannon were arguably the only franchise guys in their prime 

57 A)Rich Gannon wasn’t in his…

A)Rich Gannon wasn’t in his prime, but he was playing really well. 

B)Rich Gannon got injured early in the AFC CG because Tony Siragusa sat on him.  The Ravens only had to overcome the illustrious Bobby Hoying.

61 The Billick Ravens did it 20…

The Billick Ravens did it 20 years ago, in a whole different era of offensive football.

There are players active today that were active in the league when that game was played. It's still contemporary.

76 Brady

I think there's only one player who was a player when that Super Bowl was played, and that is rookie Tom Brady

4 The NFC gets mini-empires…

The NFC gets mini-empires grinding against each other as they rise and fall. The AFC is defined by quarterback duels, usually one-on-one with occasional interlopers

It's weird how true that is. For premier QBs, the NFC basically has Rogers, Favre, Montana... Staubach, Starr, Unitas? (Tarkenton is the NFC's Kelly, I suppose)

Whereas for non-QB-based AFC juggernauts, it's... the pre-Marino Dolphins and (maybe) the Plunkett Raiders?


12 Bradshaw was pretty good…

In reply to by RickD

Bradshaw was pretty good from 1975 on. His talent was a big part of three of their titles and the wall they presented to the Raiders. His raw numbers suck, but it was the 70s.

Even Brady wasn't really above-average until the Pats' third title (2004).

16 Go back

RickD--------Go back and watch Bradshaw's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th S.B. games again and pay close attention to the 4th quarters in all 3 games.

Terry led his offense on TD scoring drives in all 3 to either produce a 4th Q. Comeback/Game Winning Drive or to help Seal the Deal-again in all 3.

22 Yup

In reply to by Bob Smith

His decades-long clown act helps obscure the fact that he was a legitimately great QB for several years. His slow career start helps also. That the Steelers are - justly - remembered as a defense-first team helps also. That he played before the offensive (passing) explosion of the 80s helps also. That's a lot of reasons.

Watch the Super Bowl against the Rams. LA would have won that game, except Bradshaw hit Stallworth in the chest on a couple bombs.

5 No tight end has ever won,…

No tight end has ever won, nor has any specialist.

Yes and no. Desmond Howard was technically a receiver, but his MVP was for his KR/PR role.

31 Absolutely counts

More 'no and no', Aaron. Desmond absolutely won it for being a return specialist. Did he even play a snap at receiver? Never mind make a catch?

6 Sacks

When it comes to sacks I would tell Joe Burrow to take 1 more and then hold it right there if you can. That would give him 12 sacks and put him right there with Staubach, Starr, and Plunkett. 

Nice company to be in since they won 9 League Championships between them. Starr has 5, and Staubach and Plunkett have 2 each.

7 NFC is going to be ugly next year

Split could be at 2004 levels of AFC dominance. Rodgers looks likely to leave GB, Brady looks likely to retire, the Cowboys appear likely to take a step back. Outside of the NFC West, no dominant teams.

48 If Rodgers leaves GB, it…

If Rodgers leaves GB, it really leaves only Dallas as a potential elite team, and they have serious cap issues that make that highly unlikely. The three NFC West leaders, Rams, 9ers, and Cards, are all extremely well positioned to maintain a dominant standing in the league… except that they have to play each other twice per year, combined with the +12% DVOA but 7-10 Seahawks. 

So the regular season is tough, and only one can win home field advantage. However, the postseason should be fairly easy. 

8 Keeping up with the Joneses

how are AFC teams supposed to keep up with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills over the next five years?

Since this is the NFL in the salary cap era, the answer can be found at Spotrac.  Josh Allen is still incredibly cheap for his production level.  When he gets his next salary bump, the Bills will face some tough choices.  

As for the Chiefs, they've done a great job mixing the high-cost players (Mahomes, Jones, Clark, Hill, Thuney) with a large number of cheaper players that have filled their roles nicely. Kelce is the same age as Gronk, though he seems to have less mileage on the chassis and doesn't openly pine for the sofa at the same rate.  

The Chiefs should be fine for a while, but keep in mind where the Bills were just two years ago before ruling out the possible ascension of other challengers.  From this perspective, it seems the most obvious path to contending would be to attach one of the big name QBs (Wilson, Rodgers, Watson) to a team that could make a huge leap if they got an upgrade at the QB position (Titans, Steelers and Bronocs are good candidates).  Or other young QBs (Herbert, Jones, etc.) could climb the ladder like Josh Allen has.

The one thing I'm certain of is that the NFL won't stagnate.  It never does.

15 Or other young QBs (Herbert,…

Or other young QBs (Herbert, Jones, etc.) could climb the ladder like Josh Allen has.

Herbert has climbed the ladder. Buffalo was a QB away from being really good. San Diego is historically "everything other than a QB" away from being really good. We talk in hushed terms about the Montana-Young or Favre-Rodgers transition, or a step down to Indy with Manning-Luck. SD just finished Brees-Rivers.

Other than a few brief Leaf-based years, QB has never been their problem. As a franchise, they have enjoyed an embarrassment of riches in that department. Their doldrums are basically Stan Humphries.

\The Chargers are the anti-Bears

19 Exactly

As Lawrence of Arabia says, "Nothing is written". Go back to 1985 and tell someone Marino would never get to another SB, and neither would the Bears with Ditka as HC, and they would've thought you were crazy.

As a Bills fan that's what makes Sunday night most disappointing, because I do agree this is likely to be the easiest path (yes, I'm overlooking the Bengals), certainly in the next few years. 

So I'm always skeptical of predictions related to inevitability. Even as a diehard Bills fan, I would not have imagined the AFC Championship Game as recently as Sept 2020. About 4 or 5 years ago someone put together a so-called 'power index' looking ahead to the next 5 years to see who'd be good or great, or terrible, etc, (wish I could find it!) and almost certainly they would not have had any predictions come true. Stuff changes, predictions are useless. 

But there are tantalizing factors at play, some in favor of Bills/Chiefs until 2032, some not:

-Rodgers and Brady would immediately make an AFC team relevant. So, minus.

-teams with young gun QBs (Chargers and Bengals) have zero history of sustained postseason success, and are led by the same ownership responsible for that. Bills have relaitively new ownership for example and would not have had this run if Ralph Wilson had lived to 120. So, plus.

-Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh could spoil anyone's party. Big minus.

-Belichick. Minus

-Andy Reid age and health. Minus

So if I had to put a number on it, I'd say it's probably only about 60 or 70% that one of Chiefs and Bills represents the AFC in the SB next season. 


In the NFC, it looks like McVay vs Shanahan for a while, if Rodgers and Brady both leave the conference you could have 3 bad divisions there.

23 "In the NFC, it looks like…

In reply to by JacqueShellacque

"In the NFC, it looks like McVay vs Shanahan for a while, if Rodgers and Brady both leave the conference you could have 3 bad divisions there."

As you said yourself, "nothing is written".  It's likely somebody will be drafted in the next few year's who'll be really good.  Fields had a rough rookie year, but so did Allen.  And you're totally forgetting about Prescott.

49 While Sean Payton has…

While Sean Payton has visions of sportfishing, Cowboys fans have visions of him joining the Boys once the team suffers another collapse this year. Apparently he was set to coach the team in 2019, until ownership backed out at the last second due to another high profile departure in Gayle Benson's New Orleans basketball team.

63 Objectively, though, that's…

Objectively, though, that's seriously good advice.  Don't sleep on the lions ... not the football team as a whole (way too uncomfy) or the actual beasts they take their nickname from (way more comfy, I expect, but a suicidally short-sighted idea).

36 In the NFC, it looks like…

In reply to by JacqueShellacque

In the NFC, it looks like McVay vs Shanahan for a while, if Rodgers and Brady both leave the conference you could have 3 bad divisions there.

I don't know how sustainable that Rams model is.  It's, like, six years before they have a 1st-round draft pick again.  That thing could come crashing to the ground at any moment.

Shanahan has a brand new QB coming up.  If Trey Lance ends up being terrible they'll have to start all over again at QB.

Also Matt LaFleur?  But maybe he'll turn into a pumpkin when Rodgers goes. 

35 The one thing I'm certain of…

The one thing I'm certain of is that the NFL won't stagnate.  It never does.

That's not my memory of the 1970s (total AFC domination) or 1982 - 1995 (total NFC domination).

I think it would be more accurate to say that stagnation went away with free agency/salary cap.

10 The saddest part of the 1988…

The saddest part of the 1988 Vikings giving up on passing was they already had a future MVP QB on their roster.

11 The '83 draft class

You mentioned 3 guys from the '83 QB draft class, but the real dual in the playoffs became Marino vs. everybody else. That happened 5 times. Five times Dan had possible S.B. runs stopped by his fellow draft mates.

Three times by Kelly, once by Eason, and once by Elway. Dan ended up 0-5 in those encounters. On top  of that, O'brien bested  Marino a majority of the times they met in the Reg. Season.

The other guys met once or twice in the playoffs but nobody else played as many as 5.

14 McVay's RBs

McVay's tendency since the Gurley days is to give one RB around ~75% of the total workload. There have been small exceptions, as when C.J. Anderson played a key role in the 2018 SB run, and last year, when Akers apprenticed most of the season before taking over down the stretch. Even in 2019, after the Rams drafted Henderson and it was clear Gurley wasn't the same guy, McVay gave Gurley 223 carries to 69 for the next-closest RB, plus a 49:6 advantage in targets. This year, Henderson was the guy for about 10 games, ceding the role to Michel upon injury, who took a backseat to Akers when the latter returned (n.b., I was heavily invested in the Rams' backfield for fantasy purposes). Three different RBs, each independently dominating the touches.  

The wisdom of this should be under question, and not just because of the fumbles. You would expect someone recovering from a heretofore career-ending injury to have an extended ramp-up period. Giving that same player 24 carries 6-7 months after said injury sure seems like folly to me, regardless of how much the coach likes/trusts the player. 

Just a very odd, and I would argue suboptimal, approach all the way around.           

18 No running back has won…

No running back has won Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis in 1997. Mitchell is the only non-committee back in the Final Four, and he's an unlikely choice.

Mixon is the lead guy in Cincy no question, he has 6x the touches of his closest backup. That said, it's not really a halfback committee so much as Mixon vs. empty set Burrow.

20 4+5 != 12

Roger Staubach endured five sacks at the hands of The Purple People Eaters in a first-round victory over the Vikings (Carl Eller had three sacks in the game). The Cowboys then held the 1970s version of the Rams' Fearsome Foursome sackless in the NFC Championship Game before taking a four-sack beating from L.C. Greenwood (four) and the Steel Curtain Steelers in a Super Bowl X defeat.

You meant a seven-sack beating from L.C. Greenwood (four) and the Steel Curtain.


24 Jimmy G MVP

Recent history shows that when a team with a mediocre QB wins the Super Bowl, that the QB is the MVP.

Foles, Flacco, Eli Manning twice.  There have been many mediocre QB's to make the Super Bowl, few actually win it.

So Jimmy G's odds of winning MVP are probably not far from the 49ers odds of winning the SB, especially if KC is the opponent.

Of the last 18 Super Bowls, 5 have been won by a mediocre or worse QB.  The only one to not win the MVP was washed up Peyton Manning.

25 We can argue about Manning,…

In reply to by jheidelberg

We can argue about Manning, but while Foles and Flacco were mediocre over their career, their performance in the SB was absolutely not mediocre.

28 That is my point

That if SF is going to win the SB, Jimmy G will have to step it up and have an very good or excellent game, especially if the opponent is KC.  If Jimmy G has a great game, he is still a mediocre QB.

Mediocre QB's by definition have higher variance than great QB's.  Mediocre QB's have some good or great games, some bad or awful games, and some mediocre games.  Great QB's are highly skewed toward good and great games.  Bad QB's are skewed toward bad and awful games.

The exception of course is Teddy Bridgewater, you can count on his mediocrity game in and game out.  Regardless of the team you put around him, I do not think that he ever gets to or wins a SB.

29 which

In reply to by jheidelberg

Do your definitions apply to the Reg. Season, the playoffs, or both ??

37 Mediocre QBs have won SBs…

In reply to by jheidelberg

Mediocre QBs have won SBs with mediocre games, especially when they were paired with great Ds and/or great run games.

Late Manning, early Brady, Dilfer, and Johnson all won rings that way. You can Dilfer your way to a title. The 49ers nearly did it two years ago. The Rams almost did it three years ago.

53 I wish I had the Flacco…

I wish I had the Flacco Super Bowl to rewatch, because now I'm curious how dominant that offensive line was that year. They had a bucket-ton of talent, that's for sure, and at least one guy (Birk) who should get in the Hall (but won't). 

Foles won the MVP because voters aren't smart enough to demand giving it to the entire offensive line. It's easy to pick apart a defense when you've regularly got 3+ seconds.

77 Great roster

That 2012 Ravens team quietly really had a great roster. The OL was great, but had two nice HBs, a very strong WR trio with Boldin, Smith and Jones, then Pitta as a TE and of course that defense.

78 what

In reply to by dmstorm22

Do you realize that the 2012 Ravens were the 2nd worst team statistically speaking to ever win a S.B. ?  Only Eli's '11 team was worse. Looking at the 4 major Rankings that the NFL uses, Pts. Scored, Pts. Given Up, Yards Gained, and Yds. Given Up, that Giants team  Rankings added up to 69, while the Ravens added up to 55.

The best team ever to win a S.B. was the '72 Dolphins-they were No.1 in all 4 major Rankings. The average S.B. winner adds up to around 27 or 28.

Again, this is statistically speaking using OFFICIAL NFL Rankings.

79 They had injuries throughout the year

In reply to by Bob Smith

And were coming off two straight 12-4 seasons and started the year 9-2 before a slow ending.

Just on talent alone that was a really great roster.

80 2012 Ravens O Line

The Ravens fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in week 14 and replaced him with Jim Caldwell.  Caldwell made 3 changes to the offensive line, he put Bryant McKinnie at LT, moved Michael Oher from LT to RT and moved Kelechi Osemele from RT to LG, benching starting LG Jah Reid.

This was clearly a dramatic change.  The Ravens beat the Giants to end a 3 game losing streak in their 15th game of the regular season to clinch a playoff birth, gaining over 500 yards in the process, then pulled most of their starters after 1 drive in the final game of the season (Tyrod Taylor came in to QB) as they did not care whether they got the number 3 seed or the number 4 seed.

Then the magical playoff run.  Stats regarding the Ravens offensive line and other stats including DVOA can not capture the fact that the playoff offense was nothing like the offense for most of the regular season.  It was basically finding 3 better starting players for the offensive line at once.  This brilliant move changed the trajectory of the season.

It was like the Wizard of Oz, You've always had the power, my Dear.  You just had to learn it for yourself.  The solution was already on the team, Jim Caldwell moved all of the pieces into their proper place.

How do you change your team that is on a 3 game losing streak and with your season falling apart, find a way to turn it back around?

The Ravens found the answer.  Jim Caldwell was a hero.


81 wow

That is very interesting. They were a team in the Reg. Season that only scored 3 more points than they gave up on average. That doesn't sound too good, but that 2011 Giants team that Eli was leading actually gave up more points than they scored in the Reg. Season, so the Ravens weren't quite that bad.

And sure enough, the final score in the Ravens S.B. win was-------34-31. Just what you would expect from the 2012 Ravens-a 3 point win.

There is actually a team that fits right between these Giants and Ravens teams. Kurt Warner's 2008 Cardinals were in the S.B. even though they scored only 1 more point than they gave up on average in the Reg. Season and they gave up more than 400 points while the Giants gave up 400 even.

That's a lot of points given up for a S.B. team.

82 A lot of crazy things,…

In reply to by Bob Smith

A lot of crazy things, playoff run was home to the Colts, if not the worst, one of the worst DVOA playoff teams in history, then at Denver with Manning winning in OT on a FG despite the worst playoff ST DVOA game in history by the Ravens as described in an article recently by Aaron (after league leading by a wide margin 9.0% DVOA in the regular season), then at NE with Brady then the Super Bowl by 3 as you said.

I believe that despite the offensive explosion since 2008, that Cardinals team is still the record for most points allowed and TD's allowed by a team that made the SB and I believe the worst DVOA team to ever make the SB at -4.0% DVOA.  Then it took a 100 yard INT return by James Harrison to end the half and a Santonio Holmes TD reception with 35 seconds to beat the Cardinals in the SB.

84 agree

Those are all good points you are pointing out. I tend to give QB's extra credit when they play good enough to help those kind of teams to some or a lot of success in the playoffs. 

Like we have been discussing-QB's like Flacco, Eli Manning, Warner, and Kelly all get extra credit from me considering  the mediocre to bad  Rankings that their teams created in the Reg. Season combined with the overall success that they ended up with.

89 Yeah, that's why I said I…

Yeah, that's why I said I wish I had the film of that Super Bowl. It's totally normal for a QB to play out of their mind if opposing offenses can't get any pressure whatsoever, and unfortunately we don't have statistics on that at all. When a WR takes a quick screen to the house, no one's crediting the QB in that case.

But when a QB throws a 40 yard pass while sitting in the pocket for 4 seconds we still go "my God, how's he playing so good." With the Eagles Super Bowl (which I have broken down) it's flamingly obvious that Foles deserves very little credit for that game, which again makes perfect sense considering his career arc. There's just no pressure. Play after play with 3+ seconds from snap to throw.

It'd be cool if the Flacco postseason run (which was also another 'out of nowhere' QB performance) was the same thing.

30 Now that you point it out

In reply to by jheidelberg

Excellent, excellent point, J. Don't bet myself, but I'll be advising my brother to quick make that Futures bet on Jimmy G.

38 I think the smart bet…

I think the smart bet actually is Burrow.

The 49ers can win without Garappolo getting it. If the Bengals win or lose late and close, it's because Burrow dragged them there.

39 I know that it is a trap question

Eli Manning is a mediocre QB period.


Joe Flacco is a mediocre QB period and that is being kind.

Nick Foles is a mediocre QB period, and that is being kind

Teddy Bridgewater is a mediocre QB period.

You like to take a small sample size a make a different narrative regarding these players and saying, "Who would you rather play in that one big game, based upon performance in those FEW games Eli Manning, Flacco, Foles or Marino

Or course I would never make my choice based upon just a few games so I have never bothered getting involved in your Marino bashing discussion.  That question of course is a trap question, by paraphrasing it is saying, "Throwing out all other data, other than that of a few games, who would you rather have in a big game."

I am only responding here since you directed the question to me.  I shall respond no further, if you are going to go all in man love on Jimmy G, if he is great on Sunday and in the SB, feel free.

Here is my ranking in order of the QB's mentioned in my post (Marino is better than all of them)

1.  Eli Manning

2.  Jimmy G 

3.  Flacco

4 &5. Foles/Bridgewater  (tie)

My ranking is pretty irrelevant as their is so little difference between these guys.  The only reason why I put Manning first is that he is truly mediocre, the other guys on this list, calling them mediocre is kind, except Bridgewater.  If you are going to be mediocre, at least have some variance (inconsistency) so that you have a chance of stringing together some good games.  This way if you are lucky to make the playoffs like Flacco, by being carried by your team to the playoffs on a regular basis, you can have some positive variance and win the SB.  I believe that Flacco had one regular season that was worthy of a playoff QB, yet made the playoffs in 6 separate seasons.

If Jimmy G, has simply one of these excellent games and makes it to the SB, he will be the only mediocre QB in recent memory other than Eli Manning to make it twice.

If Jimmy G sucks on Sunday and SF does what they did to GB, he still will become the second such mediocre QB.

If by chance Jimmy G has two great games and wins the SB, he is still Jimmy G with two great games and a championship ring.


50 Marino

Oh my, absolutely Marino was far better than any of them. Just look at all of the success that he had in the playoffs. His playoff Resume is loaded with success stories. Look at how great he played in one Conference Championship Game. Oh, that's right-you don't like small sample sizes.

jh----just go back and watch all 18 of his playoff games. He had the same problems that all QB's have now and then-dropped passes, tipped INT's, fumbles, etc., etc., but for the most part,. Dan just did not get it done a majority of the time in the playoffs.

P-F-R said it best-Marino gave his team a NEGATIVE VALUE in 10 playoff games including 3 championship games, and a VALUE in the single digits in 2 others IN THE PLAYOFFS. In your definition above, that would put Dan in the mediocre category.

52 "P-F-R"

In reply to by Bob Smith

Who types it like that? 

They don't assign any value to playoff games. 

Why are still going with this lunacy?

54 Absolutely

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Absolutely they did. They ran a study from '67 through '06 until Chase Stuart left the site. Here are other Total VALUES----Favre 302, Warner 422, Staubach 461, Aikman 527, Young 580, Elway 767, Bradshaw 903, and Montana 1,292. Marino's Total Value was NEGATIVE 156.

56 So I guess that the Rams…

In reply to by Bob Smith

So I guess that the Rams blew it when not offering a 5th round pick to the Eagles for Flacco.  If you are all in, take that proven playoff track record over this failure of a playoff QB Stafford.

The Bears must have expected to make the playoffs.  Why else pay Foles for all that money? By the way is he the backup QB or the 3rd string?

All in Rams should want Foles also, if you are all in, why risk losing it all due to a Flacco injury?

I think I know why the Bears really paid Foles all that money, they made a mistake, I believe that has happened before at the QB position for the Bears. 

You never give Marino credit for his longevity of excellence.  Foles, a flash in the pan, Flacco’s last season of mediocre or better was 2014, his best season, but I guess you rank it as 4th best since he won a SB and went to 2 AFC Championship Games in 3 other seasons.  

As far as your line about Marino trading everything for a SB ring, that is hogwash.  Its easy to say as an extremely rich hall of fame player.

Josh Allen has $258 million reasons to be happy that he was so great in 2020 instead of winning a Trent Dilfer like SB. Ask Josh Allen if would rather have ridden his defense, running game and special teams to a SB, or having a great season leading to a playoff loss.  

60 Quote

You are talking about this Dan Marino quote: "I'd trade every Record we broke to be Super Bowl champs". 

Dan told (I think it was) Dan Patrick that yes he meant just that. He said his Records would probably be broken some day but if he had that Ring they could never take it from him-something to that effect.

65 Dan Patrick's missed follow up question

In reply to by Bob Smith

Listed below are all of the Super Bowl winning QB's in the Marino era. 

If Dan Patrick was quick on his feet he may have asked the following question:

So in other words what you are saying is that you would rather have had the career of __________

Filling in blank with any of the following:  Jim Plunkett, Jim McMahon, Phil Simms, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien

If the answer is yes, then Marino would have lied.   Well maybe Marino would have rather had the broadcasting career of Phil Simms, but that is a whole other issue.


198Jim Plunkett

1984 Joe Montana

1985 Jim McMahon

1986 Phil Simms

1987 Doug Williams

1988 Joe Montana

1989 Joe Montana

199Jeff Hostetler

1991 Mark Rypien

1992 Troy Aikman

1993 Troy Aikman

1994 Steve Young

1995 Troy Aikman

1996 Brett Favre

1997 John Elway

1998 John Elway

1999 Kurt Warner

Due to Marino's records they can never take away all of that money that he made either.  If Josh Allen played as he did in 2018 and 2019 during 2020 and 2021, he could join Mitch Trubisky and look for a job as a backup QB somewhere in 2022.  

Allen will either win a SB, win multiple SB's or win no Super Bowls.  Regardless, he will be very rich.  I must assume that he would still prefer to have the 17 year career similar to Marino than revert back to 2018, 2019 Josh Allen, while winning a Super Bowl.

For comparison sake, I found another hall of famer, Jim Kelly, who made it to 4 Super Bowls, never winning one, with worse regular season stats, worse postseason stats, and yet he made the hall of fame despite starting his career later than Marino and ending it earlier.  Kelly is an excellent comparable, as all of Kelly's career overlaps with Marino's.



66 correct

Years ago there was a good discussion between Marino and Kelly fans when P-F-R was still allowing comments. Kelly fans said the obvious-Jim played good enough to help his team win 4 Conference Championships while Dan only won 1. 

But other facts were also pointed out-they met 3 times in the playoffs and Kelly played  good enough to help his team win all 3 in spite of the fact that Marino's Defense was  Ranked higher all 3 years using OFFICIAL NFL Rankings.

Kelly had 2 teams in the S.B. ('91 and '93) that were OFFICIALLY Ranked 27th out of 28 teams on Defense.

Kelly did have 1 S.B. team ('90) in position to win the game only to have his kicker miss a field goal attempt.

They all agreed that Marino had the much better Reg. Season stats. But Marino was averaging almost 35 passes per game and Kelly was averaging less than 30 passes per game in the Reg. Season.

88 how

How do you possibly jump to that conclusion ?? I have repeatedly said that Dilfer had more success than Marino had in the playoffs. That is a FACT. That is not my opinion.

58 Totally!

In reply to by Bob Smith

Great link. Keep up the annoying rhetoric! 

67 Oh my, absolutely Marino was…

In reply to by Bob Smith

1.  Oh my, absolutely Marino was far better than any of them. Just look at all of the success that he had in the playoffs. His playoff Resume is loaded with success stories. Look at how great he played in one Conference Championship Game. Oh, that's right-you don't like small sample sizes.

OMG!!!  You are seriously telling me that Joe Flacco, Nick Foles, Eli Manning, Jimmy G and Teddy Bridgewater are better than Dan Marino?  Maybe I am reading this incorrectly?


You are going to take Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy G out as being better than Dan Marino correct?  If so that leaves me with the big 3 of Joe Flacco, Nick Foles and Eli Manning, would that be correct?

If you are taking out Jimmy G, will you put him back in as better than Marino if he is the QB and the 49ers win the SB on Feb 13?

2.  P-F-R said it best-Marino gave his team a NEGATIVE VALUE in 10 playoff games including 3 championship games, and a VALUE in the single digits in 2 others IN THE PLAYOFFS. In your definition above, that would put Dan in the mediocre category.

So in conclusion, are you saying that Dan Marino was a mediocre QB?

69 ok

Let's take those 3 one at a time. First Eli Manning. Eli had 2 playoff years with Championship Games-'07 and '11. In those 2 playoff years Eli was 8-0, he had 15 TD's and only 2 INT's, and an avg. Rating of 100

5 of those 8 wins were on the road including 2 Road Conference Championship Game wins. Eli ended up with 2 Conference Championships and 2 Super Bowl wins. Plus he was named S.B. MVP twice.


Marino had 3 playoff years with Championship Games-'84, '85, and '92. In those 3 playoff years Dan was 4-3. He also had 15 TD's but had 10 INT's and a Rating of only 77.6

Dan had zero road games, and in fact, his 2 Conference Championship Game Losses were both HOME Games. Dan ended up with 1 Conference Championship.

Conclusion: When each of them had chances for success, Eli played better and indeed ended up with much more success than Dan did.

70 what

In reply to by Bob Smith

What did you do-you edited out the last part of your original post.

That is not how your post number 67 used to end.

71 Yes, I did edit it

In reply to by Bob Smith

You may have responded while I was editing.  So the final question:  Is Dan Marino a mediocre QB in your opinion?

EDIT:  Please also tell me about Bridgewater and Jimmy G. 


72 This leads me to two suggestions for FO

1.  Can you put a post that says "EDITED"

2.  Can you put in "In response to Bob Smith"

Please look at SB Nation (choose any team, such as SB Nation Patriots).  When there is a conversation taking place, you can see:

1.  If a post was edited

2.  Which person's post to which the new post is responding.

74 Rating

I would say Dan would have a high Rating in the Reg. Season, a mediocre Rating in the Post-Season, and therefore his overall Career Rating would be somewhat lower than his Reg. Season Rating because of his play in the playoffs.

59 Eh, that's pretty much incorrect

You're confusing classifying special types of sandwiches or bread-based items with the names of particular sandwiches. A panini is the type. A pesto chicken panini is the name. A taco is the type. A carne asada taco is the name. A pita is the type. A falafel pita is the name. A wrap is the type. A chicken caesar wrap is the name. As Yul Brynner said, "Et cetera, et cetera."

A french dip is not defined solely by the (indeed, French, roll) bread but by the entire thing. Same with italian beef. Butterbrod just means "buttered bread," but you can put stuff on it and then you have to specify what kind of butterbrod you're referring to.

A generic sandwich means it's on bread. Just bread bread. And then you say "ham sandwich" 'cause it's got ham on it. 

Man this is pedantic. I'm so sorry I wrote all this. 

I apologize to everyone.

68 Panini

A panini is the type

I find it endlessly amusing that in the US it is used that way, but in Italian, it means "sandwich".  ANY kind of sandwich.

46 Once upon a time

Once upon a time, some writer named Mike said that Wilson vs. Newton will be next Brady vs Manning rivalry. That aged out very quickly. So as Bills fan I hope that he is damn right now.

47 I was wondering if we were…

I was wondering if we were going to get a "This is my brother Darrel, and this is my other brother Darrel" joke.

McKinnon brings an athleticism that CEH and Darrel Williams lack.  Check out McKinnon's combine numbers:  he was a better raw athlete than Jamaal Charles.  Granted injuries may have diminished that somewhat but McKinnon's speed may be very handy again this week.  Whether Williams was in the fumbling doghouse isn't clear, but Reid has seemed to trust him more in pass-blocking than CEH.

75 I don't bet

But those Burrow MVP odds seem good no? And grab those GB odds for next season

91 The reason the Packers are a…

The reason the Packers are a bajillion dollars over the cap is because they don't know if Rodgers is coming back. The only non-rookies extended past 2022 currently are Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, and Aaron Jones. Once they know they'll start working on extensions for various players and quickly get under. Otherwise they'll punt on '22 to leave themselves enough flexibility in '23 to rebuild.

The 2 big uncertainties for Green Bay (and they're linked, really) are Rodgers and Davante Adams. It is going to be hard for them to bring back Adams, and that's almost certainly what Rodgers's decision will be linked to.