2014 NFL Playoffs: Power Ranking the 12 Starting Quarterbacks

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Power Ranking the 12 Playoff Starting Quarterbacks

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Any coach will say that it takes a great quarterback to become a team leader. In order to make the playoffs, that quarterback needs to guide their team with strong play and good decision making. After 17 weeks, the NFL Playoffs are now set, and only 12 starting quarterbacks remain in the hunt to lead their team to a Super Bowl.

Among the 12 quarterbacks, five of them have appeared in at least one Super Bowl, with four of them raising up the Lombardi Trophy. All 12 of these quarterbacks have had stellar seasons, and their teams would not be playing January football without them. Ranking them is a very difficult task.

In the group this season, there will be some first-time introductions to the playoff pressure, the usual veterans, and the not-forgotten record-breakers. A few of them have also battled back from injuries, some in more dramatic fashion then others. Wild Card Weekend has some fantastic matchups lined up, and the rest of the playoffs figure to see the same as well. The quarterback play will be vitally essential in every game if teams hope to advance on to New York.

With the games now set, here is a look at the quarterbacks ranked. A major factor come playoff time is experience. An edge in the rankings is slighted toward past Super Bowl winners. An argument can surely be made for a few of the guys on the list for being in the No. 1 spot as well. How would your rankings look?

Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424.

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12. Alex Smith

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Alex Smith has a 1-1 playoff record. He has actually performed well in his two previous playoff games. Smith is a system quarterback, and will likely need to lean on his running game and defense the most. If a game becomes high scoring, can he be trusted?

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11. Nick Foles

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Nick Foles will be making his first career playoff start. He has had a nice season since taking over as the starter. Foles played well in the division clincher, but how will the playoff pressure effect him?

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10. Andrew Luck

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Andrew Luck in his second season will be making playoff appearance No. 2. He lost last year to the eventual Super Bowl champ. This year, he will be playing at home Wild Card weekend and will hope for a different result.

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9. Philip Rivers

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Philip Rivers is a veteran making a return back to the playoffs where he has a 3-4 record. While he does have experience, Rivers can also be prone to turning the ball over. He has more career playoff interception than touchdown passes. How will he fare in a cold weather road environment?

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8. Andy Dalton

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Andy Dalton is in Year 3 of his career, and all three have led to playoff games. Dalton is still looking for his first win, but this year he gets that chance at home where he is undefeated this year. When Dalton is on, he is really good.

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7. Cam Newton

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Cam Newton will be the other quarterback in the field making his first career playoff start. An advantage for Newton will be that he gets to make that start at home after a bye week. He is a dual-threat quarterback which will also help. Newton can also feed off of his experience during a National Championship game appearance as well.

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6. Russell Wilson

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Russell Wilson has a 1-1 playoff record. He played well last year during the playoffs, and is another quarterback that will now get to experience the postseason wearing a home uniform. He also has going for him a first round bye, home-field advantage, and a solid running back to lean on.

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5. Colin Kaepernick

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Colin Kaepernick has a 2-1 playoff record after his first year in the postseason. He was able to reach the Super Bowl last season but came up just short in the comeback effort. Kaepernick is the best dual-threat quarterback still playing this season. He is surrounded by many complimentary pieces and will try to reach the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons.

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4. Tom Brady

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Tom Brady has the most playoff games played of the quarterbacks on this list. He has a 17-7 record and is 3-2 in Super Bowl games. This year, more than any other, will test Brady's supporting cast. Brady is just 3-4 in his last seven playoff games, and could that lead to another quick out this season?

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3. Aaron Rodgers

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Aaron Rodgers returned from an injury to win the NFC North in dramatic fashion. He has a 5-3 record with a Super Bowl title "under his belt." Rodgers instantly makes the offense better around him. Will he be able to make another improbable run to the Super Bowl this season?

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2. Drew Brees

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Drew Brees could be 1A on this list in terms of sheer explosiveness. He has a 5-4 record with one championship on his resume. The only thing that could hold back Brees is the fact that he will be playing away from the Superdome without the comfort of a bye week. Brees can carry a team on his back like no other, but how will he fare on the road this year?

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1. Peyton Manning

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Peyton Manning may be a runaway lock for the MVP, but he is not quite a runaway on this list. Manning is having one of the greatest regular season ever witnessed, setting new records for touchdowns and yards. However, in the playoffs, he is just 9-11 and 1-1 in Super Bowls. He has been on the losing end in his last three playoff games, and the pressure will be on No. 18 this year more than any other.