A bright young star, a late bloomer, an embattled draft bust (to this point), a retread—little connects Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, and Nick Foles. Except this: Each enters uncharted territory this weekend, getting their first taste of divisional round action. And to notch another first, each will have to beat a signal-caller who has had significantly more playoff success. Four of the nine active quarterbacks with Super Bowl experience will be in action this weekend, on the opposite sideline of the four newcomers.
Among active QBs, those with Super Bowl experience are 35-19 in the postseason when facing QBs who haven’t made a Super Bowl. Mariota’s foe, Tom Brady, (Sat. 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS) has the best record, 16-6, in such games, while Bortles’ opponent, Ben Roethlisberger, (Sun. 1:05, CBS) is second at 7-3. Matt Ryan won his first playoff game after making Super Bowl LI last week over newbie Jared Goff, and he’ll look to add to that against Foles (Sat. 4:35 p.m., NBC).
Making his playoff debut, Keenum faces more historically pessimistic numbers as Drew Brees comes to town (Sun. 4:40, FOX). QBs making their postseason debuts against former Super Bowl participant QBs are just 4-8. That said, Brees has lost such a game—Alex Smith (then with San Francisco) outdueled him in the 2012 divisional round. In total, Brees, Ryan, Roethlisberger, and Brady have won 49 playoff games. Their respective opponents have combined to win two—Mariota and Bortles’ victories on wild-card weekend.
It goes without saying that this weekend’s results will be determined by much more than which quarterback brings more jewelry to the table. Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Jacksonville are built around top-five defenses in terms of efficiency, and Mariota likely has many more playoff wins ahead of him. Still, it’s a stat to keep in mind. There’s a first time for everything. But before that, things usually don’t turn out so well.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Robert Klemko speaks to Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz on Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, and more … Staff picks, with unanimous choices in two of the four games … Jenny Vrentas on the true value of a left-footed punter … and more.
LATER TODAY: Vrentas finds out how Case Keenum became a productive quarterback … Andy Benoit previews the weekend slate … and more. Stay tuned.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Tim Rohan profiled hot coaching candidate Matt Patricia last season … The Steelers are rallying around Ryan Shazier … Free agents are finally helping the Jaguars … and more.
1. This could be fun! New Bears coach Matt Nagy has brought in former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich to lead Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago offense. Helfrich guided Marcus Mariota to a Heisman Trophy.
2. This could also be fun! The NFL announced its three-game London slate for 2018, and the matchups (Seahawks vs. Raiders, Eagles vs. Jaguars, Titans vs. Chargers) are enticing, on paper at least.
3. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, named after the NFL’s first African-American coach, has called on the league to investigate whether the Raiders violated the Rooney Rule when they hired Jon Gruden.
4. Remember Chris Foerster, the Dolphins assistant coach who resigned after a video surfaced showing him snorting cocaine? He’s now at a sober living facility in South Florida and he called that clip “divine intervention.”
5. Relive the Titans’ comeback victory against the Chiefs and Marcus Mariota‘s heroic play via the NFL’s Sound FX segment.
6. Here’s a smart, detailed look at the coaching changes in Denver, where Vance Joseph is hoping to better develop his players while he improves at “coaching the coaches,” he said.
7. That Week 5 matchup isn’t the only notable Jaguars-Steelers game of the past. Ten years ago, David Garrard came up with “maybe the most iconic playoff moment in franchise history” to find a win over Pittsburgh.
8. The Star Tribune didn’t just ask the question “Are the Vikings the NFL’s most tragic playoff team?” It also ran the numbers, and published one of the best 13 first words of a story this year: “Coach Mike Zimmer says there is ‘no damn curse’ against the Vikings, but . . . ” Speaking of curses, fans are still struggling with the haunting finish to Minnesota’s 1998 season.
9. College coaches have been underrepresented in head coaching searches this time around. Could Matt Rhule be the exception?
10. Cowboys wideout Brice Butler was quite open during his time on FS1. “With Dallas, the situation has to be right for me to go back,” he said. “I have to be a starter. If I’m not starting, I’m not going back.”
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