NFL playoff QB power rankings: The best and worst starters in 2024, from Lamar Jackson to Mason Rudolph

Is Patrick Mahomes still the best quarterback in the NFL? 

That is a subjective answer heading into the 2024 NFL playoffs, where five is the operative number. 

Mahomes is one of five quarterbacks who are returning to the playoffs this year along with Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts, Dallas’ Dak Prescott, Buffalo’s Josh Allen and San Francisco’s Brock Purdy. 

Five quarterbacks — Mahomes, Allen, Detroit’s Jared Goff, Los Angeles’ Matthew Stafford, Cleveland’s Joe Flacco — have Super Bowl experience. 

And five quarterbacks are 25 and younger, a list that includes Purdy, Hurts, Houston’s C.J. Stroud, Green Bay’s Jordan Love and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa. Stroud, Love and Tagovailoa will make their first postseason starts. 

Who else is left? Tampa Bay’s Baker Mayfield and Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph, of course. 

Here are quarterbacks in this year’s postseason sorted by age, career playoff record and Super Bowls:

  Age MVPs Playoffs Super Bowl
C.J. Stroud 22 0 0-0 0-0
Brock Purdy 24 0 2-1 0-0
Jordan Love 25 0 0-0 0-0
Jalen Hurts 25 0 2-2 0-1
Tua Tagovailoa 25 0 0-0 0-0
Lamar Jackson 27 1 1-3 0-0
Josh Allen 27 0 4-4 0-0
Pat Mahomes 28 2 11-3 2-1
Mason Rudolph 28 0 0-0 0-0
Baker Mayfield 28 0 1-1 0-0
Jared Goff 29 0 3-3 0-1
Dak Prescott 30 0 2-4 0-0
Matthew Stafford 35 0 4-3 1-0
Joe Flacco 38 0 10-5 1-0

How do you rank those quarterbacks? Sporting News chose to rank them by who we would take in the playoffs right now. How do you balance their performance this season, their playoff experience and how they look in the present tense? That is the almost-scientific criteria we used, and everyone might have a different take.

POWER RANKINGS: Every NFL playoff team’s real chances to win Super Bowl 58

NFL playoff QB power rankings 2024

  • 1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens  

2023 stats: 3,678 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs 

He is the best quarterback right now, even with that playoff history. Jackson also had 821 yards and five rushing TDs this season. There is a strong case to put him No. 1 on this list knowing he’s the overwhelming favorite to win a second NFL MVP award. This is a huge postseason for Jackson and the Ravens, who earned the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Jackson is 1-3 with a 68.3 passer rating in the postseason. It’s time to silence the doubters once and for all. 

  • 2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs 

2023  stats: 4,183 yards, 27 TDs, 14 INTs 

He is the best playoff quarterback, but is he the best QB right now? Mahomes is the only two-time MVP and two-time Super Bowl winner in the playoffs, and 11-3 in the postseason for his career. Mahomes does have his lowest passing yards and TDs total since 2019 and the highest interception total of his career – but that is a product of a young group of receivers. Mahomes will take the playoff show on the road for the first time in his career at some point in these playoffs – but the Chiefs had a better record on the road this season.  

  • 3.  Brock Purdy, 49ers 

2023  stats: 4,280 yards, 31 TDs, 11 INTs 

Purdy might seem like a polarizing pick here given his four-interception clunker against the Ravens, but he has the highest passer rating (113.0) of any quarterback in the playoffs. He also has the most margin for error with a loaded roster in San Francisco. Purdy was 4-0 with 11 TDs and no interceptions against NFC playoff teams this season, and he made a run to the NFC championship before suffering an elbow injury last year. 

2023 stats: 4,306, 29 TDs, 18 INTs 

Allen has the talent to be the No. 1 quarterback on this list, but it’s been an up-and-down season for the Bills. Buffalo is hot now – but Allen’s completion percentage has been wildly inconsistent in that stretch and interceptions continue to be a problem. He has the most interceptions of any quarterback in the playoffs. Allen is 4-1 in home playoff games, but he’s 0-3 on the road. Those splits are hard to ignore when thinking about a potential deep playoff run 

  • 5. Dak Prescott, Cowboys 

2023 stats: 4,516 yards, 36 TDs, 9 INTs 

How many times are we going to do this? Prescott had 22 TDs, 3 INTs and a 120 passer rating at home this season, and Dallas can get at least two games at Jerry World. The connection with CeeDee Lamb is strong, and the table is set for a deep run in the NFC. Yet of the quarterbacks with at least five playoff starts on this list, Prescott has the worst record. Will he break the Cowboys’ Super Bowl drought once and for all? 

  • 6.  Jalen Hurts, Eagles 

2023  stats: 3,858 yards, 23 TDs, 15 INTs 

We know how well Hurts played in leading Philadelphia to the playoffs last season, and we respect the adding dimension in the running game with 605 yards and 15 TDs. The “Tush Push” is tough to stop. Hurts, however, has just five TDs and five interceptions in Philadelphia’s last six games – a disastrous 1-5 stretch that put the Eagles in this position. He struggled in his last road playoff start at Tampa Bay. Can Hurts lead Philadelphia to a quick turnaround? 

Jared Goff, Lions throwback jerseys 11222023

2023 stats: 4,575 yards, 30 TDs, 12 INTs 

Some might think this is too high, but Goff continues to thrive with Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Goff had a little bit of the turnover bug in a two-game stretch against Chicago and Green Bay, but he had just one fumble in Detroit’s last six games. He has a 107.9 quarterback rating at home, and that drops to 89.4 on the road. He’s also led a Super Bowl run for the Rams – who visit Detroit on Sunday. Don’t think for a second this isn’t just as much about Goff as it is Stafford. 

  • 8.  Matthew Stafford, Rams 

2023  stats: 3,965 yards, 24 TDs, 11 INTs 

In his last three starts – all wins – Stafford had a 72.2% completion percentage, averaged 301 passing yards per game and had five TDs and two interceptions. He’s a hot quarterback who led a Super Bowl run two years ago, and the Rams are playing like the most-dangerous team in the NFC. Puka Nucua and Cooper Kupp are two reliable targets to work with, but there is still a long road back to the Super Bowl. Stafford’s home-and-road splits are almost identical, so it might not matter. 

  • 9. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins 

2023 stats: 4,624 yards, 29 TDs, 14 INTs 

Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards, and he will be making his first playoff start against the Chiefs. Tagovaiola had six TDs and six interceptions in Miami’s six losses, and Buffalo (twice), Kansas City and Baltimore were among those teams that were able to slow down the Dolphins’ offense. Tagovailoa could get hot at any time, but the drop in completion percentage and increase in sacks in those final four games is a reason for concern. 

Jordan Love
  • 10. Jordan Love, Packers 

2023  stats: 4,159 yards, 32 TDs, 11 INTs 

Given how Love played in the second half of the season – he had 20 TDs and three interceptions in Green Bay’s last nine games – it would be reasonable to put Love higher on this list. Love continues to work with a revolving-door crew because of injuries at receiver and tight end – but he’s good enough to throw a scare into Dallas. That’s a playoff matchup that defined legacies for Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. 

  • 11. C.J. Stroud, Texans 

2023  Stats: 4,108 yards, 23 TDs, 5 INTs 

Stroud is the youngest quarterback in the playoffs. might be a little under-ranked here given his impressive rookie season with Houston. Stroud had six games with 300-plus yards this season, and the playoff stage should not be too overwhelming given his big-game experience in college at Ohio State. Stroud missed the first matchup with Cleveland with a concussion. Will he be the difference maker for Houston – which won the AFC South? 

2023  stats: 1,616 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs 

Flacco is the oldest QB in the playoffs. We’re not saying this Flacco hot streak isn’t amazing. Flacco averages 323.2 yards per game, and he’s established a quick connection with Amari Cooper and David Njoku. Flacco does have a 10-5 record in the postseason and has won a Super Bowl. Cleveland is winning with the same formula as those Baltimore teams, too. What’s the problem? Flacco has eight interceptions. That 3.9% interception percentage ranks 34th among qualifying quarterbacks – and that becomes more costly in the postseason. 

  • 13. Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers 

2023  stats: 4,044 yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs 

Mayfield enjoyed quite the come-back season in his new home, and the former No. 1 pick is back in the postseason since leading Cleveland to the AFC divisional playoffs in 2020. Mayfield led Tampa Bay to a 6-3 record in the second half of the season, but he took 27 sacks in those games. Mayfield is streaky, too. Which version shows up against the defending NFC champions on Wild Card weekend? 

  • 14. Mason Rudolph, Steelers 

2022 Stats: 719 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs 

Rudolph was a feel-good story late in the season. The veteran quarterback propelled the Steelers to a wild-card run. Rudolph hasn’t thrown an interception, and he has a 74.3% completion percentage. The 2018 third-round pick is making his first career playoff start on the road at Buffalo – and he has held on to the starting  job on a week-to-week basis with Kenny Pickett on the bench. Can you trust Rudolph to get to the second round? 

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