With the NFL becoming more of a passing league each year, teams are finding it extremely difficult to contend for a title without having a top quarterback. As the league set a record in 2015 for the most passing touchdowns in one season, the teams that are given the best chance to win Super Bowl 50 have all gotten stellar quarterback play this year.
It’s no coincidence that the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers have the best odds to win the Super Bowl. The three teams are led by quarterbacks that will all likely finish in the top-three in MVP voting.
The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals finished tied for the most wins in the AFC, but they aren’t among the Super Bowl favorites because of questions at the quarterback position. The signal callers for the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins were career backups before the season began, making it no surprise that they have the worst odds to win it all.
Below is a look at the top five quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL playoffs.
1) Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Newton tops the list after running away with the MVP award this season. His 45 combined passing and rushing touchdowns are far and away the most in the NFL, and he won two more games than any other quarterback in the regular season. Newton hasn’t had much playoff success, going 1-2 in the postseason with five touchdowns and five interceptions. But he’s played so well of late, posting a passer rating of a least 104.4 in seven of his last nine games, that it will be difficult for any defense to slow him and the Panthers down.
2) Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
It’s odd to not have perhaps the best quarterback of all time at No.1 on this list, but Brady has not been as effective as Newton, and is without key members of his offense. Still, the four-time Super Bowl winner led the NFL with 36 touchdowns, and his seven interceptions were the fewest of any quarterback who threw for more than 20 scores. Brady makes New England the clear favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
3) Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)
At 36 years old, Palmer is having the best year of his career. He leads the NFL’s No.1 ranked offense, and he finished just behind Brady in passing yards and touchdowns. Palmer has barely had any postseason experience, suffering an injury after throwing just one pass in a 2005 playoff game and playing poorly in 2009 when the Bengals lost at home to the Jets. The quarterback should put up much better numbers when Arizona hosts a divisional round game next week.
4) Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Wilson was just average in the first half of the season, but he finished 2015 with an historic stretch of games. Over the final seven contests of the regular season, the quarterback threw 24 touchdown passes and just one interception. He ran the ball less than usual this season, but he still totaled 553 rushing yards and one score. Wilson led all quarterbacks with a 110.1 passer rating, and he set career highs in almost every statistical category following two trips to the Super Bowl.
5) Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Based solely off of his performances in the 2015 season, Rodgers shouldn’t be on this list. His 92.7 passer rating is his lowest since becoming the Packers’ starter, and 16 quarterbacks threw for more yards. But Rodgers is as talented as any quarterback in the NFL, and any defense will have to be cautious of him this postseason. In the early part of the season he was masterful against the Seahawks and Chiefs, who finished the regular season with two of the NFL’s top-three scoring defenses. Rodgers is 6-5 in the playoffs with a 101.0 rating.