Ageing quarterbacks set NFL record

Sports

Ageing quarterbacks set NFL record

Green Bay Packers now JustBet $3.00 favourites to win Super Bowl.

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, January 22, 2021

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THIS National Football League (NFL) postseason marks the first time five quarterbacks (QB) age 37 or older have ever started in the same play-offs in NFL history – Tom Brady (43), Drew Brees (42), Philip Rivers (39), Ben Roethlisberger (38) and Aaron Rodgers (37).

These QBs had previously made a combined 107 play-off starts, but this is the first time all five have been in the play-offs in the same year.

Additionally, there are two teams that qualified for these play-offs following lengthy postseason droughts – Cleveland Browns (18 years) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13 years). But the most outstanding, historical moment of these play-offs was the meeting last Sunday night of the two oldest QBs to ever face each other in NFL history.

Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints welcomed Tom Brady and his Buccaneers into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last weekend in the finale of the divisional round. Between them, they have a lot of accolades: wins, completions, yards, touchdowns, rings (mostly Brady), awards (mostly Brady) and respect. But while Brady has more rings and awards, Brees was 5-2 in their head-to-head battles entering last weekend (including 2-0 this regular season).

They met for the third time this season last Sunday, the eighth time ever and the first time in the postseason, at the combined age of 85, making them the oldest starting QB pair to ever play against each other in the NFL. However, the expected “game for the ages” petered out into a turnover-fest by the Saints, with Brady emerging on the bright end of a 30-20 scoreline.

Tampa Bay's defence forced four turnovers – including three interceptions by Brees – and converted three of the four into touchdowns. This left the Saints with too much to do and Brees, the NFL's all-time leader in completions and passing yards, pondering his NFL-future following the loss.

Brady's win ensured his 14th trip to a conference championship game (his first in the National Football Conference or NFC), and will now turn his attention to the Green Bay Packers this Sunday when he will seek an unprecedented 10th Super Bowl appearance.

The Packers pulled off an expected 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the first game last Saturday. Rams' QB Jared Goff was playing with a surgically repaired thumb and their best player, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, played hurt and was just not able to give his all. Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers was on top of his game and, following a very consistent season, will now play the NFC Championship game in Lambeau Field for the first time – the first for the stadium in 13 years.

The Packers enter the weekend as slight JustBet favourites but the Buccaneers have not lost since week 12 (against the Kansas City Chiefs) and sport the league's third highest-scoring offence. Additionally, one week after facing the NFL's number one-ranked pass defence (the Rams), the Packers are now pitted against the league's top run defence.

This will be the marquee matchup of the weekend and, if the Packers can contain Tampa Bay's offensive arsenal while building a lead, look for the game to close with fireworks. This is too close to call.

The expected offensive fireworks between QBs Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson last Saturday night fizzled, but was entertaining, nonetheless. The matchup of young, electrifying QBs was overshadowed by the defensive display of both the Buffalo Bills and the Baltimore Ravens - the defences brought their A-game but both offenses couldn't pull anything effective from the playbook.

The 3-3 score at half-time was truly unexpected but the Bills persevered and emerged 17-3 winners to book their first Conference Championship appearance since 1994, this Sunday. They will clash, coincidentally, with the same opponent they faced (and defeated) 27 years ago, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs faced the Cleveland Browns last Sunday afternoon and successfully advanced after a rough and tumble 22-17 win. Their QB, Patrick Mahomes, hadn't played in 21 days but showed no rust before leaving midway through the third quarter due to a concussion. He finished 21 of 30 for 255 yards and a touchdown, plus he ran for another score.

The Chiefs held on to win with kicker Harrison Butker adding three field goals, but the offensive complexion of the game changed dramatically with Mahomes' departure. The QB matchup is uncertain for this weekend due to Mahomes' injury, and it may be left up to the Chiefs' defence to decide the game in their favour.

The Chiefs are heading into the American Football Conference (AFC) title game for the third-consecutive season but, if Mahomes can't go and Chad Henne is their next best option, expect a Bills win. If Mahomes is fit enough to suit up then the game will be close, but the home team would have a distinct advantage.

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Super Bowl Winner
Team Odds
Green Bay Packers 3.00
Kansas City Chiefs 3.05
Buffalo Bills 4.30
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5.20
*Odds are subject to change


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