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NFL Rankings: Tom Brady’s Super Bowl Opponents

Tom Brady announced his retirement (again) after 23 seasons in the NFL. Brady made an incredible 10 Super Bowls, winning seven. He is the most decorated winner in NFL history. However, instead of recapping his career, let’s take a look at an NFL rankings of the 10 quarterbacks he competed with on the game’s biggest stage.

No. 10 – Nick Foles, 2017

Foles is the outlier in this NFL rankings. He made 10 starts in a season just twice. While his 2013 season and 2017 playoff run are as good as any other member’s peak, Foles only has made 58 NFL starts. He did make a Pro Bowl in 2013, but his entire legacy is attributed to the 2017 playoff run.

Foles is not quite out of the league yet, but he had a horrific showing in 2022, and his starting days are almost certainly over. However, he has two bragging rights over Brady. First, Foles has a seven-touchdown game while Brady never threw seven in a game. Second, Foles beat Brady in Super Bowl LII.

No. 9 – Jake Delhomme, 2003

Delhomme made 96 starts across 11 seasons in the NFL. He did not start more than three games in a season until his age-28 campaign, the year he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl. However, he was Carolina’s primary starter in 2003-2006, 2008, and 2009. He threw for 3,000 yards four times, and he even made a Pro Bowl in 2005.

Delhomme fell off sharply after his 2008 run with Carolina. He tossed five interceptions in their playoff loss, and he returned to throw 18 interceptions with just eight touchdowns in 2009. Delhomme finished his career with 56 wins, 126 touchdown passes, and over 20,000 yards, earning the 9th spot on this NFL rankings.

No. 8 – Jared Goff, 2018

Goff is a fascinating case in these NFL rankings. The cement of his career is still drying, and he just had perhaps his best season as a professional. He had gaudier numbers and made two Pro Bowls with the Los Angeles Rams, but Goff had an excellent 2022 season with Detroit, and he replaced Jalen Hurts on the Pro Bowl roster.

In the Super Bowl itself, Goff and the Rams only managed to score three points. He completed just half of his passes, threw an interception, and finished with a passer rating in the 50s. However, it would be quite the redemption arc if he were to return to the Super Bowl with the Lions. It would mirror a quarterback closer to the top of this list.

No. 7 – Donovan McNabb, 2004

It is perhaps a disservice to McNabb to have him in the bottom half of these NFL rankings. He is a six-time Pro Bowler, and he went 98-62-1 as a starter across 13 seasons. He helped the Eagles to five NFC Title Games, leading them to victory in 2004. McNabb was second in MVP voting in 2000 and won 10 or more games as a starter five times. The only issue with McNabb is that he is not in the Hall of Fame discussion like the rest of the list.

McNabb won an impressive nine playoff games, and he tallied 28 total touchdowns in 16 playoff games. He was a talented runner in his early years, eclipsing 600 yards in 2000 on just 86 rush attempts. He had great consistency, playing in 14 or more games seven times and throwing for 3,000 yards eight times. McNabb likely came around a generation too early for his full talents to be realized.

Nos. 5 & 6 – Eli Manning, 2007 & 2011

Manning will make the Hall of Fame, and he might be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Perhaps, if he was named Eli Manson and had lost one of his two Super Bowls, he would not be a Hall of Famer. The Hall of Fame argument will degrade as more and more quarterbacks surpass his numbers, but Manning’s clutch gene will never fade. He outdueled Brady on the biggest stage twice. He made a career’s worth of highlights in 120 minutes of Super Bowl action.

Manning never received any votes for MVP or Offensive Player of the Year. The only category he led the NFL in was interceptions (three times). However, one cannot tell the history of the NFL without Manning. He may have only completed 60.3% of his passes and thrown 244 interceptions, but he stepped up in the biggest moments like few in NFL history. He also has a not-so-shabby 57,023 passing yards and 366 passing touchdowns.

No. 4 – Matt Ryan, 2016

Ryan’s career is on its final legs. After 14 great years with the Falcons, he had a quite forgettable campaign in Indianapolis. Like Manning, Ryan made four Pro Bowls. Unlike Manning, Ryan won an MVP, an Offensive Player of the Year, and was a first-team All-Pro. Ryan was generally good, but he had two great seasons in 2016 and 2018, placing him slightly higher in these NFL rankings.

Ryan won 120 games in Atlanta and tallied just short of 60,000 passing yards. He has made 12 or more starts in 15 consecutive seasons, playing 16 (or 17) games 12 times. He is within striking distance of 65,000 yards and 400 passing touchdowns. Ryan might not be a Hall of Famer, but he had an excellent career with two standout seasons.

No. 3 – Russell Wilson

Wilson does not have an MVP as Ryan does, and he has yet to receive MVP votes, but he does have nine Pro Bowls, strong counting stats and a Super Bowl. Wilson had a poor showing in 2022, but the decade before was stellar. He has tossed 25 or more touchdowns eight times including 40 in 2020 and a league-best 34 in 2017. He has a career passer rating over 100, and he has seven seasons with a mark over 100.0.

Wilson will need to bounce back to keep moving up the stats leaderboards, but he is a Super Bowl champion and a historically-relevant quarterback. There is a chance his play hurts his legacy, but he does have a decade of high-level quarterback play.

No. 2 – Kurt Warner, 2001

Unlike the rest of the players in this NFL rankings, Warner is in the Hall of Fame. Despite having only six real NFL seasons, Warner packed an extraordinary amount into those seasons. He led the NFL in completion percentage three times, yards once, touchdowns twice, and passer rating twice. He threw 25 or more touchdowns five times, including the last three years of his career. He won two MVPs, received votes a third time, and made four Pro Bowls.

Warner is similar to Manning in one regard – he made up for the volume of greatness with potency. The next quarterback will pass Warner in wins, yards, and touchdowns by the time he turns 30, but that speaks to Warner"s brilliance. His six seasons as a starter were so excellent that they compare favorably to many of the quarterbacks enshrined in Canton.

No. 1 – Patrick Mahomes, 2020

If Mahomes retired after the Super Bowl, there would be a serious conversation about his Hall of Fame candidacy. Mahomes has started five NFL seasons. He is about to win his second MVP, and he is on pace to compete with Brady’s ridiculous host of records. Mahomes has two 5,000-yard seasons and two 40-touchdown seasons. He could win his second Super Bowl in a few days.

The speed at which Mahomes is smashing records is unprecedented. He will have 200 touchdowns and 25,000 passing yards within weeks of turning 28 – Warner retired with 208 touchdowns. He is set up to be one of the greatest to ever live.

Compared to Brady through five seasons as a starter, Mahomes has five more wins, 5,928 extra yards, 69 extra touchdowns, and a rating that is 18.5 points higher. They have the same number of playoff wins (for now) and the same number of Super Bowl appearances. Brady won three Super Bowls while Mahomes is looking for his second. Brady had two bronze medal MVP finishes while Mahomes will (likely) have two MVPs and a third-place in 2020.

Let us know your thoughts on these NFL rankings in the comments below!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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