Typically, quarterbacks struggle in the playoffs when they make them for the first time. It is rare for them to win a playoff game on their first try. It is even less common to win two.
Perhaps this was at the forefront of NFL analyst Gregg Rosenthal's mind when he named Joe Burrow the sixth-best quarterback in the NFL, according to Yahoo Sports. The rankings placed Burrow above Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson.
On the list, Burrow was ranked below quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford, and Justin Herbert. Rosenthal said that the rankings were only based on 2021. History aside, he placed Burrow in the top six simply because of what he was able to accomplish this past season.
Why history matters in Joe Burrow vs Patrick Mahomes
Ignoring the history of every quarterback on the list gives Burrow a massive advantage. While the Bengals quarterback lost a Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes has played in two. Based on that alone, it would make sense to give Mahomes the edge.
Additionally, placing Justin Herbert above Burrow says that even though Herbert has never played in a playoff game, Rosenthal would take Herbert over the Bengals quarterback. Of course, this is an eyebrow-raising assessment. While the Bengals quarterback was far from explosive in the playoffs this past season, there is no guarantee that Herbert would do better.
Basically, Rosenthal is saying that Herbert has a better chance of being better in the playoffs than the Bengals quarterback simply because he hasn't been to the playoffs. Typically, first-time playoff quarterbacks lose their first game.
To be better than Burrow, Herbert would basically need to win the Super Bowl. In placing Herbert higher, Rosenthal essentially said that a Super Bowl win would be the outcome had he been placed on the Bengals.
Circling back to Mahomes, the Chiefs quarterback outplayed the Bengals quarterback in terms of season-long statistics.
Mahomes threw for 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while Burrow threw for 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. That comparison alone should give pause as to which quarterback should be ranked higher. Of course, with 62 quarterbacks on the list, Rosenthal says that both quarterbacks are nearly equal in true talent.
He also basically threw his hands up in frustration at the ranking, saying that evaluating the quarterback is essentially "impossible."
“Burrow’s wild ride is another reminder of how impossible it is to evaluate quarterbacks," Rosenthal stated. "His worst three-game stretch of the season may have been his final three playoff games, yet he was simultaneously the main reason his Bengals kept playing, notching their first two road playoff wins in franchise history. His arm strength and processing both took huge leaps in Year 2. The offensive line made the position nearly unplayable in the postseason, and Burrow needed to be perfect on Super Bowl Sunday. He wasn’t, but that doesn’t change how far he came this season.”