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Super Bowl XLVIII pits the old guard against the new guard when it comes to the quarterback matchup.
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Peyton Manning came into the league in what seems to be a lifetime ago with all the expectations in the world. He has delivered on that promise over the years, including leading the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl XLI victory.
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Peyton has had plenty of success with the Denver Broncos, including setting NFL records with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. He is basically an offensive coordinator on the field. He always seems to be a step ahead of the defense. Even the raised stakes of the playoffs hasn’t slowed him as he has averaged 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns in wins over the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
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Seattle can get pressure up front and have a talented secondary. I don’t see Peyton having a monster day, but I just can’t go against Peyton in this historic year.
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Meanwhile, Russell Wilson is the new breed of quarterback that can do damage with his arm and his feet. Wilson was a third round pick that was a bit of a surprise last year as he won the starting job over Matt Flynn.
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Wilson averaged 209.8 passing yards, 1.6 passing touchdowns and 33.7 rushing yards. He hasn’t been asked to much in two playoff wins as he has averaged just 159 passing yards, 0.5 passing touchdowns and eight rushing yards. Seattle has relied on its defense and a strong rushing attack featuring Marshawn Lynch.
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Against Denver things are likely to change. The Broncos are going to put points on the boards. As good as Seattle is on defense, I can’t see them shutting down Denver’s high-powered offense. Wilson is going to have to put the Seahawks on his back and make plays with his arm.
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Denver allowed 254.4 passing yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game during the regular season.
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While I think Peyton has the better day, I do think Wilson will put up decent numbers as well.
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Super Bowl XLVIII
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Here are the Lester’s Legends quarterback rankings for the  the AFC & NFC Conference Championship Games of the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs.
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1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning averaged a ridiculous 342.3 yards and 3.4 touchdowns per game. The New England Patriots held him to 150 yards and a pair of scores in the first meeting. I don’t think the Pats will contain him quite as well in this one. Manning has too many weapons. Despite all of his success, Peyton still has plenty to prove. As long as he doesn’t press he should have a big day.
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2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady had 344 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting with Denver. He averaged 314.9 yards and two touchdowns in the final eight games of the regular season. Brady threw for 198 yards in the playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but that was due to the Patriots scoring six on the ground. Brady will be asked to do more this week. I believe he’ll be up to the challenge.
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3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick didn’t have a banner regular season, but he’s averaging 211.5 passing yards, a passing score, 56.5 rushing yards and 0.5 rushing touchdowns in two playoff games. Kaepernick was held to 302 passing yards, one passing touchdown (four interceptions) and 118 rushing yards in two games against the Seattle Seahawks. Kaepernick should continue to get the job done with his feet and his arm thanks to having a solid trio of weapons in Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
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4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson continued to provide reduced production as he was held to 103 passing yards and 16 rushing yards against the New Orleans Saints. In two games against the Niners he averaged 170.5 passing yards, a passing touchdown, an interception and 17.5 rushing yards. He could pick up the victory, but I don’t expect Wilson to produce big numbers.
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Here are the Lester’s Legends quarterback rankings for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
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1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning set the NFL record for most passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55). He faces the San Diego Chargers for the third time. In two games he averaged 309.5 yards and three touchdowns.San Diego ranked 29th in the league in pass defense with 258.7 yards allowed per game.
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2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady got off to a slow start averaging 228 yards and 1.1 touchdowns in his first eight games. He finished strong though, putting up 314.9 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his last eight games. Look for him to continue to roll against the Indianapolis Colts.
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3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck showed as much poise as skill as he led the Colts back from a 28-point deficit, throwing for 443 yards and four touchdowns. Luck added 45 yards on the ground and scored on a heads-up fumble recovery. He won’t be intimidated by the Patriots. Luck’s ability to produce with his arm and his feet against a mediocre Pats’ defense should pay off for fantasy owners.
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4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton averaged 211.2 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns, 36.5 rushing yards and 0.4 rushing touchdowns. Look for him to do plenty of damage with his arms and legs against the San Francisco 49ers.
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5. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick only threw for 227 yards and a touchdown last week against the Green Bay Packers, but he added 98 yards on the ground. Look for that formula to continue against the Panthers.
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6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
It’s unusual for Drew Brees to be ranked sixth, especially when there are only eight options, but that’s an homage to the Seattle Seahawks defense. Plus, Drew Brees isn’t quite the same quarterback on the road. Brees has averaged 286.3 yards, including the Wild Card game, and 1.4 touchdown passes on the road. At home he averaged 354.4 yards and 3.4 touchdowns.
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7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson saw a dip in production down the stretch, but look for him to kick it into gear against the New Orleans Saints. He had 310 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and 47 rushing yards in the first meeting with the Saints. Wilson should also do damage with his legs.
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8. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers only threw for 128 yards and a touchdown, but he helped the San Diego Chargers advance past the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite an impressive season he only averaged 192 yards and 1.5 touchdowns in two games against the Broncos.
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Drew Brees spiral
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Here are the Lester’s Legends fantasy football quarterback rankings for the Wild Card Round.
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1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
If it weren’t for Peyton Manning’s historic season we would likely be talking about Drew Brees’ fourth 5,000-yard season. Brees averaged 322.6 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game. Brees averages 68.5 fewer yards and 1.9 fewer touchdowns on the road, but he should offset that due to his matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles allowed a league-worst 289.8 passing yards per game.
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2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers shook off some rust and finished with 318 yards and a pair of touchdowns to propel the Green Bay Packers into the playoffs. He faces the San Francisco 49ers. Rodgers threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against them.
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3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick averaged just 199.8 yards and 1.3 touchdowns through the air, but he added 32.8 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on the ground. He threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns in he first meeting with the Packers. He had his coming out party against them in last year’s playoffs with 181 rushing yards, 263 passing yards and four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing). The Packers allowed 247.3 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game.
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4. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Foles led the league with a 119.2 passer rating. He threw 27 touchdowns and had more rushing touchdowns (three) than interceptions (two). He faces the New Orleans Saints in what should be a shootout.
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5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton quietly finished the season with 4,296 yards and 35 touchdowns (33 passing, two rushing). Dalton had 11 touchdowns in his past four games and 20 touchdowns en route to an undefeated home record. He faces the San Diego Chargers at home. The Chargers allowed 258.7 passing yards per game.
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6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck averaged 238.9 passing yards, 1.4 passing touchdowns, 23.6 rushing yards and 0.3 rushing touchdowns. He has a tough matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he is playing at home.
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7. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers averaged 279.9 yard and a pair of touchdowns per game. He had nine touchdown passes during the four-game winning streak that put the Chargers into the playoffs. A tough matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals hurts his value.
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8. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith is capable, but he isn’t asked to do as much as the other options since Jamaal Charles is such a force. Smith did average 220.9 passing yards, 1.5 passing touchdowns and a sneaky 28.7 rushing yards.
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Colin Kaepernick
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One of the Super Bowl quarterbacks has had a ton of success, but has garnered little respect. The other has become an overnight sensation. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league. They are still considered a running team, mainly because Ray Rice is just that dynamic. Baltimore finished the regular season ranked 11th in rushing offense and 15th in passing offense.
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While Rice is heavily involved in the passing game, Flacco doesn’t get enough credit. His completion percentage (54.8 during the playoffs, 59.7 percent during the regular season) isn’t great, but he takes shots down the field. Because he makes big plays and protects the football (10 interceptions during the season, zero in the playoffs), he maintains a solid passer rating. With an underrated assortment of weapons, Flacco should be able to have another solid playoff game.
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I still expect Colin Kaepernick to have a better game from a fantasy perspective. Since the early interception in the Wild Card Round, he has been nearly flawless. I give him the edge of Flacco because of his running ability. While he had just 21 yards in the win over the Atlanta Falcons, he set the all-time quarterback single-game rushing record with 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers.
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Kaepernick does not seem to be intimidated by the big stage. In his brief run as starting quarterback, he has already defeated the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. I’m not overlooking the fact that Flacco took down Peyton Manning and Brady in successive weeks, or the fact that Flacco has won a playoff game in every year he’s been in the league, but I guess I’m drinking the Kool-Aid a little.
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I think Kaepernick has the inferior defense to contend with. Ultimately, though, it is his ability to make plays with his feet that makes me lean towards youth prevailing in Super Bowl XLVII.
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Super Bowl XLVII logo

Tom Brady throwing
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Here are the Lester’s Legends quarterback rankings for the  the AFC & NFC Conference Championship Games of the 2012-13 NFL Playoffs.
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1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Losing Rob Gronkowski hurts, but Brady just keeps on rolling. He lit up the Houston Texans for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Brady had one of his worst playoff performances against the Baltimore Ravens in last year’s AFC Championship game. I expect a stronger performance this time around.
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2. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Kaepernick’s athleticism was on full display as he set the quarterback rushing record in the Divisional Round win over the Green Bay Packers. The Atlanta Falcons struggled to contain Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. I think they’ll bottle a heck of a lot better than Green Bay, but his running ability and strong arm makes Kaepernick a strong fantasy football option in the Conference Championship.
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3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan should be breathing easier after finally getting that first playoff win. It wasn’t always pretty, but Ryan threw three touchdown passes. Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers gave him enough of a running game to keep the defenses honest. He’ll need some of that balance against the 49ers’ stout defense. Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez give Ryan the top trio of weapons left in the playoffs.
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4. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco has averaged 306.3 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception in his past three playoff games, including 306 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s meeting with the Patriots. Flacco has the most favorable matchup against New England’s secondary. I have Flacco ranked fourth, but I don’t think there is a big difference between the quarterbacks this week.
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Tom Brady throwing
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Here are the Lester’s Legends quarterback rankings for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
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1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
The Houston Texans kept Andy Dalton in check, but Brady is a different animal. He torched them for 296 yards and four touchdowns in Week 14. He won’t be quite that productive, but he’s certainly capable of putting up a monster game, especially with Rob Gronkowski in his arsenal this time around.
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2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers is playing at as high of a level as any quarterback has ever played. He is the career leader in passer rating in both the regular season and the postseason. The San Francisco 49ers are a tall order, but with his full assortment of weapons, Rodgers is as deadly as they come.
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3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Manning had a couple of slow games in Weeks 14 and 15, but ramped back up with 300-plus yards three touchdown passes in each of the final two games. One of the slow games was against the Baltimore Ravens (Week 15), but the Broncos were aided by a defensive touchdown and a strong ground game as they jumped out to a big, early lead. I expect the Ravens to put up more of a fight this time around, which will mean a heavier dose of Manning.
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4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson is the last rookie standing after RGIII and Andrew Luck exited stage right. He is averaging 54.8 rushing yards in his past six games, including 67 yards last week against the Washington Redskins. He has thrown just two interceptions in his past nine games while tossing 17 touchdowns.
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5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan, like Peyton, had a small dip in production prior to a strong finish (disregarding Week 17 when the Falcons were coasting). The Seahawks are on fire, but they did look vulnerable early in last week’s Wild Card win over the Redskins.
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6. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Schaub is inconsistent, but has a favorable matchup against the Patriots secondary. I expect the Patriots to put up points, which will mean Schaub will have to throw plenty. He can do some damage against that secondary.
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7. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco is the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL quarterbacks. He gets no respect. All he does is win at least one playoff game every year. That said, I don’t love him as a QB option against a tough Broncos team.
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8. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
The Packers had a little difficulty dealing with Joe Webb’s running ability last week until he proved that he could not pass the ball. Kaepernick has the ability to run the ball, but unlike Webb, he can actually beat you with his arm too. I fear that the stage will be a little intimidating
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