NFL QB postseason EPA rankings: Patrick Mahomes a flips switch? Can Brock Purdy thrive in the moment?


Each of the four quarterbacks remaining in this year’s NFL postseason followed took differing production paths to reach the same moment in the league’s conference championship weekend.

One quarterback produced historically amazing numbers on the same level as peak Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, only to slip a bit the last couple of weeks.

Another quarterback maintained steady production even through peaks and valleys.

A third quarterback has pulled himself this postseason up after the worst regular season numbers of his storied career.

And the fourth is on his way to his second MVP award and squarely in the prime of his 2023 season.

In a continuation of my weekly quarterback outlooks, let’s take a glimpse at how every postseason quarterback stands using traditional statistics like passer rating, along with advanced metrics like Expected Points Added per dropback, via TruMedia, to provide a number-based outlook of the state of the position. I’ve added total QB EPA and offensive team EPA per play to this week’s study.

I’ve also broken down four aspects for these final four QBs:

  • Overall production
  • Production when blitzed
  • Production on third down
  • Production in the red zone

(Regular season ranking are among 30 passer rating qualified; postseason rankings among 14 playoff QBs)

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NFL QB EPA rankings: Which routes are most effective for remaining quarterbacks?

Overall

Regular season

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.26 (1)

113.0 (1)

132.8 (1)

0.29 (1)

0.11 (7)

97.9 (9)

59.9 (6)

0.09 (6)

0.07 (10)

92.6 (14)

35.2 (11)

0.01 (14)

0.07 (13)

102.7 (4)

35.6 (10)

0.09 (7)

Postseason

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.28 (3)

111.8 (3)

20.2 (2)

0.28 (5)

0.28 (4)

100.8 (9)

18.5 (4)

0.23 (6)

0.27 (5)

121.8 (1)

15.7 (7)

0.38 (3)

0.12 (9)

86.7 (11)

5.0 (9)

0.20 (7)

I guess Lamar Jackson can’t be perfect forever! The Baltimore Ravens QB only unleashed outstanding rates against the Houston Texans in the AFC divisional round rather than a perfect passer rating in his last regular season start in Week 17. In his last three games (at San Francisco 49ers, vs. Miami Dolphins, vs. Houston), Jackson has amassed a 0.41 EPA rate and 140.2 passer rating. Uh, that’s going to beat just about football team to ever play in the NFL. The Chiefs defense has compiled a 0.08 EPA per dropback rate, ranking fourth in the league this season.

It’s as if Patrick Mahomes simply needed to find the postseason to watch his EPA rates rise from a career low during the regular season. Now the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback only completed 17 passes while throwing a judicious 23 passes against the Bills in the divisional round. But he really moved the ball accounting for his 131.6 passer rating in last weekend’s win. Last week’s passer rating was a season high for Mahomes. He’s also yielded consecutive weeks of 0.29 and 0.26 EPA rates. The Ravens defense is no joke with a 0.14 EPA rate, second behind only the Cleveland Browns.

Jared Goff “cooled off” to a 0.17 EPA rate and a 103.5 passer rating in the Detroit Lions’ divisional win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If that’s cooling off, then he can stay cool because Goff has been outstanding the last three weeks. He’s produced a 0.29 EPA rate and 115.8 passer rating from Week 18 until now. The Niners defense ranks sixth in EPA rate at 0.04.

The pressure is on for Brock Purdy. Yes, the wet conditions weren’t very conducive for the Niners quarterback in the divisional round against the Green Bay Packers. Still, his last two games against viable opponents (sorry, not you, Washington Commanders in Week 18) yielded a combined -0.18 EPA rate and 61.2 passer rating against the Ravens and Packers. But the Lions defense only carries a -0.13 EPA rate, 30th in the NFL.

Blitz

Regular season

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.35 (3)

128.4 (1)

53.1 (1)

0.37 (3)

0.16 (7)

94.7 (16)

21.1 (8)

0.24 (5)

0.14 (10)

99.6 (12)

30.6 (5)

0.16 (11)

0.03 (17)

102.5 (9)

4.5 (16)

0.05 (17)

Postseason

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.35 (6)

110.6 (8)

10.9 (3)

0.33 (7)

0.23 (7)

105.5 (9)

2.5 (8)

0.23 (8)

0.15 (9)

127.1 (5)

3.2 (7)

0.15 (9)

-0.00 (10)

71.2 (12)

-0.1 (10)

0.08 (10)

The Lions had better hope for Aidan Hutchinson and Co. to provide pressure on Purdy. There’s no talking your way out of thinking the 49ers quarterback isn’t a stud against the blitz. Purdy still tallied good rates against the Packers even in last week’s sluggish overall outing.

The glaring aspect comes with Mahomes in the last two weeks against the blitz. And with those numbers comes a very stark contrast from the wild-game game to the divisional round. The Chiefs passer uncorked a 0.61 EPA rate against the Bills and dragged to only a -0.03 EPA rate against the Dolphins. Helps when the conditions aren’t Arctic cold like the wild-card round in Kansas City.

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Third down

Regular season

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.30 (3)

100.1 (10)

36.2 (4)

0.27 (4)

0.17 (7)

112.6 (2)

30.2 (7)

0.19 (8)

0.04 (12)

99.5 (11)

8.2 (11)

0.08 (13)

0.01 (15)

102.5 (7)

-2.0 (17)

0.14 (10)

Postseason

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.46 (1)

132.1 (1)

6.4 (2)

0.73 (2)

0.25 (4)

114.1 (3)

5.0 (4)

0.06 (6)

0.04 (9)

71.3 (9)

0.3 (9)

-0.05 (9)

0.01 (10)

60.4 (12)

0.1 (10)

-0.06 (10)

So what you’re saying is don’t blitz Purdy or Goff and don’t let either of them get to a third down? Got it!

This is another example of Purdy playing big in the biggest situations. And again, another example of playing clutch even though an uneven performance like last week. For Goff, he’s even elevated his good regular season numbers on third down to great rates in the playoffs.

You can’t blame Arctic conditions this time for Mahomes’ awful third-down rates against the Bills: -0.51 EPA rate, 42.4 passer rating. That goes against the grain of Mahomes’ regular season.

But if there’s one kryptonite for Jackson, it’s when teams blitz him on third down. He’s produced a -0.61 EPA rate in those situations (regular season and postseason). That’s 30th out of 30. For perspective, the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott led the league with a 0.74 EPA rate. Jackson’s one drawback against Houston came on the blitz on third down with a -0.22 EPA rate

Red zone

Regular season

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

0.25 (2)

106.8 (4)

19.7 (4)

0.29 (4)

0.20 (6)

109.6 (1)

19.8 (3)

0.36 (2)

0.07 (11)

101.2 (8)

7.1 (8)

0.29 (5)

0.04 (13)

98.9 (11)

-4.6 (19)

-0.04 (17)

Postseason

player EPA/DB Psr Rt Total QB EPA Off EPA/Play

1.09 (1)

122.2 (3)

9.1 (2)

1.24 (2)

0.53 (4)

116.0 (4)

6.3 (3)

0.71 (4)

0.09 (8)

79.2 (11)

0.2 (8)

1.77 (1)

-0.37 (11)

100.0 (6)

-7.0 (14)

-0.58 (11)

Might as well throw in not letting Purdy and Goff get into the red zone either as a caution to both defenses this Sunday. The Niners only had one red zone possession against the Packers with Christian McCaffrey punching in the touchdown. So Purdy’s passer rating didn’t hinder San Francisco.

The Ravens hit touchdowns on four of their five possessions against the Texans last weekend. Jackson had his hand in every one of those TDs accounting for his monstrous red zone EPA rate. Meanwhile, the Chiefs only have a 40 percent TD rate in the red zone this postseason, only bettering the Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams. Mahomes’ rates would have jumped, though, if his scoring pass to Travis Kelce went for 20 yards instead of 22 yards. Still, it’s not like Mahomes’ rates were off the charts in the regular season either.

(Photo of Patrick Mahomes, Al Bello / Getty Images) 





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