Like he has done the past two years, NFL Hall of Famer and New York Jets legend Joe Namath will join Yahoo Sports and the Shutdown Corner blog for commentary and analysis. Make sure you like the Official Joe Namath page on Facebook. And with playoff news always breaking like injuries and weather, please make sure to check the Broadway Joe site for updates and even more playoff insight from the legend himself! There’s also some great football gear and memorabilia as well!
You talk about games at this level and one of the biggest factors is always going to be the play of the quarterback position. This weekend's games though are really intriguing and you've got some differences in the quarterback styles in each of these games. Quite the case study I'd say!
In the AFC championship game you have Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. Two accomplished quarterbacks. Two guys who can throw it. Both are heading to Canton someday. They are savvy, and they can throw the ball like the greats.
Then in the late game, there is the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson against Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. Two young players who extend plays with their feet, who are athletes and quarterbacks.
You have really interesting styles here and very different styles in both games. Brady and Manning are classic pocket passers for the most part and they are brilliant with their minds. They've taken the passing game beyond the other teams with their designed pass routes with timing being a major factor. It is a joy to watch.
The receivers know how to play with these guys. Quarterbacks like these two don't come along very often.
But in that NFC game, it is a newer breed, a younger breed. They aren't necessarily classic dropback guys. Instead, they are more mobile. We have seen that the past couple years in the NFL, young quarterbacks who are more athletic. They can do things with their feet but also have arm strength.
The traditional playbook doesn't apply to these guys – the changes in the rules are protecting these guys. You go back to Archie Manning and Fran Tarkenton – those guys could run but they weren't protected. They were athletes but the rules of the game didn't protect them quite as much as quarterbacks are protected now.
Now modern quarterbacks are taking advantage of these new rules but they have to be careful about it.
We saw it last year with Robert Griffin III, who had to adapt and adjust his style this year with the Washington Redskins, that a mobile quarterback still must be smart with his body. And I say that even with the rule changes. Wilson is as fine as can be at this point in his career, but even he doesn't take it down the field that much. Kaepernick, I think, has had to cut back on some of that too.
The rules help these guys and yes you want these guys to take off, but you look at the longevity of Brady and Manning. Those guys are smart with their bodies. Both can run a little if they have to but they are smart. They don't expose themselves to taking shots.
These young, mobile and athletic quarterbacks do need to learn that if they want us to be talking about them a decade from now ... and I hope they do.
But as important as it is to have an athletic quarterback with these rules, the quarterback still has to be smart with his decisions. He can't expose himself to an injury. Not many teams have a great backup and you can't run that risk.
I like watching these new kids play. You want a big strong guy who can run and throw. The game for a classic pocket passer is changing a bit, but their smarts and ability to throw will always keep them there and winning.
As far as the head games and being smart, it has always been a basic necessity for a quarterback to have success.
We've seen guys who can run and throw in college but they weren't as quick mentally and that caught up to them. The mind is a major factor – athleticism is too. Don't forget that when you watch the games this weekend, we want all these quarterbacks to continue to stick around and dazzle us.
Each week throughout the playoffs, the man behind the Super Bowl III guarantee will provide his picks for the weekend. Want further insight? Check out Broadway Joe site for even more from the Hall of Fame quarterback! And during the games he will be providing insight and thoughts from JoeNamath on Twitter as well.
I'm always happy when things work out well. Last weekend I was four-for-four in my picks – don't remind me about the week before that though! Some really exciting games this week and not a lot of differences between the two teams.
New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos: Both teams have had some setbacks physically. My thoughts are that this is an even game, either team can win. For this game I'm reminded of something I heard in Alabama from a coach who told us, “I'm going to teach you to keep you from beating yourself.” The team that doesn't bust assignments, doesn't make penalties, limits mistakes, executes – that's the team that will have the edge. The margin of error is small. The Broncos have that injury to cornerback Chris Harris and that will hurt them. The Patriots proved themselves last week against the Indianapolis Colts. It is hard to pick against the Broncos at home but I like the Patriots and that running game they've got. Joe's Pick: Patriots
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks: I am leaning towards the 49ers here, even though Kaepernick does take a long time in the pocket with that long release of his. It will be hard to overcome that Seattle home crowd, but I like the 49ers' combination of offense and defense. I think the 49ers make a second straight Super Bowl appearance even as the road team – I just like their defense so much. The Seahawks passing game will have a tough time here and while they can run the ball against most teams, it will be a challenge here. I'm going with both road teams to win on Sunday and head to New Jersey for the Super Bowl. Joe's Pick: 49ers