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Your Call: Is Flacco an elite NFL quarterback?

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Mitch Ward, TSN.ca Staff
1/21/2013 6:54:00 PM
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Call him a giant killer, call him Joe Cool, or, call him Fluke-O.

Whatever you want to call him, the fact of the matter is, Joe Flacco is about to start in the Super Bowl.

Over the course of the last two weeks, Flacco's Baltimore Ravens have knocked off a pair of NFL legends in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to reach the big game.

What's more, Flacco beat the two future first ballot Hall of Famers on their own turf.

First, the Ravens won a thrilling 38-35 overtime decision against Manning's Denver Broncos at Invesco at Mile High. The win included a 70-yard Flacco TD bomb for the game's winning score. Next, Flacco thoroughly outplayed Brady in Foxboro, throwing for 240 yards and three touchdowns to win the AFC conference championship.

So, is it time to call Joe Flacco an elite quarterback?

We already know what he thinks.

Speaking to a Baltimore radio station before the season, Flacco said he believes he's the "best" quarterback in the NFL.

"I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback," Flacco said when asked where he thinks he ranks among NFL quarterbacks. "I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question."

His teammates are also on his side.

"He's a great quarterback," said Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught two Flacco touchdown passes, after the win over New England. "I don't know why people keep doubting him because the bigger the situation, the bigger he plays, and he's proven that time and time again."

He's also putting together some impressive numbers to back the case up. Try this one: 6.

That's how many playoff road wins Flacco has as a starter - the most in NFL history. At a position that values winning above all else, Flacco is getting pretty good at it.

Here's another one: 8.

That's how many touchdown passes Flacco has thrown so far in the playoffs. He has yet to throw an interception. In fact, in the last three post-seasons, Flacco has thrown 15 touchdowns with only two picks.

Sunday will be his first Super Bowl start, but Flacco probably should have been there last year, too. Trailing by three at New England, Flacco hit Lee Evans in the numbers for a sure touchdown with less than 30 seconds to play, only to have Evans drop the ball. Kicker Billy Cundiff then proceeded to miss a chip-shot field goal and the Ravens' season was over. Flacco led the team to victory, the team just didn't follow.

On the other side of the argument, Flacco detractors can always point to his stats. He has never thrown for 4,000 yards. This season was his highest total ever at 3,817, which was only good enough for 14th in the NFL.

He has also never thrown for more than 25 touchdowns in a season. This year, he threw 22 which moved him into a tie for 15th.

His best ever QB rating for a season was 93.6, set in 2010. His best is lower than the career averages for players like Brady (96.6), Manning (95.7), Drew Brees (94.2) and Aaron Rodgers (104.9). It's less than Tony Romo's (95.6) too.

There's also the fact that he hasn't actually won a Super Bowl yet, something each of the aforementioned quarterbacks have done at least once, save for Romo.

And even then, Super Bowls don't always make you elite. Remember that the last Ravens quarterback to win a Super Bowl was Trent Dilfer.

So where do you sit on the Flacco debate? Is he elite or not? Will that change if he is hoisting the Lombardi Trophy two weeks from now?

As always it's Your! Call.

Joe Flacco (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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