The NFL is down to its final dynamic dozen, the 12 playoff teams that will battle to become Super Bowl LII champions.
Who’s a golf fan to pick?
We’ll leave the stat-crunching and deep-dive analysis to those who know football best. Here, we make it simple. We’re ranking the contenders based on the quarterback with the best game.
The best golf game, of course.
12. Cam Newton
During an interview with Golf Digest, Newton admitted he's "not a great golf player." Golf player? Sorry, Cam. Have to give you the No. 12 seed for that one.
T-9. Tyrod Taylor, Case Keenum, Nick Foles
We searched and searched and couldn't find any mention of these three quarterbacks playing a round of golf or mentioning golf in an interview. In fairness, we'll give them each a No. 9 ranking and hopefully we'll have some more info on their golf game if they return to the playoffs next season.
8. Marcus Mariota
The third-year quarterback for the Tennessee Titans seems to get out on the course fairly regularly, but isn't hanging up the helmet for a set of irons anytime soon. During an interview with the Titans in 2016, he broke down the matches he played in Oregon and continues to play with his center at Tennessee.
“My center back at Oregon used to beat me (in golf), too. I just need to get better. I am not very good. What do I shoot in 18 (holes)? Hopefully under 100. If it’s under 100, it’s a good day.”
The second-year quarterback out of Cal has the L.A. Rams in the playoffs in their first year back in Southern California. But living in one of the finest places in the country to golf year-round hasn't translated to much of a game for Goff. He participated in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship but finished third from last ahead of Derek Fisher and Charles Barkley.
As he said to the NFL Network, "I hope to be better at golf when I'm done playing football, not while I'm playing." Fast forward to the 2:26 mark to hear Goff talk more about his experience at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
6. Blake Bortles
Bortles has the Jags back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Living in Florida and having a couple of longer offseasons seems to have helped the lefty -- just like Phil, he's a left-handed golfer but throws right-handed -- develop a pretty strong golf swing. He's participated in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and even showed off some trick shot ability striping a righty driver left-handed a reported 220 yards.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is one of the most ruthless competitors on this list. He’s an expert at eluding tackles and picking apart defenses with his arm. He’s teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and with a handicap last known around 9, he can hold his own against many on this list. Hopefully, he took some of this advice from Peter Kostis to help straighten out his drive and shave a few more strokes off his score.
4. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Smith owns a very respectable game. He’s spent some time competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as well as the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and holds around a 6 handicap. If the trend here is that the more successful you become as a quarterback, the better your golf game gets, he could be tops on this list before you know it.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben is tough to tackle on the football field, and the guy can flat out hit a golf ball. He’s reportedly carried a handicap as low as 0.4 but more recent reports have that up near a 7 now. Roethlisberger has played in many celebrity pro-ams. Most notably, he shot an 81 in a pre-US Open competition in 2009 at Bethpage Black. We probably would card an 81 just walking to the first tee box the way that course was set up that year.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the league. He might be the best golfer, too, but not on our list. He got his start working in the clubhouse at a few Michigan golf courses before being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft (and proceeding to win five Super Bowls). He’s teed it up with some of the top golfers in the world, too. He's been coached by Jordan Spieth. He holds around an 8 handicap and is a regular at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Most popular? It's probably his to lose. But there's one golfer in this year's playoffs that stands above the rest.
1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan has played several times in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and carries around +1.2 handicap. He has the Falcons back in the playoffs seeking redemption for last year's dramatic Super Bowl loss. We could say a lot of great things about his swing, but this video of him making a par 5 look elementary says it all. If you’re picking your Super Bowl champion based on the golfing pedigree of their quarterback, the Falcons are your team.
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