Quarterback longevity is brimming over into new vistas.
This year's saucy postseason field features all three of these blue-haired passers, but plenty of fresh-faced signal-callers, too. Players with years remaining in the NFL.
No quarterback can whistle dixie through the playoffs and assume he'll be back next January. That said, some of this year's under-center performers arguably face more pressure to hoist the Lombardi Trophy A.S.A.P.
8) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Winning a Super Bowl would cap off, for Mahomes, arguably the greatest season ever by a quarterback in NFL history. His 50 touchdowns through the air tied Brady's total from 2007, and it fell just five short of Peyton Manning's record-setting 55 from 2013, but both of those future Hall of Famers were dropped in the playoffs in the years they reached those marks. Pulling off what neither could? Yeah, that'd entrench Mahomes in a special category, the accomplishment seeming all the more impressive because he's a first-year starter. Brady was 30 in 2007 and Manning 37 in 2013 -- Mahomes is 23 and putting throws on tape that no quarterback in gridiron lore has previously offered up. Barring disaster, he'll be around for the next 15-plus years.
7) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: Pressure piles up for quarterbacks attached to star-studded offenses. Dallas hits the Divisional Round with the top remaining scoring defense (20.2 points per game allowed during the regular season, sixth-best in the NFL) but the worst remaining offense in terms of scoring (21.2 points per game, 22nd) and total yards (343.8 per game, 22nd). The Cowboys mining their way to the Super Bowl would serve as a stunning upset requiring them to topple the Rams on the road this weekend before taking down the Saints in New Orleans (unless the Eagles unfurl another Philly Special on Sunday). Prescott has played some of his best football over the past two weeks, which is helpful as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract in 2019. A new deal would leave Prescott at the helm of a talented club for years to come, and such a pact feels imminent no matter what this team's fate is, with owner Jerry Jones announcing in November: "Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He's young and he's going to get extended."
6) Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams: Goff is cemented in place on a talented team with a genius coach in Sean McVay. There is tangible pressure on the first overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft to shake off his late-season dip in play and lift the Rams to a playoff win after last year's surprise tumble at home to the Falcons. A loss to the Cowboys would turn up the heat, but Goff will still be viewed as a centerpiece inside a franchise that should hover near the top of the NFC again in 2019.
5) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Set to turn 30 next season, Luck is entirely back in the mix as one of the game's most gifted -- and finally healthy -- signal-callers. The future is wildly bright with this ultra-talented passer now paired with my Coach of the Year pick in Frank Reich and, arguably, the Executive of the Year in general manager Chris Ballard. One can imagine this trio keeping Indy in the mix for ages to come, leaving Luck and the Colts as favorites to win the AFC South next season and beyond. Still, this team is riding a hot streak of wild proportions, having won five straight and 10 of its last 11 games, and Luck has waited so long to get back to this place. Taking down the Chiefs at Arrowhead is a rough-and-tumble chore, but if the Colts can do it, Luck would sit just weeks away from changing his destiny forever with a potential trip to the Super Bowl. The AFC's sixth seed is playing with house money after rebounding from a 1-5 start to snag a wild-card spot, but Luck isn't taking anything for granted after spending so many months tucked away in the abyss.
4) Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles: Foles could arguably retire into a second career as a Philadelphia-area telemarketer, vanish from the spotlight and still be viewed forever in that town as a savior who descended from high places above the Earth. From that angle, the MVP of Super Bowl LII arguably doesn't even belong in this article, but look at it this way: Just two games away from winning the NFC, Foles has a legitimate shot to go from the hero of a heartwarming Super Bowl tale to, well, one of the biggest pro football developments of the past 100 years. Backup quarterback emerges two seasons in a row to tug unlikely squad to a Lombardi while starry starter watches from the sideline? Please. If Foles ever pulled it off, he'd become a more compelling legend with every passing year as fans remembered feats that only grew more superhuman from age to age. Yes, this matters. Yes, he has more to gain than almost anyone on this list by again doing what nobody believes can be accomplished.
3) Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Maybe he's last on your list. Makes sense, I suppose, with Brady already toting around five heavy rings. Still, our last memory of Tommy on the biggest stage was a white-knuckled loss to the Eagles that saw Foles catch an etched-in-history touchdown via the iconic Philly Special while Brady, with a billion people watching, flubbed a lob aimed his way earlier in that ill-fated game. TB12 is the greatest quarterback of all time, but how you exit stage left matters. I can't help but wonder if this is the final playoff run for New England's shining star -- no matter what he says -- and everything inside of him burns for one more Lombardi.
2) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: If Brees reaches the Super Bowl, he'll be 40 years old by kickoff. It's not unfair to say this might be the veteran's final shot to add a second title to his resume. At the same time, Brees has shown essentially zero falloff under center, looking just as prepared as Brady to play into his fifth decade on Earth. It's almost an upset Brees hasn't been to a second Super Bowl during his lengthy, uber-successful run in New Orleans. Getting there means knocking off the magical Eagles before taking on the Rams or Cowboys -- and the latter of those teams stymied Brees a little over a month ago on "Thursday Night Football." It's no simple road, but home-field advantage helps top-seeded New Orleans as much as any team league-wide. The postseason Saints are 5-0 in the dome during the Sean Payton/Brees era, and the wily passer enters Sunday with a league-best 21:1 touchdown-to-pick ratio in his own house. Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance would serve as a major disappointment.
1) Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers: It was Brees who was ultimately shipped out of town by the Bolts to make room for the first-rounder Rivers. They're both next-level iron men at the position -- Rivers hasn't missed a start since taking over the job in 2006 -- but the postseason hasn't been kind to the Chargers. Every quarterback on this list over the age of 29 has won a Super Bowl, save for Rivers. As one of the most likable figures in the NFL, he's easy to root for. As one of the league's most ferocious competitors, he's itching to win a title. Mowing down Brady and the Patriotsthis weekend would put Rivers back in the AFC title game for just the second time in his celebrated career. It's worth noting the Bolts are just the eighth team since the 1970 merger to win at least nine games -- including one in London -- away from home in one season (including the playoffs). The previous seven all won the Super Bowl. I can't conjure up a better story than Rivers finally making it to that elusive, fate-filled threshold.