Joe Flacco and the Ravens will face off against Matt Ryan and the Falcons for the first time since the two were drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft.
In that draft there was a lot of talk about Ryan being the best QB in the draft and I have to admit, I definitely agreed with the experts. Even the Ravens wanted Ryan, but he was taken early by the Falcons. The Ravens wanted a QB so bad that they traded up to draft Flacco, a move that a lot of people were nervous about. How much success could a kid who came from Division I-AA Delaware really have for an NFL team? No one really knew.
Ryan had an easier road to the starting spot than Flacco, who only got the start because the Ravens had no other options. Kyle Boller injured his shoulder in camp and Troy Smith had a bad case of tonsillitis only a few weeks before the season. The job was Flacco's to lose. It was the same case for Ryan.
Both Ryan and Flacco had high expectations from their fans and both quarterbacks didn't disappoint in their first seasons. Ryan took home the Rookie of the Year award and Flacco led his team to playoffs wins over Dolphins and Titans. Flacco did all this with John Harbaugh, who was also in his first season ever as a head coach in the NFL. Their 13 total wins broke an NFL record for a coach /quarterback combo in their first seasons together at their respective positions.
This is where Flacco and Ryan draw another comparison. Ryan's coach, Mike Smith, got his first head-coaching job the same year Ryan was drafted. You would think this inexperience would lead to some growing pains for both teams, but it was just the opposite. Since 2008, the Ravens and Falcons both have 26-14 record, one of many strange similarities these teams and their quarterbacks have shared over the past two seasons.
Lets move on to points scored since 2008. The Ravens have scored a total of 952 points and the Falcons, 950. What about the turnovers? The Ravens since 2008 have 54 turnovers. The Falcons have 56.
Those alone would be enough similarities worth pointing out, but the numbers of both quarterbacks are eerily similar as well. Flacco has 1,190 attempts to Ryan's 1,173. Flacco's completion percentage sits at 61.5 in his career whereas Ryan's is slightly lower at 60.4. Flacco has racked up 8,501 passing yards in his career with Ryan trailing at 8,305 yards. Ryan tops Flacco in passing touchdowns with 51. Flacco only trails that category by four. As for interceptions, both quarterbacks have thrown 30 in their career.
Down to the ever-important stat, the quarterback rating. Who takes home the title? Drum roll please.
With an 85.8 quarterback rating over his career, the award goes to Baltimore's own, Joe "Cool" Flacco. Oh yea, second place goes to Matt Ryan at 85.7. Are you kidding me?
Ryan did miss two games last season due to injury. Who knows how much closer the numbers would be had he played those two games.
The question is, who is the better quarterback? My nod goes to Flacco. He has led his team to the playoffs two years in a row and won three playoff games. Ryan only has only made the playoffs once and lost in the first round.
There's finally a stat that isn't similar. Flacco's has three playoff wins to Ryan's zero.
Who will take game one of their first ever meeting? I'm guessing they'll tie.
What do you think?