<
>
Insider

Ranking playoff losers best set up for 2017

play
What does the future hold for Tony Romo? (1:45)

Ed Werder breaks down the complicated financial situation the Dallas Cowboys face as they decide how to move forward with or without Tony Romo. (1:45)

So much for the thought that defense wins championships year after year in the NFL.

Sure, the Denver Broncos won last year's Super Bowl with a historically great defense, but they did have a future Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning starting at quarterback. The theme from this season's Super Bowl run is quarterbacks.

Arguably the league's best three quarterbacks of the last few years -- Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger -- have brought their team to the conference championship games. Matt Ryan, considered the favorite to be named the 2016 MVP, faces Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game.

The most incredible quarterback stat resides in the AFC. Since 2003, only four AFC quarterbacks -- Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco -- have played in Super Bowls.

Maybe just a handful of the teams that have been knocked out of the playoffs will be back next season -- that's just how it goes in the NFL. Of last year's playoff field, the two Super Bowl teams (Denver and Carolina), as well as Arizona, Washington, Minnesota and Cincinnati, didn't make it to the playoffs this season. That's 50 percent.

Here's how I rank each playoff loser's chances of returning to the playoffs next season: