Maybe one of the silliest questions centers around a quarterback's status: Is he elite? Does it really matter? If you have to ask whether a guy is elite, doesn't that suggest he's probably not? And when did this become such a hot topic?
You know where elite quarterbacks end up? The Hall of Fame. Is Baltimore's Joe Flacco headed down that path? Probably not. If you had your pick of, say, five quarterbacks that you would want if you were starting a team, would Flacco be on your list? Aside from die-hard Ravens fans, the answer would be no.
Does that mean you can't win with him? Well, the Ravens have proved otherwise for the past five years, and the fact that Flacco led them to the Super Bowl is proof you can win a title with him. Yes, even if San Francisco wins, Flacco has proved a point: He's a very good quarterback, capable of great games (and clunkers).
Flacco has talent around him, and that helps. Torrey Smith is a good fit with Flacco's strong arm, and Anquan Boldin is perfect for the tough intermediate routes with his strong hands and a physical nature. The Ravens have an excellent running back in Ray Rice and a good pass-catching tight end in Dennis Pitta. The defense -- usually -- has been outstanding during Flacco's Ravens tenure.
But Flacco deserves credit for taking chances -- as on the game-tying touchdown vs. Denver. He might lack awareness in the pocket at times, but he's unafraid to make any throw and is good at taking advantage of mismatches, as he did several times vs. Washington.
He's good for 10 to 12 interceptions each year, between 20 and 25 touchdowns and a passer rating in the mid- to upper-80s. If Baltimore wants to let him get away, good luck finding a quality replacement on short notice.
Not many quarterbacks are truly elite. And not every elite quarterback wins a Super Bowl (Sonny Jurgensen and Dan Marino come to mind). Flacco is not one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. But he's one of two still playing. I'm guessing he's OK with that. That's what matters.
- John Keim