The Joe Flacco-Matt Ryan debate is raging once again.
Drafted in the first round in 2008, No. 3 and No. 18, respectively, Ryan and Flacco are forever linked.
Usually one to shun comparisons, debates or any media hype, Flacco actually likes this one.
"I think it's a cool thing because as long as you're still talking to us, we're somewhat relevant," Flacco said. "It's a shame we're in different conferences and we don't get to play each other as often as we'd probably like to."
The two quarterbacks have been incessantly picked apart the past six seasons. And when they face off, as they'll do for the second time in their regular-season careers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, their differences will be analyzed.
But the truth is, the two quarterbacks are more similar than one might think.
After all, Flacco is nicknamed "Joe Cool" and Ryan is nicknamed "Matty Ice."
"We did a lot of work on both of these guys, and they're very similar in a lot of ways – the height, weight, speed measurable," Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith said.
"Joe has done a great job leading the Baltimore Raven team. And Matt has done a very good job, a great job of leading our team. And I think they're both elite quarterbacks. They have been playing at an elite level, in my opinion, for quite some time – both of them."
Elite has looked different for the two quarterbacks.
Ryan has consistently put up better cumulative stats than Flacco. He's thrown for more passing yards, he's thrown more touchdowns and has a higher quarterback rating.
Flacco trumps Ryan in the win-loss column – especially in the playoffs. Flacco has 66 regular-season wins to Ryan's 62. Flacco has nine career playoff wins and a Super Bowl ring and MVP award. Ryan has just one playoff win in five postseason tries.
Thus, there's the debate over who the better quarterback is, or has been. On Wednesday, Ryan was asked for his take on that question.
"I think we've both played well at different times," Ryan said. "I don't think it's something that I think about all that often."
The bottom line is, both quarterbacks have had a lot of success, which has kept the debate raging. But at the core, they're of the same ilk, and their connection goes beyond the 2008 draft.
Flacco and Ryan actually grew up nearby to one another, something Flacco didn't realize until Ryan made it big at Boston College.
Flacco was to the east of Philadelphia, not far over the border in New Jersey. Ryan was a north Philadelphia boy. Flacco's Audubon High School is less than a half-hour away from Ryan's William Penn Charter School.
"No doubt about it, I think we're very similar in who we are and what we believe in," Flacco said. "There's definitely a little bit of a connection there."
Flacco and Ryan got to know each other during the draft process, at the combine and different events. They have since seen each other at various offseason charity events. Ryan said he's always enjoyed spending time with Flacco.
The two signal callers have followed each other's careers over the years. It's not a matter of studying tape of one another, but they take notice of how the other is doing since they both came out at the same time.
"From a distance I followed him and have always been impressed," Ryan said.
"I've gotten to know Joe over the years and really have a lot of respect for him, really like him, and I'm happy and proud of the way his career has turned out. I think he's done a great job in Baltimore."