Ranking the AFC’s best quarterbacks

AFC WEST

afsc best quarterbacks
Phil Rivers remains the best quarterback in the AFC West.

1. Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers

Rivers is the definition of an elite NFL quarterback. He has started every single game he has played in 12 NFL seasons, making the Pro-Bowl in 7 of them. He has passed for 4,000+ yards nine times in his career, and at some point has led the league in every major statistical category, including completions, completion percentage, passing yards, TDs, and QB rating. You can rank him right up there with Dan Marino as one of the best QBs to never win a Super Bowl, however, his story isn’t over yet. The Chargers have a strong team this year, with one of the best young wide receivers in Keenan Allen. The return of Mike Williams should make this receiving corps even better, giving the Chargers a real shot at contending this season.

2. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Derek Carr started immediately as a rookie and instantly made the Raiders glad they drafted him in the second round. Carr has made the Pro-Bowl his past 3 seasons, despite the Raiders having losing records in 2 of them. He has thrown for no less than 20 TDs in each of his 4 seasons in the league and despite some growing pains, Carr seems to have a very bright future in the NFL.

3. Case Keenum, Denver Broncos

Keenum had an unbelievable season last year, but the fact of the matter is, he hasn’t proven himself year in and year out like the other QB’s in this division have. The question is; did his breakout season leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship game prove he’s ready to take that step into becoming a successful NFL starter? Keenum went 11-3 as a starter last year and his 22 TDs were more than twice the amount he had thrown in any other season. This year we will find out if that was a product of the system he was playing in, or if he’s truly matured and ready to capitalize on this opportunity and be a successful QB in this league.

4. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City ChiefsĀ 

Despite the huge upside Mahomes has with his cannon arm and incredible athleticism, he has proven himself even less than Keenum. In his one NFL start he threw for 284 yards, with no TDs and 1 INT, however, it was enough to get the win. There is no doubt this young man has untapped potential that cannot be measured until we see more of him on the field. With weapons like Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, it’s not hard to imagine him thriving next year, but a serious playoff push is unlikely for such a young QB who hasn’t taken many NFL snaps. That being said, Mahomes could be a superstar in this league in the next couple years.

AFC NORTH

1. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben has had only one losing season in his 14 year NFL career and has been a Pro-Bowler the past 4 consecutive seasons, proving that he is still in his prime. At 6′ 5″ and 240 lbs he is huge for a quarterback and not easy to bring down. Impressive at improvising, Big Ben is mobile for his size and is surprisingly accurate throwing on the run. He has led Pittsburgh to 2 Super Bowl victories and the 36-year-old isn’t showing signs of slowing down. It helps having Antonio Brown and youngster JuJu Smith-Shuster as targets and Leveon Bell in the backfield as a dual running/pass catching threat. You can certainly bet the Steelers will be contenders this postseason.

2. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton has only produced one winning season the past three seasons but his numbers dwarf Flacco’s. The past 3 years he has a 68 TD to 27 INT ratio, despite working with a patchwork offensive line year in and year out. Dalton is a 3-time Pro-Bowler and much more accurate passer than he’s given credit for.

3. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Is Joe Flacco elite? No. Is he serviceable? Yes. Flacco has had one winning season the past three years. His 18 TD to 13 INT ratio last year was underwhelming, to say the least. His past three seasons he has accumulated 52 TDs and 40 INTs, those are numbers that are reflective of greatness. He has never made a Pro-Bowl in his 10-year career, but to his credit was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII. After the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson with the final pick of the 1st round, all signs are pointing towards Flacco’s career coming to an end soon.

4. Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns

Despite the Browns using the first overall pick on Baker Mayfield, I’ve said this for some time now, Tyrod Taylor needs to be the man this year in Cleveland. Taylor is known to be a conservative short yardage passer, and his interception numbers reflect that. He has never thrown more than 6 INTs in 3 seasons of being a starting QB. But Taylor has never had an elite receiver to throw to in his career. Last season his top receiver barely eclipsed 550 yards receiving. RB LeSean McCoy was his second best receiver who had 448 receiving yards, and Taylor still led Buffalo into the playoffs. After being traded to Cleveland this year, things are looking much brighter. Josh Gordon is back and looking like his old self, and the signing of standout Jarvis Landry gives Taylor the two most talented receivers he’s ever had the chance to take the field with. I’m expecting Taylor to have his best statistical career and actually have the Browns finishing with a winning record, something that hasn’t happened since George W. Bush was president.

AFC EAST

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

No surprises here, Brady is arguably the best QB in the NFL. Brady is an 18-year veteran and a 13-time Pro-Bowler, including the past 9 consecutive years. Let’s not forget his 3 MVPs and 5 Super Bowl victories. He has an unbelievable 196-55 career winning record and next year will become just the 3rd quarterback to start a game at the age of 41 (the other 2 are Warren Moon and Brett Favre). Brady will go down in history as one of the best QBs to ever play the game.

2. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill actually threw for 4,000+ yards in 2015 and 2016, but last year proved the quarterback he truly is, throwing for under 3,000 yards with just 19 TDs and 12 INTs. He’s only produced one winning season out of five, yet the Dolphins keep holding out hope he can be the man. He can’t. Tannehill being ranked number 2 in this division shows just how awful this division is. No wonder the Patriots have home field advantage practically every post season.

3. Teddy Bridgewater, New York Jets

We aren’t even sure Bridgewater will be the starter next season, but he’s still the 3rd best QB in this putrid division. The last time Bridgewater started a season as the starting quarterback was 2015 and he went 11-5, leading the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. He was also a Pro-Bowler that year. But a gruesome knee injury kept Bridgewater out for the entire 2016 season and practically all of the 2017 season. After finally being cleared for full contact activity the Jets picked him up on a one year contract. The obvious question with Bridgewater is his knee. If he can stay healthy, I think he starts for this New York Jets team.

4. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen could be the next Ben Roethlisberger, or he could be the next JaMarcus Russell. He is said to have a cannon for an arm, but he was drafted out of Wyoming where he didn’t exactly face the top competition the NCAA has to offer. at 6-4, 235 lbs he has excellent size and is considered mobile and hard to bring down. But he is also said to have some accuracy issues, throwing a lot of interceptions, as well as having some ball security problems. I believe he can be coached into a good player and maybe he needs to sit a season to gain some confidence and see first hand how fast the NFL game can be. But are the Buffalo Bills the team to mold him into an elite quarterback? Probably not.

AFC SOUTH

1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

There was some hesitation ranking Luck this high considering he missed the entire season last year due to injury, but when he has played, Luck has been incredible. He made the Pro-Bowl in 3 of his 5 seasons and has also thrown for 4,000+ yards in 3 of his 5 seasons. In the 4 seasons where he has started at least 15 games, he has averaged 30 TDs.

2. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

When Watson tore his ACL in practice in early November, it was easily the most disappointing injury in the NFL. Watson had been absolutely shredding NFL defenses and was looking like a lock for Rookie of the Year. Despite only 7 career games under his belt, his ranking here is justified. An electric athlete, Watson passed for an astonishing 16 TDs in his final 4 games. At the rate he was throwing TDs, he would have finished with over 43 TDs on the season, that’s 11 more than Tom Brady had. Knee injuries can be tough for quarterbacks, but I don’t believe this will turn into an RGIII situation. Watson just seems like he is just made from a different mold. If he can stay healthy, he will be a huge threat for NFL defenses for years to come.

3. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles finally put together his first winning season last year as the Jaguars went 10-6 and finally made it to the playoffs. However, that feels like more of a product of the Jags defense than Bortles himself. With 21 TDs and 13 INTs, Bortles didn’t wow anyone, but did just enough to keep his team in some close games. 10 wins somehow feels like his ceiling though and I can’t help but think the Jags would be serious contenders with better QB play.

4. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

What happened to Marcus Mariota? He followed up an understandably shaky rookie season with a 26 TD, 9 INT performance, things were looking promising. Then last year he threw for a measly 13 TDs with 15 INTs. The Titans somehow went 9-6 with that kind of play from their quarterback. One can’t help but wonder how many more games they could have won had their quarterback not thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. There have been grumblings that he was playing through a hamstring injury. It didn’t help that Rishard Matthews was the only WR on the roster to start at least 10 games. The Titans are starting fresh with new head coach Mike Vrabel, who is bringing in a new offensive coordinator so hopefully, Mariota can turn things around.

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