By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on August 27, 2014
With the 2014 NFL season just over a week away, it’s time to look at the best quarterbacks who will line up under center this year. The power ranking system that was used to compile this list was based off of surrounding talent, prediction of 2014 statistics and what the quarterback statistically accomplished last season. The amount of playoff victories and how many Super Bowl wins a quarterback has was not taken into consideration.
Ryan Tannehill is quickly emerging as a top-tier quarterback. The fact that his surrounding talent hardly matches the other 19 quarterbacks on this list has to be taken into consideration. No quarterback in the NFL last season was sacked more than Tannehill. If the offensive line can provide decent protection, expect him to top his 3,913 passing yards and 24 touchdowns from 2013.
Yes, Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings. That doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s one of the most inconsistent quarterback on this list. The good news is Manning can only improve on his league-worst 27 interceptions.
I desperately wanted to put Nick Foles higher on this list, but that can’t happen until he proves his performance last season wasn’t a fluke. Foles solidified himself as a legitimate threat under center for the Eagles. The fact that he posted 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 13 games is very encouraging. Leading Philadelphia to an NFC East crown shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s what happens after that could be.
Cam Newton had an efficient season in 2013, which is proof that he continues to improve as an NFL quarterback. With that said, I believe Newton and the Panthers are going to have a down year in 2014. The supporting cast is nowhere near where it needs to be, which is a very big problem. Plus, the Panthers won’t be able to run Newton as much going forward because of fear of injury.
Colin Kaepernick hasn’t looked good in the preseason, and even more importantly, his numbers fell flat last season at times. One can’t deny that Kaepernick steps up for the 49ers when they need him most. Unfortunately, the team appears to be on the down in 2014, which means more pressure will fall on him going forward.
There’s no denying that Joe Flacco is a winner, something he has been doing since he was drafted in 2008. For him, it will come down to moving the chains with ease without turning the ball over so much. His career-worst 22 interceptions from last season must be erased. The addition of Steve Smith should help offensively, but a lot will still fall on Flacco’s shoulders if the Ravens want to be successful.
It’s easy to rag on Jay Cutler for being a bad quarterback, but the reality is he has been very consistent that past four seasons. Sure, health has been an issue and the passing yards have been low. However, he has kept the turnover numbers down, which has been a problem area in the past. If Cutler can stay healthy in 2014, the Bears should be a dangerous team offensively.
In all three seasons Andy Dalton has been in the league, he has led the Bengals to the playoffs. His interception numbers need plenty of work, but the good news is the man knows how to find his way into the end zone. The expectations are set high for Dalton this year as he has to take the next step in his progression, especially after signing a large contract.
Nobody can protect the football like Alex Smith can. The signal caller doesn’t put up jaw-dropping numbers, but he will consistently put the offense in a position to score touchdowns and win games. Over the past three seasons, he has thrown 53 touchdown passes to only 17 interceptions. And, that was with changing teams and conferences in 2013.
Many believe Matthew Stafford shouldn’t be ranked as high because he has the best wide receiver in the game to throw to. However, there’s no denying that Stafford’s cannon of an arm can put up numbers in a hurry. The biggest issue with him is not turning the ball over, which has been a big-time problem for him throughout his career. Let’s be honest, 19 interceptions and four fumbles isn’t ideal.
Philip Rivers may seem to be too high on this list. With that said, he has tossed at least 26 touchdown passes in six straight seasons and passed for more than 4,000 yards in five of the last six years. Coming off a career year, it’s important that Rivers prove he can keep the Chargers on the winning path and do some damage in the incredibly competitive AFC West.
Matt Ryan was sacked the third most (44) among NFL quarterbacks, had no running game behind him and injuries scattered throughout the offense. Yet somehow, he tossed the fourth most passing yards (4,515) in the league last season. If Ryan can help the Falcons rebound from a horrendous season in 2013, he will certainly be higher on this list going forward.
I wonder where Tony Romo would stand in the eyes of the people if he didn’t falter in some of the biggest moments of his career. All of the haters better recognize that Romo has put up some outstanding numbers the past three seasons. In fact, in two of them he tossed 31 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. The man plays hurt, is mostly efficient and typically has to deal with a lot of issues around him.
Personal life set aside, Ben Roethlisberger is a proven winner. Even more impressive is that he was able to put up solid numbers last season despite an embarrassing amount of issues around him, most notably the horrendous running game. Roethlisberger is a good game manager, tough as nails and he’s coming off one of the best statistical seasons of his career.
The Colts knew what they were doing when they made Andrew Luck the successor to Peyton Manning. He has proven to be as good as advertised, which isn’t easy for No. 1 overall picks. The huge incline in production and efficiency from 2012 to 2013 is very encouraging. Even more important, he has the proven ability to lead the Colts to victory after they’re down, which is an attribute that all great quarterbacks have.
When thinking of the Seahawks, great defense is what comes to mind. However, Wilson is the man who deserves the credit for Seattle enjoying so much success the past two seasons. Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has an astonishing 52 touchdown passes, 19 interceptions, a 63.6 completion percentage and a 100.6 passer rating. He may not be as flashy as some of the other QBs on this list, but he gets the job done regardless.
Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Despite having a bunch of mostly no-named players around him on offense, Brady still managed to put up great numbers and lead the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game. His numbers consistently speak for themselves. The only issue in 2014 will be if he can do it again.
Drew Brees continues to put up jaw-dropping numbers year after year. There’s no reason to believe that will stop in 2014, especially with the Saints dominating all facets in the preseason. Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in the game, and Mark Ingram has looked great in the preseason. The awesome supporting cast will allow Brees to unleash a firestorm of offensive power.
Peyton Manning put up unreal numbers last season. Although a repeat performance can’t be expected, there’s no denying that he will come close, especially with the talent that surrounds him on offense. The Broncos will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl once again, and it will be all thanks to Manning’s outstanding production.
With a great running game beside him, Aaron Rodgers has the necessary weapons to have an MVP season. Plus, the no-huddle offense will allow him to shred apart defenses to the point where he will set career highs across the board. I’m talking 46 touchdowns and 4,800 passing yards. The Packers’ offense has dominated defenses in the preseason, which is something that won’t change come Week 1.
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