By: Denery Noone
I spent some time in the film room and broke down the top quarterbacks in the League. Here is 10-1.
10. Joe Flacco 2014: 10-6 TD: 27 INT: 12
Flacco was highly underrated last year as he posted 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Flacco is an extremely talented quarterback with tremendous arm strength and deep ball accuracy. He has great leadership qualities and loves flying under the radar. Additionally, Flacco is nowhere near his best during the regular season. Enter playoff Joe Flacco: Poised, determined, and not afraid of the moment. When the playoffs come around, Joe Flacco raises his game to an extreme level. Flacco went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers and then threw four touchdowns in a heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in Foxboro in the divisional round. With most of their core besides Torrey Smith returning, look for Flacco to have a big year and to lead the Ravens deep into the playoffs.
9. Cam Newton 2014: 7-8-1 TD: 18 INT: 12
Yes, Newton was underwhelming last year with only 18 touchdown passes, but remember, this is a power rankings list for the 2015 season. Expect Cam Newton to have a big year in Carolina. His 2014 season started poorly and most thought the Panthers were doomed to finish at the bottom of the NFC South. After missing a game because of injuries he received in a car accident, Newton lead the team to the playoffs in the terrible NFC South. Newton has an extremely strong throwing arm, and he is able to make throws from the pocket, but that’s not even the half of it. Newton is an elite runner with exceptional openfield and playmaking abilities. With another year of experience for both Newton and his number one receiver Kelvin Benjamin, expect the Panthers to win the NFC South with a respectable record and a dominant Cam Newton.
8. Drew Brees 2014: 7-9 TD: 33 INT: 17
Brees is the choice here at 8 based on his statistical output in the past and his expected production this year. Brees is a great passer. He consistently rips apart defenses with average wide receivers due to his accuracy, arm strength, and football IQ. My concerns for Brees are that he lost his number one target in Jimmy Graham and he had a high interception number last year at 17, which meant he was forcing a lot of balls. However, look for Brees to put up big numbers next year and try to reduce that interception total in an attempt to bring the average Saints back to the playoffs.
7. Tony Romo 2014: 12-4 TD: 34 INT: 9
Tony Romo really matured both as a leader and a quarterback last season. He lead the Cowboys to the NFC East division title that they had failed to capture in previous years. Romo also put up exceptional numbers. He lowered his turnovers dramatically and he came through in clutch situations. One of Romo’s best qualities might be his ability to extend plays, which has allowed receivers like Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley to find open space and make huge plays. I think the Cowboys will have another big season and Tony Romo will be a huge reason why.
6. Peyton Manning 2014: 12-4 TD: 39 INT: 15
Yes, Manning at number 6 is surprising, but this is the right spot for the aging superstar. Manning started 2014 very strong, but after a week 9 matchup in New England (in which the Patriots dominated), Manning was not the same. In Manning's final 5 games, he threw 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, which is extremely uncommon for the five-time MVP. But the fact of the matter is, Manning turns 39 this year, he has had four neck surgeries, and his arm strength is something that has become a serious concern. He failed to make several common throws in that divisional playoff game against Indianapolis, and I fear that he is no longer able to survive a 16 game season plus a potential playoff run. He did lose Julius Thomas, but Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are back. He loves proving doubters wrong, so expect him to still put up good numbers, but don’t hold your breath on a deep playoff run as once again his body will break down come January.
5. Ben Roethlisberger 2014: 11-5 TD: 32 INT: 9
This might not be the most popular pick, but Roethlisberger is poised for a huge year. After a couple of tough injury-filled years that Big Ben played through, he had a mostly healthy season and was able to return to form, putting up big numbers and leading the Steelers back to the playoffs. He has the best slot receiver (and maybe the best overall receiver) in the game (Antonio Brown), along with emerging deep threat (Martavis Bryant), and the best receiving running back in the NFL (Le’Veon Bell). Roethlisberger is one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack thanks to his size and strength. Also, his mobility and accuracy are returning in big ways. Look out for a huge season from Big Ben and don’t be surprised if the Steelers seriously contend in the AFC.
4. Andrew Luck 2014: 11-5 TD: 40 INT: 16
I mentioned this in the Big Three Podcast earlier this week, if I could start my franchise TODAY with any quarterback in the league, it would be Andrew Luck. However, this does not mean that Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the league right now. In a few years, he will be, but right now he is not quite there yet. He is a physical freak at 6’4” and 240 lbs. with a 4.67 40-yard dash. He is a great leader, he can run an offense very efficiently, he can read defenses well, and he has impeccable throwing abilities. He lead the NFL in touchdown passes last year with 40, but he also throws the ball more than almost anybody in the league. Luck’s receiving corps, led by T.Y. Hilton and newly-acquired Andre Johnson, also feature Donte Moncrief and Coby Fleener who figure to help Luck out even more next year. Luck does have some flaws though, the biggest being the interception numbers. Look for Luck to decrease those numbers this year and look for the Colts to return to the playoffs behind the strong play of Andrew Luck.
3. Russell Wilson 2014: (12-4) TD: 20 INT: 7
Some of you might disagree with this choice but for me it is clear: all Russell Wilson does is win. Wilson might not be a statistical nightmare, but he is 36-12 in his first three seasons. He is the first quarterback since Tom Brady to appear in two super bowl’s in his first three seasons, and he is nearly impossible to prepare for. People forget that Wilson also ran for 6 touchdowns last year, with his longest rush being 55 yards. Wilson’s duel threat ability keeps defensive coordinators awake at night and his intelligence is up there with the best. Wilson has not had a great group of receivers, similar to Brady in his early seasons when his top receivers were Troy Brown and David Givens. However, The addition of Jimmy Graham, the return of Marshawn Lynch, and the possible emergence of super bowl hero Chris Matthews will make Wilson and that Seahawks offense more lethal than ever.
2. Tom Brady 2014: (12-4) TD: 33 INT: 9
Although Brady is no longer quite on the same level as Aaron Rodgers from a statistical standpoint, he is the ultimate competitor and leader. Brady is a no brainer at 2 after completing 64% of his passes and winning his fourth super bowl last season. Brady is one of the best at picking apart defenses through check downs and underneath routes. Throughout his career, Brady has only really had one true deep threat and that was Randy Moss. Instead, he has made slot receivers like Troy Brown, Wes Welker, David Givens, Deion Branch, and Julian Edelman reception machines and matchup nightmares. A couple things to worry about with Brady are his age, he will be turning 38 this year, and his possible suspension, but I don’t see Brady slowing down anytime soon.
1. Aaron Rodgers 2014 Team Record: (12-4) TD:38 INT:5
Rodgers is the obvious choice here at number one. He is far and away the best quarterback in the NFL and he proved it last year. Rodgers and the Packers had a really great year last year, going 12-4. They beat out the Detroit Lions to win the difficult NFC North, and they were one onside kick recovery away from the Super Bowl. There are so many special features to Aaron Rodgers’ game that separate him from the rest of the competition. He is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league, has incredible arm strength, and great zip on his throws. But the most impressive part of his game is his ability to be as accurate throwing on the run as any other quarterback is simply standing in the pocket. He also has the ability to tuck the ball and run which changes the way defenses play and prepare for him. The one thing I would look out for with Rodgers is how he returns from that calf injury he suffered at the end of last season, but ultimately if he is healthy he would be my pick to repeat as the League MVP.