The Complete 2009 AFC Quarterback Predictions
The Quarterback is the most valuable part to any offense. Without a good quarterback, an offense usually crumbles.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule as Joe Flacco proved last season as an effective game manager, but less-than-stellar quarterback.
Just look at what Drew Brees did last season. While the rest of the offense was struggling to stay healthy, Brees single-handedly kept his team in nearly every game only for the defense to blow it.
With a good quarterback under center, every team is a playoff contender.
Those teams who struggle at the quarterback position like the Vikings or Titans rely heavily on their running game to carry the team, but a quarterback has more of an impact overall.
I will try to make this a series for each position, so keep checking back with me. I'll post the NFC as soon as possible.
Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards
His 2008 season started out brilliant. He was carrying his under-appreciated team to a first place spot atop the AFC East.
In his first four games, he threw for 930 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions, and completed 65.5 percent of his passes.
He was showing the leadership that the Bills desperately needed an arm that was more accurate than Chad Pennington could have ever dreamed of.
Edwards hit a very rough stretch of games soon after against the Browns and three division rivals, the Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots.
In those four games, Edwards struggled to keep the ball in his team's hands. He threw a whopping eight interceptions to only three touchdowns.
The Bills would finish the season going 3-and-9, falling into the AFC East cellar.
With a new toy to play with in Terrell Owens and another year under his belt, Edwards could be poised for a breakout season. Evans and Owens will form a dynamic one-two punch and help Edwards lead the Bills to a second place finish in the AFC East.
4,041 yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 64.8 percent completions
Miami Dolphins: Chad Pennington
A year away from the dreadful New York media did this guy some good.
He had a wonderful 2008 season throwing for 3,653 yards, 19 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and completing 67.4 percent of his passes.
His efforts turned a 1-15 team to an 11-5 AFC East clinching team, all while earning the 2008 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
When Pennington is actually healthy, he's a very good quarterback. The problem is, that has rarely happened in his nine-year NFL career. Only twice has he started a full NFL season, once in 2008 and the other in 2006.
Pennington played his best football in the final four games last season. He threw eight touchdowns to only one interception while completed an outstanding 74 percent of his passes.
He's in the prime of his career and has a stellar backfield to protect him. Unfortuantely, he plays in tough AFC East and may only lead his team to a third place finish.
3,414 yards, 16 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 67.2 percent completions
New England Patrios: Tom Brady
He's back and ready for revenge.
The only problem is, he still has a bum knee that historically has caused problems for quarterbacks. Daunte Culpepper, Carson Palmer, and Matt Hasselbeck have all had problems trying to come back from knee issues.
But this is Tom Brady we're talking about here.
He still has one of the top two receivers in the NFL to throw to in Randy Moss, and an amazingly fast route runner in Wes Welker.
Not to mention he also has a relatively good line protecting him again.
Brady is only a year removed from the best season in the history of the NFL. Had it not been for last season's early exit, I think he could have easily duplicated that success.
He'll be cautious at first, but once he realizes he's unstoppable with Moss at his side, he'll be fine.
He may not bring his team back to 16-0, but he should at least manage to lead the Patriots to the top of the AFC East once again.
4,351 yards, 40 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 64.4 percent completions
New York Jets: Kellen Clemens/Mark Sanchez
This is one of several ongoing quarterback position battles around the NFL.
From the way it sounds, Kellen Clemens is actually outperforming Sanchez, but I think it's only a matter of time before Sanchez takes over.
For the last four months, I've stated that any team that drafts Sanchez is going to regret it. He went to a system school that thrived on passing the ball around to talented receivers, and he only started one season in college.
That's not enough to win me over.
Sanchez was the backup to John David Booty, a fifth round draft pick and soon to be fourth-string quarterback for a starved Vikings team.
Clemens has had very few NFL starts and has yet to show any sign of brilliance. I think this is one of the more pathetic battles around the NFL.
Regardless of who starts, the Jets don't have the people around the quarterback to make him good, as the Jets are not looking too great at wide receiver at this point in time.
The Jets led the league last season in passes dropped over the last four games with 11. Too much blame got put on Brett Favre for failure, but I think more blame goes to the receivers for not doing their jobs and helping the quarterback out.
By the start of the season, I think Sanchez will have the job, but I think he'll fail in his first season dropping the talented Jets team to a last place finish in the AFC East.
2832 yards, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 58.4 percent completions
Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco was a surprise last season for the Baltimore Ravens. Had it not been for an injury before the start of the regular season, Troy Smith would have ended up being the quarterback.
But that's how things go in the NFL. A quarterback goes down and another rises up.
While Flacco may have been the "savior" for the Ravens, his overall stat outlook wasn't stellar. He threw for 2,971 yards, 14 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and completed 60 percent of his passes.
Had it not been for a second-ranked defense leading the way, it's unlikely people would even know who this guy is.
While Flacco may have not had the most impressive stats, he still kept the ball moving and kept the Ravens in the game.
That's all you can ask for a rookie I guess.
He did improve at the end of last season. He helped the Ravens to a 5-1 record over the last six games throwing twice as many touchdowns as interceptions.
Though, Flacco lacked consistency for most of the season. In order for him to become an NFL caliber quarterback, he'll need to be more consistent.
He'll do better in his second season behind center, again leading his team to a second place finish in the AFC North.
3,201 yards, 16 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 60.8 percent completions
Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer
Palmer was a highly touted draft selection out of USC several years ago, but his Bengals have struggled to do anything in his tenure.
Palmer battled injuries last season which allowed him to start four terrible games where he struggled to complete a pass, throwing four picks to three touchdowns.
He's coming back along with Chad Ochocinco at his side. While the two don't care much for each other, they both have very good knowledge about the opposing defenses. What Palmer loses is T.J Houshmendzadeh, which will be a bigger factor than many people think.
Palmer will again try to regain his 2005 and 2006 form. He was inconsistent in 2007 as the team struggled with locker room issues.
Another knee injury will keep Palmer too aware of his surroundings. He'll be looking for a defender to avoid instead of the open receiver. This will cause his stats to decline once again and his team to ultimately fail.
The Bengals play in a tough AFC North with two of the best defenses in the NFL in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Even with a healthy Palmer, the Bengals will wind up with a third place finish in the AFC North.
3,475 yards, 23 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 62.4 percent completions
Cleveland Browns: Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn
Yet another battle that may take all preseason to figure out.
I honestly couldn't tell you who will come out on top. Anderson was benched for his terrible play, but his replacement in Quinn wasn't any better.
Both quarterbacks completed around 50.4 percent of their passes. Does that mean they were inaccurate though?
The Bengals receivers had a terrible time all season long holding on to the ball. Passes were being dropped at an alarming rate and all the blame was again put on the quarterback.
After being drafted by his favorite childhood team, Quinn complained too long about his contract which I think lost him the starting job that should have been handed to him right away.
As it turned out, Anderson took over and had a solid 2007 season. But we all know how 2008 went.
In order for the Browns to have success in the upcoming year, they'll need better play from the receiver position. They have talent there, but they have to find a better way to utilize it.
Whoever starts is going to have a hard time pulling his team out of the AFC North cellar.
3,322 yards, 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 60.1 percent completions
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger
There hasn't been a more storied quarterback this offseason on Bleacher Report than Ben Roethlisberger (okay, maybe not more than Favre, but a close second).
Depending on who you talk to, Steelers fans insist on him being underrated and the best quarterback in the game. Other NFL fans insist that he's not number one, but definitely in the top seven.
Any way you look at it, Ben had one amazing season (2007), two solid seasons (2004, 2005), one terrible season (2006), and one mediocre-at-best-season (2008).
He has already won two Super Bowls which is very impressive being only 26 years old at the time. I know he's 27 now, but just think about that statement if it hasn't sunk in yet.
It seems like Ben doesn't show up to play until the game is on the line. He has had so many fourth quarter comebacks that I've actually lost count. He wins games when he needs to, which is what a quarterback is supposed to do.
It's like he's terrible for the first three quarters of every game. His astounding defense keeps him in the game and he goes on to win it for them in the final minutes of every time.
That's what makes him so great.
This team is just too good right now. He'll again lead his team to the top of the AFC North.
3,201 yards, 21 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 61.1 percent completions
Houston Texans: Matt Schaub
The Texans gave up a lot to get a quarterback that hadn't shown anything in the NFL and was a backup to probably the least accurate routine starter in the history of the NFL.
It seems like it's finally starting to pay off though.
The Texans had a solid season, but played in a tough division.
This year will be different.
I've picked the Texans as a surprise team this year making an upset over the heavily favored Titans and Colts.
Schaub has started to prove that he can be a consistent quarterback and game winner for the Texans. He's got a huge target with some of the best hands in the NFL in Andre Johnson, as well as a solid pass-catching tight end in Owen Daniels.
Schaub will look to keep improving on his young career.
He was injured for several games in 2008, but still put up impressive stats throwing 15 touchdowns and completing 66.1 percent of his passes.
Health is a concern for Schaub, as he's never played a full season, but he'll look to turn those stars around.
This could be the year the Texans finally break out and win the AFC South title.
4,521 yards, 33 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 65.3 percent completions
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning
I'm fairly positive that Peyton will be the starter of the team when the regular season rolls around, but who knows with the seemingly million coaching changes that have occurred in the last five months in the Colts' organization.
Manning is great, plain and simple. He's the best statistical quarterback hands-down in the NFL in the last decade. With Manning running the offense, the Colts will always be contenders.
He missed the preseason in 2008 which seemed to do quite a bit of damage. The Colts struggled out of the gate, with Manning unable to keep the offense on the field long enough to do any damage.
Then, the final nine weeks of the regular season came and Manning was unstoppable. He finished the season with his tenth consecutive 4,000 yard passing season and his 11th consecutive season throwing at lest 26 touchdowns.
You can't ask for any more from a quarterback than the Colts have with Manning.
The loss of the declining Marvin Harrison will prove to be a little hurtful, but won't matter enough to bring the Colts down. They still have Reggie Wayne and up-and-coming Anthony Gonzalez.
Manning will be healthy starting this season and should put up another great statistical season. Look for him to bring the Colts to their second consecutive second place finish in the AFC South.
4,298 yards, 29 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 64.1 percent completions
Jacksonville Jaguars: David Garrard
Though the Jaguars have had their fair share of franchise problems, Garrard has stuck through it all and performed well.
Both Garrard and head coach Jack Del Rio will definitely be on the hot seat in 2009. Depending on how the season goes, both could find there way to new teams next season.
Don't forget, the Jaguars were expected to be a dominant team, but failed to win six games in 2008 again missing the playoffs.
Garrard's first full season as a starting quarterback wasn't as bad as many people think. People think that this guy needs to be ousted as the starter, but not me. He's a solid quarterback who plays for a bad team.
His stat line is actually fairly impressive outside of the low touchdown numbers. He threw for 3,620 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Not bad when you really don't have a ton of talent at the wide receiver position.
The first game of the season was the story of Garrard's season. He was sacked seven times. The Jaguars offensive line was destroyed by injuries last season, but after drafting two starting caliber tackles, the Jaguars are ready to roll again.
Garrard has probably one of the worst receiving corps to throw to this season, but the quarterback makes the receivers, right?
Not all the time, especially in this case.
The Jaguars have a solid backfield with Jones-Drew, but other than that, they are pretty thin. I don't know if Garrard can pull it off in such a tough division.
I'm thinking this is Garrard's last season in Jacksonville as the Jaguars fall to the bottom of the AFC South again missing the playoffs.
3,188 yards, 15 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 60.9 percent completions
Tennessee Titans: Kerry Collins
He's only a couple months removed from a Pro Bowl appearance, and his Titans were the surprise team in the NFL last season finishing 13-and-3, best in the NFL.
How this guy actually made the Pro Bowl is actually beyond me. I know his team finished 13-and-3, but was he really deserving over players like Philip Rivers?
He had a mediocre season by statistical standards. He threw for just over 2,600 yards, 12 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
He managed to keep his team in the game, I guess that's good enough to warrant success as an NFL quarterback. After all, the Titans did give him a contract extension this past offseason.
He's been a solid quarterback over his career and could very well end up in the Hall of Fame. I think this is a make-or-break year for Collins.
Unlike Kurt Warner, Kerry Collins isn't an ageless wonder. It is clear that his age is showing. It's only a matter of time before Vince Young takes his spot back.
Collins does have a talented new toy in Kenny Britt who instantly becomes a starter in the wide receiver starved Titans offense. It should be interesting to see how Collins uses him in the offense.
I'm sorry, but I'm one of those fans that think the Titans were a one-year fluke. They will fall back in the AFC South standings finishing third.
2,451 yards, 13 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 55.7 percent completions
Denver Broncos: Kyle Orton
While some may speculate that there is a quarterback battle brewing here, I'm not one of them. As far as I'm concerned, Orton is far better than Chris Simms anyway you look at it.
Orton was a small part of one of the biggest trades in NFL history this past offseason. If you follow football, I don't need to go into detail.
Despite what many Bears' fans think, Orton is a great starting quarterback.
Before getting injured against the Lions in week nine, Orton was one of the hottest quarterbacks in football throwing for 1,669 yards, 10 touchdowns, and only two interceptions all while leading his team atop the NFC North.
After the injury, Orton was less than perfect. He only had eight touchdowns to eight interceptions in the final six games of the season.
Chicago is well-documented as having a terrible receiving corps. If you can name more than one receiver on the Bears' roster and are not actually a Bears fan, you get an A+ for the day.
So what can we expect in Denver?
For starters, Orton will have a supreme set of wide receivers to throw to and solid tight ends. Not to mention he'll have one of the better pass-blocking offensive lines to protect him, something the Bears also lacked last season.
Orton should be a pleasant surprise for Broncos fans.
I'll be the first to say that Orton could very well earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2010.
He should also be a key part in leading the Broncos to a first place finish in the AFC West.
4,124 yards, 32 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 64.3 percent completions
Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Cassel
The Chiefs gave up a second-round pick to acquire a franchise quarterback and solid starting linebacker in Mike Vrabel.
The Chiefs have lacked a quarterback the past couple of years, but that should change this season.
While the loss of Tony Gonzalez may hurt a bit, he should be replaced nicely with second-year player Brad Cottam.
It's possible that Matt Cassel could very well be a "system quarterback" in the NFL. After all, he did have Randy Moss and Wes Welker to throw to. Duane Bowe will have to do, I guess.
While he may not have as many weapons, the Chiefs running game is superior to the Patriots. That should help ease the load off of Cassel. He'll also be playing in a weaker AFC West division.
Cassel was the biggest surprise last season throwing for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. Even with the Patriots offense, those numbers don't lie when you have a quarterback that never started a game his entire college career.
He's got to watch one of the best in the business play in Super Bowls and now he'll get a chance to lead his own team.
Here is probably the biggest surprise of all. His Chiefs should do well enough to place second in the AFC West.
3,766 yards, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 62.2 percent completions
Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell
The third year quarterback has a lot to prove in 2009. This is the year that will determine if he was indeed worth the No. 1 overall all selection in 2007.
He is a 6'6" and 260-pound mammoth of a quarterback and has a big arm that can throw the ball 65 yards downfield with ease. He's nearly an exact replica of Daunte Culpepper.
The problem lies in his accuracy. Last season, his first as a starter, he completed only 53.8 percent. His accuracy should improve with time.
While he too doesn't have the greatest receivers to throw to, the surprise addition of speedster Darius Heyward-Bey could wreck havoc for opposing defenses.
One thing that Russell does very well is keep the ball out of opposing defenders' hands. Well, as far as interceptions go anyway. In 15 games last season, Russell threw only eight interceptions.
He needs to hold onto the ball better. He fumbled the ball 12 times last season, seven of which were lost.
Russell needs to step up this season to rid himself of that famous "bust" label.
His efforts could lead him to failure overall. I foresee a last place finish in the AFC West.
2,941 yards, 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 57.8 percent completions
San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers
If his football abilities were as good as his mouth is big, he'd be a Pro Bowler for sure...right?
Well, as long as fans are voting, there are going to be snubs in the Pro Bowl. It turns out, Rivers was probably the biggest snub in the history of the Pro Bowl.
Had it not been for an 8-and-8 record in 2008, Rivers would have had some MVP recognition. He managed to throw for over 4,000 yards with a 3:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.
Rivers was extremely clutch at the end of last season pulling the Chargers to an upset in the AFC West.
In the last four games of the regular season, Rivers threw 11 touchdowns to only one interception.
He has a strong supporting cast and could very easily duplicate those numbers in 2009, but I doubt it. He'll hope for Tomlinson to pick up his game so he doesn't have to win games by himself.
I think the Chargers will disappoint a lot of people next season. They should not have made the playoffs last season. It was a remarkable comeback, but shall that happen in 2009, they will falter.
I see Rivers' stats falling somewhat back to Earth. A third place finish in the AFC West is a possibility for the talented Chargers team.
3,643 yards, 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions