This list is based on almost strictly production and future potential, as well as ability. In other words, I don't put much weight behind this winner/loser stuff, and I put a high value on fourth-quarter performance. This is simply 'Who is the better pure QB', as well as to a slightly lesser extent who I believe will succeed more in the future.
10. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens—I definitely think Flacco gets far too much credit for the Ravens playoff run, as he did nothing but babysit essentially, but I've already beaten the topic of 'winner/loser' to a pulp.
Flacco has all the physical tools you want in a QB, and seems to have the desire to get better. If the Ravens get him a WR (Marshall?), Flacco could be one of the top QBs in the league for the next decade.
9. Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans—While this guy cannot stay healthy, when he is actually on the field he is very effective. Last year in 11 games, Schaub threw 15 TDs, 10 INTs, 3,043 yds and had a 66 percent completion percentage.
If he can stay healthy, he has plenty of weapons at his disposal like Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels and enough ability to make use of these weapons.
8. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons—The only reason he is so low is because he is a rookie. Ryan came in and took the league by storm in his first year, shutting up many of his critics, myself included.
I can only imagine with another year in the same offense, and being surrounded by weaponry such as Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Jerious Norwood (the most underused player in the NFL this side of Leon Washington), and Mike Turner. The sky is the limit for Matt Ryan.
7. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants—Eli is one of my favorites in the league, and his spot on the list will probably be surprising to some, but Manning played under control football for the first time in his career last season, and I think he succumbs ability-wise to the rest of the guys on the list.
Eli will probably never be "great" statistically and from a "eye test" standpoint, but when the game is on the line there are few QBs in the game more trustworthy than Eli.
6. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers—I have a weird way of ranking Ben Roethlisberger. His toughness, his leadership and most of all his ridiculous habit of pulling magic out of his hat in the fourth quarter has me place him in the top five in the NFL.
There is no one I'd rather have with the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter. That being said, Roethlisberger has a lot of flaws, and has only been impressive statistically for one season in the NFL, and since I am rating on mostly ability and production that's what pits him sixth.
5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers—I debated back and forth for a few minutes between Rodgers and Romo, but being consistent with my theme that Romo is actually one of the more UNDERRATED players in the NFL, I went with Rodgers at this spot.
Rodgers came in last year, after about a decade waiting on Old Man River to move on. He threw for 4,038 yards, 28 TDs and 13 INTs and led the Packers to a top-10 offense. The future is bright in Mr. Rodgers neighborhood.
4. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys—As I mentioned above, I think Romo gets hated on to the point where he is actually one of the NFL's more under-appreciated and underrated players. After all if EVERYONE and their mother says the guy is overrated, does that make him underrated? I call that the 'Tiki Barber argument'.
Every one on planet earth said Barber was underrated, so if everyone acknowledges that he is underrated, how he is still underrated?
Anyway, back to Romo, the guy has always had the luxury of having Terrell Owens around him and has put up monster numbers, throwing for 62 TDs, and 7,659 yards over the course of the last two seasons.
Along with great production, he has a great feel for the pocket and makes Dallas' offensive line look a lot better than it is. He has some decision-making deficiencies at times, but perhaps he will get better with that over the course of time.
3. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears—The 2-5 segment of this list was really thought-provoking. I like Cutler's production, and the fact that he did it in his second year starting as well as him probably having among the most raw talent at the position.
It will be interesting to see how he adjusts this season going from having a guy like Marshall compared to having a guy like Devin Hester (is that night and day or what?) , though I do think the fact that he is a good, accurate QB who gets the ball there in the blink of an eye could make the players around him better.
Also, I think Matt Forte is arguably the biggest benefactor of the trade, since he will have more space to do his thing. The Bears should do their best to build their offense around Jay, get him some reliable pass catching targets to compliment Olsen and their running game.
If they do that, they'll have their first franchise QB since World War I.
2. Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals—As I said earlier, the 2-5 segment of this was very thought-provoking. I had Palmer at every single spot at one point or another, before I finally settled on the No. 2 spot for him.
He is coming off an injury-plagued campaign, where he struggled and eventually was KO'ed for the season a quarter of the way through it. But the two seasons before that he did throw 54 TD passes and for over 8,000 yards.
It's hard to argue with a guy with Palmer's natural ability and total production rebounding and playing like the elite QB he is.
1. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers- Even though he throws the ball like he is in a shotput competition at the Olympics, Rivers gets the job done. He gets better each season, and last year led to a 34 TD, 11 INT, 4,000-yard campaign.
He has a nice set of weapons at his disposal. Having stability around him as far as the playbook helps immensely. It seems like everyone understands that except the Washington Redskins. Barring any injury problems, Rivers should and probably will put up big numbers on a consistent basis for the San Diego Chargers.