As much as I love defense, I realize the importance of having a great quarterback in the NFL. If you don't have a top 20 quarterback in the league, you don't stand a chance of winning a Super Bowl. There have been some like Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Looking at the four (projected) starting quarterbacks in each division heading into this year, I rated each one of them on a scale of one to 10, 10 being elite. There were only four that scored a perfect 10 (Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees). After those numbers are assigned, I added all four players in each division to get their total (out of a possible 40 points).
The individual numbers/rankings of each player are up for debate, but the final scores were quite astonishing, as the race is much closer than you would think. What division do you think has the best four starting quarterbacks as of right now?
This one really shouldn't surprise you. Is it more than a coincidence that all of these teams are so terrible? The highest ranked player I had in this division was Sam Bradford and Matt Hasselbeck, each scoring a seven. I gave Alex Smith a six, and whether you like Derek Anderson or Max Hall, I would give both of them a five.
The NFC West will once again be one of the worst divisions in football, but I do believe that the 49ers will be able to finally get over the hump and land a playoff spot. The Rams could have something to say about that, though, if Bradford can stay healthy. Unfortunately, their horrible defense has only gotten worse since last year.
Total score: 25
Hard to believe the tough and tested AFC North would be next on this list. I like Big Ben and Cool Joe Flacco, but their success lies so much on the play action. That shouldn't be a negative, though, and I realize they are both excellent quarterbacks. I gave Ben a nine and Flacco an eight rating.
Unfortunately for the rest of the division, Ohio has ruined it for them. It looks like the Bengals are going to implode, and the Browns haven't found the answer with Colt McCoy. I think Seneca Wallace might be the best option in Cleveland, but I went ahead and gave the edge to Colt. As for Palmer's replacement, it could be his brother Jordan or rookie Andy Dalton. Either way, they are all getting a five rating.
Total score: 27
I can't stand Philip Rivers, but I know he is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game today. With that, he is the only guy in the AFC West that I gave a nine rating. The other three guys all received a seven, but they are all young.
Jason Campbell has been much better in Oakland (go figure), and Matt Cassel might not be what he was in New England, but he is still solid. I am giving the great Tim Tebow the edge in Denver, but I don't expect great things from him right away. Still, he has a way of proving people wrong.
Total score: 30
Having the best quarterback in the league landing in the number five spot really says a lot about the rest of the guys in the division. Obviously, Brady gets a 10, but I think I may have been generous when I gave the other three guys a seven.
I have never been a believer in Sanchez and continue to have my doubts. Ryan Fitzpatrick might still be the guy in Buffalo, but does anyone even notice him? I think Chad Henne is still the guy in Miami, and while he isn't quite on the level of LeBron, Wade or Bosh, I think he is an average player.
Total score: 31
Much like his rival Brady, Peyton Manning really has the weight of the division on his shoulders. Of course he gets a 10 rating, but there is another guy that is quietly becoming a great player. Sure, Matt Schaub has Andre Johnson, but the aerial assault that he has shown the last couple of years has been impressive. I wanted to give him an 8.5, so I rounded it up to nine.
The other side of the coin doesn't look so good for the AFC South. With David Garrard's job being threatened in Jacksonville, he is worth of a seven. The good news for Titans fans is there will be no more debate between Collins and Young. The bad news all they have right now is Jake Locker, Chris Simms, Rusty Smith and something called a Brett Ratliff. No matter which way you go, it's a five.
Total score: 31
Here you will find the Super Bowl winner Mr. Rodgers, who is a lock for a 10 rating. The next two guys both received an eight, though I wasn't very confident when I assigned them. Both Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford have had their ups and downs, but they have taken some bad teams and turned them into playoff contenders.
Sadly, the circus has left town in Minnesota, and all they are left with are five players that are no better than a five. Whether it's Ponder, Webb, Ramsey, Jackson or Bomar, I'm sure Vikings fans are salivating over the possibility of landing McNabb or Kolb.
Total score: 31
Here you will find Drew Brees, one of the smartest players in the game. He got a perfect 10 rating, as the young guns for the other three teams aim to follow in his footsteps. Matt Ryan has had a very good career so far in Atlanta, and I nearly gave him a nine rating, but an eight just felt right.
Josh Freeman has been a pleasant surprise in Tampa Bay, as the Buccs are an up-and-coming team that could surprise everyone this year. I gave him a seven rating, but with another year like last year, he could easily be an eight. Cam Newton has been all smiles so far, but when the games begin, I think it is going to be much tougher than he anticipates. I ended up giving Cam a six; too early to know whether that's accurate or not though.
Total score: 31
Much like the NBA Finals, it isn't about the best player, but the group with the most depth. Of the four quarterbacks that I gave perfect ratings, none of them are in the number one spot here. Instead we have four extremely gifted and proven players.
It is a great debate as to which of these four are the best of the bunch, but together, they make up the best division of quarterbacks. I gave both Michael Vick and Eli Manning a nine rating, while Tony Romo got an eight. While McNabb sits in Washington for now, he still warrants at least a seven rating.
Total score: 33