2011 NFL Power Rankings: Minus the QB, Who Are the Top 10 Teams in the League?
You shouldn’t be surprised that the same teams make the playoffs year after year in the NFL. It’s because the quarterback is the most important position on the field, and it really isn’t even close.
A bad team can look good if they have an elite quarterback, and a good team can look like garbage if they don’t have a great signal-caller.
As a result, every NFL power rankings list you have ever read has been heavily based on this position, and is therefore not a fair representation of how much talent and skill a team possess.
In this article, I’ve decided to create a NFL power rankings list that is blind to the quarterback position, just to see how much of a difference it makes, and the results were staggering.
Offense and defense will still be weighted equally, and the wide receiver position will still be factored into the list. You can also think of this list as a ranking of the top 10 NFL teams if no one had an advantage or disadvantage at the quarterback position.
Let’s look at the top 10 teams in the NFL if quarterbacks didn’t exist and see just how important the position is…
10. Dallas Cowboys
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The Cowboys are a great way to get this list started since they lost their starting quarterback Tony Romo early in the season last year.
They have a ton of talent on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
The offense features a ton of depth at the wide receiver position, including Miles Austin, Dez Brant and Roy Williams; Jason Witten also serves as a major threat.
Additionally, Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice form a deep and interesting backfield that can receive, block and run well.
The only hole on the offensive side of the ball would be Dallas' offensive line; it has been a major problem for the Cowboys in past years. However, they have recently drafted Tyron Smith and should see improvement in years to come.
The Cowboys' defense has a wide range of talent.
Jay Ratliff and the other members of the defensive line do a good job of applying pressure and stopping the run.
DeMarcus Ware is arguably the top pass-rusher in the league. He and the other Dallas linebackers will be able to play at a top-notch level.
The Cowboys could use some defensive backs though, as it is definitely a hole in their defense.
As a whole, the Cowboys have a lot of talent and even without Tony Romo, are a very promising team.
9. Tennessee Titans
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The Tennessee Titans just can’t seem to put it together. They have a ton of talent, but have been limited to the quarterback play of Kerry Collins, Vince Young and Rusty Smith.
Top-caliber running back Chris Johnson leads the offensive attack, while Michael Rhoos leads the offensive line. Kenny Britt has been inconsistent and may be in some legal trouble, but when he plays well, he is a great weapon for the offense.
The Titans have an extremely strong defensive line, led by Jason Babin. Sophomore Derick Morgan will also provide pass-rush this season and add to the depth of the line.
Tennessee also has a stellar defensive backfield, led by Cortland Finnegan, one of the dirtiest players in the NFL.
Although they are not seen as extremely talented right now, without being restricted to their quarterback, the Titans would be a competitive team.
8. Atlanta Falcons
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Matt Ryan is becoming an elite quarterback in the NFL at a rapid pace, but he isn’t doing it alone. With a premier running back and wide receiver at his disposal, plus a solid defense, Ryan was bound to find success.
Michael Turner is a bruiser, and even without an elite offensive line, he has the ability to push the pile and gain yards.
Not much needs to be said about Roddy White; he is an elite receiver in the league, and every time he steps on the field, he serves as a threat. Julio Jones also has the speed to really open up gaps in the defense. These two, along with Tony Gonzalez, will find success no matter who is throwing to them.
The Falcons' defense is nothing spectacular, but pass-rusher John Abraham keeps them up to pace.
Even without Matt Ryan’s clutch arm, the Falcons remain an elite team in the NFL.
7. Miami Dolphins
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Since Dan Marino, the Dolphins haven’t been able to get their hands on an above-average signal-caller to lead the franchise back to prominence. On the other hand, if we exclude the quarterback position from the Dolphins' roster, they have a strong team.
An offensive attack led by elite receivers Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, as well as rookie-speedster Edmond Gates, will be difficult to stop. Jake Long, the best offensive tackle in the league, will lead this strong line and allow rookie Daniel Thomas to become a premier running back.
The defense is led by All-Pro linebacker Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby. The Dolphins also feature a strong defensive line and backfield with emerging talent Paul Solai and Vontae Davis.
Without the major disadvantage of not having an elite quarterback, the Dolphins would be an extremely talented team in the NFL.
6. New Orleans Saints
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How is a team led by Drew Brees, one of the best quarterbacks in the league, on this list?
Simple: The Saints have one of the most balanced teams in the NFL.
Although they don't have too many players who are considered to be some of the best at their position, such as Jahri Evans, they have solid depth all over the field.
A wide receiving corps that isn't led by one player, but rather by an arsenal of highly-skilled all-purpose players—such as Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and more—is highly effective in generating offense.
The Saints also have a superior interior offensive line, which is led by Carl Nicks and Evans.
The defensive side of the ball is also surrounded with players who can play at an extremely competitive level. Sedrick Ellis, Tracy Porter and Darren Sharper can all play major roles in their defense.
Lastly, Jonathan Vilma is a major playmaker who serves as the heart and soul of the Saints' defense and helps boost the Saints to the sixth-best team on the list.
5. Green Bay Packers
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Sure, Aaron Rodgers may be one of the best quarterbacks in the league and has led his team to be Super Bowl champions. That doesn’t mean they do not have an elite team surrounding him.
Perhaps the best receiving corps in the NFL, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver serve as a duo that is difficult to stop—and not to mention Jermichael Finley, who also serves as a major threat.
The offensive line is young, and Bryan Bulaga has the potential to develop into a great tackle. Chad Clifton also helps at the tackle position and is one of the better, more consistent players in the NFL.
The Packers' defense has so much talent, it’s pretty tough to cover it all in one slide, but I’ll do my best.
A stellar defensive line that is well-known for its players' ability to do the "Raji" helps create opportunities for Clay Matthews and the linebacker corps.
The Packers have one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL, which features Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Nick Colins.
Yup, even without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers remain one of the best teams in the NFL.
4. Minnesota Vikings
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This past season we saw just how important the quarterback position was to the Vikings' success.
Brett Favre's horrific play and selfishness, and Joe Webb's attempt at playing quarterback, sent the Vikings in a downward spiral that resulted in one of the most disappointing seasons in NFL history.
On the other hand, if you take the quarterback out of the equation, the Vikings have a stellar team.
The league's best rusher, Adrian Peterson, will have success no matter what offensive line he plays behind, but Steve Hutchinson's blocking ability just boosts the Vikings' running power through the roof. Toby Gerhart also possess a lot of potential for them as well.
Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin both serve as role-playing, yet elite receivers in the NFL.
The defensive side of the ball also has some major highlights, including the best defensive line in the league.
Pat and Kevin Williams can both play the defensive tackle position extremely well, while Jared Allen and Ray Edwards serve as one of the best defensive end duos in the league.
Chad Greenway leads the linebackers, while the defensive backs have potential.
The Vikings have a very good team in the NFL, they just need someone to throw the ball (Christian Ponder?).
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Faced with Ben Roethlisberger's suspension, no one thought the Steelers would be able to do much for the first four games of last season—the Steelers proved the doubters wrong.
By winning three of their first four games with backup quarterbacks, the Steelers showed just how powerful of a team they really were, even without Big Ben.
Starting with a solid foundation of skill positions featuring Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace and Hines Ward, the Steelers never have difficulty looking for people to carry and catch the ball. Maurkice Pouncey also leads the offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, the linebackers on the team stand out as some of the best in the NFL. James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior do an excellent job of pass-rushing, coverage and run-stopping.
Troy Polamalu, arguably the best defensive player in the league, leads the defensive backs and the defense as a whole.
On most teams, the quarterback plays the primary role, but for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger can take a backseat and still play for an extremely competitive team.
2. Baltimore Ravens
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On this list, the Ravens narrowly surpass the Steelers.
A running attack that contains Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain causes a ton of damage to a defense, especially when players such as Michael Oher are leading the path. Additionally, wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and others allow the Ravens to have a lot of options of whom to throw the ball.
A mentally-tough defense led by Ray Lewis also helps the Ravens reach the second spot on this list. Players such as Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs also help achieve this physical and aggressive mentality.
Ed Reed serves as one of the best defensive backs in the league, perhaps even of all time. Whenever he is on the field, his presence is felt.
Another strong defense and solid offense brings the Ravens to the second spot on the list.
1. New York Jets
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Being a Miami Dolphins fan, this is hard to admit, but there is simply no denying it. If you exclude quarterbacks, the Jets have the best team in the league; that's how they made the AFC Championship in back-to-back years with Mark Sanchez.
They simply have no holes.
LaDainian Tomlinson and Tony Richardson provide veteran leadership for Shonn Greene in the Jets' backfield, while players such as D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold lead one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Dustin Keller shows promise at the tight end position, while the addition of Santonio Holmes gives the Jets an excellent receiving corps.
As you know, the defensive side of the ball for the Jets is stacked. Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and David Harris serve as great players in their style of defense, while Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis shut down any hope of the opposing team to throw the ball.
If Mark Sanchez keeps progressing, the Jets' success will only continue to grow.
So these are the top 10 teams in the NFL if quarterbacks didn't exist. Pretty amazing how much this shakes up the normal power rankings list, isn't it?