With loads of talent in the NFC, especially at the quarterback position, there are plenty of debates to be had for who is the best. Here we discuss the top, the bottom, and everything in between for each NFC division.
NFC Quarterback Rankings by Division
1: Eli Manning – Thanks Odell Beckham. In all seriousness though, this team’s offense is all about Eli and Odell. Although Beckham is an unbelievable talent that seemingly makes an incredible catch on a weekly basis, Eli has not had much else to work with. A new system, half of an offensive line and no run game at all put the Giants in bad spots week in and week out last season. However, also there each week is Eli who consistently makes big time throws under a ton of pressure. Even when his team is down, Eli’s ability keeps the Giants in games that they probably should not be in. With what must be an improved defense, Eli is likely to be put into significantly better situations this coming season which should lead to even more success. With Victor Cruz coming back and new addition Sterling Shepard, the G-Men’s offense is sure to flourish with Eli still at the helm, helping him secure the top of the class in the NFC East.
2: Kirk Cousins – Even as a young quarterback, Cousins showed sparks. The Redskins staff got fed up with Robert Griffin III and all Kirk needed was someone to trust him and give him the reins. When that happened, he showed skill and ability to beat bad defenses badly and keep Washington in basically every game (outside of the ugly one against the NFC Champion Panthers) and lead his team to a division title. With the always speedy downfield threat DeSean Jackson, and the monster that is Jordan Reed (when healthy), and rookie addition Josh Doctson, Cousins has a chance to torch defenses again in 2016. Consistency will be key for Captain Kirk, but I’ll take him right now over these next two.
3: Tony Romo – Three years ago this guy was at the top of not only this division, but probably most divisions in all of football. Fast forward to the present day and this is far from the case. Back and shoulder injuries have left Romo slower, less mobile, and with a higher likelihood of re-injury. Dallas has the best offensive line in the league, an elite level wideout in Dez Bryant, and a Hall of Fame tight end in Jason Witten. That said, Romo was still not producing well enough to win because he was either injured or when it mattered most, not clutch. With likely more consistency at the running position thanks to rookie Ezekiel Elliot, this season may be Romo’s last chance for a championship.
4: Sam Bradford/Carson Wentz – The Philadelphia Eagles franchise has a new everything from coaching staff, to players, to system and none of those things will suddenly make Sam Bradford worth his insane contract. Bradford has never played up to the money he was getting paid under his rookie contract. Yet somehow there was also a feeling that if he was healthy, he would be great. In 14 games last season, Bradford had 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Those are barely average numbers, much less great numbers. Hopefully Wentz manages to take a redshirt this season but that is not likely to happen. And when he is thrown into the fire, it’s possible that he will get burned.
1: Aaron Rodgers – Well here is an easy one. Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the game but is also lucky he isn’t in Tom Brady’s division for these rankings. After Jordy Nelson went down, so did Rodgers’ play. But realistically this guy is top two or three in the league and Packers fans have nothing to worry about. Green Bay will be ready to roll come September.
2: Jay Cutler – This may surprise some but Cutler is actually a very talented quarterback with a lot of skill. Cutler’s arm strength is second to none and when he is locked in, he shows why he is still considered a very solid starting quarterback. Unfortunately, Alshon Jeffrey can’t stay healthy and the Bears offensive line was in the bottom half of most rankings in pass protection last season. As a result, Cutler struggled. Luckily this isn’t a ranking on leadership qualities. Otherwise Jay would be somewhere near Connor Cook, which is towards the bottom.
3: Matt Stafford – Although the numbers look amazing, the play was inconsistent. Stafford could not have been more hit or miss early on in the 2015 season with costly turnovers, but did manage to play exceptionally well the second half of the year. One would figure that with the offensive weapons of the Lions’ nature that Stafford and Detroit would only get better, but something went missing for the team’s success. Now the only thing missing is the best wideout in the last decade or so in Calvin Johnson. With him having retired, we will really see what Stafford is made of.
4: Teddy Bridgewater – This division has some good quarterback play if the division winning starting quarterback is its worst. It was a difficult call between these three (Cutler, Bridgewater, Stafford) but Bridgewater has not been able to put his team on his back and take them to the next level with his play. Bridgewater managed to make some nice plays, be efficient (65% completion percentage), and win games. But with only 14 touchdowns to nine interceptions he needs to be better. It is not his fault Adrian Peterson’s nickname is All Day and they have to feed that beast. But if he is going to pass the ball 28-30 times a game then he also needs to be better than less than a touchdown per game.
1: Cam Newton – Superman did everything last year without much talent around him to help him out. The offensive line can run block really well which takes some pressure off Newton. But his passing numbers were bonkers considering how sketchy the pass protection was at times. Newton is able to score and move the ball in every way possible which makes him and the Panthers offense one of the best in the NFL. Bring back Kelvin Benjamin and Newton is going to be even better and hungrier, especially after the Super Bowl tragedy.
2: Drew Brees – Brees has been somewhere near the top of most quarterback lists basically his whole career. It took some time to get used to no Jimmy Graham, but Marques Colston still produces somehow, Willie Snead had great numbers (984 receiving yards), Brandin Cooks is still getting better, and the addition of Michael Thomas might bring these Saints, and offensive minded coach Sean Payton, back to some glory.
3: Matt Ryan – Matty Ice was basically playing with one wide receiver in Julio Jones because Roddy White couldn’t do anything. Since Tony Gonzalez retired, they have not found a legitimate tight end to replace him. Devonta Freeman helped Ryan out early with his great rushing ability but when the run game slowed, so did Matt Ryan. And it didn’t take long for a 5-0 start to seesaw into another missed postseason. Sometimes, to be great, a quarterback has to be one-dimensional. And if you can’t rely on your quarterback to throw when the run game is so-so, you’re in trouble.
4: Jameis Winston – The 2015 number one pick in the NFL draft improved throughout the season and showed that he can be a true starter in this league. But he is in a tough division as far as quarterbacks go. Not an insult to him being at the bottom here but to move up, he has to better than 0-4 the last four games of the year and only performing with a five to four touchdown to interception ratio.
1: Russell Wilson – One of toughest calls to make here, but Russell Wilson takes the NFC West. The Seahawks do not have nearly the talent level around Wilson as the Cardinals have placed around Carson Palmer. That being true, plus the biggest separating factor which is Wilson’s dual-threat capability, make Russell the best in the West. Other than maybe Cam Newton, Wilson is the best dual-threat quarterback in the league and he can also stick in the pocket and make all of throws. Wilson avoids hits (something RG III needs to learn), throws touchdowns (38), doesn’t turn the ball over (8 INT’s), and most importantly, is insanely clutch (just ask Vikings fans).
2: Carson Palmer – Seemingly getting better with age, Carson Palmer has been magical these past two seasons. Yes, the Cardinals have loads of talent everywhere on their team, which helps, but not many quarterbacks would do what he is doing in Arizona. He takes his shots, he plays it safe, he dumps it off, he sells the fake, he does it all. Hopefully for Cardinals fans he has two more years left in him and can achieve the real goal of winning a Super Bowl.
3: Jared Goff – As a rookie, most of the time one would say these guys have proved nothing and should be at the bottom of any division, and that is true. However, the bottom of this division is pretty ugly. Lucky for you, Jared.
4: Colin Kaepernick/Blaine Gabbert – Colin Kaepernick was horrible in 2015 but he has to be better than Blaine Gabbert in Chip Kelly’s system. For now, it’s still Kelly’s system and he is still Colin Kaepernick so he is at the bottom of this division and very close to the bottom of the league.
For the rest of the NFL’s quarterbacks, catch up on the AFC’s quarterbacks.