Today we begin our series in which we directly compare each position on each team in the AFC West with the other three AFC West teams to find out how they stack up. And of course we begin with the quarterbacks as they are usually the most important position on the field.
There has been a good amount of stability among the quarterbacks in this division of late, with all four teams fielding the same starting quarterback the past two seasons. That changes this year and it starts at the top with the retirement of Peyton Manning.
But don't let the stability fool you into thinking nothing has changed. The young buck among the group is coming up and the rankings reflect that.
1. Chargers - Philip Rivers
With Peyton Manning finally retired, Rivers takes over as the division's best quarterback. Last season, at age 34, Rivers showed no signs of slowing down. He posted career highs is completions (437), attempts (661), and passing yards (4792) and his completion percentage was one of his best as well (66.1). He was selected by his colleagues at number 46 in the NFL Top 100 which was the best in the division. On the other hand, he had one of his lowest yards per attempt (7.2) and yards per completion (11.0) and the Chargers finished 4-12 last season with little indication the situation will improve.
2. Raiders - Derek Carr
While Manning showed he was on his way out last season, Derek Carr showed he was on his way up. And he figures to make a strong push to move ahead of Rivers for that top spot this season. In just his second season, Carr led all AFC West quarterbacks in touchdowns (32) and just missed reaching 4000-yards, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate. Additionally the Raiders 7-9 record was their best since 2011. All indications are his arrow is pointed up, with the same coaching staff and wide receivers as last season and another year of experience under his belt.
3. Chiefs - Alex Smith
Entering his 11th NFL season, we have seen time and time again what Alex Smith is - he's a game manager. The Chiefs were an overall very good team last year on both sides of the ball last season and Smith didn't do anything to mess that up. The Chiefs even won a playoff game. He's a smart player who takes care of the ball as evidenced by his single digit interceptions the past six seasons. But he won't put the team on his back and take them to the next level.
4. Broncos - Mark Sanchez
I don't think Mark Sanchez is complete trash. He catches a lot more hell than he should for the butt fumble (as hilarious as it is). He's actually a decent quarterback in the grand scheme of things, with an overall winning record in his career as a starter (37-35). And that's about the best compliment I can give him. The Broncos will be hoping their defense can once again carry the day and Sanchez can play the Trent Dilfer role. We'll see.