It’s another season of ranking the AFC West position by position. Last season’s results nailed the final division standings, so it would seem this method can be pretty accurate when all is said and done.
Three of the AFC West teams return the same starting QB’s they’ve had the past three seasons. But this year, there’s a shuffling of the order.
1. Raiders — Derek Carr
Just as Carr has made progress every year in the league, his standing in these rankings among the QB’s in the division has risen steadily. He was ranked dead last in 2015, second in 2016, and now takes over the top spot.
Carr took the top spot in the NFL Top 100 ranks, landing at number 11. He did that by being the most clutch quarterback in football last season. A franchise record seven of the team’s 12 wins were claimed on a game-winning drive led by Carr with five game-winning touchdown passes.
When a 12-win team performs as poorly as the Raiders did when they lost Carr in the season finale and the playoffs, you know just how valuable he is to the success of the team. And you realize why he was made the highest paid player in NFL history this offseason.
2. Chargers — Philip Rivers
Another season over 4000 yards passing for Rivers in 2016. That now makes 8 of the past 9 seasons he has surpassed 4K passing, leading to his sixth trip to the Pro Bowl. However, he did have his lowest completion percentage (60.4) in ten years along with a career high 21 interceptions, giving him his lowest passer rating (87.9) in ten years. He’s 35 years old now, which is not the end of the line for quarterbacks, and certainly not for a competitor like Rivers, but it is past his prime and approaching twilight.
3. Chiefs — Alex Smith
Old Mr Game manager himself, Alex Smith. He’ll get your team wins with his steady, no frills, no risk approach. But he won’t get you much farther than that. That means a high completion percentage (67.1) and barely a career high 3502 yards. He manned the helm to guide the Chiefs to the division title last year, but not through his heroics. More through letting the defense do its job and not throwing the game away.
4. Broncos - Paxton Lynch/Trevor Siemian
As the saying goes, ‘If you have two starters, you have none’. Or something like that. It seems like Lynch should get the starting job this season based on being the team’s first round pick in 2016. But that’s the only reason to assume such a thing. Former 7th round pick Trevor Siemian started 14 games last season, so they could again go with him. Siemian was pretty bad, though. A season removed from being Super Bowl champions, and still with one of the best defenses in the league, they missed the playoffs. Siemian had a lackluster passer rating of 84.6 with a sub-60 completion percentage. There’s even talk rookie ‘Mr Irrelevant’ Chad Kelly could make a move for the job. Quarterback will once again be an issue in Denver.
Also see: AFCW rankings for running backs