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AFC North: 2014 Quarterback Rankings

The AFC North has been known most recently for its defensive prowess and devastating rushing attacks, however this is also a division with a strong group of starting quarterbacks.Each of them will need to raise the bar next year to win the division or earn a wildcard spot, the quarterback rankings below are based on their body of work and expected production during 2014.

 

1. ) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben has to be the reigning champion in this category due to his overwhelming amount of success since his rookie year when he set the NFL record for wins by a rookie quarterback with 13.

Over the course of the last ten years, Roethlisberger has been one of the most efficient passers in NFL history. He currently ranks 9th all-time in NFL passer rating (92.6), and has the fourth highest career winning percentage (.710) as a starter in the regular season among quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 starts. Pittsburgh struggled last year but he was still very productive, passing for over 4,200 yards and 28 touchdowns during an 8-8 season. Considering the key additions of Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant, Big Ben has more dynamic play makers on his team who can stretch the field. Expect the Steelers to be more versatile on offense than they’ve ever been, and to also to score many points this year.

2.) Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Elite or not, Flacco’s first season as a highly paid quarterback was a little underwhelming. Flacco finished completing 59 percent of his passes and just 19 touchdowns during the season. It became apparent at times that he missed the presence of Anquan Boldin and that there were a few growing pains in the midst of establishing Torrey Smith as the number one option.

The good news is that the Ravens front office chose to help out their guy in the offseason, the additions of Steve Smith and Owen Daniels will give Flacco great additional receiving options. Considering his mental make up, Superbowl run, as well as his elite arm strength, Flacco has developed nicely as an NFL signal caller. Because has has better options this year, I believe he will take the next step this year towards being mentioned as one of the best passers in the NFL.

 3.) Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton has been very interesting to watch over the past few seasons. I believe we all have seen moments of both progress and regression in 2013, but you can’t deny his impressive production. Dalton passed for 33 touchdowns and over 4,200 yards and led the Bengals to a division championship. However, his two interception performance in the playoffs left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans.

Dalton definitely enters 2013 with the most to lose out of any starter  in this division, because of the high production of many other positions,  this team looks ready to win now. The drafting of A.J. McCarron may also serve as an ultimatum for Dalton in what will be a contract year for him. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I expect Dalton to produce well and win some games by making better decisions in the pocket. New offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is also there to help Dalton develop and get the most out of his skill set. I think his job will be safe after this year, and maybe the Bengals finally go on that deep playoff run, they’ve wanted.

4.) Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns

The most impressive thing about this team is that they started three different passers and managed to finish 11th in the NFL in passing. That statistic speaks volumes about the quality of their offensive line and receiving core, ideally Hoyer should be able to win some games as the starter.  The best thing he can do is try to be as explosive as possible with his play making ability. Put most simply, completing five yard out routes won’t keep Johnny Manziel on the bench. Expect Hoyer to use the support of his two pronged rushing attack to make plays downfield on a consistent basis. Starter or not at the end of the year, Hoyer will go down firing.

This year will be fun to watch for many fans of AFC north teams. This division usually gets the worst weather in the AFC, so decision making and turnovers can decide everything. Based on my rankings, the Steelers should have the most potent offense in the division.

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