On Wednesday, CBS Sports published a ranking of the NFL’s eight regional divisions based on their quarterback talent. The NFC West, AFC North and NFC North were ranked second through fourth in Cody Benjamin’s list — but the AFC West was ranked first.
1. AFC West
Mahomes is so automatic in his highlight-reel throws and crunch-time delivery that no one will bat an eye — or even consider it — if he throws 40 TDs and wins another Super Bowl this year. He’s the closest thing to a video-game cheat code at QB, and thus the chief reason (pun intended!) the AFC West headlines the list. Herbert is off to a historic start, pairing prototypical NFL size and talent with a surprisingly confident debut. MVP candidacy, here we come? Carr fizzles a little too much down the stretch, but he’s been solid as a conservative and field-stretching passer. In Denver, Bridgewater raises the floor of the QB room as a cool, if unspectacular, hand. Lock, meanwhile, has the arm and fire to make plays, as long as his own aggression doesn’t get in the way, as it already has aplenty.
The headline of Benjamin’s article states that Mahomes “helps the AFC West edge the NFC West” in this ranking. That’s not quite the way I’d put it. At quarterback, Mahomes has been the NFL’s big dog for three seasons; by default, he gives his division a leg up. Instead, I’d say that it’s the Chargers’ Justin Herbert — who posted an unexpectedly strong debut in 2020 — who helps the AFC West edge out Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo (or Trey Lance) in the NFC’s western division.
But we’re not going to judge CBS Sports too harshly for doing something we at Arrowhead Pride get to do just about every day: use Mahomes’ name in a headline!
To me, this ranking makes sense. Mahomes is arguably the league’s best quarterback — if not its best player — and Herbert, Carr and the current Denver duo are strong competitors. Chiefs fans like to diss Carr because Kansas City has tended to have his number in their games against him. But against the rest of the league — especially in the last two seasons — Carr has been pretty damned good. And he certainly managed to put in a couple of excellent games against the 2020 Chiefs. Perhaps it’s time we started giving him more respect.
But this means that we’re likely to see some memorable quarterback duels in this season’s division games. It’s going to be fun to watch!