2013 Jaws QB ranking: West against best

ESPN's Ron Jaworski recently gave Aaron Rodgers the edge over Peyton Manning for the top spot in his 2013 rankings for NFL starting quarterbacks.

With an eye toward the NFC West, we consider how quarterbacks from this division fared during the 2012 regular season and playoffs against the players listed above them in the rankings. Quarterbacks do not face one another directly, of course, but they're usually pivotal to a game's outcome. Teams with the higher Total QBR scores have won 86.3 percent of games since 2008 (1,103-175-2).

  • 11. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: 4-1 record, 84.4 Total QBR score, 103.0 NFL passer rating. Kaepernick completed 79 of 130 passes (60.8 percent) for 1,250 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions in these games. He averaged 9.6 yards per pass attempt. Kaepernick produced at an elite level (QBR between 72.3 and 94.7) in victories over Matt Ryan's Atlanta Falcons, Rodgers' Green Bay Packers, Tom Brady's New England Patriots and Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints. He was clearly the best quarterback in each of those games, and the 49ers won all four -- three on the road. While Kaepernick led a late rally against Joe Flacco's Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl, Flacco was nearly flawless and that was the difference in the game.

  • 2013 Jaworski QB Rankings

  • 12. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: 3-1 record, 76.4 Total QBR score, 119.5 NFL passer rating. Wilson completed 65 of 105 passes (61.9 percent) with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. He averaged 9.3 yards per pass attempt. Wilson drove his team toward for the go-ahead touchdown in the final 1:30 of games against teams led by Rodgers, Brady and Ryan. He threw four touchdown passes with one pick when Kaepernick and the 49ers visited Seattle. Wilson went 3-0 against these quarterbacks when playing at home, where the Seahawks were 8-0 overall. Jaworski said he knew Wilson was legitimate when Wilson led the Seahawks back from a 20-0 deficit into the lead on the road against Ryan's Atlanta Falcons during the playoffs. Wilson played at a high level in every one of these games except for the one against the Packers in Week 3, several weeks before Wilson and the Seattle offense took flight.

  • 22. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams. 4-5-1 record, 54.8 Total QBR score, 83.5 NFL passer rating. Bradford completed 210 of 336 passes (62.5 percent) with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He averaged 6.8 yards per pass attempt. Bradford was at his best (82.0 QBR score) during a Week 10 tie against the 49ers (Alex Smith started that game, but Kaepernick was behind center most of the way). Bradford also played particularly well during a 31-28 victory over Robert Griffin III's Washington Redskins. He completed 74.3 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and one interception in that game. The Rams either won, tied or lost by fewer than eight points in seven of the 10 games. Bradford was a footnote in lopsided defeats against Brady's Patriots and Rodgers' Packers. Those QBs tossed seven touchdown passes without a pick against the Rams.

  • 23. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals. 1-9 record, 39.3 Total QBR score, 88.5 NFL passer rating. Palmer, playing for the Oakland Raiders last season, was very good (85.1 QBR score with three touchdown passes) during a 34-31 victory over Ben Roethlisberger's Pittsburgh Steelers. He played pretty well in defeat against Philip Rivers' San Diego Chargers. Palmer barely played at all (three pass attempts) during a 17-6 defeat to Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers. Setting aside the Carolina game, Palmer finished five of the remaining nine games with an NFL passer rating of at least 94.2. His Total QBR scores were quite a bit below average (no higher than 42.9) in seven of those nine games, however. That suggests Palmer put up decent passing stats in some of those games without doing much to affect the outcome.

My sense is that Kaepernick, Wilson and Bradford are gaining in these evaluations, and that Palmer should benefit from better talent around him this season. The NFC West in its current form has never projected more positively at quarterback.