The NFL is a brutal and unforgiving sport, especially for quarterbacks. Yet year after year, these remarkable athletes put themselves in the firing line to lead their teams to glory. They are often the difference between winning and losing, just ask both the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For the former, their form and standing within the American sporting realm nosedived following their decision to allow Tom Brady to become a free agent. With the GOAT at the helm, the Boston-based side secured six Lombardi’s. They reached at least the AFC Championship game in eight of his last nine seasons at Gillette Stadium, converting five of those appearances into trips to the Super Bowl, including reaching the big game in three straight years between 2016 and 2018. In the four years since his departure, they have reached the playoffs just once and that ended in the wildcard round.
For the latter meanwhile, Brady brought a first Lombardi to the Raymond James Stadium in 18 years in his maiden campaign in Florida. They also reached the playoffs in both seasons with him at the helm however, following his retirement at the culmination of last term, they too have faltered. They currently have a record of 4-5 at might not make the playoffs at all this year for the first since before Brady joined the outfit.
But with the GOAT now out of the picture, who are the NFL’s best quarterbacks? Let’s take a look.
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There’s no way the reigning Super Bowl champion wouldn’t make this list. Patrick Mahomes is an absolute monster on the field, with an uncanny ability to find his receivers no matter how chaotic the situation is, just as he demonstrated in the most recent Big Game back in February at State Farm Stadium. The former Texas Tech standout managed to rally his Kansas City Chiefs to overturn a ten-point half-time deficit to eventually defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and claim a second Lombardi in four years.
The once-in-a-generation talent has inspired his team to a 7-2 record throughout the ongoing campaign and that has prompted Super Bowl betting odds providers to install the Chiefs as +500 favorites for yet another Lombardi. With the 28-year-old already throwing for over 2,500 yards and almost 20 touchdowns, it’s clear to see that he is doing everything in his power to bring the coveted trophy back to Arrowhead.
Next up is the man who seemingly had Mahomes’ number – at least until last season’s AFC Championship game that is – Joe Burrow. The former LSU standout has completely revolutionized the fortunes of the Cincinnati Bengals since being drafted first overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Although he had a rocky rookie season with several injuries playing their part, Burrow led the Bengals to a first Super Bowl in 33 years in his second campaign. He followed that up with a second consecutive trip to the AFC Championship game last season, although Mahomes and Co. would ultimately have the last laugh at the fourth time of asking.
With many tipping the Bengals for glory this term, it’s safe to say that Cincy hasn’t lived up to expectations. They are currently 5-5 after 11 game weeks, however, things are only about to get worse. That’s because it was confirmed prior to the recent defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens that Burrow has suffered a season-ending injury, and unfortunately, it looks as though the show is over for them this term.
There wasn’t much expected of Jalen Hurts when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 53rd overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft. He had a stellar college career; however, he was dropped by the Alabama Crimson Tide in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, in the middle of a game no less. He didn’t set the world alight in his maiden campaign at the Linc, nor his second. But last season was when he announced himself to the world as a major player.
Hurts led the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl last season, impressing when throwing but showing ultimate prowess on the ground. In the Big Game itself, he delivered one of the all-time great Super Bowl performances, throwing for 304 yards and one touchdown as well as a further 70 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, as the majestic Mahomes managed to turn the tide and secure the victory but Hurts and the Eagles have seemingly put that defeat behind them. They are currently 8-1 and look dead set on securing the NFC title for the second consecutive year this season.
The Eagles may not have had the best season under Hurts’s leadership, but that doesn’t mean he’s not incredibly talented. His mobility and ability to run the ball make him a threat even when the play breaks down, and he’s shown a great deal of maturity and leadership in his time on the field. Whether or not he stays with the Eagles, Hurts has the potential to be a game-changer in the league.
It’s impossible to talk about the best quarterbacks in the league without mentioning the second man in history to win the MVP award unanimously, Lamar Jackson. Despite a relatively disappointing last couple of years, the 26-year-old has proven that he’s an incredibly effective quarterback, throwing 36 touchdowns in his MVP year. Though he’s often criticized for his limitations in the passing game, he’s a force on the ground, rushing for over 1,000 yards in both of his last two seasons.
Both he and his Baltimore Ravens have had to take a backseat while the Bengals have shone brightest in the AFC North over the last couple of years. But this season, they are both back with a bang. The team is currently top of its division with an 8-3 record while individually, Jackson has thrown for 2,441 yards and picked up a further 101 yards on the ground, more than over half the league’s standout running backs. He looks set on leading the Ravens deep into the postseason once more, and maybe they will be able to put the agony of that shocking 28-12 divisional-round defeat to the sixth-seed Tennessee Titans back in 2019 behind them once and for all.