So, this morning Craig posted an article by James Walker of the ESPN AFC North Blog, and he posted his take on the “Best of the NFL: AFC North Players.” His list is at best pathetic and phoned in. The dude clearly didn’t make even the slighest effort to do this thing right, so I am going to try and succeed where he failed, and come up with my own list of AFC North bests. I’ll try and be as diplomatic and unbiased as possible, but we all know that likely won’t happen.
I’ll do a different page for each different “best” in order to separate things with new pictures and everything.
We’ll start with the most obvious of the bunch:
Best Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger
I don’t really think this is even a debate, but I’ll make my case. He is the only QB in the entire AFC North who has been to the ‘ship and taken home the ring. He’s done it twice. That should be enough, but in case it is not: The Steelers have been the most dominating offensive team in the AFC North since Big Ben joined the Steelers in 2004. They don’t necessarily always dominate the other AFC teams, but in terms of pure power, the Steelers offense is head and shoulders above that of it’s closest rival, The Baltimore Ravens. Below them is the Bengals and then the Browns. A case could be made that before C. Palmer’s couple of injuries (to his knee and then to his elbow) he would have been in running for the best QB award. He’d had some pretty spectacular seasons and even some playoff games that he embarrassed his opponents with his strong arm and solid instincts. That being said, Palmer hasn’t been the same for the last few years, and he’s now even contemplating retirement, so he’s not even in the conversation.
Ravens’ Joe Flacco is the closest in the running for best QB, but the thing that sets him below Roethlisberger is his inability to get his team to the big game and then win it. From 2008-2010, Flacco has steadily increased his statistics, showing that he’s not just another run-of-the-mill QB, and at 26 years old, he has plenty of time to develop. In 2010 he threw for 3,622 yds and 25 TDs with a 62.6% completion percentage on the season. His numbers in the playoffs were even better at a 64.06% completion percentage. That being said, he still can’t find a way to beat the Steelers in the playoffs (or at all) and needs to overcome that hurdle until he is considered “elite.”
Roethlisberger on the hand boasts a 63.1% completion percentage over his 7 year career, proving to be a beacon of stability on the field. In the playoffs, Big Ben is 2-1 in the the Super Bowl and 10-3 overall. Stellar numbers for any QB. His uncanny ability to get it done when it counts and win in clutch situations makes him the best QB in the AFC North.