tom jones' two cents
Every year at this time — a week after the NFL season — we rank the starting quarterbacks of all 32 teams.
The rankings aren't based just on statistics. They aren't based just on victories. They're based on, well, statistics and victories, as well as intangibles that can't be fully explained.
The Ravens' Joe Flacco moves up on our list, and the Panthers' Cam Newton drops a bit. Star rookies Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, as well as new starter Colin Kaepernick, debut high on the list.
Remember, we are ranking just the starters, so Alex Smith of the 49ers, who is probably better than half the QBs listed here, doesn't qualify because he is a backup. You also won't find Tim Tebow, another backup.
So here we go …
No double check needed. He's still the best QB in football, and he has the QB rating to prove it.
He's 35 and hasn't won a Super Bowl since he was 27. He's 7-7 in his past 14 postseason games, but come on, he remains arguably the best QB in football … and football history.
He had a bit of a down season, but Eli's game is not often measured by sheer numbers. If you have a big drive in a big game, you'd want Eli at QB. Just see his two Super Bowl wins.
He is the NFL's most prolific passer. He led the league in yards and TD passes last season. Uh, he also tied for the lead in interceptions with 19.
Health is an issue, but he's still one of the best playmakers in football. And let's not forget that he has three Super Bowl appearances and two rings.
6. Joe Flacco, Ravens
He has moved from good to great with this year's Super Bowl MVP performance. He already has proven to be one of the better postseason QBs of his generation.
7. Peyton Manning, Broncos
He had an amazing comeback season after missing 2011. But a loss in his first playoff game again raises questions about his postseason abilities. In 20 playoff games, he's 9-11 with 21 interceptions.
8. Matt Ryan, Falcons
A terrific regular-season QB, he finally got over the hump of winning a playoff game. He is almost unbeatable at home.
9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
He has a Super Bowl appearance after only 10 starts and a scary good throwing-running combination.
10. Andrew Luck, Colts
He had a superb rookie season. Prediction: He will be the top QB from the class of 2012.
11. Robert Griffin III, Redskins
No question he's a special talent, but can he stay healthy over the long haul?
12. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
A surprise starter in 2012, he led the Seahawks to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. He threw 26 TD passes and only 10 interceptions.
13. Matt Schaub, Texans
He has strong numbers, but some still question whether he is a real winner and will ever lead the Texans even as far as the conference title game.
14. Josh Freeman, Bucs
He set career marks in 2012 for TD passes and yards. He ended up with 27 TD passes and 17 interceptions, though eight picks came in two awful games. Overall, it was his best pro season.
15. Sam Bradford, Rams
I might have him ranked a little higher than most, but that's how much I believe in Bradford's talent. He needs to work on accuracy, but I believe he will one day be among the top 10 QBs in football.
16. Tony Romo, Cowboys
He still takes too many risks, and as a result, he hurts his team as much as he helps it. He threw a league-high 19 picks. Oh, he's 17-21 in his past 38 starts.
17. Cam Newton, Panthers
A spectacular rookie season was followed up by a sophomore slump. However, he did rally late in the season, winning five of the final six games with 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, along with four rushing touchdowns. That proved he still has the makings of an elite QB.
18. Jay Cutler, Bears
I still question his leadership and decision-making in pressure situations. He has 100 interceptions in 93 regular-season starts. He has skills, but if I had one game to win, I wouldn't want Cutler as my QB.
19. Andy Dalton, Bengals
I'm still not sold on Dalton. He's 19-13 as a starter and has guided the Bengals to two playoff appearances, but he doesn't have too many signature wins on his resume and hasn't looked good in the postseason: two losses, no TD passes, four interceptions.
20. Matt Stafford, Lions
Bet you didn't know Stafford had more completions than any QB in 2012. Then again, he also threw the ball more than any QB. Only 20 TD passes and 17 picks was a definite step back from his super 2011 season. He should climb on this list in future.
21. Philip Rivers, Chargers
He has a world of talent, yet some numbers make you scratch your head: a 15-17 record over the past two seasons and 35 picks in his past 32 starts.
22. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
He actually puts up okay numbers, but he just happens to be playing for a franchise that is in lousy shape at the moment. If he played in a place such as Dallas or Chicago, he might be a star.
23. Michael Vick, Eagles
You have to start wondering if Vick has much left, and he seems a long shot to ever find the game to get his team deep into the playoffs. If Nick Foles is Philly's starter next season, he would be ranked in this spot.
24. Christian Ponder, Vikings
He is improving, but his team is built around running back Adrian Peterson.
25. Mark Sanchez, Jets
From back-to-back AFC Championship Games to an awful 13-TD, 18-interception season, he's about to be run out of the Big Apple.
26. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
He had the worst QB rating among starters and just hasn't met expectations.
27. Carson Palmer, Raiders
It seems like a hundred years ago when he was such a bright up-and-comer with the Bengals. Wha' happened?
28. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Just a kid, he has shown promise, but nowhere near the level of young QBs Andrew Luck and RG3.
29. Brandon Weeden, Browns
The explanation used for Tannehill also applies to Weeden.
30. Jake Locker, Titans
The explanation used for Tannehill and Weeden also applies to Locker.
31. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
Kolb came over from Philly and was supposed to be the Cards' solution at QB, but injuries have gotten in the way.
32. Chad Henne, Jaguars
The Jags are a mess. You could put almost any average quarterback on this team and he would be last on this list.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers