Breaking Down the AFC West Quarterbacks

Dec 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; A Kansas City Chiefs helmet on the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 27-21. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the halftime break of the NFL preseason, and all eyes (at least around these parts) are on the AFC West. Earlier this week, Nick here are AA wrote a great article detailing how the Chiefs stack up against the rest of the AFC West, based off the first two weeks of preseason action. I wanted to take that analysis further and detail how I feel the starting QBs stack up in the AFC. All four QBs played one series in the first game of the preseason and most, if not all, of the first half of the second. I’ve compiled their stats thus far.


















Peyton Manning

















Alex Smith

















Philip Rivers

















Matt Flynn


















Here are the AFC West signal callers working from West to East on the map.

Aug 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jody Gomez-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Chargers – QB: Phillip Rivers

Stat that Stands Out: 1 INT

Best Play: 22 yard strike to Antonio Gates, Week 2

Oh, Phillip. How Chiefs fans loathe you in KC. Or love you. Especially when you fumble the ball on Halloween and turn a for sure Chiefs loss into a come-from-behind victory in Arrowhead. But, that’s all in the past. How is old “Cry Me a Rivers” playing this season? Not well. Before Manning arrived in the West, Rivers got all the attention. He definitely isn’t showing he’s turned the corner under new leadership.

Thus far this preseason, he’s the worst QB in the AFC West in pretty much every statistical category. He’s only thrown 15 passes and completed 10. In just over a half’s worth of playing time, he’s only garnered 95 yards for the San Diego offense. Add to that his three sacks and interception and he’s got the lowest QB rating of the four starting signal callers in the AFC West at 56.2.

I’ve been saying for awhile that Rivers isn’t all that. The national news media seems to think he is and the leadership in San Diego has always been high on him. This is the “make or break” season for Phillip. I don’t think he can survive another poor to mediocre season with Chargers.





Aug 16, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn (15) passes the ball against the New Orleans Saints in the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders – QB: Matt Flynn

Stat that Stands Out: 113.4 QB Rating

Best Play: 18 yard TD Pass to Denarius Moore, Week 2

Matt Flynn is a bit of enigma. The “other” quarterback in the AFC West who is a first time starter for his team, Flynn got his rise to fame on the heels of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. He’s kind of a Matt Cassel v2.0 in that he was touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread all based off of one great performance in Week 17 of the 2011 season. Of course he signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent amid decreased fanfare and then lost the starting job to the third round sensation, Russell Wilson.

So far in the preseason with Raiders (who picked up Flynn in a trade with the Seahawks) he hasn’t been too bad. He’s learning a new offense with substandard players and not doing too badly, considering he’s been running for his life. In what amounts to about one half of a game’s worth of playing time, Flynn has been sacked six times. Still, he’s managed to throw for 161 yards and a 76 percent completion rate. He even added a passing TD to his numbers against the Saints this past weekend. All said and done, he has the highest QB rating of the AFC West QBs at 113.4.





Aug 16, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass as San Francisco 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite (57) defends during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. San Francisco won 15-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs – QB: Alex Smith

Stat that Stands Out: 58 percent completion percentage

Best Play: 17 yard strike to Dexter McCluster, Week 1

Alex Smith was brought in to be the quarterback and leader of the Kansas City Chiefs under the new Andy Reid/John Dorsey regime. Unhappy with any signal callers on the roster they inherited from Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli, R&D sought out a trade with the San Francisco 49ers and brought the oft maligned Smith to KC. It was to be a new start in a new city for the quarterback who was the center of one of the craziest mid-season QB controversies in recent memory.

After one game, half of the fan base in the “City of Fountains” were hailing Smith as the second coming of Len Dawson (the only Superbowl winning QB in franchise history.) The other half were calling him “Captain Checkdown” and saying he was no better than Matt Cassel, the guy he replaced. After playing the entire first half of the second game of preseason, the numbers and stats seemed to favor the detractors, more than the supporters.

Smith has taken the most attempts of any QB in the division at 24. He’s completed the second most passes at 14. (Flynn was the highest at 16.) His normally high completion percentage (70 percent last season) is the lowest in the preseason against AFC West teams at 58 percent as is his average yards per attempt at 5.4. He has yet to complete a passing play longer than 20 yards or even a completion to a Chiefs wide receiver not named Dexter McCluster.

Smith has a long way to go to win over his doubters. Dubbed #ASHaters by one Addict commenter, they will continue to #ASHate until #AS11 proves he was worth the juice R&D used to bring him to KC.


Aug 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) stands on the sidelines during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos – QB: Peyton Manning

Stat that Stands Out: 176 yards passing

Best Play: 12 yard TD pass to Wes Welker, Week 2

Peyton Manning is hitting his stride already in the preseason, which doesn’t bode well for Chiefs fans. If there is any way the Chiefs hope to compete in the AFC West, it would require stopping, or at least slowing down, #18.

While the signs of his age sometimes shine through (see a couple of the wobbly passes he threw in the loss against Seattle) the fact remains that he is, perhaps, one of the smartest and most proficient QBs to ever play the game. If you combine that with the exceptional receiver corps that John Elway has put around him, it’s tough to find a chink in the armor that is Peyton Manning.

He leads the AFC West in total yards (176), yards per game (88) and plays over 20 yards (3). Also, despite the catastrophic injuries that have befallen his offensive line during the offseason/preseason, he is the only AFC West QB who hasn’t tasted the ground yet, as he hasn’t been sacked. It’s been proven time and time again, the only way to stop the machine that is #18 is to get pressure in his face, but thus far against two exceptional defenses in Seattle and San Francisco that has proven impossible. The rest of the division has their work cut out for them if they truly want to dethrone Manning in the Mile High City.




I have watched every series played thus far in the preseason by all of these quarterbacks, thanks to the NFL Preseason app, and the “condensed game” feature. Taking this into account, as well as the intangibles, I would have to grade the AFC West quarterbacks as follows:

#1: Peyton Manning

#2: Matt Flynn

#3: Alex Smith

#4: Phillip Rivers

Many people from the talking heads on NFLAM to that guy at the water cooler at work who won’t shut up (even thought he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—you know who he is) are picking the Denver Broncos to not only with the AFC West this season, but to represent the AFC in the Superbowl. This, of course, all boils down to the guy wearing #18 for the Broncos, Peyton Manning.

Peyton is good. As much as I don’t want to even say this because it makes my mouth feel funny, I like Peyton Manning.


I need to eat a week’s worth of barbeque to wash that taste out of my mouth. Moving on.

While it gives me great pride and happiness to put Rivers at the bottom of any list, and there was no doubt that Manning would be #1, I really would like to see Smith and Flynn switch places. Those of you who know me, know that I’m an #ASHomer not an #ASHater so you can imagine how difficult this list is. I just hope #AS11 can turn the corner – and get the help he needs in the receiving game as well as pass protection – to make the trade that brought him to KC worth it.

The bottom line is I’m making these assessments and observations based off of one half of football. I’ve seen guys have a bad half to come back and throw four touchdowns in the second half and win the game. We’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to beat the drum. This is preseason, Addicts. It will all be okay. I promise.



Topics: Kansas City Chiefs

Want more from Arrowhead Addict?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • Keith Strait

    eveyone is confused. alex smith is matt cassell 2.0. im tired of trading for crappy qbs. we have bray who is a total bad ass with an arm. alex will never take this team to a superbowl our defense is nothing like san frans. another crappy year is coming. bray has the potential why not start him he can at least ththrow it farther than cassell 2.0

    • Jason Seibel

      I don’t believe Smith is Cassel 2.0. He’s smarter and better at protecting the ball than MC. If #7 were still the QB of this team, the Chiefs would have at least 3 turnovers already. I agree with you about Bray, but he’s raw and uncoached and definitely not ready to start in the NFL. I guarantee if they give him the team instead of the clipboard, he turns into Ryan Leaf 2.0. Maybe in 2 or 3 seasons he could be awesome, but not yet.
      I think judging Smith (or any of these guys) on one half of football is wrong, and I thought I made that point at the end of the piece. Maybe I need to be clearer…

      • Justin R Groth

        Ok Jason I am not defending this guy but I have to say this as a friendly tease. Wouldn’t Cassel be a bad version of a game manager (which isn’t good) and Alex is hopefully* a good game manager (which isn’t bad) So Alex would be an upgrade? So you could say that MC was game manager 1.0 and AS is game manger 2.0? By that logic then AS would be MC 2.0 :). They are supposed to play in similar ways just AS is better at it.

        • Jason Seibel

          If Smith were being brought on by Reid strictly to hand off to JC, I would agree with you. And I can see the humor, and even logic, in your statement. However, I really don’t think that is Smith’s role (either intended or unintended) in this offense. A guy like Kevin Kolb, or Blaine Gabbert and yes, Matt Cassel are guys you put on the field, and hope they don’t screw up an exchange with the RB. I really think that Alex Smith was brought in to be a game changer and a game winner. Call me crazy.

          • Justin R Groth

            See now were at a road of definitions. I put ponder Cassel, Gabbert all in the 1.0 Kolb I forget about. The 2.0 version is smarter faster, mor accurate and cab win you a game instead of losing you one. To me a game manager is asfollows: A QB who may not be have the are to go deep a lot (>40 in air) however can hit intermidiate passes and short passes at a high success rate. Is intelligent with the ball, yet when necessary gas the balls to take the shot. When I say game manager It’s not mean, it just mean that the QB at his best should fitthat description.

          • Jason Seibel

            Under your description I would say that AS11 is a game manager. But that’s not the definition most on this site are using to describe Smith or the term “game manager.”

          • Justin R Groth


          • Justin R Groth

            Which is why Professor Kucharick always told me it’s better to put a definition than to assume someone knows what your talking about at all the time.

    • Joe Myers

      Breaking out the suicide pills a little early huh ?? . Look we don’t know if alex can take us thier or not just chill oyt this is what we got lets go

  • Keith Strait

    every year its the same we all get our hopes up and we get killed. people are already talking kc is taking the afc west. did they forget about peyton and rivers 2 good qbs. i wanna see a drafted qb carry the team and not fallen heroes from other teams. smith doesnt have the it factor or else he would still be in san fran. also san frans defense bailed alex out of alot of games. our d will be ok but i do nott see smith scoring thirty five points a game. we may go .500 with smith. if he can throw it more than ten yards. if we put bray in now andy could work his magic and in 2 years i think we will have a good qb with a stronger arm than flacco. i have stuck with kc all my life im from pennsylvania and have to deal with jerk steeler fans. i just hate all the hype kc is going to do something this year. every year we all get our hopes up and we cant even score or maintain a lead. the lasttime kc was in the playoffs was the year justin bieber was born. use bray

    • Jason Seibel

      Phillip Rivers doesn’t belong in the same league…much less the same sentence as Peyton Manning. And I’ve heard all the “we need to draft our own QB” drama before. Smith can throw the ball more than 10 yards. Chiefs have a real shot at going 10-6 this year with a well rounded team — Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

    • Chuck Burrell

      I was unaware that all winning teams score 35 points a game. Shave your scrappy beard. Post somewhere else if the only thoughts in your head are foolish and negative

  • Austin Wagner

    Good read, your lack of bias is very refreshing!

    • Jason Seibel

      Thanks, Austin. I really tried to not go “homer” on this article and put the stats out there and let them speak for themselves. I love this team and I really like Alex Smith, but thus far, his numbers haven’t been there. Glad you enjoyed the piece!

  • Keith Strait

    your writing with hopes and dreams jason. i want the chiefs to get ten wins. our schedule is ok. jason some of your writing is fantasy based i get that you wrote the.article. bray would of went way higher if he wasnt a punk. if the chiefs make the playoffs i will delete my account if they dont you never put this jibberiah on here again and erase yours

    • Jason Seibel

      I’m not asking you to delete anything and I surely won’t delete anything. I don’t write anything based off of fantasy. I put the stats out there and let them speak for what they are. I said Smith didn’t look hot and put him behind the Faiders QB. If that’s not fantasy, I don’t know what is. I think the Chiefs have a legit chance to go 10-6 this season based of their team and their schedule. There is no hopes and dreams or fantasy there. It’s fact.

  • Keith Strait

    well one things for sure i bought a poe jersey and the cheerleaders are hot. hey jason didnt you say the cheerleaders have a magical cheer that will help smith throw tds lol

  • Keith Strait

    at least i can grow a beard. why are you insulting me i am a big chiefs fan i buy a jersey a year been following them for 25 years. iit finally got to me this year with espn and nfl dot com predicting the chiefs will take the afc west when denver is built for a superbowl run you can tell peyton wantts to win. . i thiclark hunt is a joke who cannot run a team. its all adding up and pissing me off. i love the chiend we get alex smith. reid is pass happy and s and want them

    • Joe Myers

      Dude calm down next year is the time to draft a qb . Go back look at alex stats for his career if anything it tells you he got better every year . Listin to me man this team is vary underrated thier thinking 10-6 but really we can go like 14-2 . Denver is old they will realize that in 2nd half of every game in November and December . Ried wants a ring and we have the all around team to do It go chiefs!!!

    • kcpauly

      Take a Valium, and chill dude…lay off Jason, he is not the one who makes you buy a jersey a year and he is not the one running the team, you are getting way too freaked out when the season hasn’t even started, try to relax and enjoy life a little
      Jason, I thought it was a good article and pretty accurate, I too would like AS11 to switch with Flynn, and I think it will happen, sooner than later, I think to we will be just fine, thanks for the no-bias reporting
      Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jason Seibel

      When has anyone predicted the Chiefs will take the West? I haven’t seen or read that anywhere? I think any “professional” sports analyst would be laughed out of the building if they predicted a 2-14 team to win anything the following year.

    • Jason Seibel

      Just so we’re clear, here’s an article on right now, saying Denver will win the division:

  • Keith Strait

    imagine peyton manning running the pistol with how slow he is reid is pass happy and is going to expect alex to throw alot which he sucks at. its not a good fit im not negative im pissed off

    • Jason Seibel

      How does Alex suck at passing? If any point can be made, our WRs suck at catching.

      • Jim Harper

        Careful Jason. I think this guy may be a jihadist with the Taliban. He scares the crap out of me.

    • RepOurChiefs

      Pissed? Yes..negative? Yes. Lol

  • Joe Myers

    Jason good article but I really missed the bias reporting . Go chiefs

    • Jason Seibel

      When have I ever been biased before???

  • Keith Strait

    haha 14 and 2. remember last year same predictions. we have a nice schedule i agree with that. jamal will need 5 yards a gain. bowe isnt going to be utilized our tight ends will. which in san fran alls he did was throw short passes to his tightends. i wanna see a qb who can hit bowe in stride at 30 yards. unless andy stops his pass happy ways alex cant handle it and going to dump the ball off to charles and jamal will be injured by week 5. im not psychic i just know football. enough about it until the regular seasons starts and we see what offense is used in jacksonville

    • Jason Seibel

      “which in san fran alls he did was throw short passes to his tightends.”

      Really? Let’s talk some stats, shall we?

      2010 San Francisco 49ers Receiving Leaders:
      Vernon Davis, TE, 914 yards 7 TDs
      Michael Crabtree, WR, 741 yards 6 TDs
      Josh Morgan, WR, 698 yards 2 TDs

      2011 San Francisco 49ers Receiving Leaders:
      Michael Crabtree, WR, 874 yards 4 TDs
      Josh Morgan, WR, 220 yards 1 TD
      Vernon Davis, TE, 792 yards 6 TDs

      2012* San Francisco 49ers Receiving Leaders:
      Michael Crabtree, WR, 1105 yards 9 TDs
      Vernon Davis, TE, 548 yards 5 TDs
      Randy Moss, WR, 434 yards 3 TDs

      What does this tell us? While in 2010 Vernon Davis was the leading receiver on the team, his next two top receiving targets were receivers, and their yardage added up well over what Davis had. That was also the last year that Davis led the team in reception yards. You’ll notice they dropped off considerably when Jimmy H came to town.

      Obviously I asterisked the 2012 season because Smith only played 9 1/2 games, going out with a concussion and then being replaced with Kaepernick. Still, the stats don’t add up to your statement above.

  • ArrowFan

    I’m going to use a term the Saber baseball guys use a lot and that is small sample size. Manning is going to be the top QB and there isn’t much we can do about that. Smith was arguably the best QB we could get if you don’t like him and think he sucks then who else Flyn some rookie? The good news about that is that Smith will not be playing against Manning he will be playing against Denver’s D. I think what needs to be added to this is a break down of the AFC West running games and Defenses. Owe, that is right who has the RB in the West and pass rushers.

    • Jason Seibel

      You make an excellent point that the QB alone isn’t the only piece. I don’t disagree with you. And, as I said in my article, this is only a very small sample size but the stats are the stats.

  • Justin R Groth

    Thank you for the non biased look at the AFCW QBs

    • Jason Seibel

      You’re welcome. I do what I can.

  • BurtGummer44

    How much of this will we see in 2013? Staring down a receiver and then panicking and stepping into the rush……….Good Grief looks like Casselesque to me.

    • robjeromy

      Looking at this play I saw two options he could have went to get rid of the ball…

      • Dfrey87

        Ok guys first off, you two need ur eyes checked. He started his prgression’s at the left side of the field and worked his way right. That is not staring down a receiver. Then u say he could have got rid of it where? Obviously u guys don’t know coverage or defense either. If he would have thrown to any one of his options on the left it would have been a pick. The defenders were sitting on the routes.

        • robjeromy

          Obviously you didn’t see Moeaki springwide open on that play… The corner blitz was coming from that side..

        • BurtGummer44

          Take off your Beer Goggles. He never looked left, its a figment of your imagination. He focused on Bowe immediately and for too long, then when he decided to look elsewhere he saw the rush and panic set in causing him to mindlessly step right into the pass rush. AS is a QB who needs un-molested time in the pocket to make decisions and deliver the ball…………you’ll see this on all his previous 49er tapes both early in his career as well as late. The OL better get better or there will be problems.

  • Keith Strait

    so we all came to an agreement matt cassell had plastic surgery and changed his number to 11 this year. maybe the football gods can help us go .500 this year. lets go jamal

    • Jason Seibel

      Dude, I don’t think anybody agrees with you.

      • Clint Moran

        I certainly don’t. I was one of the biggest critics of the Alex smith trade, and I’m still not sure how it will turn out, nobody does. But, as Kevin keitzman always says “if not him, then who?”. That applies here. I loved watching geno smith in college, but the coaches saw something in him that they didn’t like, that is obvious. As11 was the best available and we all owe him a chance to prove himself as loyal fans. Not ready to throw in the towel after 2 meaningless (mostly) preseason games.

        • Jason Seibel

          Well said, Clint. After two games (and one half of total playing time) it’s tough to see how any of these guys will shake out. I was simply trying to put the stats out there.

      • RepOurChiefs

        Mos definitely not!

  • Keith Strait

    we can all rebuttal each other it dont matter when the post season gets here you will be regretting your as11 jerseys and saving them until next year. which i hopeee he doeant stay here 2 years if he does unfortunately our chiefs will still suck. the thing we all have in common is we bleed kc red. im a realist nobody is going to convince me as11will take kc to the abcushe couldnt do it in san fran with a way better team and a way better coach. i hope im wrong but i trust my gut. i hope houston eats manning 4 lunch. i hope bray starts when as11 gets a concussion. hes very brittle watch the video he gets the concussion. i could take that hit without a helmet on and jump up. it just seems like hes gun shy and all of reids qbs over the years especially mcnabb would throw 40 timea a game

    • Jim Harper

      I think you have already taken too many hits w/o a helmet.

    • Jason Seibel

      Here you go with your “fantasy” stats again. In McNabb’s career as an Eagle, he only had 30 games (including the post season) where he attempted 40 or more passes.

  • PunjabiPete

    MANNIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGGG!!!!!! *shakes fist feebly at the heavens*

    • Jason Seibel

      I know, right? Why did he have to come to the AFC West. It just makes me hate Elway that much more…

      • PunjabiPete

        Lemme get a breather in and I will shake that same fist while yelling Elway’s name too :P

  • RepOurChiefs

    Cant help but to think AS11 poor play was due to experimental play/operation baldwin but thats my opinion. More questions will be answered later on. Great insight jason. 2 thumbs up. #youaintseennothingyet #GO CHIEFS

22 hours ago

The Morning Fix: Don Klosterman, Teddy Bridgewater, The Claw

23 hours ago

My (Twitter) Encounter With The Black Hole

1 day ago

AAMA: NFL Draft, Eric Berry, and What Does AAMA Mean?