Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws the ball as Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) defends in the second half during the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. The Ravens won 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger
Backups: Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Ben Roethlisberger has been the AFC North’s best quarterback for several years now, and he’s only getting better. In 2014, Big Ben threw for 4,952 yards–tied with Drew Brees for the most passing yards out of any quarterback. He complimented those yards with 32 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions, finishing the season with a 103.3 passer rating.
Roethlisberger showed true dominance and looked like the NFL’s best quarterback in two weeks this season–first in Week 8, when he torched the Colts secondary with 522 yards, six touchdowns and a 150.6 passer rating, and in Week 9, when he waxed the Ravens secondary, passing for 340 yards and six touchdowns and finishing with a 136.3 passer rating. Roethlisberger didn’t throw an interception in either game, and the Steelers scored a total of 94 points in those two weeks.
But Big Ben shines in more than just two games per year; he led Pittsburgh to four straight victories to end the 2014 season, capturing the AFC North title and a home-field playoff matchup against the Ravens. And although the Steelers lost that playoff game (which can be partially attributed to Le’Veon Bell’s absence), Roethlisberger has been just as outstanding of a playoff quarterback as Joe Flacco–he has two Super Bowl rings to show for it.
With weapons all over the field, including Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates, as well as an improving offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger could be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks come 2015. Not to say that he isn’t already one of the league’s best–Roethlisberger would likely end up a Hall-of-Famer if his career ended today.