Ranking the 8 NFL quarterbacks left in the 2024 divisional round originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
It's a new era in the NFL.
The eight remaining starting quarterbacks of the teams entering the 2024 divisional round are all under 30 years old, with two in their rookie seasons -- albeit one a redshirt -- and one in his first full season as a starter.
But who's the best still standing after Wild Card Weekend? With Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy among the eight left, let's rank all of the quarterbacks in the divisional round before the games commence:
Mayfield has enjoyed a fine debut season in Tampa Bay when his NFL career looked bleak not long ago. In fact, he posted regular-season career highs in completion percentage (64.3), yards thrown (4,044) and touchdowns (28), to name a few. But the 28-year-old is still a few tiers away from being elite, and he's struggled to remain composed against elite opposition in decisive moments. Can he change that at Detroit on Sunday?
7. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
The 29-year-old Goff is no stranger to recording impressive regular-season stats, but the more deeper you look, he's also not in the elite bracket. He's closer to it than Mayfield, though, and led Detroit to its first ever NFC North title. The key aspect for him will be to stay composed and efficient through all four quarters of a big game, which he's been quite iffy with. He completely blanked in the second half versus the Los Angeles Rams, though he was fortunate Matthew Stafford and Co. couldn't find the end zone on multiple occasions.
Sometimes patience pays off. The No. 26 overall pick of the 2020 draft, Green Bay put Love on the slow burner until it was time to cook. And he's definitely been cooking as of late, with his playstyle highly reminiscent of former Packer Aaron Rodgers. Love and the Packers offense under Matt LaFleur have been operating at a high level since Week 8, but the only knock on the 25-year-old's campaign thus far is an up-and-down first seven weeks when the team went 2-5. The future is certainly bright if his current trajectory persists.
Let's get spicy here. There's no denying Allen's talent as a dual-threat quarterback -- his unique blend of size and speed is polished compared to his first few seasons. But the Bills star had to own one weakness, which is also one that's costly: He's extremely turnover prone. Buffalo maintains a ride-or-die policy with Allen at the helm, and that's also why it has yet to reach the AFC Championship Game with him. As he exhibited against Pittsburgh, he can will his team to victory and not cough up the ball. But Kansas City is a different beast to conquer, though this time Allen will get the chance to do so on home turf.
4. Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
Purdy is the only quarterback on this list not to be drafted in the first round of any draft. He went dead last in 2022 as a seventh-rounder, which is all the more impressive why the 49ers' signal caller is on this ranking to begin with. There are plenty of criticisms on Purdy being more of a "game manager" than a "game changer," but the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. He has routinely been the most efficient QB in the league and led all competitors in QBR. How he fares in this upcoming run will reveal loads.
It mind sound mind-boggling to rank a rookie this high, but the No. 2 overall pick has simply been sensational. He led the Texans to the AFC South title in his first season, one that was efficient and low on mistakes. He also has showed up in pivotal moments thus far, with his biggest test looming Saturday at Baltimore (where he made his rookie debut). Stroud, who has thrown only five picks this season to 23 touchdowns, is still going strong despite not having key skill players in Tank Dell and Noah Brown for several weeks. Imagine how he'll look with a healthy core and more experience under his belt.
2. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Jackson may very well be the league MVP, but he's one spot shy of being the best on this list. He arguably had his most-balanced campaign of his career despite a receiving core of first-round rookie Zay Flowers, a past-his-prime Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor. Tight end Mark Andrews played just 10 games due to injury, though second-year Isaiah Likely emerged in Andrews' absence. But, not counting last year's elimination with Tyler Huntley under center, Jackson hasn't reached the AFC Championship Game yet -- he's lost three of four wild-card games with shaky outings. That should change this season, but nothing is guaranteed in this league.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
The 28-year-old Mahomes suffered a down year for his standards, which is just saying he looked human. He threw for 4,183 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 picks with no 1,000-yard receiver. Both Travis Kelce and rookie Rashee Rice came close, but the third-best receiver was Justin Watson with 460 yards on 27 catches and 53 targets. Yet somehow he completed a career-high 67.2% of his passes. His first non-Super Bowl road playoff game will be a test at Buffalo, but any other team would undoubtedly want Mahomes as their QB1 in high-pressure atmospheres.