If there's anything the NFL loves more than hypocrisy, overreacting, and Papa John's pizza, it is probably gambling.
Gambling is what drives point spreads, fosters an entire fantasy scenario for poor (and rich) fools to put their ESPN acumen to the test and play GM for a semester. It's gets your adrenaline going. You feel accomplished that you can properly predict a sporting event who's randomness is 2nd only to baseball. Access to that kind of weekly power can lead to high stakes, high reward as well as being the laughingstock of your fantasy league thanks to being out-dueled by a 57 year old mom-of-3 who doesn't even watch football. But I have a more interesting proposition...
Quarterbacks (QBs). The most important position in arguably any sport on the planet. A QB can be the reason why your team remains elite for decades, or the butt of all jokes. In this obsessive ratings and ranking culture, rather than subscribing to sabre-metrics culture, why not reduce our rankings to cards???!!!!! Genius. I thought of it first, foh.
So for this exercise, we are going to play Spades, except with NFL QBs. For those of you ethnically challenged people, Spades is a popular cards game that involves collecting "books" aka obtaining the winning hand. The highest ranking card wins, except for a spade. A spade can beat any other suit except another higher spade (Unless deuces are wild, which we won't use in this case). We will use 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces, and Jokers to rank our QBs. Rookie QBs will not be evaluated.
Here goes: 2017 QB Blackjack Rankings!!
Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills)- Former Hokie Tyrod Taylor is an interesting case. You're not sure 3 years into his career if he can win your team games or lose them. Despite his talent, and relatively stable supporting cast, You can win a few hands if you play your cards right. 10 Of Clubs
Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - Famous Jameis on paper has all the arm talent and leadership qualities Donald Trump would bigly kill for. It's been about 3 years, the Bucs are inconsistent, and the jury is still out on his ability to become an elite QB. There's no questioning his will to win. Moreso how he wins. 10 Of Hearts
Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) - Jameis' counterpart, Mariota's arrival has turned Tennessee from a wildly mediocre franchise to a less mediocre franchise. A 10 is fair for now, but he could become a Jack or Queen depending on his health. He will win you meaningless games for the time being. 10 Of Diamonds
Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) - Andy Dalton is the NFL's poster boy of doing all the right things during the regular season, but short-circuiting in the playoffs. If he played anywhere else, he would have been benched in his 2nd year, but thanks to his supporting cast, he's managed to bring QB stability for a city who can care less. He's a 10 Of Spades, only because of AJ Green, who has kept Dalton at QB since their arrival. The Bengals will make the playoffs, but no one trusts them to win with Dalton at QB.
Kirk Cousins (Washington Racists) - My QB. A QB who can't win against good teams (3-17 since 2015) and looks competent against bad teams. He's a Jack. He can win you some books if you play your cards right, but if you try to hold him, you'll get eaten up by Kings/Queens/Aces. Jack Of Clubs
Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) - On paper, Palmer has had King talent from the day he was drafted #1 overall. Inconsistent play as well as injuries in general have reduced his ranking over the years. He's a Jack because like Cousins, he'll beat bad teams, but can you trust him to beat good teams? Jack Of Hearts
Jared Goff (LA Rams) - Last year's #1 draft pick went from looking like Jeff Fisher's motivational speeches to possibly the MVP of the league. With new coach Sean McVay at the helm, he has completely lived up to expectations lofted upon him out of college. BUT, it may be too early to anoint him as a Queen/King/Ace two seasons in. Jack of Diamonds
Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) - I remember when the Raiders meant something in the NFL. Before his arrival, the Raiders were as irrelevant as Iggy Azelea for the last 15 years. An All-Pro in his 2nd season, Carr may be a King or Ace one day, but the Raiders have looked inconsistent all season. His WRs drop more balls than Republicans do to health-care reform. But if the Raiders can get it together? Jack Of Spades
Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) - I don't think we give Matt Stafford enough credit for being an slightly above-average QB on a cursed football team. The highest paid player in the League has more 4th Q comebacks in the last two years than anyone. He has all the attributes and talent to be elite. He's paid like he's elite. He can compete with the elite. But can you trust him in the playoffs? Until that happens. Queen of Diamonds
Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles) - Wentz had plenty of skeptics coming out of North Dakota State. We saw flashes of his talent early in his rookie season. But this season, he's looking like the second coming of Aaron Rodgers. The Eagles are loaded with talent and are the best team in the L (as of now). Wentz looks the part, and we will be able to place him among Kings and possibly the Aces one day. Queen of Clubs.
Dak Prescott - (Dallas Cowboys) - The Cowboys finally have stability at the QB position. Prescott has taken the foundation Tony Romo built and ascended to the elite QBs of the NFL. If you watched Dak in college, you knew he was special, and the Cowboys will be relevant for the next 10 years because of him. As long as he plays for the Cowboys, they will make sure he has enough talent around him to win every year. Queen of Spades.
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) - Cam Newton's NFL career is a rollercoaster ride. He either looks like an MVP on some days and a bust on other days. He's always the best athlete on the field as well as the biggest athlete on the field. Despite Carolina literally running him in the ground and not surrounding him with enough talent, his talent transcends the franchise. King of Diamonds
Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) - I struggled with this ranking. He's the reigning MVP, and has the stats and winning to back it up. He was an offensive coordinator away from winning a Super Bowl. But because he plays for the Falcons, a snake-bitten franchise who finds inexplicable ways to lose, we can never fully trust him. Sure he's a King of Clubs, but man, I feel like a 10 or Jack of Spades can take him out at any moment. King of Clubs
Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) - I didn't struggle with this one. Like Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers is a HOF QB with the stats to match. While the Chargers are not entirely snakebitten like the Falcons, they are so hapless. The Chargers are notorious under-acheivers, and have wasted Rivers' prime years. Granted they were against the ascension of Tom Brady, but it's hard to pin all of the Chargers franchise woes on Rivers. King of Hearts.
Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) - If he was 6'4", he would be an Ace. Plain and simple. Russell Wilson pound for pound is the best QB in the NFL. The offense literally is him scrambling and finding passing lanes while avoiding contact better than anyone in the NFL. He's also a walking Banana Republic ad to the media. Once Brady or Brees retires, he will easily be elected to the Aces. King of Spades isn't a bad consolation prize.
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) - Big Ben is as tough as any QB in the league. Ben certainly has the resume of being an Ace among Kings. Two-time winning Super Bowl QB. 70% winning percentage in his entire career. Always among the highest-rated passers in the L. 13 seasons as the franchise QB. Ace of Hearts
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) - I remember Drew Brees on the Chargers, and thought why (despite his bum shoulder) would they let this guy walk. Brees is arguably the greatest free agent singing in NFL history. He can out-duel anyone, and will eventually break every passing record once he retires. He's kept the Saints relevant and competitive despite not having a great defense to match his prolific passing ability. Ace of Diamonds.
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers ) - The best QB I've ever seen play football. No one makes QBing in the NFL look easier than Aaron Rodgers. His talent and football IQ is nearly unmatched, and his teams are always competitive despite injuries and lack of free agent talent around him. If you put Rodgers up against anyone, you always feel like the Packers have a good chance of winning. Especially at home. Ace of Spades.
Eli Manning (New York Giants) - There's not a 2-time winning QB on the planet I trust less than Eli Manning. Eli is the poster-child of inconsistency in the NFL despite having great offensive talent around him. But on a good day, Eli can beat an Ace under the most intense situations. Those two SB rings came against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) - A poor man's Ben Roethisberger. Is Joe Flacco elite? Not really. Is he bad? Not really. If you ask anyone what does Joe Flacco does very well, you'll either get a variety of answers, or no answers at all. Despite having one of the best runs to the Super Bowl, no one trusts Joe Flacco until you are forced to trust him. And in those circumstances....you never know what you'll get.
Dictated, not read