One thing to consider this weekend when pondering the Seahawks chances of making the playoffs is this: They still have the best quarterback in the division, and it’s not even close. In fact, despite the fact that Jared Goff may or may not have taken a step forward this year, the reality of the other two teams in the NFC West is that they have taken major steps back.
First of all, Goff still leads all NFL quarterbacks with 13.6 yards per catch, and has some great numbers like a 8.3 Y/A, plus a decent 94.1 rating, but he retreated back to the terrible play of his rookie season while losing to Seattle on Sunday. That included 46.8% completions, two interceptions, and 6.1 Y/A, a number that got a huge bump on the final drive.
Goff is still sixth in DYAR, but 15th in QBR. This week he faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, the best pass defense in the league by a huge margin; in DVOA standards, it’s about twice as good as the next best pass defense. So I won’t be surprised if Goff has his worst game of the year, and he’s coming off of a pretty bad one already.
Next is Brian Hoyer, the San Francisco 49ers’ placeholder for a QBOTF who is almost certainly not C.J. Beathard. Though Beathard will soon be the QB-of-the-Remainder-of-the-Year, I’m sure. Hoyer’s been predictably ho-hum, with four touchdowns and four interceptions during the Niners 0-5 start, completing 59.3% of his passes with 6.2 Y/A and a rating of 75.8. While Sean McVey has gotten a lil somethin’ out of Goff, not so much the case with Kyle Shanahan and Hoyer.
This is a real downgrade from Colin Kaepernick and it’ll probably be 2-3 years at earliest before San Francisco has a QB that the Seahawks will have to worry about unless they actually do make a swing that lands them Kirk Cousins. (At this point, I find that idea highly unlikely.)
Finally, there’s Carson Palmer, the QB who was thought to be a challenger for QB-of-the-Division, but in reality might be the worst of the four. First, let’s take a quick look at a longer gaze back on Palmer’s career. The following dates back to the 2011 season for Palmer and the 2012 season for Russell Wilson (when his career started):
Carson Palmer's last 83 g: 61.9%, 137 TD, 85 INT, 7.6 Y/A, 88.7 rating— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) October 13, 2017
Russell Wilson's last 85 g: 64.5%, 135 TD, 48 INT, 7.9 Y/A, 98.9
Over his last 18 games, Palmer has 60.6% completions, 27 TD, 19 INT, 6.9 Y/A, and a rating of 82.8. This season he leads the NFL in attempts but has just six touchdowns, five interceptions, and a rating of 80.5. The Cardinals have no future at quarterback right now and it’ll be even harder for them to find a replacement for Palmer than it will be for the 49ers to find a future after Hoyer, due to draft position and cap space.
Palmer is 24th in DYAR, DVOA, and QBR, while Hoyer is 27th in DYAR, 26th in DVOA, and 29th in QBR.
Of course, Wilson’s not off to a hot start. He’s 21st in DYAR and DVOA, 14th in QBR. But he’s also the most proven QB between him and Goff and to a degree that rivals the difference between a match and the sun. Wilson will almost certainly get better as the season goes on as he’s the best QB in history in November and December based on passer rating and often heats up as the weeks go on, and he will probably also benefit from the offensive line getting more experience and chemistry. And hopefully a better utilization of Jimmy Graham.
I think it’s indisputable that Wilson is the best QB in the division though. What may be surprising is just how much better he is than Goff and Palmer and that could be enough to drive Seattle into securing first place in the division and not looking back.