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Where does Russell Wilson stack up among the AFC West's quarterbacks? The race is razor thin

Zac Stevens Avatar
April 5, 2022

In order to have a membership into the elite club that is the stacked AFC West, a team must have a great quarterback.

Patrick Mahomes. Justin Herbert. Derek Carr.

For the past many years, the Denver Broncos have been on the outside looking in when it’s come to having a quarterback of the caliber of their three division rivals.

But not anymore.

Thanks to Russell Wilson, the Broncos are now part of the party.

But where does Russ rank among his new AFC West peers?

Breaking down the numbers from the past two seasons—since Herbert entered the NFL—gives some context to how the four QBs stack up against each other.

The per-year stats below are calculated by taking the average per-game performance of each quarterback over the past two seasons and extrapolating them out over a 17-game season. This attempts to eliminate hurting a player’s stats for missing games over that period of time and instead focuses on the caliber of player they are when on the field. All numbers are based off the 2020 and 2021 seasons.


  1. Partick Mahomes: 26-6 (.8125)
  2. Russell Wilson: 18-12 (.6)
  3. Derek Carr: 18-15 (.5454)
  4. Justin Herbert: 15-17 (.46875)

Passing yards per year

  1. Patrick Mahomes: 5,089
  2. Justin Herbert: 4,967
  3. Derek Carr: 4,588
  4. Russell Wilson: 4,151
  5. NFL Average: 3,881

Completion Percentage

  1. Derek Carr: 67.9
  2. Russell Wilson: 67.1
  3. Patrick Mahomes: 66.3
  4. Justin Herbert: 66.2
  5. NFL Average: 64.8

Passing touchdowns per year

  1. Patrick Mahomes: 40
  2. Russell Wilson: 37 (wins tiebreaker by decimals)
  3. Justin Herbert: 37
  4. NFL Average: 26.3
  5. Derek Carr: 26

Interceptions per year

  1. Patrick Mahomes: 10
  2. Russell Wilson: 11
  3. Derek Carr: 12
  4. Justin Herbert: 13
  5. NFL Average: 14

Passer Rating

  1. Russell Wilson: 104.2
  2. Patrick Mahomes: 103.1
  3. Justin Herbert: 97.9
  4. Derek Carr: 97.3
  5. NFL Average: 90.8

QBR in 2021 & 2022

  1. Patrick Mahomes: 78.1 & 62.2
  2. Justin Herbert: 62.6 & 65.6
  3. Russell Wilson: 67.1 & 54.7
  4. Derek Carr: 64.3 & 52.2


It’s true — the AFC West is absolutely stacked at the most important position in sports.

In all but one of the major statistical categories, all four quarterbacks were above the league average. The only category where they all weren’t better than the league average, only one quarterback, Carr, fell below the average. He had only 0.3 fewer touchdowns per year than the league average. That’s it. In all other categories, even the worst quarterback in the division was still above the league average.

In terms of how the four stack up against each other, well, that’s not as clear.

Unsurprisingly, for the most part, Mahomes comes out as the No. 1 QB in the division, as he has the best record, yards, touchdowns, interception and QBR among the four. It certainly doesn’t hurt he has the best coach and play caller either, but he has the results to back it up. Mahomes could certainly see a drop off without Tyreek Hill moving forward, but for now, he has the production.

Unsurprisingly, again, Carr appears to be the worst, yet most accurate, among the group. Outside of completion percentage, Carr was in the bottom-half of the division in every single category and last in touchdowns, passer rating and QBR. He, unlike Mahomes, could see a significant rise in his production with the addition of Davante Adams.

On a 17-game basis, Carr has averaged 26 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 4,588 yards and a 69.7 completion percentage the past two years. It’s hard to believe that’s the worst quarterback in the division. Another reason why the AFC West is, in fact, loaded.

This leaves two, Wilson and Herbert, for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.

Over the past two years, Wilson has been more of a winner, despite playing with a depleted team, has been more accurate, has a slightly better touchdown rate, just a few fewer interceptions than Herbert and overall a better passer rating.

On the other hand, Herbert has significantly more passing yards and a better QBR than Wilson in 2021.

What’s scary for the Broncos is in his first two years in the NFL, Herbert has very similar stats to Wilson, who is a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback in his prime. There’s no doubt the Chargers have their franchise quarterback.

But Wilson has been able to carry a poor team to a 18-12 record over the past two seasons, despite having a coach that wanted to have a run-first approach.

In fact, Russ was significantly limited in his opportunities to throw the ball more than the other three quarterbacks in the division.

Over a 17-game schedule, Wilson averaged 543 passing attempts the past two years. Herbert averaged 673 attempts, Mahomes clocked in at 662 and Carr had 589. The 46 attempt difference between Wilson and Carr is over one full game’s worth of attempts. Herbert’s 130 more attempts than Wilson is nearly equivalent to four more games worth of attempts.

What could Russ do if he’s given the same number of passing attempts as Carr? What about as Hebert? The stats would indicate he would have the same number of interceptions are Herbert, but would have the most touchdowns in the division, overtaking Mahomes.

Seattle was clearly not letting Russ cook.

All indications point to Nathaniel Hackett and the Broncos letting Russ loose. When that happens, Wilson will have a chance to prove he’s unquestionably elite.

There isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer to who the second and third best quarterback is in the AFC West. In terms of winning and passer rating, Russ takes the cake. In terms of passing yards and QBR, Herbert gets it.

While the Chargers’ young quarterback is clearly trending in the right directions, there’s no reason Wilson can’t have his trajectory continue to point up despite being 33 years old.

What has to happen in order for Wilson to continue to trend up is the Broncos have to let him cook.


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