- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The AFC North blog has taken a look at the top five division players at each offensive position this week. This is a projection for the 2012 season, so predicted progress and decline has been factored into the rankings. The last one to address is quarterback.
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback is in the argument for being a top-five quarterback in the NFL right now, so he's obviously the top quarterback in the division. Over the past three seasons, Roethlisberger has completed over 61 percent of his passes and has averaged 3,868 yards and 21 touchdowns per season. These numbers would be even higher if he didn't get hurt so often.
2. Joe Flacco, Ravens: He was one failed catch away from leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl and has beaten the Steelers the past two years in Pittsburgh on last-minute touchdown passes. Flacco is also the winningest starting quarterback in his first four NFL seasons (44 victories). What Flacco needs to improve is his consistency. Last season, he had four 300-yard passing games and seven games with less than 200 yards passing.
3. Andy Dalton, Bengals: He became the only rookie in NFL history to throw for 20 or more touchdowns passes while winning eight or more games as a starting quarterback. His sophomore year should be even better considering Dalton will have a full offseason with the team this time. The test this year is overcoming the best defenses in the division. In four games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Dalton had an 0-4 record with four touchdowns and five interceptions. Against the rest of the NFL, he was 9-3 with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
4. Brandon Weeden, Browns: He hasn't been declared the starter like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but everyone knows this is Weeden's job to lose. His size and arm strength makes him the favorite to beat out Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace for the job. The biggest knock on Weeden, besides his age, is his decision-making when pressured.
5. Byron Leftwich, Steelers: Leftwich is the best insurance policy at quarterback in the division. He has started 49 games and passed for 10,260 yards and 58 touchdowns. The challenge for Leftwich is to remain healthy himself. He injured his knee in the 2010 preseason finale and broke his arm in last year's preseason.