Updated QB Power Rankings After NFL Week 6
Some new faces have emerged on the scene in Week 6, while some have catapulted to near the top of the updated NFL quarterback power rankings.
It doesn't appear to matter who starts at quarterback for the Jaguars; they always seem to round out the bottom of the league.
Meanwhile, the top 10 has experienced a pretty significant shakeup after solid performances by some and uncharacteristic struggles by others.
For these rankings, every current starting quarterback in the NFL will be considered and valued through numerous categories, each weighted differently as the season progresses.
Each week, I factor in several key attributes for the quarterback position such as intelligence, arm strength, accuracy, athleticism and leadership.
Wins throughout this season will also give quarterbacks a slight boost in addition to their individual performances based on several metrics. These statistics come exclusively via ESPN.com, NFL.com, and ProFootballFocus (subscription required), unless stated otherwise. Personal observation and opinion will also play a key role each and every week.
In the end, the essence of a power ranking with regard to quarterbacks really should consider this question: If I had one game to win and needed a quarterback to start for me, who would I want as my guy?
The only consideration of past performances now occurs in the event of breaking a tie or separating two quarterbacks who have played similarly.
Note: Total QBR is a scoring system which assesses everything a quarterback does on the field. It can be explained further via ESPN by clicking the link above.
Starters from Previous Weeks Who Didn't Start in Week 6
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Why he didn't play: Injured knee
Last rank: 28th
Replacement: Thaddeus Lewis
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
Why he didn't play: ACL injury (out for the season)
Last rank: 23rd
Replacement: Brandon Weeden
Mike Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Why he didn't play: Pulled hamstring
Last rank: 16th
Replacement: Nick Foles
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Why he didn't play: Injured hip
Last rank: 20th
Replacement: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Matt Flynn, Oakland Raiders
Why he didn't play: Demoted, then released by the team
Last rank: 30th
Replacement: Terrelle Pryor
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Why he didn't play: Hamstring injury
Last rank: 32nd
Replacement: Blaine Gabbert
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why he didn't play: Benched, then released by the team
Last rank: 29th
Replacement: Mike Glennon
32. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: N/A
With Blaine Gabbert hurt again, Chad Henne returned to the starting lineup hoping to guide the lowly Jaguars to their first victory of the year. Unfortunately, their opponent on the day was the undefeated Denver Broncos.
If moral victories are valid, perhaps Jacksonville has something to be proud of with its performance against the dominating Broncos squad.
Henne could be proud of the fact that he threw for over 300 yards, but he did fail to throw a single touchdown pass to offset his two interceptions.
If anything, Henne appears to be a better option than Gabbert at quarterback, as he was able to do things with the offense we just haven’t seen from the team's former first-round pick.
31. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 31st
In only his second start as a pro, Mike Glennon showed some definite improvement. Keep in mind, however, that he was playing against a struggling Eagles defense.
Glennon threw for two touchdown passes with only one interception but could not clinch the team's first victory of the year.
In both starts, the rookie QB attempted exactly 43 passes, yet he improved his output in every major passing category against Philadelphia. His completion percentage went from 55 percent to 60, and he even improved significantly in passing yards and overall passer rating (from 55.7 to 88.7).
It’s yet to be determined whether or not Glennon is truly an upgrade from Josh Freeman.
30. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Last Week: N/A
Brandon Weeden is performing like a guy who's playing for his job, which is exactly what he has to do after Brian Hoyer flashed the kind of success Browns fans have been yearning for.
Weeden had some positive moments against the Lions despite the loss. He looks to have picked up his game since returning to the starting job after his replacement, Hoyer, tore his ACL.
With that said, his season statistics are far from impressive at the moment, as he's completing only 56 percent of his passes with a 71.4 passer rating. He’s also ranked 34 of 37 in ESPN’s Total QBR with a 28.6 score.
29. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 30th
Arm strength has been an issue throughout Ryan Fitzpatrick’s entire career. This weakness was embodied in his interception to Richard Sherman, as he put every ounce of power into that deep sideline pass and still underthrew his target.
In his second start of the season as Jake Locker’s replacement, Fitzpatrick struggled mightily, throwing for only 171 yards on 29 pass attempts.
He was playing against the best secondary in football, but had he been a bit more effective, the Titans could have come up with a huge upset.
28. Geno Smith, New York Jets
Last Week: 26th
Geno Smith followed up his best game as a professional by resorting back to the unprepared rookie we saw only two weeks earlier. He had two interceptions on the day and no touchdown passes.
Smith also managed just 201 yards passing on 34 pass attempts. Playing against the Steelers’ zone-blitz defense could be viewed as a valuable learning experience moving forward.
In any case, his lackluster performance was enough to drop him two spots down to 28th in the power rankings.
27. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Last Week: 22nd
Peyton Manning’s younger brother is having a near opposite season to that of his elder sibling. While Peyton is off to the best year of his storied career, Eli is having by far his worst.
Thursday night proved no different, as Eli threw at least three interceptions for the fourth time in six games this season.
The Giants are currently winless at 0-6, and Eli has to assume a large amount of the responsibility for this at some point. So far, he seems reluctant to admit to his struggles while he continues to plummet down the power rankings each and every week.
26. Thaddeus Lewis, Buffalo Bills
Last Week: N/A
In Thad they trust in Buffalo?
If nothing else, Thaddeus Lewis has solidified himself a place in the NFL for years to come. The future appears to be bright for the kid who was a practice squad player merely a week ago.
His throws looked crisp, accurate and powerful, rivaling even those of the Bills’ first-round pick, EJ Manuel. On Sunday, he had 216 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
If he continues to play like he did against Bengals, taking them all the way to overtime, he may be stirring up a quarterback controversy.
One thing that could hamper this intriguing story is Lewis’ apparent foot injury, which had him in a walking boot after the game. Lewis was quoted as saying he should be fine—in any case, there’s no telling how much it will affect him heading into next week’s game.
25. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 24th
Sometimes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But with Carson Palmer, he seems to be trash for whoever reclaims him.
Palmer is a terrible decision-maker with the ball and has not been the asset the Arizona Cardinals were hoping to get.
Only Eli Manning has thrown more interceptions than Palmer’s 11 in only six games.
It’s no surprise the highest Palmer has been ranked in the power rankings is 23rd. He may never be ranked that high again.
24. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Last Week: 27th
Matt Schaub has been trying to climb out of the worst slump of his entire career these last few weeks. On Sunday against the Rams, he seemed to be on his way to doing just that, as he completed 15 of 21 passes with no interceptions before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
As hard as the media and fans have been on Schaub for throwing so many pick-sixes, his stats are actually slightly better than reigning Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco's this year—though Flacco has a slightly better QBR score.
23. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 29th
After winning against Pittsburgh in his first start of the season, Matt Cassel failed to replicate the same success against the Panthers. His passer rating dropped from 123.4 all the way down to 74.1.
Cassel has been an improvement over Christian Ponder, but not by much. He’ll need a big outing next week if he hopes to stave off the newly acquired Josh Freeman, who was brought in specifically to upgrade the passing game.
On the bright side, he has completed an impressive 69 percent of his passes.
22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 20th
The Packers defense held Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense without a single touchdown until the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Flacco would eventually end up with 342 passing yards and two touchdowns on the day. His sack-fumble was his only turnover in what turned out to be a fairly decent day in a tough loss
Flacco still has thrown one more interception than touchdowns on the season and has a subpar passer rating of 76.2. For what it's worth, the Ravens are tied for first in the NFL for most plays over 40 yards with eight.
21. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 25th
For the most part, Andy Dalton is playing pretty much on par with what you’d expect his current skill set to dictate. He has never had a rocket arm or incredible athleticism. Dalton is a gritty competitor who generally makes smart decisions and understands how to play within his limitations.
Last Sunday, he played one of his better games of the season, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns, but he has struggled more than usual so far. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), of the nine quarterbacks who have dropped back to pass more than him, only two have thrown fewer touchdowns than the eight he currently has.
20. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 21st
Sam Bradford has been throwing lasers the last two weeks and looking a lot like the guy the Rams had hoped for when he was drafted first overall. He had an impressive performance against the Texans' No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, as he threw for three touchdowns on only 16 attempts.
Bradford’s 13-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio is among the best in the league right now, but his 6.2 yards-per-attempt average is the worst of all current starting QBs.
He will also need to do a better job at converting on third downs. The Rams currently rank second-to-last ahead of only the Jaguars on third-down conversions.
19. Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 15th
Terrelle Pryor was barely given a chance to succeed against Kansas City with turnstiles for offensive linemen. The exciting young quarterback was sacked an astounding 10 times on the day and remained under constant duress even when he managed to escape the grips of the Chiefs defenders.
Pryor’s rising stock took a few steps backward last Sunday with three interceptions on the day. He did have 60 yards rushing, but that was not nearly enough to combat a tough day all around for Oakland.
18. Robert Griffin III, Washington
Last Week: 13th
With each passing week, Robert Griffin III resembles his former self a little more. In the loss to the Cowboys, we got to see that famous burst on a few plays which made him so dangerous in 2012.
Griffin has undoubtedly struggled this year, with a QBR of 30.9 and a passer rating of 80.4.
Washington is now 1-4 and RG3 is getting a lot of practice delivering postgame pressers after losing efforts. The frustration from the early struggles is clearly mounting.
Considering Washington's hesitancy to use RG3’s legs this season, the second-year quarterback is going to have to learn how to win from the pocket quickly if the team hopes to salvage this season.
17. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 14th
When Alex Smith was asked about his thoughts on being labeled a game manager on NFL Network, he had this to say (via ProFootballTalk.com):
I have no idea what that means. At this point in my career I’ve been playing long enough that I don’t really care what anybody’s saying, I care about the guys in this locker room, the guys in this building and going out there and winning football games. They can call me whatever they want to call me as long as we’re winning, so fine with me.
In truth, Alex Smith is indeed a game manager, which has been a benefit for the Chiefs, who have yet to lose a game. But if Smith is asked to keep up with Peyton Manning in a high-scoring affair, my money is going to be on Manning.
Even with Smith as a game manager, the Chiefs are one of the worst teams in the league at first downs per play, with a percentage of 30.6. Only the Bills, Jaguars and Titans have a lower percentage.
Another interesting stat is that Smith has thrown more than 30 passes in each of his six games as a Chief, yet has failed to have a 300-yard passing game. This illustrates the type of player Smith is at quarterback. For now, it appears to be working.
16. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 17th
Sometimes having a bye week is a good thing, especially when you can sneak up a spot in the power rankings.
Ryan Tannehill has been one of the more steady quarterbacks regarding movement up and down the list. He’s thrown at least one touchdown in all five of his games so far and has exceeded the 300-yard mark on two occasions.
This second-year QB has quietly made a case from himself as one of the best young signal-callers in the NFL.
15. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 11th
Disregarding the opening week, Colin Kaepernick exceeded 200 passing yards for the first time last week against the Cardinals. This was clearly his second-best game of the year, but his ability to connect with wideouts continues to be an issue.
Despite playing relatively well, Kap experienced a drop in the rankings, as the weight of last year’s success continues to dissipate. Furthermore, Kap leads the league in fumbles lost and has only completed 55 percent of his passes.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Kap is ranked 49th of 51 quarterbacks with a score of minus-8.4. That score was generated by grading every single snap he was a part of throughout the entire season.
14. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 19th
Per ESPN Stats & Info:
Cam Newton has 3 Pass TD for the 5th time in his career, tying a career high. It's the 2nd time he's done so on the road (2012 at Chiefs).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 13, 2013
Cam Newton had a career-high 143.4 passer rating and career-high-tying three TD passes in the Panthers’ win against the Vikings. Newton also added a rushing touchdown and was definitely one of the most impressive quarterbacks of Week 6, which is why he jumped up nine spots in the power rankings.
Surprisingly, the Panthers are the second-best team in the league, behind only the Broncos, at converting on third downs.
If Newton can continue this high level of play in back-to-back games, he might be able to climb into the top 10.
13. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: N/A
When Michael Vick pulled up lame in Week 5, he left the door open for Nick Foles to potentially take control of the starting job. At the very least, Foles did everything in his power to convince Chip Kelly he’s the guy for the job.
Against the Buccaneers, the second-year quarterback played a near-perfect game, throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He also managed to do his best Vick imitation by adding a rushing touchdown to an already impressive day through the air.
An interesting note—Foles has dropped back to pass 63 times and already has six touchdown passes, Ryan Tannehill has dropped 210 times and has the same number. The difference here is that Tannehill has thrown five interceptions, while Foles has yet to throw one.
12. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 18th
Ben Roethlisberger was able to return to his winning ways on Sunday with an important victory over the New York Jets, keeping the Steelers' season alive.
It’s important to note that most of the team’s struggles have not been the result of poor QB play, but rather due to an old defense that’s no longer dominant and an offensive line that can’t compete with the better pass-rushers in the NFL.
Both Roethlisberger and Alex Smith have a Total QBR of 46. This goes to show you that there’s a lot more to a team’s success and failures than just what happens at the quarterback position.
11. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Last Week: 12th
Jay Cutler is ranked eighth in the NFL this year with a passer rating of 95.2. This is a significant improvement, considering he began the season with a passer rating of 81.9.
He and the Bears look like a team capable of competing for the NFC North down the stretch against divisional foes like the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
In addition, only five quarterbacks have more passing touchdowns than Cutler’s 12.
10. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Last Week: 10th
The Matt Stafford sidearm pass into double coverage is still a thing. Some days, this risky, gun-slinging mentality pays off and some days it doesn’t. Against the Cleveland Browns, the former was the case.
Stafford led the NFL with four touchdown passes last week while helping to solidify his position in the top 10 among quarterbacks.
9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Last Week: 7th
For the New England Patriots, very little has gone the way they planned so far this season. Many of the team’s five wins have been ugly, to say the least.
When looking at statistics from throughout the years, you can clearly see that Tom Brady’s numbers have dropped significantly in 2013. Yet through all of the struggles and frustrations, Brady’s competitive fire has been a key spark for the team’s continual success.
Over the last two weeks, Tom Terrific has only managed to throw a single touchdown pass, yet that one pass just so happened to be the game-winning touchdown against a tough Saints team.
Brady now must climb his way back into the top five of the passer rankings, as he has slid to his lowest position of the year.
8. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 8th
Russell Wilson continues to come out on top with smart, savvy situational football. Even when Marshawn Lynch fumbled at the goal line and a Titan defender was about to scoop it and score, Wilson found a way to get the ball back and turn disaster into three points.
Against the Titans defense, he had his second-best game in terms of passing yards, with 257, while completing 74 percent of his throws.
For the second time this year, Wilson failed to throw a touchdown pass, but on the flipside, he has been great at preventing turnovers.
7. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 9th
Philip Rivers has been one of the biggest surprises of the entire year, as he has maintained his outstanding play week in and week out during the first six weeks.
Rivers is now ranked ahead of guys like Tom Brady and Russell Wilson despite starting the season as the 26th-best QB in the league. Clearly, he has been severely underrated and is making opposing defenses pay for the insult.
One of the most impressive aspects about his success is how he’s been able to thrive regardless of which weapons he's had available during any given week.
6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 5th
When you watch Andrew Luck play, you understand that the things he does on the field transcend his box-score stats. With that said, the Charges defense did a great job getting to him early and often on Monday night.
Luck failed to reach the end zone through four quarters for only the third time in 23 starts, according to NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling.
5. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 6th
Now that the noise surrounding Tony Romo’s untimely interception has died down, we can finally switch our focus toward his exciting season so far.
His 108.6 passer rating ranks among the best in the NFL, and his 14 touchdowns are second behind only Peyton Manning.
One of the more impressive stats for Romo this year has to be his 70 percent completion rate. This speaks to just how efficient he’s been all year long—something Romo has not been known for over the years.
Could it be that Tony Romo is actually a top-five quarterback in the NFL?
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 4th
Matt Ryan had some time to lick his wounds during his Week 6 bye after the Falcons' upsetting loss to the New York Jets.
Ryan and the Falcons are currently 1-4, which makes him the highest-rated quarterback with only one win. It’s worth noting that he and Ben Roethlisberger have each won the same number of games so far.
Regardless of the wins, which are indeed factored into the rankings, Ryan is playing outstanding football from the quarterback position, with a passer rating of 100.9. But his true test will be coming, as he now gets to play the remainder of the season without his most dynamic weapon, Julio Jones.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 3rd
Aaron Rodgers is absurdly accurate—period.
On Sunday, he launched one of the most beautiful passes of the entire season to Jordy Nelson for a 64-yard touchdown that appeared to be delivered out of a cannon.
Rodgers is playing great football right now, with a 101.9 passer rating, but will need to play lights-out football from here on out if he hopes to catch Peyton Manning.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 2nd
Believe it or not, Drew Brees was held to only 47 percent passing for 236 yards on the day against the Patriots, yet he still made enough plays to nearly come away with a big-time victory on the road.
Despite the lull in his statistics on Sunday, Brees is off to a strong start this season, with a 102.6 passer rating and the second most touchdown passes in the league with 14 behind only Peyton Manning. His 72.6 QBR grade also ranks among the best in the league.
Now that the Saints have a defense, there’s no telling how far this team can go.
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Last Week: 1st
Throwing 22 touchdowns with only two interceptions is an incredible feat of quarterbacking.
There’s clearly no controversy about which quarterback belongs atop the totem pole. Peyton Manning leads the NFL in nearly every major passing category and may be the best offensive coordinator in the league as well.
Thanks to Manning, the Broncos lead the league in passing yards per game with 360 and points per game with 44.2.
It’s crazy to think that at nearly 40 years of age, Peyton Manning is playing the best football of his Hall of Fame career.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and current Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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