Updated QB Power Rankings After NFL Week 8

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIOctober 30, 2012

Updated QB Power Rankings After NFL Week 8

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    Week 8 of the NFL season brought another week of good and bad performances from the NFL's most important position.

    With each week that passes, it seems the gap between the good and bad quarterbacks widens a little more. Guys like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan seem so much better than the likes of Michael Vick, Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez that you wish you could separate the two groups even further than they currently are.

    Now that we're moving into the second half of the season, we've taken into consideration the first eight weeks of the season as we put together the quarterback rankings this week. Here are the updated rankings for Week 8 of the NFL season.

    You can view Week 7's quarterback rankings here.

32. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Last Week's Ranking: 32

    Season Statistics: 123-of-206, 1,368 yards, six touchdowns, 10 interceptions, one rushing touchdown, six fumbles lost

    After Brady Quinn got knocked out of the Week 7 game in the first quarter, Matt Cassel came in and played decently for the Kansas City Chiefs. It was nowhere near what a good quarterback should look like, but it wasn't a completely horrid performance either.

    There is little doubt that Kansas City will be looking for a replacement quarterback in the offseason, which is good news for the Chiefs. They have a talented young group of players, but they need a competent and talented quarterback to lead them.

31. John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals

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    Last Week's Ranking: 31

    Season Statistics: 73-of-126, 746 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions, one fumble lost

    The Arizona Cardinals simply can't be pleased with the play of John Skelton since he's come in for the injured Kevin Kolb. For starters, Arizona has lost the last three games that Skelton has played in.

    On top of that, he has been absolutely terrible when he has been on the field. He's completing well under 60 percent of his passes this year, and his one touchdown pass is such an anemic number it's almost funny.

    I never thought I'd ever say this, but I'm almost positive that Arizona can't wait for the day that Kolb can finally play.

30. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Last Week's Ranking: 23

    Season Statistics: 157-of-266, 1,823 yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, one rushing touchdown, five fumbles lost

    Another week, another bad performance and tough loss for Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, it might have been so bad that we see a new starting quarterback in Philadelphia in Week 9.

    While nothing has been decided yet, this is the first time this season that Vick's job has seriously been in jeopardy. What makes this entire situation difficult for Vick is that even if he doesn't lose his job this week, the pressure of having Nick Foles breathing down his neck could cause him to perform even worse.

    While Vick has been awful so far, the Eagles are still 3-4 and aren't completely out of the playoff picture in the NFC. They'll certainly need him to play better starting instantly, but we at least know he's capable of playing at a higher level. 

    We just haven't seen it this year.

29. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

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    Last Week's Ranking: 27

    Season Statistics: 165-of-299, 1,912 yards, nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions

    On Sunday we saw the really bad side of Brandon Weeden. He only completed 41 percent of his passes for 129 yards.

    While his team did come away with the victory, he did little to actually help that effort. After looking like he'd taken some major steps forward in the past weeks, Weeden moved back in his overall play this week.

28. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans

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    Last Week's Ranking: N/A

    Season Statistics: 118-of-185, 1,167 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions, one fumble lost

    With Jake Locker still nursing his sore shoulder, Matt Hasselbeck finally gets a chance in the quarterback rankings this week.

    His first appearance is a rather low one despite being a rather solid replacement this season. He's 2-3 when he's played the bulk of a game (2-2 as a starter) and was one of the better players on the field in Sunday's loss for the Tennessee Titans.

    Given that Jake Locker has a fracture in his non-throwing shoulder (per Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com), we could see Hasselbeck on this list for a few more weeks. If he continues to play like he has, he should have no trouble moving up.

27. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Last Week's Ranking: 30

    Season Statistics: 115-of-207, 1,209 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions, two fumbles lost

    Blaine Gabbert actually had one of his best performances of the season on Sunday. He threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown and didn't have a single turnover. 

    However, the big reason Gabbert makes a slight move up the rankings this list is because he did all this with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. It was a gutsy performance against the Green Bay Packers, who are quickly becoming one of the better teams in the league.

    If Gabbert can put in performances like this every week, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have to start feeling good about their future.

26. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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    Last Week's Ranking: 28

    Season Statistics: 129-of-210, 1,466 yards, 10 touchdowns, eight interceptions, two fumbles lost

    For the majority of Sunday's game, Russell Wilson kept pace with Matthew Stafford. In fact, he even gave his team the lead with under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

    Unfortunately, Stafford did the same thing with the Detroit Lions, and Wilson tasted defeat for the second straight week.

    With that said, if Wilson continues to play at as high a level as he did in Week 8, the Seattle Seahawks are going to continue to be an extremely difficult team to beat.

25. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

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    Last Week's Ranking: 24

    Season Statistics: 144-of-272, 1,736 yards, 10 touchdowns, eight interceptions, three fumbles lost

    Let me start by saying that under no circumstances should Mark Sanchez be throwing the ball 54 times in a game. That is just bad play-calling from the New York Jets.

    Sanchez is never going to be an elite talent like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, so the Jets need to stop putting him in situations where he needs to play like he's elite. When they do, they end up getting a 52 percent completion percentage and two turnovers while getting destroyed by a less talented team like the Miami Dolphins.

    If the rest of the season continues as it has up to this point for Sanchez, I simply can't see how New York continues to move forward with him as its quarterback.

24. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills

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    Last Week's Ranking: 25

    Season Statistics: 133-of-218, 1,435 yards, 15 touchdowns, nine interceptions, two fumbles lost

    The Buffalo Bills had a bye in Week 8, but thanks to the horrid performance from Michael Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick moves up one spot in the power rankings this week.

    We still want to see much more from Fitzpatrick as the season progresses, as he's been nothing more than mediocre in 2012.

23. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders

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    Last Week's Ranking: 26

    Season Statistics: 162-of-269, 1,941 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions, one rushing touchdown, two fumbles lost

    Week 8 wasn't the friendliest to Carson Palmer, but he came away with the most important thing: a victory. That gave the Oakland Raiders back-to-back wins and a legitimate chance at making a run in the AFC West.

    As long as Palmer can get help from Darren McFadden like he did on Sunday (29 carries for 114 yards), he should continue to be an effective quarterback. While he may never be a stud quarterback again, he is still talented enough to be a game manager and continue to win games for this team.

22. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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    Last Week's Ranking: 22

    Season Statistics: 120-of-203, 1,472 yards, four touchdowns, six interceptions, one rushing touchdown, one fumble lost

    Ryan Tannehill was knocked out of his game against the New York Jets early with a knee injury.

    However, on the season, Tannehill has been more than impressive. Hopefully he can get back on the field because he has been one of the NFL's most pleasant surprises through the first eight weeks.

21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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    Last Week's Ranking: 21

    Season Statistics: 153-of-249, 1,797 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions, one rushing touchdown

    Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams just got outplayed on Sunday in the worst way. The New England Patriots exploded for 28 straight points in the first half, and there was nothing Bradford could do to get his team back in the game.

    On the season, Bradford has looked much better than he did in his disappointing season last year. I mean, it's hard to be exceptional when your starting wide receivers would have trouble seeing the field on the majority of other teams in the league.

    I have no issues with keeping Bradford at his same ranking despite being on the wrong side of a blowout loss.

20. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 19

    Season Statistics: 121-of-212, 1,701 yards, five touchdowns, eight interceptions, three rushing touchdowns, three fumbles lost

    As much as I'd love to see Cam Newton playing like a top-15 quarterback in the league, it just isn't happening this season. In fact, you could make a rather solid argument that Newton doesn't even belong in the top 20.

    His play in Week 8 (two interceptions and zero touchdowns) certainly didn't do anything to move him up in the rankings. However, he was going against one of the premier defenses in the league in the Chicago Bears, and that has to count for something.

    While I do believe that Newton will ultimately turn it around this season, the longer it takes for that to happen, the less confident I am that it will actually take place in 2012.

19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Last Week's Ranking: 20

    Season Statistics: 156-of-243, 1,831 yards, 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, one rushing touchdown, two fumbles lost

    This week was a much-needed bye week for Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. After starting the season extremely hot, Dalton has cooled down in recent weeks.

    He's now two games back in the AFC North and really needs to improve his play if the Bengals want to make a run at the playoffs.

18. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

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    Last Week's Ranking: 18

    Season Statistics: 171-of-262, 1,743 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions, one rushing touchdown, three fumbles lost

    Christian Ponder simply got outplayed on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Opposing quarterback Josh Freeman was on fire, and Ponder just couldn't keep up with his production.

    He's still made major strides in his second year, as he's made the Minnesota Vikings a legitimate threat in the NFC. It helps to have weapons like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph surrounding you, but Ponder has still played very well through Week 8.

17. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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    Last Week's Ranking: 17

    Season Statistics: 150-of-252, 1,837 yards, nine touchdowns, six interceptions, one rushing touchdown, one fumble lost

    Few players needed a bye in Week 8 as much as Joe Flacco did. After getting destroyed by the Houston Texans in Week 7, Flacco took a major slide in our quarterback rankings.

    With the Cleveland Browns on the schedule for Week 9, Flacco is going to need to have an exceptional game for him to move back up these rankings. In fact, anything less than exceptional against a team like Cleveland will likely drop him even further down these rankings.

16. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 9

    Season Statistics: 157-of-243, 1,646 yards, 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions, three fumbles lost

    What the heck happened to Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers this week? No quarterback made as big of a slide as Rivers did, but he certainly deserved it.

    Six points against the Cleveland Browns is simply unacceptable for any quarterback in the NFL. Heck, it wouldn't be acceptable for a college quarterback to put only six points on the board against the Browns.

    I've been lenient the past few weeks with Rivers because of the overall play of his team, but that can no longer happen. If Rivers doesn't start playing better, not only will he continue to drop in these rankings, but the Chargers will become one of the worst teams in the league.

15. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

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    Last Week's Ranking: 12

    Season Statistics: 186-of-283, 2,073 yards, nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions, one rushing touchdown, two fumbles lost

    There are two ways to look at Tony Romo's game on Sunday. You can focus on his four interceptions, or you can focus on how he nearly led his team to an amazing come-from-behind victory.

    While he didn't get a lot of help from his team, his early play was also a huge reason why the Dallas Cowboys were down 23-0 within the first 20 minutes of the game. I'm certainly willing to overlook mistakes from a quarterback in a crucial game of the season, but Romo has certainly been struggling this season.

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

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    Last Week's Ranking: 16

    Season Statistics: 160-of-288, 1,971 yards, eight touchdowns, eight interceptions, three rushing touchdowns, three fumbles lost

    The box score is never going to tell the entire story of what Andrew Luck means to his team. Luck has taken the Indianapolis Colts from being a two-win team last year to already being a four-win team this year.

    That is amazing, and it is what truly makes Luck a special quarterback. In fact, there are only a handful of quarterbacks that I believe could be 4-3 with the talent currently surrounding Luck in Indianapolis.

    The statistics will ultimately come around, but until they do, you need to simply enjoy the magic that Luck brings to the field every week.

13. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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    Last Week's Ranking: 15

    Season Statistics: 198-of-313, 2,108 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions, three rushing touchdowns

    This was the first time this season that Matthew Stafford looked like the 2011 version of himself. He was accurate (34-of-49) while throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns. He added a rushing touchdown to cap off the day.

    There still needs to be some concern about the fact that Calvin Johnson is struggling to find the end zone. However, now that Stafford appears to be back, it's very likely that Johnson will start scoring at his regular pace again.

12. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 14

    Season Statistics: 123-of-223, 1,800 yards, 14 touchdowns, five interceptions

    Few quarterbacks are as hot as Josh Freeman is right now. Over the last three games, Freeman has nine touchdowns to only one interception. 

    On Thursday, he became the first quarterback in franchise history to ever have three straight games with three or more touchdown passes. What makes his Week 8 performance even better is the fact that he came away with a much-needed victory.

    As long as Freeman can continue to play at such a high level, there will likely be many more victories for the Buccaneers in the near future.

11. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

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    Last Week's Ranking: 11

    Season Statistics: 149-of-223, 1,778 yards, eight touchdowns, three interceptions, six rushing touchdowns, two fumbles lost

    While Robert Griffin III got absolutely no help from his receivers, he also didn't play quite at the level we've come to expect from him through the first seven weeks of the season.

    The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been rather porous against the pass this year and Griffin still wasn't able to do much is not a good thing for the rookie. To make a move up this list, he needs to play at an elite level week in, week out.

    Griffin is still the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Andrew Luck is certainly closing in on him.

10. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 13

    Season Statistics: 145-of-209, 1,659 yards, 12 touchdowns, five interceptions, one fumble lost

    After a rough patch of games, Alex Smith got back to playing at a high level Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, it was one of the most impressive games of the season from any quarterback.

    Smith only had one incomplete pass (18-of-19) while throwing for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Those are numbers you'd see in Madden 13, not in an actual box score of an NFL game.

    As long as Smith can play the part of an efficient quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers will have no trouble winning football games this year.

9. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

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    Last Week's Ranking: 7

    Season Statistics: 125-of-215, 1,545 yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, three fumbles lost

    The Chicago Bears are tied for the second-best record in the NFL, and that simply can't be overlooked when dissecting the overall play of Jay Cutler. While his numbers certainly aren't spectacular this year, he is definitely playing the gutsiest football of his career right now.

    He has his team playing at a high level, and while a huge reason may be the play of the defense, you can't overlook what Cutler has done this year. The Bears look like a team poised to make a run at the Super Bowl, and it finally looks like Cutler is ready to take them there.

8. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

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    Last Week's Ranking: 10

    Season Statistics: 140-of-222, 1,650 yards, 10 touchdowns, four interceptions

    The Houston Texans didn't play this week, but the poor play of Philip Rivers moved Matt Schaub up a few spots in the rankings this week.

    He played exceptionally well against the Baltimore Ravens and will look to keep that type of play going against the Buffalo Bills next week. Considering that Buffalo's defense is absolutely horrific, don't be shocked to see Schaub continue to cement his status as a top-10 quarterback in Week 9.

7. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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    Last Week's Ranking: 6

    Season Statistics: 184-of-294, 2,301 yards, 12 touchdowns, eight interceptions

    While Eli Manning wasn't exceptionally good on Sunday (192 yards and an interception), he did come away with an absolutely huge win against the Dallas Cowboys.

    I believe we'll definitely see the younger Manning raise the level of his play to a higher level as the season progresses, but right now he is doing quite enough to have the Giants playing like a premier team in the league.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 8

    Season Statistics: 179-of-268, 1,987 yards, 14 touchdowns, three interceptions, one fumble lost

    Ben Roethlisberger showed Robert Griffin III what it means to be a quarterback on Sunday. He completed nearly 73 percent of his passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns and just made it look so easy to be a quarterback in the NFL.

    That ability to make something so difficult so easy is what makes Roethlisberger such a great quarterback. He's certainly making it a point in 2012 to not be the forgotten Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the league.

5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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    Last Week's Ranking: 2

    Season Statistics: 188-of-315, 2,310 yards, 20 touchdowns, eight interceptions, one rushing touchdown

    It isn't so much that Drew Brees had a bad game on Sunday; it is just that every quarterback ahead of him in the rankings this week was either already ranked ahead of him or had a stellar game.

    Brees was completely outplayed by Peyton Manning on Sunday night, and I feel like that might be a trend as we move into the second part of the season. It appeared as if Brees finally had the New Orleans Saints moving in the right direction, but this loss was a big step back for the team.

    While the Saints might ultimately finish the season around .500, they will have an extremely difficult time winning any more than eight games this year.

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Last Week's Ranking: 3

    Season Statistics: 209-of-320, 2,408 yards, 16 touchdowns, three interceptions, two rushing touchdowns

    As hard as it was to move Tom Brady down one spot after he threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in Week 8, the three quarterbacks above him are simply playing better football right now.

    Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and his 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams proved that the New England Patriots are still a force to be reckoned with. 

3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

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    Last Week's Ranking: 5

    Season Statistics: 176-of-257, 2,113 yards, 17 touchdowns, four interceptions, one fumble lost

    What is there to even say about the way Peyton Manning has been playing lately? He's thrown for nearly 1,300 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception in his past four games, during which the Denver Broncos have gone 3-1.

    Any doubts about whether Manning could ever get back to his former self in Denver have to be completely gone from everyone's mind. Not only is he back to his former self, but he is playing some of the best football of his career.

    Manning has been sensational this year, especially in Week 8, and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon. Look for Peyton to continue to be near the top of these quarterback rankings for the remainder of the season.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    Last Week's Ranking: 1

    Season Statistics: 205-of-297, 2,165 yards, 21 touchdowns, four interceptions, one fumble lost

    While Aaron Rodgers only threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he also did it without Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings.

    Rodgers is still playing a ridiculously high level right now. He's on pace to put up similar numbers to his MVP-winning season last year, and that is quite an impressive feat.

    He's got the Green Bay Packers playing like they were last year, and it is time for the rest of the league to be very worried about the potential of this offense.

1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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    Last Week's Ranking: 4

    Season Statistics: 182-of-265, 2,018 yards, 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, one rushing touchdown, one fumble lost

    Matt Ryan holds down the No. 1 spot in the rankings this week for two reasons.

    The first reason is that his team is 7-0 heading into Week 9. No team goes undefeated for this long without exceptional play at the quarterback position, and that is what Ryan is doing.

    The other reason is that Ryan was simply fantastic against a very good Philadelphia Eagles secondary on Sunday. He had three touchdowns in the first half and didn't have to do much else to cruise to a victory.

    As long as the Falcons continue to win in impressive fashion like they did on Sunday, Ryan will have to be considered the best quarterback in the league.