Week 7 in the NFL marked the beginning of an NFL career for some and season-ending doom for others. Many newer faces and lesser-known quarterbacks have started to make a name for themselves over the last few weeks with impressive performances.
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 will also give quarterbacks a slight boost in addition to their individual performances. The statistics used come exclusively from ESPN.com, NFL.com and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) unless stated otherwise. Personal observation and opinion will also play a key role.
In the end, the essence of a power ranking with regard to quarterbacks really come down to this question: If I needed to win one game, who would I want as my quarterback?
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.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Why he didn't start: Resumed his role as a backup
Last ranked: 29th
Replacement: Jake Locker
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Why he didn't start: Injured ankle
Last ranked: 24th
Replacement: Case Keenum
Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Why he didn't start: Benched
Last ranked: 23rd
Replacement: Josh Freeman
E.J. 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
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: Chad Henne
Last Week: N/A
Josh Freeman is off to a lousy start in 2013.
He has already been benched, cut and then picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, and we haven't even reached the midway point of the season yet.
His Monday night debut as a Viking was embarrassing at best. Freeman completed only 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception. According to ESPN Stats and Info:
We've tracked overthrows since 2006 ... in that span, no one has had more in a game than the 15 for Josh Freeman tonight.
Last Week: 30th
It didn’t take long for Brandon Weeden to make a critical error in what could have been a much more competitive game. Already down 7-0 early to the Packers, Weeden threw an interception that would put the Browns behind 14-0. He would eventually lead the team to only 13 points on the day.
After seeing what Brian Hoyer was capable of with the Browns offense, we can be much more critical of Brandon Weeden and his perpetual struggles.
He attempted 42 passes against the Packers yet managed only 149 yards through the air. That shows how inept he was on Sunday, which has been the case all season long.
Last Week: 32nd
The good news for Jacksonville is that they were able to move the ball through the air with Chad Henne under center. The bad news is that the Jaguars continue to struggle putting points on the board.
Three Jaguars wideouts had over 50 yards receiving against San Diego, and Henne threw for over 300 yards—although he failed to lead his team into the end zone.
Henne didn’t play half bad and was even productive enough to move up to a season-high 30th on the power rankings.
At this point he’s merely auditioning for an NFL job somewhere next season.
Last Week: 31st
This had to be Mike Glennon’s best game so far from a statistical standpoint even though the Buccaneers lost to the Atlanta Falcons. He ended up with 256 yards through the air with two touchdowns and zero picks.
One thing we can say with confidence about the rookie QB is that he's aggressive. He could have been picked off at least 5 times in three quarters, but good fortune was shining down on him on this day.
Glennon has a big-time arm and clearly loves to display it on the football field.
Last Week: 27th
Eli Manning was able to find his first victory of the season while avoiding an interception for the first time all year.
Manning didn’t have amazing numbers on Monday night, but he played well enough to win against a team with only one victory to its name. Against the Vikings, he completed 23 of 39 passes for 200 yards and a single touchdown pass.
I’m not sure whether this performance should be considered a bounceback or if it was simply a game between two struggling teams where something had to give.
He still has a long way to go before he can climb out of this disaster of a year.
Last Week: N/A
In his first NFL start, second-year quarterback Case Keenum looked better than Matt Schaub has during much of the season. He started out strong against a dangerous Chiefs defense but slowly was consumed and overwhelmed by a relentless pass rush.
Keenum looked promising enough to start next week as he almost handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season.
He did not look like a guy unprepared for the NFL spotlight and should get better with more experience under his belt. Look for this kid to emerge in the second half of the season.
Last Week: 28th
Considering the limited talent on offense surrounding Geno Smith in New York, we need to give the youngster credit.
Smith is not playing better football than I expected, but he is playing better than I expected on the Jets.
The touchdown run he had against the Patriots on Sunday to take a 24-21 lead showed he isn't afraid to take risks. If you get timid in New York, you die a slow death.
Geno has been anything but timid thus far. In his big matchup against Tom Brady, he threw for more yards and touchdown passes than the future Hall of Famer on 13 fewer pass attempts.
This kid is emerging into the quarterback of the future and has shown improvement as the season has progressed. This does not come without some obvious rookie moments. Consistency and back-to-back solid weeks will be the next step in his promising maturation.
Last Week: 25th
As Dennis Green would say, he is who we thought he was. In Carson Palmer's last 32 games, he has thrown 43 touchdown passes and 43 interceptions. That's an underwhelming ratio over the course of three different seasons with two different teams.
Palmer is simply not a good decision-maker, which has led to his abysmal 69.5 passer rating and 13 interceptions on the year. Only Eli Manning has thrown more picks.
It's no accident that his movement in the rankings this year has been relatively minor. He seems to constantly prove that he belongs among the worst starters in the NFL.
Last Week: 26th
The Bills were a one-dimensional, pass-happy offense against the Miami Dolphins while led by a guy from the practice squad, and they somehow came away with the victory—just like they drew it up, no doubt.
Thaddeus Lewis has been a pleasant surprise since bursting onto the scene last week. He’s already ascended up the leaderboard pretty quickly with only two starts under his belt this year.
Lewis looked poised and had a live arm as he threw for 202 yards on the day. He did fail to generate a touchdown pass but limited himself to one turnover and came out with a much-needed victory in the end.
Last Week: 13th
What a contrast from one week to the next for Nick Foles. Foles’ accuracy issues against the Cowboys were incredibly frustrating for Eagles fans who were suddenly realizing there might not be a quarterback controversy by Monday. I guess Nick Foles doesn’t want the starting job after all.
For those who believe that Foles has the potential to be the future in Philadelphia, consider the fact that his former head coach, Andy Reid, was in need of a quarterback in Kansas City and didn’t try at all to bring him to the Chiefs.
Foles completed only 11 of 29 passes on the day.
On the bright side, he has yet to throw a single interception this season but has six touchdown passes.
Last Week: 22nd
Joe Flacco has struggled this season in the wake of his Super Bowl MVP performance. Since then, he has barely looked like a decent NFL starter.
Against a struggling Pittsburgh team, Flacco and the Ravens could only muster up one touchdown and 16 points on the day. This offense has clearly struggled with all the injuries and players lost via trade or free agency.
He stays put at his lowest ranking of the season for a second straight week. Flacco currently has the same number of touchdown to interceptions and has completed less than 60 percent of his passes on the season.
Last Week: 19th
This might have been the best possible time for the Raiders' bye week to come considering the beating Terrelle Pryor took against the Chiefs.
He's played well this season and exceeded the expectations of most, including his own front office, which brought in Matt Flynn to be the starter. Flynn has since been released by the team as it has fully committed to Pryor at least for the remainder of the 2013 season.
His athleticism and playmaking ability easily gives the Raiders their best chance to succeed week in and week out. Plus, he seems to improve each game as a quarterback.
Last Week: 20th
Apparently this will be the last appearance for Sam Bradford in the power rankings this year after he left the game against the Panthers early with a season-ending ACL injury. He was carted off the field in obvious pain.
His high point on the season was at 17th overall, and he essentially failed to prove he can be a franchise QB in this league.
This could be the last game Bradford plays in a Rams jersey.
Last Week: 16th
Despite the loss to a Buffalo team led by a guy from the practice squad, Ryan Tannehill made a little bit of personal history on Sunday when he threw three touchdown passes for the first time in his rather brief career.
After an abysmal first quarter, Tannehill was able to bounce back and have a somewhat respectable day as a whole. However, it was his sack-fumble in Dolphin territory just before the two-minute warning that set up the Bills for the game-winning field goal.
Tannehill’s descent into the lesser half of starting quarterbacks this year is not exactly what Miami had in mind when they brought in Mike Wallace at top dollar.
Last Week: 17th
For Alex Smith, a familiar narrative continues. For the seventh consecutive time this season, he has thrown more than 30 passes in a game and has failed to generate at least 300 yards passing.
His passer rating on the season is subpar at 79.3, and he has only thrown seven touchdown passes—which is one less than Jake Locker, who missed two games due to injury.
Though Smith may not like to admit it, he is nothing more than a game manager who doesn’t make the mistakes that lose the game for his team.
Last Week: 15th
When you’re struggling to find open receivers to the degree that Colin Kaepernick has these last several weeks, you have to go to the next best thing. In Kap’s case, his legs have been a weapon gravely under-utilized so far this season.
Perhaps this is the result of conservative play-calling by the 49ers in an attempt to protect their franchise quarterback, or this could be a decision by Kaepernick himself as he tries to transition to being a true pocket passer.
In time that may be the case, but for right now, Kaepernick is not ready to disregard his amazing legs and athleticism.
The Tennessee Titans got a taste of this more than any other 49er opponent this year. His 68 yards rushing was by far the most of the season so far. In his four previous games, he failed to surpass even 20 yards on the ground.
With that said, Kap has had a disappointing season thus far after setting the field on fire last season and in Week 1. For the fifth time this year he has failed to throw for over 200 yards in a game, while he remains well under a 60-percent completion rate.
Last Week: 21st
Just when you start to doubt Andy Dalton’s ability to be a true asset to this talented Bengals offense, he steps up and makes all of his doubters seem like a bunch of fools.
Dalton moved up to his best positioning all year after an outstanding victory and individual performance against the Detroit Lions. He threw for 372 yards with three touchdown and no interceptions.
Some of the major knocks on Dalton are his arm strength and mediocre physical tools by NFL standards. However, this kid has definitely proven to be a winner at every level of competition and should not be taken lightly, regardless of his physical limitations.
Last Week: 18th
Little by little, Robert Griffin III is improving his game after coming back from his ACL injury.
He had a big day through the air and on the ground as he passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 84 yards in the Redskins' roller coaster victory over the Chicago Bears.
Griffin went 5-of-7 for 58 yards on his game-winning drive. Washington’s 45 points were the most the team has scored all season.
After his impressive performance, he moves up three spots as he tries to reclaim his place among the top 10 in the NFL.
Last Week: N/A
Jake Locker returned to action Sunday for the first time since his hip injury in Week 4. Against a stout 49ers defense, Locker picked up right where he left off, as he is having the best year of his young career.
He threw for 326 yards and two late touchdown passes but could not generate any points until the fourth quarter.
Locker’s season passer rating is 97.1, and he has the sixth-best QBR score in the league with a 67.8. He has done a masterful job of avoiding turnovers and has looked more accurate than any other time in his career.
This has been an important year for Locker in terms of his future with the Titans. So far he has risen to the challenge and proving he can be a franchise-type guy under center.
Last Week: 9th
Something must be wrong in the universe when third-round quarterback Mike Glennon has a higher passer rating than Tom Brady. Does this mean Brady has officially hit the skids? Of course not.
But for what it’s worth, this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info provides some insight into the uncharacteristic play from Brady:
Tom Brady: 0 TD passes in 2 of last 3 games after having TD pass in 52 straight games
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2013
In the earlier parts of the Jets matchup, the Patriots offense was able to move up and down the field with ease. But in the end, Brady would eventually drop to well below a 50-percent completion rate against Rex Ryan’s blitz happy defense.
This is by far the worst season of Tom Brady’s storied NFL career. He has officially dropped out of the top 10. But with the return of his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, things could be looking up in the second half of this injury-riddled season.
Last Week: 11th
Jay Cutler’s lone interception in Week 7 was not necessarily his fault. Unfortunately, it led to a defensive touchdown for Washington.
But as luck would have it, this day would prove ominous for Mr. Cutler as he was forced to make an early exit after suffering a groin injury which is expected to sideline him for the next four weeks, according to the Chicago Bears' Twitter account.
Before leaving the game, Cutler managed only eight pass attempts, completing only three. He would be replaced by Josh McCown, who should get the start in his absence.
Last Week: 12th
Despite all of the struggles early on for Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger has been playing pretty solid football. At the very least, he has been playing well enough to win more games than the two the Steelers have won thus far.
Pittsburgh seems to be coming on strong as of late since the return of rookie running back Le’Veon Bell.
Big Ben’s biggest detriment to the team so far has been his five fumbles, four of which were lost. A big reason for this stat has been the lack of protection by the offensive line.
Last Week: 14th
Cam Newton has been on a roll these last couple of weeks. He finished Sunday with only two incomplete passes and zero interceptions while throwing for 204 yards in just 17 pass attempts.
Believe it or not, Newton is actually rated higher than Tom Brady as he has a passer rating of 95 while completing 63.5 percent of his throws on the season. He’s been reluctant to run this year but has done fairly well from the pocket even though his receiving options are limited.
This is the highest he has been ranked all year, which says a lot about his impressive play as of late.
It will be tough sledding from here on out if he hopes to continue that ascension up the rankings.
Quarterbacks in the top 10 know a thing or two about consistency and winning, two things he has not been very good at so far in his career.
Last Week: 10th
One the benefits of having Calvin Johnson as your go-to weapon is you can simply launch the ball up in the air against triple coverage and still come away with a touchdown in your box score.
But Stafford’s success through the air is not all attributed to Megatron, though Johnson did have nine catches for 155 yards against the Bengals.
Stafford had three touchdowns on the day while he continues to put together his best season as a pro. This is the highest he has been ranked all year, and it is much deserved. I’ve struggled to buy into Stafford’s unorthodox throwing motion and his reckless decisions at times with the ball—though he has done a remarkable job avoiding turnovers—but he is proving to be an elite QB this season.
Last Week: 5th
Tony Romo’s stock took a bit of a slide this week as his Cowboys failed to score 20 points against a struggling Eagles defense. Romo finished with over 300 yards passing, but he also threw two interceptions and only one touchdown pass.
This divisional win puts Dallas atop the NFC East at 4-3, and Romo remains in the top 10 in the rankings.
Romo has a passer rating of over 100. He has also been impressive in completing 68.3 percent of his passes.
Last Week: 8th
Russell Wilson has been a dangerous force with both his arm and his legs. So far this season he has rushed for 323 yards and has a passer rating of 97.2. His 11 touchdowns are impressive to go with his 61.5 percent completion rate.
The bottom line for Wilson, though, is his ability to win games and manage situations to near perfection.
In order to beat the Seahawks with any regularity, a defense is going to have to figure out how to contain Wilson inside the pocket and force him into looking over the offensive line and making plays downfield. This is not to say he can't do those things, but if he is limited to only this, he will likely have a much harder time making plays throughout the game.
His one weakness has been holding onto the ball, he already has six fumbles lost this season.
Last Week: 6th
What a huge win for Andrew Luck on Sunday night beating the man whose shadow he is looking to emerge from. One way to help remove that proverbial monkey from your back is to beat the undefeated legend, whom you’re replacing, in front of all your fans during prime time television.
There’s simply no understating this win for him, especially coming off a disappointing loss to the San Diego Chargers a week earlier.
One of the more impressive things about Luck’s NFL career so far is that he has yet to lose back-to-back starts.
Last Week: 7th
Philip Rivers is behind only Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in yards per pass for quarterbacks who have started every game this season with an average of 8.56. He’s second in the league in passer rating (111.1) and first in completion percentage (73.9).
At this point we have to start considering this guy for the league’s MVP award in case something unforeseen happens to the front-runner, Peyton Manning.
Rivers has surprised many this season while making believers of his teammates as they hold a 4-3 record.
Last Week: 4th
If I were to tell you Matt Ryan would be playing without Julio Jones and Roddy White while Tony Gonzalez would be held to two catches on the day, you would say there is no way the Falcons win that game. Yet surprisingly, they did just that.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about that scenario is that Matty Ice managed to complete 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns while racking up 31 points against the Buccaneers.
Even under horrid conditions, this steady star continues to shine. His season thus far has been everything you could hope for from an individual perspective. Only Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford have a better touchdown-to-interception ratio after seven weeks of NFL action.
Last Week: 3rd
The talented Mr. Rodgers put together another good game to add to an already impressive resume. He led his Packers at home to a decisive victory over the Cleveland Browns, 31-13.
With his latest performance, Rodgers is right on the heels of Drew Brees, who has held firm at the No. 2 spot for most of the year. He has a passer rating of 104.5 and is second behind only Peyton Manning in yards per attempt among quarterbacks who have started every game.
Next week’s matchup will determine whether or not he can jump up to second in the rankings.
Last Week: 2nd
Drew Brees got to rest and recover last Sunday as he and the Saints enjoyed their bye week. Brees will likely need to play well this week in order to maintain second place in the rankings. Aaron Rodgers is nipping at his heels and appears to be taking total control of the offense while Brees was held to only 47.2-percent passing against the Patriots.
Brees will host the Buffalo Bills this weekend, which should be a very winnable game for his Saints.
He's currently ranked fourth in the league with a 72.6 QBR rating.
Last Week: 1st
The return of the legend to Lucas Oil Stadium was the dominating narrative of last week—and for good reason, too. Manning visited his former team and city for the first time since his departure. It was interesting to see Manning and that Denver offense struggle relative to their normal precision.
One of the contributing factors was the Colts' ability to apply pressure on Manning and utilize a press technique on the outside receivers. This forced him to hold onto the ball much longer than he’s comfortable with, which can affect his accuracy and decision making just enough to make him mortal.
Apparently even a guy with a noodle for an arm and the athleticism of Cher can still have one of the best quarterbacking seasons in NFL history. That should speak volumes about the asset Manning has between his ears.