Updated QB Power Rankings After NFL Week 11
Who would have thought heading into the season that guys like Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Nick Foles and Russell Wilson would be outperforming legends like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning?
It's this very unpredictability that makes the NFL so great.
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 play a key role as well.
Note: Total QBR is a scoring system that 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 11
Seneca Wallace, Green Bay Packers
Why he didn't start: Groin injury
Last ranked: 28th
Replacement: Scott Tolzien
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Why he didn't start: High ankle sprain
Last ranked: 17th
Replacement: Josh McCown
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Why he didn't start: Knee injury
Last ranked: 26th
Replacement: Matt McGloin
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Why he didn't start: Foot injury
Last ranked: 21st
Replacement: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Jeff Tuel, Buffalo Bills
Why he didn't start: Returned to backup role
Last ranked: 32nd
Replacement: EJ Manuel
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Why he didn't start: Fractured collar bone
Last ranked: Third
Replacement: Seneca Wallace
Thaddeus Lewis, Buffalo Bills
Why he didn't start: Returned to backup role
Last ranked: 28th
Replacement: EJ Manuel
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Why he didn't start: Hamstring
Last ranked: 21st
Replacement: Nick Foles
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Why he didn't start: Benched
Last ranked: 31st
Replacement: Jason Campbell
Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings
Why he didn't start: Concussion and then benched
Last ranked: 32nd
Replacement: Christian Ponder
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Why he didn't start: Injured knee (out for the season)
Last ranked: 20th
Replacement: Kellen Clemens
Matt Flynn, Oakland Raiders
Why he didn't start: Demoted, then released by the team
Last rank: 30th
Replacement: Terrelle Pryor
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Why he didn't start: Benched
Last rank: 32nd
Replacement: Chad Henne
32. Geno Smith, New York Jets
Last Week: 31st
Geno Smith's final stat line vs. Bills: 8-for-23, 103 yards passing to go with 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His passer rating on the day was merely 10.1. His 0.7 Total QBR was the lowest for a QB in a game this year.
Furthermore, it’s hard to win games when you’re only converting 18 percent of your third-down conversions.
Smith is the first player in NFL this season with at least four turnovers in multiple games.
If you’re still not convinced his 32nd ranking is justified, consider that he’s the lowest-graded quarterback in the NFL (minus-23.3) per Pro Football Focus (subscription site).
31. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 32nd
Chad Henne has consistently been at the bottom of this ranking ever since starting his first game of the season. After 283 pass attempts this season he has only managed four touchdown passes while being intercepted on nine occasions.
Henne’s 26 Total QBR ranks dead last among all starting quarterbacks in this week’s power ranking.
It could be time to start thinking about giving another quarterback some opportunities here.
30. Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 30th
Of all the quarterbacks who started in Week 11, none have a lower completion percentage for the season than do Kellen Clemens’ and Matt McGloin’s 53 percent.
Kellen and the Rams enjoyed their much-needed bye week and should be returning fresh next week looking to climb back into the playoff race.
It’s unlikely the Rams go far with Clemens as their quarterback.
29. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 25th
Through seven games in 2013 Christian Ponder has not thrown for more than 236 yards in a single game. Furthermore, he has only recorded a two-touchdown performance on one occasion this year.
To his credit, Ponder has managed to retain his position as the starting quarterback on a roster with Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman vying for his reps.
Perhaps Ponder’s mobility has been his saving grace so far. He is currently tied with Cam Newton for the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback this season with four.
28. Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders
Last Week: N/A
Raiders Matt McGloin had three TD passes, tying the single-game record for undrafted rookie free agents since 1970. This all came in his NFL debut by the way.
Though McGloin was far from flawless, he did make enough headway in his first ever NFL action to potentially sideline Terrelle Pryor for the remainder of the season. McGloin only passed for 197 yards on the day, and the Raiders offense struggled on third downs, converting on just 27 percent, but the key to their victory was not turning the ball over.
We should expect to see more of McGloin this season in some capacity moving forward.
27. Scott Tolzien, Green Bay Packers
Last Week: N/A
Things didn’t go exactly as planned for Scott Tolzien’s first official start in the NFL. His 339 yards passing is great for a backup quarterback, but having zero touchdown passes and three interceptions ultimately proved fatal against the New York Giants.
The good news is that Tolzien has completed 65 percent of his passes this season. The bad news is that his passer rating of 68 is the second lowest among starting QBs this year.
Tolzien will get a second chance (or third really) to make a first impression when he takes on the Minnesota Vikings.
26. Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 19th
Right out the gate, in his first start of the season, Jason Campbell looked like a horse that was going to go wire to wire as the starter in Cleveland. His first two games were incredibly impressive, enough so that it landed him as high as 19th last week.
Apparently those games were false advertising, as Campbell went from his best ranking of the year to his worst in just one week.
How did this happen?
Well, Campbell attempted 56 passes on the day yet managed only 248 yards and one touchdown pass. He completed less than half of his passes to go along with three interceptions on the day.
25. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 29th
EJ Manuel is coming off his best game as a pro where he upset the dominating Jets defense.
On the season Manuel has thrown twice as many touchdowns (eight) as he has interceptions (four). He’s also completing 58 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 82. These are solid numbers for a rookie quarterback, and he seems to be turning a corner in his maturation from the pocket.
Manuel possesses all the tools to be a very good quarterback in this league as well as a leader in Buffalo. Expect to see him move up the rankings and land somewhere in the middle of the pack by season’s end.
24. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Last Week: N/A
Ryan Fitzpatrick almost knocked off Andrew Luck and the Colts on Thursday but came up short in the end.
Tennessee converted on 54 percent of its third-down conversions while Fitzpatrick completed 22 of 28 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. This was undoubtedly his best game as a Titan.
His efficient play and avoidance of turnovers have made him one of the more serviceable backups in the league.
Before this week his highest ranking was merely 29th.
Fitzpatrick’s most surprising stat of the season is his 24 yards per game on the ground with two rushing touchdowns. Who knew this guy had this kind of mobility?
23. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 23rd
Some of you out there may be wondering what’s happened to Joe Flacco? Well, the truth is this is actually a more accurate representation of the Joe Flacco we’ve come to know over the years rather than the guy who dialed it up to volcanic levels of hotness on his way to a Super Bowl championship and a huge new contract.
Flacco isn’t doing much right this season from both a statistical standpoint and winning one. He has struggled in nearly every aspect of his game regardless of the plethora of reasons we can point to which have contributed.
His 75 passer rating is one of the worst among all starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
22. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 27th
It appears the gangly young rookie is emerging as one of the best first-year quarterbacks in the league.
Mike Glennon completed 20 of 23 passes on the day—which is a difficult feat even in practice, let alone during a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
His 87 passer rating is the same as Andrew Luck’s. One of the most important factors to Glennon’s game has been his ability to avoid turnovers. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes and only four picks.
21. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Last Week: 24th
Though Eli Manning has improved his situation somewhat in 2013, he’s still struggling relative to what we’re used to seeing out of him.
Eli is only completing 55 percent of his passes and has thrown more picks than any other quarterback this season with 17. His passer rating is also well below average at 70.
The Giants have struggled to protect Eli all season, and the play-calling has been shameful, but there are only so many excuses we can point to before a large chunk of the dysfunctional play falls squarely on the arm of the quarterback.
20. Case Keenum, Houston Texans
Last Week: 20th
Case Keenum always looks good on script and without complex pressures, but once pitted against blitzing in the second half of games, he seems to wilt and shrivel under the pressure and does not understand how to alter his protections or find his hot route.
Keenum had his worst game as a starter against the Raiders—keep in mind this was the same defense that Nick Foles tied the NFL record for touchdown passes.
The youngster completed only 13 of 24 passes for 170 yards before being benched in favor of the vet Matt Schaub—Keenum also threw his first interception of the season.
It could be argued head coach Gary Kubiak was too quick to bench Keenum considering in only three starts he has a passer rating of 99 while averaging 7.9 yards per pass. Plus, he’s thrown eight touchdown passes to only one pick all season.
It should also be noted that when Schaub came into the game he fared no better than the second-year pro.
19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 18th
With Andy Dalton it's not always pretty, and it's rarely the performance we expect. His issues with consistency have become one of the most dependable components of his short-lived career thus far.
Dalton may be third in the NFL in touchdown passes with 21, but he has also thrown 15 interceptions to go with it. Only Geno Smith and Eli Manning have thrown more picks than him. This makes Dalton a high-risk, high-reward passer who needs to find a way to improve his consistency moving forward.
Against the Browns last week he completed 48 percent of his passes, tossed two picks and was held under 100 yards through the air.
On Sunday the Bengals were also 1-of-14 on third downs.
His 3.7 Total QBR is the lowest QBR by a winning QB within the last three seasons.
Obviously numbers like those will not turn into wins very often. Dalton is lucky to escape that game with a positive outcome.
18. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 22nd
Believe it or not Carson Palmer is starting to look like a positive contributor to the Cardinals franchise.
On Sunday against the Jaguars he threw for a season-high 419 yards. However impressive that might be, what’s more shocking is that Mr. Turnover himself managed to attempt 42 passes and not throw a single interception. If you think that’s no big deal then consider it was only the sixth time in 132 games he managed to accomplish this feat.
This game bumps Palmer up to 18th on the list, which is the highest he has been ranked all year long.
Only Geno Smith and Eli Manning have thrown more interceptions than Palmer’s 15, and his passer rating is one of the worst among NFL starters at 79.7.
17. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 15th
The aerial struggles continue for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. This is the second straight time they’ve lost a game, and Kaepernick has not been impressive in either one.
In fact, aside from a game or two, Kaepernick has been downright disappointing all season long. He has only surpassed 200 yards through the air on two occasions all season.
This is currently the lowest Kap has been rated all season. The last thing you want during this time of year is to be declining in production.
Kap just hasn’t been able to look comfortable out there this year, and it has been troubling to watch him repeat some of the same mistakes over and over again.
16. Robert Griffin III, Washington
Last Week: 13th
Last Sunday’s game Robert Griffin III was Tim Tebow in disguise. He demonstrated a level of ineptitude for the first three quarters of the game that would make Blaine Gabbert smirk. But then, just like Mr. Tebow himself, RGIII let it all hang loose.
He orchestrated a game of Russian roulette that would see Washington come within yards of a victory after being down 24-0 entering the fourth quarter. It was his final pull of the reckless trigger that would contain the lethal bullet.
Such is so often the case when quarterbacking like you have nothing to lose.
Griffin has improved over the last several weeks as he continues to work his way back to the guy we saw last season.
Will he ever return to his former glory?
15. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 14th
In the big matchup against the Denver Broncos Alex Smith attempted 45 passes yet could only muster up 230 yards through the air. Smith's inability to generate explosive plays through the air is becoming a reoccurring theme.
For this reason and many more, Smith has managed to sustain himself right in the middle of the pack.
His six yards-per-pass average is embarrassing.
The best trait Alex has going for him right now is the ability to win games. In case you were wondering, this does factor into their rankings.
14. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 16th
Ryan Tannehill is a bit like Andrew Luck in that both players have performed much better than the typical stats would infer. This is reflected in their extremely high PFF grades (subscription site).
Tannehill has been surprisingly content to hang in the pocket despite its chaotic nature at times this season.
His reluctance to utilize his athleticism and run more is somewhat puzzling. Partly as a result, Tannehill has been sacked more than any other quarterback this season.
So if the strategy behind bottling up his athleticism is about safety, I’d say it’s now a safer option for him to scramble more to avoid unprotected hits from the pocket.
13. Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Last Week: N/A
Of all the quarterbacks to take over for the teams' Week 1 starters, only Nick Foles of the Eagles is rated higher than replacement QB Josh McCown. His performances this season could be enough to resurrect a career which seemed doomed to hold a clipboard for the next few years before fading into oblivion.
Now, McCown could be stirring up a full-fledged quarterback controversy in Chicago. But there’s no way first-year head coach Marc Trestman will favor McCown over Jay Cutler, right?
Perhaps it’s worth noting that Josh McCown has the seventh-best PFF grade in the NFL at 13.3. The only guys ahead of him in this category are names we would undoubtedly describe as top-tier quarterbacks.
12. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Last Week: 11th
Brady struggled significantly in the first half of the season in order to pull through the rough patches. Now that Rob Gronkowski is back, Brady can rely on his deadly safety net.
Brady is only completing 58 percent of his passes and is averaging less than seven yards per pass attempt. Those type of numbers are uncharacteristic of a Tom Brady season, but he has still managed to do a great job holding the team together and finding a way to win despite such harsh criticism and adversity.
Brady’s status as a legend is unquestioned, yet his play in 2013 is simply falling dramatically short of expectation.
Expect to see Tom moving up the charts throughout the second half of the season.
11. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 12th
If the Steelers really are contemplating a trade for Ben Roethlisberger this offseason then big Ben's impressive performance on Sunday certainly added to his value on the open market.
As for the QB power ranking, it took an enormous game to jump pass Tom Brady this week, who had a significant lead on him entering the Sunday and also happened to play well on Monday night.
Against the Lions Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards with four touchdowns passes total without a single interception.
Both he and Brady should be making a push to reenter the top 10.
10. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: Eighth
According to the QB power rankings, Matt Ryan is the best quarterback on a team with a losing record. It’s pretty surprising that the Falcons have only sniffed victory twice this season despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Ryan has struggled since losing his top receiving targets and will continue to be without Julio Jones for the remainder of the year.
Tenth place is the lowest ranking for Ryan this season. His Total QBR ranking (63) is still among the best in the league.
9. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 10th
Nick Foles has attempted 162 passes this season and still has yet to throw a single interception.
This impressive feat is made even more unbelievable when you consider he leads all quarterbacks who have started a game this year with 9.6 yards per pass attempt. This type high-risk, high-reward quarterbacking rarely if ever comes without the turnovers—at least one.
What has come in abundance, though, are his onslaught of touchdowns. Although Foles was held without a TD pass last Sunday, he has still thrown a total of 16 for the year. Only nine quarterbacks have thrown more, and those who have, each has more than double the amount of pass attempts that Foles does.
Will this surprise mid-round sensation eventually level off, or will his star only continue to ascend?
8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: Seventh
Tony Romo got to sit it out last weekend as he and the Cowboys look to shore up a lot of holes within the organization. Romo has played well this season, holding onto a spot in the top 10.
Only three quarterbacks (P. Manning, Brees, Foles) have a higher touchdown-to-interception ratio than does Romo with 15.
He has also completed 64 percent of his passes this year with a passer rating of 98.
7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Last Week: Ninth
The Panthers may just have their franchise quarterback in Cam Newton, but the lack of weapons around him makes it tough to really discern if he can make them into a contender. In any case, Newton had a terrific game Monday night, tallying three touchdown passes for the third time this season.
He needs to improve on short throw accuracy, which could be the result of lazy footwork at times.
Cam is demonstrating a newfound maturity this year and the ability to take control of a situation in crunch time.
Perhaps his most surprising stat on the season is his 63 percent completion rate. This means he is not only making good decisions, but he is hitting his targets well.
We can only image what Cam Newton would do with some real weapons to throw the ball to.
6. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Last Week: Fifth
It’s crazy to think at one point Matthew Stafford was ranked 21st overall on this list. He now seems a lock for a top-10 spot.
Stafford struggled to find his No. 1 guy in the second half of the Pittsburgh game, which ultimately led to Detroit’s implosion.
I think having Calvin Johnson to throw the ball to gives him an unfair advantage over the rest of the quarterbacks. But fair and the NFL do not belong in the same sentence.
5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: Sixth
Andrew Luck's numbers and efficiency have declined some since Reggie Wayne's injury, yet this young signal-caller is loaded with potential and is single-handedly willing his team to victories each and every week.
Against the Titans last week he failed to throw a touchdown pass but also avoided turnovers in the Colts' 30-27 win.
His passer rating for the season (87) is solid—his Total QBR (65) is top-tier and his PFF grade is one of the best in the league. Besides, the Colts are winning games, and Luck is largely responsible.
4. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Last Week: Fourth
The once promising yet very surprising San Diego Chargers are finally coming down to earth.
Philip Rivers, however, continues to play at a high level.
The Chargers lost a close game to the Dolphins on Sunday, dropping their record to 4-6 on the season.
Rivers remains in fourth place with a passer rating over 104 and a Total QBR of 70.
It’s amazing what he has been able to accomplish without his top two receivers. Just look at how much Matt Ryan and Tom Brady have struggled without their top targets. You have to give Rivers a lot of credit considering what he has to work with.
3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: Third
Russell Wilson is 21-6 as starting QB in the NFL so far.
Winning games happens to be what he does best. Sometimes he gets it done ugly, and sometimes he looks unstoppable, but when the game is on the line, few, if any, young quarterbacks are more of a sure thing than is Mr. Wilson.
For the second week in row Russell holds steady to third place in the QB rankings. Unless he ends up playing out of his mind for the remainder of the season, this will likely be the highest he goes in 2013. Part of the reason for his ascension to such a prolific position, aside from his stellar play, is the injury to Aaron Rodgers.
Wilson has a passer rating of 105 and the second-highest grade among quarterbacks per Pro Football Focus (subscription site). What’s more is that he has been doing this with a decimated offensive line and key injuries at the receiver position. Enough said about him being overrated.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Last Week: Second
It was business as usual for Drew Brees on Sunday as he passed for over 300 yards for the eighth time this season. What was more uncharacteristic of his latest performance was being limited to one touchdown pass. That's only the second time this year a defense has accomplished such a feat.
Brees appears firmly rooted at No.2 on the power rankings, where he has been for much of the season so far. He may face some competition when Aaron Rodgers returns from injury, but until then, he’s unlikely to be challenged.
Brees obviously should be a finalist for the MVP award by the end of the season, though he could very well win if something unfortunate were to happen to Peyton Manning. Basically Brees is the best candidate not named Peyton so far in the NFL.
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Last Week: First
Just in case you were wondering, Peyton Manning is incredible.
Manning has the most passing yards through the first 10 games of the season of any QB in NFL history.
Before Sunday night’s game commenced, there were some serious concerns about Manning’s health and whether or not he would even be effective, let alone make it through the whole game. But Manning put those concerns to rest as the Broncos devised an excellent game plan that neutralized the best pass rush in the NFL.
Manning’s quick release and all-around execution allowed him to make it through an entire game against the Chiefs virtually untouched.
This win over the Chiefs was one which should instill confidence among doubters regarding their potential to become the next Super Bowl champs.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and currently covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.
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