Updated QB Power Rankings After NFL Week 16
With one more week of regular-season action left to be played, the QB power rankings are just about finalized. This is also true for the NFL's playoff picture.
Week 17 will be critical for some teams hoping to keep their seasons alive, while other teams look to lock down a division or home field.
It's already been a record-breaking year for quarterbacks and the fun is still going.
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 to help determine the ranking system are pulled 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.
Also, Pro Football Focus grades every single play of the season to generate a cumulative point total, which weighs into the metric as well.
Other key statistics considered are passer rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio, yards per pass attempt, fumbles lost, rushing yards per game, completion percentage, etc.
Starters from Previous Weeks Who Didn't Start in Week 16
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
Why he didn't start: Thumb injury
Last Ranked: 30th
Replacement: Matt Schaub
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Why he didn't start: Injured knee
Last ranked: 28th
Replacement: Thad Lewis
Robert Griffin III, Washington
Why he didn't start: Great question!
Last Ranked: 20th
Replacement: Kirk Cousins
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Why he didn't start: Benched
Last Ranked: 12th
Replacement: Jay Cutler
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Why he didn't start: Concussion
Last ranked: 26th
Replacement: Matt Cassel
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Why he didn't start: Concussion
Last ranked: 30th
Replacement: Jason Campbell
Scott Tolzien, Green Bay Packers
Why he didn't start: Benched
Last ranked: 29th
Replacement: Matt Flynn
Seneca Wallace, Green Bay Packers
Why he didn't start: Groin injury
Last ranked: 28th
Replacement: Scott Tolzien
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 collarbone
Last ranked: Third
Replacement: Seneca Wallace
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Why he didn't start: Hamstring
Last ranked: 21st
Replacement: Nick Foles
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
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Why he didn't start: Benched
Last rank: 32nd
Replacement: Chad Henne
32. Geno Smith, New York Jets
Last Week: 32nd
Geno Smith had one of his best games as a pro last Sunday in beating the Cleveland Browns to a pulp. Smith has been by far the lowest-ranked QB this year for several weeks now. However, the one thing that got him there was his penchant for turnovers. In fact, Smith is tied for second in the NFL with 21 interceptions. Only Eli Manning has thrown more picks.
It’s been a tough year to evaluate Smith considering he’s a rookie on a team with very little talent on offense to surround him. Clearly this kid is being thrown into a difficult fire—one that most would struggle to find success within.
31. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Last Week: N/A
Last Sunday, Matt Schaub saw his first start since Week 6. His opponent was no easy task.
Unfortunately, Schaub did not have a good day. He completed 18 of 37 passes for only 176 yards through the air to go along with two picks and one touchdown pass.
Schaub is likely done in Houston and may have played himself into a backup role in 2014 wherever he lands.
The only QB ranked lower than Schaub is the rookie Geno Smith for the Jets. That’s saying something.
30. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 31st
Chad Henne and the Jaguars have found a way to be competitive in the second half of the season.
Offensively, they’ve been creative with their formations, while Henne has done a fairly decent job as of late.
With that said, let’s keep in mind that this guy’s highest ranking on the season is 29th overall. As poorly as he has played, it says a lot that coach Gus Bradley has not put Blaine Gabbert in to replace him.
29. Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 25th
Matt Flynn is showing at the very least that he can at least keep the Packers competitive. But he just doesn’t have the talent to get this team over the hump.
Flynn’s journey this season has been an interesting one, as he's made several stops before landing back at his place of origin in Green Bay.
Flynn’s 19 Total QBR is one of the worst in the NFL, but his 86 passer rating is actually pretty decent.
Packers fans have their fingers crossed that Aaron Rodgers will return for the final regular-season game against Chicago, a game which will ultimately determine the division winner.
28. Kirk Cousins, Washington
Last Week: 29th
If the reason for benching RG3 in favor of Kirk Cousins was to get a better performance at the quarterback position, I’d say Washington completely messed up. Cousins is not doing anything greater than RG3 was overall.
He has thrown four touchdown passes and five interceptions on the season. Cousins has also been limited to only 58 percent passing in his limited action.
If the plan was to increase Cousins’ trade value, I’m not too sure his performance thus far has created much of a bump at all.
27. Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 26th
When Jason Campbell was called to action for the first time earlier in the season, he looked to be playing like a man on a mission. That mission has since changed gears dramatically. He is now playing like the guy who was run out of Oakland and cast aside in Chicago.
Campbell has done little to convince the Browns’ coaches that he can carry a team. In fact, he hasn’t even done enough to guarantee his value as an experienced backup at this point. His obvious regression midseason has to be accounted for somehow.
Perhaps a good deal of his early success this year can be attributed to luck.
26. Thad Lewis, Buffalo Bills
Last Week: N/A
Thad Lewis and EJ Manuel have played similarly this season, as they’re ranked nearly the same on the QB power rankings.
The Bills have proven they can win with Lewis as their starter, but Manuel is certainly the QB they’re hoping to build around.
Manuel is supposed to return as the starter in Week 17.
Lewis should have at least done enough this season to earn a roster spot in 2014. His best stat on the year is completing 60 percent of his passes in four starts as the Bills QB.
25. Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 27th
Considering Matt McGloin is an undrafted rookie QB, we have to give this kid a lot of credit for having the level of success he has had thus far—even though his numbers are trailing off as the weeks go on.
McGloin is currently only completing 56 percent of his passes on the season. But his play has shown enough promise to keep the super-athletic Terrelle Pryor on the bench for weeks.
It's unclear what the future holds for this overachieving rookie, but he should have a place somewhere in the NFL after what he has shown us so far.
Last week, he played well enough to move up a couple spots in the ranking, completing 20 of 36 pass attempts.
24. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Last Week: 24th
No quarterback in the NFL has thrown more interceptions than Eli Manning’s 26. This is a career high for Manning despite his history of throwing picks.
Shockingly, Manning has a passer rating of 69 on the season and is only completing 58 percent of his passes. Turnovers have been the killer for Eli, and he looks like a guy who has nearly given up on his season.
It’s difficult to figure out where to point the fingers in this scenario, but we can at least say Eli deserves quite a bit of the blame for throwing so many interceptions.
23. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 21st
Matt Cassel followed up his 48-point performance two weeks ago by falling back down to earth in a lopsided loss the Bengals. He threw three interceptions on the day.
Last week was Cassel's highest ranking of the year on the power rankings, but he couldn't hold onto his spot for very long.
On the year, Cassel has thrown 10 TDs and eight INTs for a passer rating of 82.7.
This has been a better season for Cassel after he struggled immensely in Kansas City last year. He has also outperformed every other QB on that roster.
22. Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 23rd
The Rams put together another big win on their quest for an 8-8 season when they took out the Buccaneers. However, most of the credit should go to the Rams defense for holding its opponent to 13 points.
Clemens has been filling in for the injured Sam Bradford and has found a way to crank out “W's.” On the season, he has a solid passer rating of 80 and is averaging 7.2 yards per pass.
Clemens is an average QB in terms of talent and just doesn’t have the arm strength to ever become a legitimate starter in this league.
21. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 22nd
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have little to fight for beyond pride these days. Rookie QB Mike Glennon has been a pleasant surprise in what was considered a fairly weak QB class this year. Unlike most rookies, Glennon actually has an impressive differential between touchdowns and interceptions, with a plus-nine.
It appears this 6’6” signal-caller is the best rookie QB this year.
On the year, Glennon has thrown for 2,389 yards while completing 60 percent of his passes. Yet perhaps the most important stat of all is leading his 0-8 team to a 4-3 finish in the last seven games.
20. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 19th
Joe Flacco attempted eight deep passes on Sunday. Six of those attempts ended up being incomplete, one was defensive pass interference and one was an offensive penalty. That made Flacco 0-of-6 officially on the day.
Let’s not forget that this quarterback recently signed a record-breaking contract extension following his epic run to the Super Bowl. Yet one thing is for sure—Flacco has not been playing like a franchise QB all season long. He has thrown 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions on the year.
Next year, this mediocre QB will count $14.8 million against the cap and a whopping $28 million in 2016. His incredibly high price will likely make him untradeable, as his value will no longer justify the cost. He must restructure the deal after next year.
19. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 20th
Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well in replacing the injured Jake Locker for Tennessee. Last week, he did not put up the best numbers of the season, but he did bang out a win against a much-improved Jaguars squad.
Of all the quarterbacks starting because of injuries to the real starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick is having the best season. He has at least guaranteed himself a backup role in 2014 for some team, if not the Titans.
It was not long ago when the Bills signed Fitz to a big contract hoping he could be a guy to build around. That plan has since failed, and now he must prove his worth one game at a time.
His Total QBR of 56 is solid; so is his 62 percent completion rate and his three rushing touchdowns on the season. One thing, however, that continues to elude this quarterback are the victories. Fitzpatrick has only contributed to two of the team's six wins this year.
18. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 17th
The turnover machine fell back into old habits on Sunday when he traveled into difficult territory to face the Seattle Seahawks. Miraculously, the Cardinals pulled off the unthinkable and got a rare victory on the road in Seattle despite Palmer throwing four interceptions.
Thanks to his mostly turnover-free performances, the Cards have won seven of their last eight games—making them one of the hottest teams in football.
In his first seven games, Palmer only had two performances in which he didn’t throw multiple interceptions. In his last seven games, he only had one game with two or more picks before the Seattle game.
We have to give the Cardinals credit for turning their season around and becoming competitive down the final stretch.
17. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Last Week: 16th
The highest Cutler has been ranked all season was 11th. It clearly was a tough decision to start Cutler in Week 15 over a very hot Josh McCown.
But head coach Marc Trestman certainly had his reasons, and we can only assume Chicago’s desire to re-sign Cutler this offseason has nothing to do with the decision, right?
Culter has not played better than his backup since returning, nor was he playing better than him before he got hurt. It seems the best QB for the Bears will be holding a clipboard rather than securing the division in Week 17.
16. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 15th
At one point, Ryan was ranked fourth among all quarterbacks in the power rankings. These days, he’s right in the middle of the pack and has hit rock bottom at 16th. Matty Ice has continued to slide down the rankings as the season has progressed.
However, one impressive stat remains for this talented QB on an underachieving team. Ryan is fourth in the NFL in completion percentage at 66.
Last week, the Falcons tried to play spoilers to the hated 49ers and exact some revenge on the team that knocked them out of the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they came up short after a NaVorro Bowman interception sealed the deal in the final moments.
15. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 18th
Another week and another mystery performance by quarterback Andrew Dalton, who seems to only know how to play at one extreme or the other. This week, Dalton found himself on the positive extreme of the spectrum, as he passed for 366 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Dalton had one of the biggest jumps up this week, moving from 18th to 15th after just one game. However, that one game might have been his best of the season.
Dalton has done well throwing touchdowns in 2013 with 31, but he has also thrown more than his fair share of interceptions (16). In fact, only six QBs have thrown more picks this season than Dalton.
14. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 12th
On Sunday, Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins faced the Buffalo Bills with playoff implications on the line.
It was an interesting matchup considering Tannehill was the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL going up against the best team at getting to the quarterback. Tannehill had been sacked 52 times, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), heading into this game—which was nearly 10 more than the guy in second place, Geno Smith.
This disadvantage proved too much for the Dolphins, as they were shut out on offense and Tannehill was sacked seven times on the day. He finished the day completing just 10 of 27 passes for 82 yards. This performance obviously was worthy of dropping him down a few spots.
The worst news on the day was that Tannehill left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
13. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 11th
Alex Smith had a chance to take his game to new heights on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, yet he came up looking more like the pre-Harbaugh version of himself.
On the year, Smith has been one of the more consistent quarterbacks in the NFL. His “high” and “low” are not that far apart, yet he seemed to have one of his worst games of the season right after his best game.
His plus-15 touchdown-to-interception differential is impressive; so is his 88 passer rating.
If Kansas City is going to have any success in the postseason, it’ll need No. 11 to play at a high level.
12. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Last Week: 13th
Matthew Stafford had a bad game on Sunday but still managed to get a boost in his ranking because of even worse performances by some of his close peers.
His biggest issues continue to be his lack of footwork and technique in his delivery. He relies far too much on his arm and disregards the down, distance and situations of the game far too regularly.
On the season, Stafford has completed only 58 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 83.
11. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 14th
Despite some struggles early in the season, Colin Kaepernick has only thrown eight interceptions in 15 games so far with 18 TD passes.
Kaep’s legs ended up being one of his best weapons against Atlanta, as he rushed for 51 yards and one TD. He eventually had a decent day after a slow start in the first half.
This might surprise you, but Kaepernick is the only QB in the league to have two of the top-10 games of the season in terms of Total QBR.
His Total QBR of 68.6 on the season ranks him fourth among all QBs who started a game in Week 16. Part of the reason he’s ranked so high in this category is because he connects on big passing plays at least a couple times a game while rarely turning the ball over.
10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 9th
Regardless of the struggles for the Steelers this season, Ben Roethlisberger has been a bright spot for the team for most of the year. Big Ben is the highest-ranked QB on the list with a losing record.
He has thrown 27 touchdown passes and only 12 interceptions to go with 4,082 yards passing and a 93.7 passer rating. Clearly Big Ben is still one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
Believe it or not, the Steelers are still alive in the playoff hunt, although they’ll need a ton of help before they can even consider getting in. Pittsburgh is 7-8 on the season and has won three of its last five games.
9. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 10th
Nick Foles continued to play at an MVP-caliber level in one of the more important games of his career on Sunday night.
Against the Bears, he completed 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. That type of performance is good enough to be considered one of the best of the week.
For the season, Foles leads the league in passer rating (118) and yards per pass (9.0).
8. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 6th
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts got back on track with a convincing win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Luck had a nice day, avoiding turnovers and throwing for 241 yards.
Luck had been on the decline as of late due to the absence of veteran wideout Reggie Wayne. Trying to transition away from his favorite target has been a tough adjustment for Luck, but he seems to be getting the hang of it now.
We've got to give the second-year QB some credit for staying in the top 10 for most of the season. His lowest ranking of the year was only 11th.
Although Luck had a decent game he still was overpowered by Cam Newton and Tony Romo in a close race.
7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 8th
Cam Newton did just enough to snag a victory over the Saints, take the division lead and clinch a playoff berth for the Panthers after they started 1-3 on the season.
It was after Week 4 that fans and critics were calling for Newton’s head, wondering why he had regressed in his third year as a pro. Ultimately, he would prove his doubters wrong.
In 2013, Newton has completed 62 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 89 and a league-leading six rushing touchdowns among QBs.
You have to consider the fact that Cam is doing quite well with very limited weapons to trust on the outside. Without his poise and competitiveness, this team would not have a winning record this year—plain and simple.
6. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 7th
Sunday’s matchup against Washington was an interesting one. The Cowboys needed some late-season magic against yet again and were able to find just that in Romo of all people. Romo saved the game despite a herniated disk in his back, which should sideline him for the remainder of the year. He marched his team down in the final seconds and threw a touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray for the win, thus keeping the Cowboys' playoffs hopes alive.
Romo has put up some pretty impressive numbers this season. He is third in passing touchdowns with 31. He also has a passer rating of 96.7 and is completing 63 percent of his passes as well.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if we’ll get to see Romo make a run for his second career playoff win this year. Kyle Orton will fill in for him in the meantime.
5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Last Week: 5th
It looks like the Patriots have found other ways to win than to rely too heavily on the arm of Tom Brady. Against the Ravens, the Patriots used a heavy dose of the run while Brady completed just 14 passes for 172 yards. The key stat for the day was that he avoided any costly turnovers, while the Patriots defense was solid all day long.
Before Sunday’s matchup, Brady had a long history of struggling against the Baltimore Ravens. In eight career starts vs. the Ravens (including playoffs), Brady had a 57.7 completion percentage and a minus-two TD/INT differential—both of these stats are his worst vs. any single NFL opponent.
With that said, it was good for Brady and the Patriots to come away with such a convincing and one-sided victory, especially without TE Rob Gronkowski.
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 3rd
Russell Wilson had one of his worst days as a pro and will certainly need to redeem himself after last week’s horrendous performance.
Wilson completed just 11 of 27 passes for 108 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
His season, however, tells a much different story. He has 25 touchdowns to only nine interceptions and a passer rating of 101.1. Wilson has also thrown for well over 3,000 yards while completing an impressive 63 percent of his passes.
His poor outing last week cost him the No. 3 spot, but he still has one more week to reclaim it.
3. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 4th
Few quarterbacks, if any, have been more of a surprise this year than Philip Rivers. He has been one of the most consistent and accurate QBs in the NFL and seems to have only gotten better as the season has progressed.
Rivers has made his move up to the third spot on the power rankings after another solid outing and victory over the Raiders to keep the Chargers’ playoff hopes alive.
On the season, Rivers leads the league with a 69 percent completion rate. He also has an incredible passer rating of 105 and a Total QBR of 73.
I believe it’s safe to say Philip Rivers has returned to being acknowledged as an elite quarterback.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 2nd
Drew Brees is one of those quarterbacks who can make the rare feats of most quarterbacks seem routine each and every week. He is currently on pace for his third 5,000-yard season in a row. This is also his lowest interception percentage since the ’04 season while with the Chargers.
His 35 touchdown passes are the second most on the year behind only Peyton Manning.
Brees is a genius at finding favorable matchups and has the accuracy to put the ball exactly where it needs to be. This is one of the greatest QBs to ever play the position.
1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Last Week: 1st
You might want to grab a camera and start recording the unique season No. 18 is having for Denver.
Peyton Manning is the first player in NFL history to pass for over 5,000 yards and throw more than 50 TD passes. He currently has the record for passing TDs with 51 and one game remaining.
It was a wire-to-wire performance for Mr. Manning. He started the season ranked the second-best QB in the NFL, and after the first week of action, he took hold of the top spot and never looked back. This is how a historic season is destined to go.
Clearly, Peyton Manning is the hands-down winner for league MVP. Nobody makes the players around him better than does this future Hall of Famer.
Frankly, it’s been an honor to cover the QBs this year in a magnificent and unforgettable year for the position.