Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 10
There’s a big shakeup in this week’s quarterback rankings, as a fresh name vaults into the top five, a familiar name drops, and an old friend is making his move back toward the top. We also saw Ben Roethlisberger return to form before unfortunately going down to injury once again. All that, and we have a tie at the top at the de facto halfway point in the NFL season.
Here’s a look at how the top 10 quarterbacks shake out heading into Week 10.
(Editor’s note: To see where every NFL quarterback ranks, be sure to access PFF’s 2015 Player Grades tool.)
T-1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, 96.8
Coming off his bye week, Palmer is preparing for a huge division matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. Here’s what we said last week:
Palmer is playing an aggressive brand of football that sees him attacking downfield more than any quarterback in the league other than Blake Bortles of the Jaguars (17.7 percent of attempts travel at least 20 yards in air). While he missed a few throws against the Browns, he still connected on five-of-nine deep pass attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown.
T-1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 96.8
It wasn’t his finest performance, marred by an uncharacteristic poor decision throwing into coverage for an interception, but Brady made just enough throws to maintain his spot at the top, now tied with Carson Palmer. For the season, Brady is protecting the football at a record-setting level, with turnover-worthy plays (TWPs) on only 1.06 percent of his dropbacks. It’s on pace to be the best job of avoiding turnovers that we’ve seen since 2007. Here’s a look at Brady’s recent history of protecting the ball:
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 93.4
Roethlisberger knocked off the rust with a return to form against the Oakland Raiders, despite the stats not backing him up. He made a number of big-time throws (BTTs), showing the deep ball touch and accuracy that he had pre-injury. Unfortunately, his teammates dropped three of his eight deep passes, but his accuracy percentage of 62.5 percent on such passes ranked third in the NFL on Sunday. As mentioned, he got hurt toward the end of the game, and the Steelers’ offense once again has to scramble to replace one of the league’s best.
4. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, 86.0
A strong bounce-back game from Dalton on Thursday Night Football, as he led an efficient Bengals offense to victory against the Cleveland Browns. He completed 16-of-17 passes between 0-9 yards for 167 yards and two scores. The Bengals have done a nice job with Dalton this year, taking advantage of his quick release (2.35 seconds, fourth in league) to get the ball into the hands of a versatile set of playmakers in Cincinnati.
5. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, 85.4
Making his debut in the top five, Carr continues to impress every week. He matched Roethlisberger throw for throw in their shootout, coming up just short in the end, but finishing with our top grade among QBs for the week. It was a great display of quick decision-making and finding the open man, though his interception with 4:31 to go in the fourth quarter was nearly a back-breaking decision. Perhaps most impressive about the outing, Carr bounced back to lead the Raiders back to tie late in the fourth, with his touch and accuracy on a post route to Michael Crabtree a thing of beauty.
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 85.2
Ryan continued his solid, yet unspectacular, play against the San Francisco 49ers. He did most of his work underneath, but picked his spots to complete 7-of-10 passes thrown at least 10 yards in the air for 155 yards. While his connection with WR Julio Jones continues to be one of the league’s best, it’s clear that the Falcons need a threat on the other side as a complement.
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, 83.6
Brees looks to be fully recovered from his early-season shoulder injury, as he put together another fine performance against the Tennessee Titans. He’s now leading the league in accuracy percentage on deep passes at 55.6 percent, while his 705 yards rank second. Brees now ranks second in the league in big-time throws (BTTs), with 25.
8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 83.5
Rare territory for Rodgers to slot in at No. 8, but he’s had a difficult time in recent weeks. He’s still making the spectacular plays we’re used to seeing, and he’s done a nice job of taking care of the ball (21 big-time throws to seven turnover-worthy throws), but it’s the simple plays within the flow of the offense that seem to be eluding him. He looks quicker than ever to vacate clean pockets and his interception on fourth down against the Carolina Panthers this weekend was a prime example. Instead of waiting to hit a wide open Randall Cobb in the end zone, he dropped his eyes and maneuvered around the pocket before throwing essentially a game-ending interception.
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, 81.6
Playing behind a makeshift offensive line that ranks 31st in the league in pass blocking efficiency has made life difficult on Rivers, combined with the loss of his top target, Keenan Allen to injury, but he’s still made the most of it. Against the Chicago Bears, the deep passing game was non-existent, as both of Rivers’ attempts fell incomplete, though he went five-for-seven for 96 yards on passes in the 10-19 yard range.
10. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, 81.0
Coming back from injury, Taylor was about as efficient as you can get, going 11-of-12 for 181 yards and a touchdown. He finished at +2.5 as a passer and +1.4 as a runner, good for a +3.9 grade that ranked seventh in the league last week. As is often the case, he mixed in one of his special deep passes, hitting WR Sammy Watkins in stride for a 63-yard gain.
Stats of the Week
– Dalton lead the league in accuracy percentage this week at 84.0 percent. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton ranked last at 57.7 percent.
– Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel averaged 3.44 seconds to throw, by far the largest number in the league last week (Rodgers was second at 3.06 seconds).
– Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning put together his fourth straight positively-graded game, as he is quietly rounding back into form in recent weeks.
– Last season, Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles attempted deep passes on only 10.3 percent of his attempts, 30th-highest in the league. This year, he leads the lead with 20.3 percent of his passes traveling 20 or more yards in the air, while also leading the league with 835 yards on those deep passes.