Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 11
After we had a difficult time splitting hairs at the top of the list between Carson Palmer and Tom Brady, both quarterbacks overcame their own late-game turnovers to lead their respective teams to victory and maintain the top two spots on the list. Palmer crept ahead on the strength of his uncanny downfield accuracy, while an injury to Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t enough to keep him from performing well in a game he wasn’t even supposed to play in. There was also some shakeup in the middle of the list, as well as a new name debuting at the bottom.
Here’s a look at how the top 10 quarterbacks shake out heading into Week 11.
1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, 98.0
As mentioned, despite an end zone interception and two fumbles, Palmer once again showed his intermediate and downfield accuracy is among the league’s best this season. He posted an accuracy percentage of 75.0 percent on deep passes (five-for-eight, 119 yards, three touchdowns, one drop) while going a robust 9-for-10 for 118 yards on passes in the intermediate range. Put that together, and he was 14-of-18 for 237 yards and three touchdowns, and the one drop was a perfectly thrown post route about 50 yards in the air. Even with the turnovers, Palmer’s big time throws made up for it in an outstanding passing effort.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 96.6
On his way to a big game of his own, Brady threw an end zone interception and what should have been a game-ending pick, along with a couple of fumbles that proved costly. It was uncharacteristic ball security for Brady, who we lauded just last week for being on a record-pace for taking care of the football. Regardless, he made a couple of big throws on New England’s game-winning drive, and he had few inaccurate passes outside of the big ones.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 93.7
Roethlisberger was dressed on the sideline, to be used only in an emergency situation—and emergency struck quickly. Roethlisberger came off the bench and continued his downfield dominance, going four-of-seven for 168 yards and a touchdown on deep passes. His accuracy percentage of 56.8 percent on deep passes leads the league, and his 674 yards rank fourth overall, despite him missing time. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy and continue to play the best football of his career, the Steelers’ offense will be one of the most dangerous in the league heading down the stretch.
4. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, 85.7
It was a rough game for Dalton on Monday Night Football against the Houston Texans; he was inaccurate throughout the game, and a number of his best passes were dropped. He slides down slightly this week, though his body of work is still impressive for the season. He’s tied for fifth in accuracy percentage at 77.7, and ranks fourth in accuracy percentage on deep passes at 47.4.
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 85.2
With the Falcons on a bye, Ryan maintains his spot at No. 5 overall. Last week’s notes: Ryan continued his solid, yet unspectacular, play against the San Francisco 49ers, grading at +2.2 for the game. 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.
6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, 84.9
Even in a blowout loss to the Washington Redskins, Brees still looks to be back to form, as he only missed on a few throws and his pick-six came on an unfortunate drop. Since Week 5, he ranks behind only Brady and Palmer among the league’s quarterbacks, while completing a league-high 72.0 percent of his passes during that time. For the year, his accuracy percentage of 54.2 percent on deep passes ranks third in the league, and his 765 yards rank second.
7. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 84.8
While the offense sputtered for much of the game, Rodgers bounced back with a huge fourth quarter of big-time throws to get the Packers back into it against the Detroit Lions. While they still fell short, Rodgers peppered the field with accurate passes, including his late touchdown that was placed perfectly away from two defenders. His receivers didn’t help the cause, as his top three options all graded negatively in the passing game, and the offense still lacked the rhythm that Rodgers has been known for in the past. As we mentioned last week, the special throws are still there, Rodgers just has to find a way to work within the structure of the offense to get the easy ones back to complement them.
8. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, 83.6
It’s a tight battle in the middle of the top 10, and Carr moves from five to eight after a subpar effort against the Minnesota Vikings. He threw two interceptions—a misread of coverage and a forced end zone fade—while missing a few other throws. He had his positive moments, and it doesn’t take away his entire body of work this season, which has been an exciting development for the Raiders and their future.
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, 81.6
With the Chargers on bye, Rivers slots in at number nine. Our notes from last week: 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.
T-10. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, 80.5
Taylor had an average effort against the New York Jets on Thursday night, but he also didn’t miss many throws along the way. He’s been an interesting case this season, as he’s done a nice job of protecting the football with only three turnover-worthy plays, but he clearly has some work to do managing the pocket, as we’ve charged him with eight sacks, most among quarterbacks this season.
T-10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, 80.5
New to the list and quietly moving up the ranks in recent weeks, Cutler has posted the eighth-highest grade since Week 5. His Monday night game against the Chargers was a gem two weeks ago, and while the stats were excellent against the St. Louis Rams last weekend, he had a number of easy throws that turned into huge gains, as 209 of his 258 yards came after the catch. Cutler has done a nice job of handling pressure this season, grading at +4.7 to go with five touchdowns and only one interception on 97 attempts.
Stats of the week
– St. Louis Rams QB Nick Foles (recently benched in favor of Case Keenum) and the Rams’ passing offense has a passer rating of 108.9 when using play action, but it drops to 63.6 with no play action.
– New York Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sacked on only 6.7 percent of his pressured dropbacks, the best percentage in the league. Taylor is on the other end, getting sacked on 27.3 percent of the time he faces pressure.
– Only 2.6 percent of Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s passes have been dropped, the lowest percentage in the league.