Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 12
Every play counts in the battle at the top of the PFF quarterback rankings, as Carson Palmer and Tom Brady remain in their respective spots, but the battle is as close as ever. Both quarterbacks have had their ups and downs in recent weeks, but they’re the clear front-runners in the league. The rest of the group has started to settle in for the stretch run, with the only question being the order of quarterbacks five through 10 in any given week.
Here’s a look at how the top 10 quarterbacks shake out heading into Week 12.
1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, 97.2
Palmer bounced back nicely from a slow start, as he made two poor decisions with the ball for two interceptions; but he more than made up for it with his usual helping of great throws to lead the Cardinals to victory. It was an entire game of boom or bust for Palmer, as he had five big-time throws, bringing his league-leading total to 39, but also four turnover-worthy plays, including the aforementioned two interceptions, along with a dropped interception and a fumble. Even with the mishaps, Palmer’s ability to bounce back and lead a game-winning drive helped keep him at the top for another week.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 97.1
Going up against Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills for the second time this season, Brady looked uncomfortable for much of the game, as he broke in his new options in the passing game while Ryan threw the kitchen sink the Patriots’ way. It was still a strong effort for Brady, who finished 20-for-39 passing, but of his 19 incompletions, 10 were either designed throwaways, batted at the line, or due to his being hit while throwing. He mixed in three big-time throws into the Bills’ tight coverage, keeping the ball out of harm’s way (aside from a fourth quarter jump ball that resulted in a tipped interception). He continues to battle with Palmer for the top spot in the rankings.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 93.7
On a bye this week, here’s what we said about Roethlisberger last week: 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 his 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, 86.7
Going head-to-head with Palmer on Sunday Night Football, Dalton showed great resiliency is keeping the Bengals in the game until the end, even though his worst throw—that should have been a game-ending interception—preceded the Bengals’ game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter. For the game, Dalton completed 21-of-29 for 273 yards on passes under 20 yards, but he struggled on throws beyond 20, going one-for-eight with a -3.3 grade.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 85.6
We mentioned last week that Rodgers was still making the special throws for which he’s known, but was lacking in the “easy” passes, the ones that were created within the scheme of the offense. He got those back at times against the Minnesota Vikings, before sprinkling in the special ones for good measure. His touchdown pass to James Jones to kick off the fourth quarter was one of the best you’ll see, as Rodgers broke the pocket and zipped a pass about 35 yards in the air to the one spot along the sideline where only Jones could get it. Getting back to the basics is still a work in progress, but Rodgers’ is still capable of carrying the Packers with his arm.
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 85.3
An otherwise solid performance was marred by one of the week’s worst throws, as Ryan failed to see the Colts’ D’Qwell Jackson in the middle of the field and threw one right to the linebacker, who walked into the end zone for a 6-yard interception return. Beyond that, Ryan is still struggling to connect consistently with anyone not named “Julio Jones,” who hauled in nine catches and 160 of Ryan’s 280 passing yards. The lack of a second option has made it difficult on Ryan this season, though the Falcons opened it up at times Sunday, with Ryan going 10-for-17 for 200 yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards in the air.
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, 84.9
On a bye this week, here are last week’s notes on Brees: 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.
8. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, 83.6
Despite the Raiders scoring only 13 points, Carr played a solid game, as he was hurt by his receivers dropping passes and failing to haul in some of his better attempts. He wasn’t without fault, as he had a terrible forced interception negated by penalty, but overall, Carr continues to impress. He not only has the league’s best passer rating against the blitz (124.3), but also the top PFF grade (+13.3).
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, 80.2
Throwing to a depleted group of playmakers behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines has done Rivers no favors this season, but he’s done his best to keep the Chargers in most games. Sunday was a different story, as Rivers missed a number of throws, and he’d certainly like to take back the screen pass that was thrown right to outside linebacker Justin Houston for a pick-six. For the season, 68 percent of Rivers’ 3,211 passing yards have come after the catch, the second-highest percentage in the league.
10. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, 80.1
Back in the top 10 after a one-week hiatus, Wilson had the third-best game of the week at +3.3. He completed 24-of-29 passes for 260 yards, with only two of his five incompletions considered inaccurate throws. That’s been the story of the season for Wilson, who has the fourth-lowest percentage of negatively-graded throws, so while the offense hasn’t always clicked on all cylinders, Wilson deserves credit for not missing many throws.
Stats of the week
– Living up to his boom or bust style coming out of college, rookie QB Jameis Winston ranks fourth in the league in percentage of big-time throws, but also ranks third in percentage of turnover-worthy throws.
– Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater leads the league with 28 throwaways, including nine in the last two games alone.
– While Palmer has faced pressure on 42.5 percent of his dropbacks, third-highest in the league, he’s only taken a sack on 10.5 percent of those pressured dropbacks, the second-lowest rate in the NFL.