Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 14
With another week in the books, it’s time to re-shape the quarterback rankings. Once again, I’m using a combination of criteria to sort this list, including our grades, recent trends, and more. Last week, we mentioned a three-horse race at the top, but I’m willing to include a fourth among the best of the best.
Here’s a look at how the top quarterbacks shake out heading into Week 14.
On top of their games, few weaknesses
1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, 99.9
Palmer continues to roll, firing downfield strikes to a versatile group of playmakers with confidence. Whether in a clean pocket (+33.1) or under pressure (+13.2), Palmer has played at a special level this season.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 99.9
There may not be a more potent passing game in the league than the Roethlisberger-led Steelers, as he continues to play the best football of his career. Combined with the unique playmaking ability of wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, Roethlisberger ranks third in the league with 993 yards on deep passes, despite missing four games.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 95.0
Even with a number of key injuries to his playmakers, Brady is still throwing the ball well, and he had another strong grade against the Philadelphia Eagles, despite the poor stats. His receivers have dropped 8.1 percent of his passes, highest in the league, while in the fourth quarter, Brady’s +11.1 grade leads the NFL.
4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, 83.6
One of the league’s most unique players gets added to the top-tier after another dazzling performance against the New Orleans Saints. Newton has started to cut back on the accuracy issues that have plagued his career, while showing incredible downfield ball location and arm strength, even when he doesn’t have his legs under him. He ranks third behind Palmer and Roethlisberger in big-time throw percentage, at 7.16 percent. Since Week 8, Newton’s +21.8 grade ranks second only to Brady’s +22.7.
Second tier: Mostly good, some weaknesses
5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, 86.1
Dalton’s progression has been an impressive sight, as a he’s made good use of a strong group of playmakers, while the Bengals’ offense has done a nice job of playing to his strengths. Dalton has the fifth-best grade on three-step drops (+2.2), and he leads the league with 10 touchdowns in that category, highlighting the Bengals’ quick-passing system,.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 85.2
As we’ve said in recent weeks, Rodgers’ slump has little to do with his ability to make the special throws, but more of a lacking of the basic throws within the Packers’ scheme. He’s grading at +13.8 with a passer rating of 105.0 when he’s outside the pocket, compared to a 0.0 grade and 95.7 passer rating when inside the pocket.
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks 84.0
Making a big jump on the list, Wilson has been on point in recent weeks, posting a ridiculous accuracy percentage of 92.2 percent over his last three games (66-for-86, five drops, eight throwaways, one batted pass).
8. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, 85.3
Carr has had his ups and downs in recent weeks, but his second-year improvement remains one of the biggest stories of the 2015 season. As we’ve highlighted throughout the year, he’s been fantastic against the blitz, grading at +16.6 with a league-high passer rating of 117.
9. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, 84.0
Week-to-week consistency is lacking in Brees’ game this year, though he’s still shown flashes of his old self, and like others on this list, his surrounding talent has not been as strong as in years past. His +22.1 grade in a clean pocket ranks fourth in the league, though his -6.2 mark when pressured ranks 24th.
10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, 80.2
This season’s situation has not been kind to Rivers, who has played behind a makeshift offensive line while a number of his playmakers have not performed up to par. Rivers is tied for the league lead in accuracy percentage when pressured, at 74.3 percent.
Most Big-Time Throws (BTTs):
Carson Palmer, 45
Highest percentage of yards after the catch:
Alex Smith, 59.9 percent
Highest percentage of yards through the air:
Brian Hoyer and Cam Newton, 66.4 percent
Lowest accuracy percentage on deep passes (20+ yards):
Marcus Mariota, 17.5 percent
Lowest percentage of deep pass attempts:
Matt Ryan, 7.3 percent
Best grade on the “scramble drill:”
Aaron Rodgers, +8.0
Best grade on seven-step drops:
Derek Carr, +19.8
Most yards on screen passes:
Philip Rivers, 468