Ranking the NFL’s top 10 QBs entering Week 17

See how the best NFL quarterbacks stack up in our PFF grades.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

(AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Ranking the NFL’s top 10 QBs entering Week 17

There’s one week left in the regular season, giving quarterbacks one last chance to make a move up our top-10 list.

Overall, it’s been a strong year of quarterbacking, even factoring in the rule changes and nature of the league that has made it easier on signal-callers. The statistical standards for QBs has to evolve, as an amazing 22 have posted a passer rating of at least 90.0, and 30 have posted a rating of at least 80. Luckily, our play-by-play grading can help to sort it out.

Here’s a look at how the top quarterbacks shake out heading into Week 17:

1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals: 98.5 PFF grade

He leads the league in percentage of big-time throws (BTTs) at 8.78 percent, an indication of just how efficient he has been in an offense that asks him to make higher-degree-of-difficult throws downfield.

2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: 98.5

His grade of +22.8 on deep passes (20-plus yards in the air) is the best in the league. He and the Steelers offense will be tough to stop if they wind up making the playoff field.

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: 94.2

He ranks second in the NFL with a +13.1 grade when pressured, which has been critical this season while playing behind an offensive line that has struggled mightily in pass protection.

4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: 86.0

He has the NFL’s third-best grade (+13.6) and best passer rating (116.4) when facing the blitz, although in cases when the opponents’ pass rush does get to him, his passer rating drops by 50 points.

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: 87.3

One of our fastest-risers on this list over the course of the season, he leads the league with 14 touchdowns on deep passes.

6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: 86.0

He ranks second in the league with 1,158 yards on deep passes.

7. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, 84.7

He ranks seventh in the league in accuracy percentage at 76.9 percent, and was having the best season of his career prior to his thumb injury. It’s unclear as to when he’ll be able to return.

8. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: 82.7

He has cooled off a bit since his hot start, but he still ranks fourth in big-time throw percentage at 6.67 percent.

9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: 82.1

While Ryan has an extremely low percentage of big-time throws (2.56 percent, which ranks No. 35 in the league), he has the seventh-highest percentage of positively graded throws, and is coming off an excellent performance in Atlanta’s upset win over Carolina.

10. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills: 81.7

He ranks seventh in percentage of big-time throws at 6.38 percent, and has a chance to help spoil the Jets’ postseason dreams with a win in this week’s matchup.

QB stats of the week

–When facing “zero” blitzes (no deep safeties, usually an all-out blitz), Miami’s Ryan Tannehill is 11-for-41 with four interceptions and a league-worst -6.6 grade.

–Aaron Rodgers ranks 13th in the league in passer rating, but when screens are taken out league-wide, he only ranks 23rd.

–Eli Manning has graded at +4.1 on three-step drops, but only -4.5 on five-step drops and -8.8 on seven-step drops.

–Cam Newton has graded at -5.5 against Cover-1, but +29.0 against all other coverages.

QB superlatives

Lowest percentage of sacks when pressured:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, 9.0 percent.

Highest percentage of sacks when pressured:

Marcus Mariota, 26.2 percent.

Most touchdowns under pressure:

Tom Brady, 15

Most yards on deep passes:

Blake Bortles, 1,307

Best grade when moved off his spot:

Aaron Rodgers, +12.5

Jay Cutler, +12.5

Worst grade when moved off his spot:

Nick Foles, -11.1

Most big-time throws (BTTs):

Carson Palmer, 52

Lowest percentage of turnover-worthy plays (TWPs):

Tom Brady, 1.16 percent

Highest percentage of yards after the catch:

Alex Smith, 57.6 percent

Highest percentage of yards through the air:

Brian Hoyer, 66.9 percent

Lowest accuracy percentage on deep passes (20-plus yards):

Marcus Mariota, 20.4 percent.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • osoviejo

    Russell Wilson is the only player on this list that isn’t slotted by ranking. Should be 4th, ahead of Newton.

  • Chris Micha

    I don’t understand how deep throws are considered to be high degree of difficulty. It doesn’t really make much sense to me when you think about it logically. Throwing the ball downfield is more dependent on the WR than anything else.

    • Johnny Cash Guzman

      Because you have to hit a moving target dead on at a long distance. Every QB has a low completion percentage on deep throws.

      Go play catch with someone and see how much harder it is to get them the ball when they’re 25 yards away from you as opposed to just 5 yards.

      • Johnny Vicars

        He is right though Johnny Cash. Deep throws by QB’s depend heavy on the ability of the receivers.

  • liberty61

    How does Tyrod Taylor rank ahead of Matthew Stafford?

    • Carolina pete

      Because he is better than that inconsistent Stafford, Detroit should get rid of that bum, the Joe flacco of the NFC.

      • Dustin Kiser

        Yeah that bum had 4200+ yards, 32 tds, 13 picks and a 97 overall qb rating. Pretty sure that’s consistent. I would take stafford over at least 20 or so other teams qb’s. How many 27 year old quarterbacks have stats that he possesses. All he needs to do is win more to gain more respect. He’s a good quarterback playing for a bad organization.

      • JDHA

        Lol, spoken like a true media member… Meaning has no clue. Stafford is a top 10 QB on a bad team. Most teams around the league would jump at the chance to have him.

    • Django Tu

      Because less turnovers and more efficiency.

  • Krish Thuthija

    Are you kidding me? Matt Stafford is a TERRIBLE qb. How does Tyrod Taylor rank ahead of Kirk Cousins is my question