Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 14

Steve Palazzolo updates the top 10 QB rankings, diving into some of the most compelling performances of the season.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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.

QB superlatives

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

| Senior Analyst

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

  • Magnus Diamant

    Last week, Brady’s grade was 98.3. He then got at +5.1 grade against the Eagles. How come his grade has dropped to 95?

    • derek lundeen

      Don’t Forget the weapons he’s lost over the year.

      • crashby89

        We get it he has lost weapons. Luckily PFF accounts for that. For example if a WR drops a ball it is still a positive grade for the QB as long as it is a good pass.

        • bobrulz

          Not just talking about drops though. We’re also talking about timing within the offense, knowledge of the playbook, ability to get separation or fight for contested catches, etc.

    • codered5

      They regradevalue after the first grade later in the week. The question is how can one grade be so different from the other. One of pffs several mysteries.

    • James Winslow

      yeah I think they have ben and brady’s grade mixed up

  • James Miller

    No one will ever forget that the patriots are missing weapons, it’s brought up repeatedly by PSPN and fans alike.

  • GBPFan12

    Be nice if Rodger’s receivers could run a simple slant route.

    • Jonathan Seidman

      would be nice if he could make some better throws as well…it works both ways…his guys are dropping balls, but he’s been inaccurate this year.

  • burjur

    Ben Roethlisberger would likely be in the MVP race if not for his litany of injuries that kept him on the sidelines. He’s in outstanding form right now and his aggression and precision on so many of his throws are fun to watch, along with Palmer.

  • snoth cambin

    How did Brady drop?

    • James Winslow

      Probably a typo

  • Brandon

    I have to make an argument for Alex smith. No he isn’t the Qb with the big arm or the perfect throws. He isn’t fancy. Buy he hasn’t turned the ball over since week 3. He has the third longest streak of pass attempts without a INT in the history of the NFL. Not only that but the man gets it done with his legs.

  • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

    Not sure why Cam with his 83.6 grade is included in the top tier with Palmer (99.9), Roethlisberger (99.9), and Brady (95.0) instead of the second tier with Dalton (86.1), Rodgers (85.2), Wilson (84.0), Carr (85.3), Brees (84.0), and Rivers (80.2). Five of the 6 QBs in the second tier have grades higher than Newton’s.

    It seems that Cam is being elevated because the Panthers are 12-0. But why are the Panthers 12-0? Is it really because of Cam’s play or is it a combination of 1) decent play from Cam most of the time (with occasional poor play and occasionally very good/great play), 2) an excellent defense, and 3) a Charmin schedule that has the Panthers playing the AFC South, NFC East, and (of course) the NFC South. Now, the NFC South as a whole has more wins than any other division, so some have argued that the NFC South is a good division. But all NFC South teams benefit from playing NFC East and AFC South teams. Does anyone really think there is any good team in the NFC South outside of the Panthers? NO. (And that doesn’t stand for New Orleans!)

    So, if the Panthers have a 12-0 record based on a weak schedule and a great defense and not because Cam has played exceptionally well all year, then why does Cam get elevated into the top tier here?

    • J_May

      He’a playing well but these are some good points. The only reason they beat the Seahawks was a mix-up of calls from the sideline that left a guy open in the end zone.

      That being said, I’m inclined to think this same thing – playing low-quality opponents – is true anytime a team gets on a roll and looks unstoppable. It’s not often great teams look great when they’re playing other great teams. Or great QB’s look great against great defenses. Schedule accounts for so much.