Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 9

Steve Palazzolo updates the top 10 QB rankings, diving into some of the most compelling performances through Week 8.

| 2 years ago
(Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

(Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Top 10 NFL quarterbacks entering Week 9

An active Week 8 saw a change at the top of the rankings, a return by a top-3 quarterback, and further separation among the top 5. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leapfrogged Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger looked rusty in his return from injury, and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Bengals QB Andy Dalton also experienced struggles of their own.

Here’s a recap and a look at how the rest of the top 10 is shaping up.

(Editor’s note: To see where every NFL quarterback ranks, be sure to access PFF’s 2015 Player Grades tool.)

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 98.1

Despite facing pressure on half of his dropbacks, Brady put together his finest game of his MVP-like season. He graded out very well when facing Miami’s pressure (+3.3), throwing for two of his four touchdowns and posting an accuracy percentage of 62.5 percent.

2. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, 96.7

Palmer is playing an aggressive brand of football that sees him attacking downfield more than any quarterback in the league, other than Blake Bortles of the Jaguars (17.7 percent of attempts travel at least 20 yards in air). While he missed a few throws against the Browns, he still connected on five-of-nine deep pass attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown.

3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 89.2

Big Ben’s return did not go quite as planned; in particular, his poor decision-making proved costly in the Steelers’ loss to the Bengals. He’s still high on the list due to an exceptional start to the season, but he’ll have to get back to that level in order to maintain his top-3 status.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 85.7

Facing the buzzsaw that is the Denver Broncos’ defense, Rodgers just couldn’t get anything going against the league’s best unit. With blanket coverage and constant pressure, there was only so much he could do.

5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, 85.5

Yet another subpar performance among a top-5 QB in Week 8, Dalton posted a season-worst grade, despite bouncing back to lead a comeback in the fourth quarter against the Steelers. He was particularly bad in the fourth quarter that saw him thrown an arm-punt interception, a bad red zone interception, and a he dropped shotgun snap that he managed to recover. Roethlisberger’s mishaps kept the Bengals in it, and Dalton took advantage with the game-winning touchdown pass to A.J. Green—but three turnover-worthy plays in crunch time won’t lead to victory in most cases.

6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 82.4

Ryan was efficient for the Falcons, finishing with an accuracy percentage of 84.1 percent that ranked third on the week. He completed his only deep attempt of the game for 21 yards, but he’s now attempted only 6.4 percent of his passes beyond 20 yards, the lowest percentage in the league. Ryan may need to be more aggressive down the field, as the heavy reliance on the short passing game hasn’t led to points in recent weeks.

7. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, 81.9

Perhaps the season’s top breakout player, Carr continues to impress as he has the Raiders lurking among the AFC’s best teams at 4-3. He posted his fifth-straight positive grade, as he once again put up gaudy numbers against the blitz (14-for-22 for 227 yards and three touchdowns). The Raiders’ offensive line deserves a lot of credit, as well, as Carr was pressured on only six of 36 dropbacks against the Jets—he’s been pressured on only 25.5 percent of his dropbacks this season, best in the league among quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks.

8. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, 80.4

Not the best effort by Wilson in the passing game, as he graded at -0.7, including a -2.7 mark on his four deep attempts that all fell incomplete. He’s still facing more pressure than any quarterback in the league (45.6 percent of dropbacks), but as he shown in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys, he can get out of trouble and make big plays with his legs. Wilson has gained 233 yards on his 33 scrambles this season (7.1 yards per carry), not including his 15 carries for 75 yards (5.0 yards per carry) on designed runs.

9. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, 80.1

Back in the top 10 after a huge game against the Giants, Brees has returned back to form after an early season injury set him back. He threw for 505 yards and seven touchdowns. As well as he played, the stats were still slightly inflated due to some horrendous coverage busts by the Giants, but that does nothing to take away from an outstanding effort from Brees.

10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, 79.5

No quarterback has thrown the ball as much as Rivers this season, who already has 348 pass attempts. He had a strong game as a passer against the Ravens, as he led the league with an accuracy percentage of 84.8 percent for the week, including completing all 22 of his attempts under 9 yards in the air. Rivers is averaging 2.27 seconds per dropback, second-fastest in the league behind only Brady.


Stats of the week

– If taking screens out of the equation, Palmer’s average depth of target is 13.2 yards, highest in the league.

– Rivers has picked up 403 yards on screen passes to lead the league. The next closest is Alex Smith, with 265.

– Rodgers leads the league with 121 yards on back-shoulder throws, while Brady ranks second with 116 yards; Jay Cutler comes in third, with 107.

– Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has the league’s highest grade on first downs. On first down post routes, he’s nine-for-12 for 190 yards and two touchdowns (156.3 passer rating).

– Panthers QB Cam Newton has picked up 188 yards on 37 carries on designed runs (5.1 yards per carry) and 103 yards on 14 scrambles (7.4 yards per carry).

| Senior Analyst

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

  • MD_in_MD

    If I told you last year that at this time of year Derek Carr would be ranked above Rivers, Brees and Wilson you would have said I was a dumbass. Musgrave has REALLY opened things up……

    • Scott Kohler

      Well it’s all not true. And being ahead of Winston isn’t that impressive. Russell is an above average QB. Impressive what the coaching staff has done with him though.

    • Scott Kohler


  • Jason

    How has Eli Manning not been a Top 10 QB this year?

    WTF? This crap is a joke.

    • jody

      Because those IN the top 10 have had better seasons, or are just plain better.

      • Jason

        Except they aren’t.

        Keep in mind – Eli has the worst starting RB (Jennings), worst starting TE (Donnell), worst OT (Newhouse), and worst defense in the NFL.

        No QB does more with less around him than Eli Manning. that is a FACT.

        • jim

          date him.

        • Jim Winslow


        • Gerin Honeycutt

          Jennings the worst starting rb and Donnell the worst starting TE… news to me, but saying “FACT” justifies your point.

          • TheTruthBurns

            Have you seen their numbers? Their awful. Give Eli any of these teams TE’s and it would be an upgrade. And they can run, or stop anything on defense. Yet they could easily be 7-1, with his top 6 QB stats.

        • All the Raindrops

          Manning has some of the best receivers in football. OBJ, Cruz, Vereen, etc

          • terry

            There’s nothing after “etc.” OBJ is a #1 receiver in the mold of a Randal Cobb or Ted Ginn. Cruz is out (he’s similar to T.Y Hilton as a posession receiver) Randle is the #3 Receiver. Vereen is a Running back.

            More relevant to PFF’s lack of credibility is that it consistently rates Quarterbacks like Cam Newton ahead of people like Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. That right there is an eye-openiner when evaluating PFF’s credibility. I think any Quarterback and coach that even bothers to pay attention to PFF (they don’t) choke in laughter at how highly rated Newton has been by every media outlet including PFF.

            Maybe PFF removed Cam from the Top 10 QB list when they got an inkling that their fake statistics (with no peer review, and no opportunity for us to see their raw data to see how they are rating each of these plays) were eliciting louder and louder laughter . As it is, they simply join ESPN, NBC, ABC, etc as evaluators not worth listening to.

            NFL is entertainment – and the entertainment value that is included in player salaries should not be confused with their ability to play their positions on the field.

          • Jason

            1. Cruz hasn’t played a single down this year.

            2. Vereen isn’t a receiver.

    • Lige

      Me love you long time, Osi!

  • Bill

    lol Wilson over rivers what a joke.

    • Jim Winslow

      The grades make sense, but rivers runs a more sophisticated offense, and has throws the ball like 60 times a game. I would definitely take him over Wilson.

  • Logic

    You mean like last season when he was 6th in passing yards and 9th in passing TDs, or this season where he’s 4th in passing TDs and 8th in QB Rating?

    Yes, that’s the “real Eli.” But that’s good that you at least amuse yourself with your embarrassing lack of information. Watch a little NFL football sometime…you might like it.

    • Scott Kohler

      He’s been surrounded by receiving talent and his numbers are inflated because he throws 2 yard passes and his receivers make plays for him. He’s just not a very good quarterback. Those stats ate irrelevant since he most likely has the most interceptions for any quarterback in the past 3 years. Don’t get fooled by his game in New Orleans. 3 of the tds he got were inside of 2 yards and 2 of those 3 were to an open receiver on a pick play. 2 other touchdowns should’ve been interceptions had the defense not fell over themselves. He threw 1 very good pass to Dwayne Harris for a TD but they was the only impressive TD pass.

      • Logic

        Wow. I have to warn you, this will be long, because you’re way off.

        Firstly, I never miss an NFL football game, and haven’t in 35 years. Your narrative about Eli’s interceptions is absurd, as he threw 30 TDs to 14 INTs last year, and he’s at 17/4 this season. That’s 47 TDs versus 18 INTs in McAdoo’s Offense. Take away the 6 TD game and he’s still at 11/4.

        Not exactly the interception machine you’d like to believe he is.

        He’s also playing in the exact same offense as Aaron Rodgers, so the dinking and dunking is a part of the same West Coast Offense he uses, only AR is way more comfortable in it having played in it for 8 years. In fact, in their first two years in this system, Eli has more TDs and fewer picks than Rodgers, who you’d have to admit is absurdly good.

        Eli also isn’t a caretaker or game manager by any means. He has the most 4th quarter comebacks of anyone since becoming the starting QB. And, he’s never missed a game. He’s also 10th ALL TIME in TD passes thrown and 12th in Passing Yardage, which you’ll have to explain to me how that’s not impressive. Oh, and he’s still got at least 4 years in him and doesn’t miss games.

        I’m sure so far I’ve already taught you a lot, since there’s no way you’re speaking about the same QB I am, telling me not to overreact by one game, when it is YOU who is new to the game.

        The guy has two rings, two SB MVPs, and although people love to spew the false narrative that the D carried him, he won in 2011 with a rushing Offense that was last in the league, a passing D that was 31st in the league, and collectively, they all got hot at the right time. In 2007, he went on the road and lit up TB’s #1 ranked D, then beat the #1 seed in Dallas, and went to Lambeau to beat the immortal Favre and his #2 seed Packers on their home turf in subzero temperatures. Oh, and then he beat the 18-0 Pats.

        If you’re a fan of the sport, you have to give credit where it’s due. I loathe Tony Romo, but I know he’s one helluva QB. See? I don’t hammer him for only winning two playoff games in his career…I give credit where it’s due, even though I despise him.

        Finally, your notion that Eli has a stacked set of receivers is asinine. He had Toomer and Burress, and that team was on the verge of repeating until the latter dumbo blew a hole in his leg clubbing in sweatpants.

        After that, Steve Smith had a monster year, the Giants let him walk to Philly, and you haven’t heard from him since. Same can be said for Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, Mario Manningham, etc., all of whom Giants fans were told MADE ELI, yet when they left, their careers died.

        This year, Beckham is who he is, but don’t act like other QBs don’t have elite weapons too. Brady has Gronk, Rodgers has Jordy (usually) and Cobb, Peyton has Demaryius and Sanders, Dalton has AJ, Ryan has Julio, Romo has Dez, etc. Just because a QB has an elite receiver, doesn’t negate anything they do…unless they’re Eli, apparently.

        So far, Cruz hasn’t played a down for over a calendar year, and Randle, who isn’t all that anyway, has battled through a hammy. That’s why he couldn’t hit that extra gear on the final drive where Eli laid it out just enough for a healthy Randle to snag it.

        But he doesn’t have an embarrassment of riches. If anything, this is the finest season he’s had, given all the injuries.

        • blacknite761

          So who on his list does he replace?

          • Jason

            Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers.

            All of whom Eli has outplayed this year.

          • blacknite761

            I see…

          • Logic

            I’ve quite understood PFF’s evaluations of QB play. It’s the one position where there’s a great disparity between their ratings and what we’re seeing with our own eyes. On the contrary, they’re able to see things in the trenches I’d never be able to see, unless I sat there and closely examined each and every lineman.

            That said, I’m actually okay with their Top-10 QBs list, with the exception of Wilson being ahead of Eli. I just took umbrage with the notion that Eli is an interception machine who has made a living off of having good receivers.

          • TheTruthBurns

            This is what happens. People go “Eli overrated”, then walk away then DESTROYED by facts and reason. Their all dolts that don;t know football.

          • Jim Winslow

            last year his 5th worst graded qb this year he is somewhere between 11 and 15

          • NYRams13

            Fair enough on the Eli just being a int machine with good receivers, but Wilson has just as bad receivers (Eli has OBJ, RW has Graham otherwise nothing to write home about) Lynch was hurt most of the year, their line is worse (Russell has been sacked 3 times as much) and WIlson has a better comp %, Yds/attempt and add in Russell runs a bit when necessary. Could you make an argument for Eli, sure, but I don’t think its a clear/obvious omission

          • Logic

            This is true. I’ve been a huge Wilson supporter since he entered the league, even drafting him as my only QB in my fantasy league in his rookie year before he was even named the starter over Flynn (just to give you some perspective on how I analyze him).

            For the life of me, I can’t understand why the Seahawks continue to give a guy who’s 5’10” the smallest receiving corps in the league, with the exception of Graham, who looks to be a net deficit in the trade.

            If you’re grading on a snap by snap basis, I don’t doubt Wilson does more with less than Eli. But just based on who’s had the better season, I’d give Eli the slight nod.

          • KING JAY UNO

            Dude led the NFL in picks for 3 years

          • Logic

            You lack the requisite analytical skills to engage in a serious discussion regarding the NFL and its QB play, instead relying on dull, regurgitated talking points. I’ve addressed his INTs ad nauseum in subsequent posts, if you care to debate.

            But I think you’re more comfortable just repeating yourself and being right, so let’s just agree to disagree about Eli’s standing amongst his peers.

          • KING JAY UNO

            Don’t compare Eli to Brett. Eli is trash and he’s proven it without that defense

          • Logic

            You don’t like Eli — nothing else seems to matter.

            Time to move on…

        • Jason

          Wow, Scott Kohler just got obliterated by Logic.

          This is classic.

          PFF has zero clue how to evaluate QB play. None whatsoever. All credibility is gone. All of it.

        • NYRams13

          I think it was more about the team in the 1st SB and he stepped up big in the 2nd playoff run but ok, so Eli had a bad Defense, no run game, no receivers/tight ends and carried his team to the SB on his own. So why is he now struggling to win the saddest division in football?

          I don’t think he’s bad or Alex Smith/Trent Dilfer but have no problem with him being outside the top 10 in a article about “the top 10 QBs THIS YEAR” in a year he’s 4-4 and most of his stats came in 1 game.

          • Logic

            Have you seen his defense? They didn’t have much to begin with, and then they lost the only pass rusher on the team (and have 9 sacks on the season in 8 games!). This is the reason why they’ve blown three 4th quarter leads. They simply can’t pin their ears back and get the opposing offense off the field, even after they have the lead and make them one-dimensional.

            This is NOT on Eli.

            Consider this: They’ve been missing their bookend corner to DRC (Prince), their move-the-chains guy, who never came back as planned (Cruz, who was a big reason why they let James Jones walk in Free Agency), and their top Left Tackle (Beatty) tore a pec in the preseason. This has had a ripple effect of putting our 3rd and 4th corners out there, who have been predictably abused (while DRC has a 46 QB rating when targeted), a bumbling boob in the slot Preston Parker, who dropped several game-changing passes in the first few games before being cut, and having to throw our rookie LT Flowers in the frying pan, leaving turnstile Newhouse on the right.

            Finally, Spags’ Defense relies heavily on the MLB to make checks on the fly as the DC’s eyes. Without him, it’s been a struggle, with blown assignments due to an undrafted FA taking his place. It’s night and day.

            At the end of the day, you can’t expect an average team to lose its top players and still be top-flight. I don’t know how you could come away with Eli being at 17 TDs and 4 INTs at the midway point believing that HE is the problem. (By the way, the Giants are still leading the NFC Least division, so there’s that…). Anyway you slice it, a QB who finished with 34 TDs to 8 INTs is NOT your problem.

        • Stephen J Brady

          All good points, he’s also had years in between those great Super Bowl runs. I’m glad they beat the cheating Patriots twice but there were years that he played really poorly too. Of course you can find reasons and explain away a bunch of things but he has thrown a lot of interceptions over his career. I do think (other then a pretty bad start last year) he has flourished a lot more in the new offense. The difference between Eli and Rodgers? Rodgers keeps plays alive with his feet when pressured, while Eli (in the past) has turned the ball over. Also, I think Rodgers has a better deep ball. When he had all his players last year it wasn’t all run after the catch. A lot of the plays (especially to Cobb and Nelson) were 20+ yards through the air.

          • Logic


            I should definitely make it clear that I am, in no way, trying to make a case that Eli is on Rodgers’ level. That’d be absurd, and I think if you hooked Archie up to a polygraph, you’d learn that even he knows his son isn’t on Aaron’s level.

            Rodgers is more mobile, more consistent, more accurate, and has a stronger arm. If he’s not the best QB in the league, he’s right behind Brady. So, the only reason I brought him up was to illustrate an apples-to-apples comparison of how well Eli’s done with the same system as the best QB in the league.

            It was a way of showing how he’s closer to the best QB in the league than the worst, which many haters (and I can’t stand using that word, but it’s only appropriate when it comes to Eli) would have you believe.

            And yes, he’s thrown a lot of interceptions, but it’s all about how people choose to portray his recklessness.

            For instance: Favre has a 3.3 career INT percentage; Eli is at 3.2%. Same guy, right? Well, the difference is Favre is sold to us as a riverboat gambler, a gun-slinger — and that’s a sign of what makes him great! While Eli is just Peyton’s idiot brother, who’s too careless with the ball, and hurts his team by taking too many chances.

            See what I mean?

            At the end of the day, Eli isn’t nearly as bad as his critics make him out to be, and perhaps not as good as Giants homers would like him to be. But with much of the nonsense I hear about him, it’s more so the former than the latter.

      • TheTruthBurns

        Outside of OBD, what is his WR talent? Last year he didn;t have them both on the field at the same time………..

      • Grisha

        uh, the Dwayne Harris pass, though thrown across his body with pretty nice touch, was no doubt his luckiest pass, and the closest to just throwing it up. If Eli has been surrounding by receiving talent all these years, how many of his receivers have actually made the probowl? When was the last time he had a probowl TE? Or a probowl RB?

    • Gerin Honeycutt

      what did he rank in ints?

      • Logic

        30 TDs/14 INTs last season. Not fantastic, but since the other poster wanted to discount Eli’s 6TD game this year as an anamoly, that goes both ways, and you have to remove his 5 INT game against SF last year. Even still, he had fewer INTs than his brother, Luck, Rivers, Brees, Ryan, Dalton, Cutler (and Bortles).

        17 TDs/4 INTs this season at the midway pole. The only QB who’s started every game who has fewer is Alex Smith, who never (EVER) puts the ball in harm’s way.

  • Pauleslie Gardner

    Manning is highly overrated, and two great catches(one great throw, Manningham, Tyree ) away from being a better-than-average quarterback. Makes too many senseless mistakes in the Red Zone. Not surprising to me why he is not in the top 10.

    • Jason

      LMAO, he has 47 TDs and 18 INTs since the start of 2014 playing in the West Coast Offense. You’re about as clueless as it gets. smh

    • TheTruthBurns

      He had to break away from a tackle in “the Catch”, and he made an INCREDIBLE THROW to mannigham. And I’m a Bills fan. I just don’t get the hate on Eli Manning? I’ve found most are losers that don;t know the game.

      • anon76returns

        LOL. Pats fans have an enduring and burning hatred for him, which spills over into a lot of commentary. I’ll give you two guesses as to why they hate him so.

  • Jason

    So we should negate what Eli does because he has Beckham? Beckham is just a #1 WR in the mold of a Randall Cobb.

    What kind of absurd reasoning is that? A lot of QBs have quality #1’s.

    Should we negate Matt Ryan because of Julio Jones? Should we negate Andy Dalton because of AJ Green? Rodgers because of Cobb? Brady because of Gronk? Romo because of Dez? Ben because of Brown? Rivers because of Allen? Palmer because of Fitzgerald? Carr because of Cooper?

    This is getting beyond comical. And anyone who justifies Eli’s PFF grade doesn’t know a lick about football. Any NFL coach/coordinator will tell you PFF’s evaluation of Eli is beyond absurd.

    • PSR

      You’ve preached about how accurate PFF’s evaluations are all year. Now that they aren’t blowing Eli like you do they are trash? LMAO @ you.

      • TheTruthBurns

        Stay on point though………….Eli has the stats to be number 5-6. Obviously people can;t justify the ranking, they just run away.

        • JT

          The majority of those came from ONE game….

    • Akash Mehta

      Odell is absolutely not in the same mold as Randall Cobb. Odell is a superior athlete and route runner than Cobb. I feel like Eli this year doesn’t target Odell nearly as often as he should. Once Cruz comes back (if he comes back), it’s going to really open up the passing game.

      But, I agree with the essence of your post, Jason. People don’t understand that Eli’s high INT totals in the past was due to Kevin Kilbride’s scheme. If he stays in this scheme for another couple of years, I can easily see Eli matching Rodgers stats once he gets more comfortable.

    • Anthony

      In what world is Eli having a better year than Rivers? Rivers is doing more with less than any qb evvvver has. Horrible defense, horrible st’s, like 35 different oline combos due to 3 injuries on line every game. Everyone of his skilled players have missed games this year. Any other qb in the league on the chargers and they have bench worthy numbers.. sorry not even close. Agree eli should be on here, but in no world is he outplaying Rivers and if you factor in all variables Rivers has been by far the most impressive qb in the league.

      Never seen a qb do what rivers is doing with such a bad team and on top of bad insanely injuired.

      • Jason

        1. Rashad Jennings would not start at RB for any other team in the NFL.

        2. Larry Donnell would not start at TE for any other team in the NFL.

        3. Marshall Newhouse would not start at OT for any other team in the NFL.

        • Anthony

          Our rookie rb got benched.. jennings would start for sd. Our te’s have been injured donnell would start and weve had like 5 different lt’s newhouse would easily start

  • Bill Dickerson

    I have no clue how Russell Wilson is classified as a top 10 qb. Honestly, Eli should be on his list. He has much better numbers than some of these guys.

    • TheTruthBurns

      Eli is number 6-7 in my view.

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