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.
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).