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    QB Power Rankings 2021: Aaron Rodgers is king, again

    From Aaron Rodgers to Zach Wilson, PFN ranks the NFL's starting passers for the season's final QB Power Rankings.

    No single position in football has a greater influence on a team’s success (or failure) than the quarterback. There’s no disputing that. But which signal-caller is the best? That’s where the great quarterback rankings debate emerges. With modern-day analytics and a good old-fashioned eye test, I look to answer that very question with these QB Power Rankings.

    2021 QB Power Rankings

    While much of Week 18 appeared wasteful, there were just enough meaningful matchups and intriguing finishes to warrant the extension of the regular season. Not that I’ve been an advocate for it, but adding a game wasn’t all for naught. Hey, it even gives me an extra week to do what I love — which is to watch all 32 teams’ offensive snaps and share my analysis with all of you.

    But as football season comes, it swiftly goes. Sure, we get to sit back and enjoy the postseason fireworks. However, I can’t quite find the words to express just how fast it all seemed to have gone by. With that said, I bring you one final take. My latest and greatest QB Power Rankings of the 2021-2022 season. Enjoy.

    2021 QB Power Rankings | 1-16

    NOTE: PFN’s 2021 QB Power Rankings include player statistics from the current season. Rank among all starting QBs shown in parentheses. Stats/analytics include: Games played (GP), passing yards per game (YPG), completion percentage, average air yards per completion (CAY), passing touchdown percentage per attempt (TD%), interception percentage per attempt (INT%), rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns.

    1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    Season: 16 GP | 257.2 YPG (11th) | 68.9% (3rd) | 4.9 avg CAY (28th) | 7.0 TD% (2nd) | 0.8 INT% (1st) | 101 rush yards (25th) | 3 rush TDs (T-7th)

    Aaron Rodgers went 14-of-18 for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns in one half of football. That’s a near-flawless two quarters of football. But that’s something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing with Rodgers. Not only has he thrown just 2 interceptions in his last 15 outings, but he’s now thrown no more than 5 interceptions in four straight seasons.

    Coupled with a touchdown rate among the top of the league, Rodgers appears to be just weeks away from winning consecutive MVP awards. Furthermore, should he lead the Packers on a deep postseason run, people may need to consider him among the greatest ever to play the position.

    2) Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Season: 17 GP | 312.7 YPG (1st) | 67.5% (9th) | 5.5 avg CAY (22nd) | 6.0 TD% (7th) | 1.7 INT% (T-7th) | 81 rush yards (28th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

    If Rodgers hadn’t put together such a riveting year, Tom Brady would be in line to win his fourth league MVP award while topping the QB Power Rankings. However, winning his eighth ring is all he’s concerned with. Instead of taking Week 18 off, Brady elected to keep things rolling with a 326-yard, 3-touchdown performance.

    Rather than saving his body for the postseason, Brady chose to work on his quick pass game. Of his 37 throws on Sunday, 22 left his fingertips in under 2.5 seconds. Not only was Brady getting the ball out, but he was highly effective in doing so (21-of-22, 196 yards, and 3 touchdowns). Teams may want to think twice before blitzing him in the playoffs.

    3) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

    Season: 17 GP | 284.6 YPG (5th) | 66.3% (T-16th) | 4.8 avg CAY (29th) | 5.6 TD% (T-10th) | 2.0 INT% (12th) | 381 rush yards (6th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

    Thanks to a wildly unpredictable Week 18, Patrick Mahomes will face the Steelers on Wild Card Weekend. And he should be exuberant to do so. In two career matchups against Pittsburgh, Mahomes has completed just shy of 80% of his passes for nearly 300 yards per game, 9 touchdowns, and no interceptions.

    Despite 2021 feeling like a down year for Mahomes, he tied a career-best completion percentage. And while it seemed as if he was an interception machine, Mahomes’ interception rate was actually lower than in 2018 when he was named league MVP.

    4) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

    Season: 17 GP | 259.2 YPG (10th) | 63.3% (24th) | 6.5 avg CAY (T-4th) | 5.6 TD% (T-10th) | 2.3 INT% (18th) | 763 rush yards (3rd) | 6 rush TDs (3rd)

    After last week’s 3-interception game, Josh Allen bounced back against the Jets with more than 300 total yards and 2 touchdowns. It was the perfect confidence builder with the playoffs on deck — not to mention, he was able to get that sour taste of Week 17 out of his mouth.

    But with the Bills’ defense playing well and the ground game improving, Allen hasn’t needed to be a superhero as of late. However, it’s clear he can be. Is this the year Allen and the Bills represent the AFC in the Super Bowl?

    5) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

    Season: 17 GP | 287.4 YPG (4th) | 67.2% (T-10th) | 6.7 avg CAY (3rd) | 6.8 TD% (3rd) | 2.8 INT% (T-25th) | 43 rush yards (31st) | 0 rush TDs (T-28th)

    Matthew Stafford began Week 18 similarly to how his career in Los Angeles kicked off — on fire. Against the 49ers, Stafford completed 15 of his 16 first-half throws for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. Up 17-3, Stafford and the offense could do no wrong. But like his second half of the 2021 season, the final two quarters of Sunday’s game took a turn.

    From there, Stafford would complete just 6-of-16 for 85 yards, a touchdown, and 2 interceptions. It was Stafford’s third straight multiple-interception game and his fifth of the season. What’s worse is it permitted a come-from-behind victory by LA’s division rival.

    What began as a promising 2021 campaign with MVP aspirations has quickly approached a devastating letdown of a year. With the way the Rams’ defense and receiving corps have performed, anything less than a conference title appearance would be a disappointment.

    6) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

    Season: 14 GP | 270.5 YPG (8th) | 69.2% (2nd) | 5.8 avg CAY (T-14th) | 5.0 TD% (13th) | 2.1 INT% (T-13th) | 423 rush yards (4th) | 5 rush TDs (T-4th)

    Just outside the top five of the QB Power Rankings lies Kyler Murray — another early-season MVP candidate gone awry. But Murray’s decline in the rankings has more to do with missed games due to injury than poor performances on game day. In fact, when healthy, Murray has proven a top player at the position for much of the year.

    On Sunday, Murray took what the Seahawks gave him, which was primarily short stuff, at least early. But we’d witness some proper placement and tight-window throws as the game progressed. Despite the loss, Murray effectively kept plays alive and got his team into scoring position late. He’s strung together three straight turnover-free games as the Cardinals prepare for their first playoff appearance since 2015.

    7) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    Season: 16 GP | 278.1 YPG (7th) | 68.8% (4th) | 5.9 avg CAY (T-12th) | 6.2 TD% (6th) | 1.7 INT% (T-7th) | 146 rush yards (17th) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

    Dak Prescott has had plenty of highs and lows this season. For instance, Prescott eclipsed a 100 passer rating 10 times, throwing 32 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions in such contests. On the other hand, he’s also had four outings in which he produced sub-80 ratings.

    If the Cowboys are going to live up to the heightened expectations they’ve received since Prescott’s return from injury, they’ll need him to put together at least three of his best games in the postseason — which shouldn’t be asking too much. Prescott has already strung together four straight impressive outings to end the year, throwing 13 touchdowns and no interceptions during that span.

    8) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

    Season: 14 GP | 222.4 YPG (18th) | 64.8% (20th) | 6.5 avg CAY (T-4th) | 6.3 TD% (5th) | 1.5 INT% (4th) | 183 rush yards (15th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

    The 2021 season marked many firsts for Russell Wilson, most of which are not good. For the first time in his 10-year career, Wilson will end the season having missed games and failed to lead the Seahawks to a winning record.

    With that said, Wilson wrapped the year on a high note. While he made two costly mistakes that led to 14 of his opponent’s 30 points, Wilson overcame them with incredible evasion skills and perfectly placed teardrops to get the win.

    In the end, Wilson accounted for 4 touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, completing his fourth consecutive season with a passer rating of 100 or better.

    9) Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

    Season: 16 GP | 288.2 YPG (3rd) | 70.4% (1st) | 6.4 avg CAY (T-7th) | 6.5 TD% (4th) | 2.7 INT% (T-23rd) | 118 rush yards (21st) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

    No quarterback ascended the 2021 QB Power Rankings like Joe Burrow. Not that I didn’t see Burrow’s potential as a top-flight passer in this league, but he was still working his way back from a significant knee injury that limited him earlier in the year.

    Therefore, Burrow’s significant rise has come from his more recent performances. And man, has he been balling out these past few weeks! Since Week 14, Burrow has averaged 369 yards per game while completing nearly 76% of his throws for 11 touchdowns and no turnovers. No NFL quarterback has been as productive as Burrow as of late.

    10) Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

    Season: 17 GP | 294.9 YPG (2nd) | 65.9% (18th) | 5.8 avg CAY (T-14th) | 5.7 TD% (9th) | 2.2 INT% (T-16th) | 302 rush yards (9th) | 3 rush TDs (T-7th)

    Was there a better game to end the 2021 regular season than Justin Herbert’s comeback effort with the playoffs on the line? Of course, the second-year star could not complete the come-from-behind victory, but it wasn’t for a lack of big-time throws in dozens of clutch moments.

    The more I watch Herbert in the pocket, the more I see Drew Bledsoe. And like Bledsoe, Herbert may never be the league’s best quarterback — but he’ll always be in the conversation.

    Sure, Herbert has put up big numbers, throwing for 9,350 yards and a near 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio in his first two seasons. However, it’s how he’s shined with an inconsistent front five and run game that’s most impressive — not to mention, he’s already gone through a coaching change.

    11) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

    Season: 16 GP | 263.8 YPG (9th) | 66.3% (T-16th) | 6.4 avg CAY (T-7th) | 5.9 TD% (8th) | 1.2 INT% (2nd) | 115 rush yards (22nd) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

    Kirk Cousins closed out a career year with an efficient 14-of-22, 250-yard, and 3-touchdown day. In four seasons in Minnesota, Cousins has thrown for more than 4,000 yards three times, accumulating 124 touchdown passes vs. 36 interceptions. But everyone will point to his big-game letdowns and propensity for mediocre win/loss records.

    12) Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

    Season: 17 GP | 282.6 YPG (6th) | 68.4% (5th) | 5.6 avg CAY (T-19th) | 3.7 TD% (T-24th) | 2.2 INT% (T-16th) | 108 rush yards (23rd) | 0 rush TDs (T-28th)

    In an epic Week 18 finale, Derek Carr led the Las Vegas Raiders to a win and subsequent playoff berth. Again, Carr was clutch when the offense needed it most. While he benefitted from yet another defensive pass interference call on a deep ball, it was a laser to the left sideline in overtime that all but put the game away.

    With the aforementioned possession, Carr captured his sixth winning drive of 2021. Only Ben Roethlisberger had more. And despite a career-high 14 interceptions on the season, Carr and the Raiders have weathered various storms to keep games and their season alive.

    13) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

    Season: 12 GP | 240.2 YPG (13th) | 64.4% (22nd) | 7.0 avg CAY (2nd) | 4.2 TD% (T-15th) | 3.4 INT% (31st) | 767 rush yards (2nd) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

    There are many reasons why the Baltimore Ravens will be watching the NFL playoffs from home, but none more significant than injuries. Sure, there’ll be scapegoats like coaching and referees, but Lamar Jackson had his back up against the wall all year long.

    His replacements impressed while he was on the mend, but Jackson going down put the franchise in a position they could no longer persevere through. Before constant illness and an ankle injury, Jackson showed improvement in the pocket while leading all quarterbacks in rushing.

    14) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

    Season: 17 GP | 219.6 YPG (20th) | 67.2% (T-10th) | 5.4 avg CAY (T-23rd) | 4.0 TD% (T-21st) | 2.6 INT% (T-21st) | 270 rush yards (11th) | 7 rush TDs (2nd)

    Sunday was Ryan Tannehill’s third straight game with a passer rating of 100 or more after he topped that mark just three times through the first 14 games. He now boasts a 7:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in that span. The Titans get a week to rest and hope they can get bell cow Derrick Henry back on the field.

    Tannehill was exposed when Henry went down, proving he needed balance on offense to thrive. But he was also without his top aerial weapons, which have since returned and simultaneously given him an uptick in production.

    15) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    Season: 17 GP | 233.4 YPG (15th) | 67.0% (13th) | 5.7 avg CAY (T-17th) | 3.6 TD% (T-26th) | 2.1 INT% (T-13th) | 82 rush yards (27th) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

    Statistically speaking, 2021 was as rough a season as Matt Ryan has had in his career. It marked the first time since 2010 that he failed to reach 4,000 passing yards, while Ryan also posted his fewest touchdown total (20) of the last four years.

    According to Spotrac, Ryan stands to count for roughly $48.7 million on the Falcons’ 2022 salary cap. I’m not sure which franchise would take that on for a middle-of-the-road passer, especially one in the twilight of his career. And to make matters worse, the Falcons seem a long way from putting enough pieces around Ryan so he can have success.

    16) Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

    Season: 15 GP | 254.0 YPG (12th) | 68.3% (6th) | 5.9 avg CAY (T-12th) | 4.5 TD% (14th) | 2.7 INT% (T-23rd) | 51 rush yards (29th) | 3 rush TDs (T-7th)

    Rounding out the top half of the QB Power Rankings is Jimmy Garoppolo, who is having his best season since leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance. And after Sunday’s come-from-behind performance against the Rams, I’m not sure there’s a team in the NFC that scares him.

    Before the offense’s scoring drive to end the first half, Garoppolo was 5-of-7 for 29 yards and an interception. From there, he’d complete 18-of-25 for 287 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. His turnaround led his team to overcome a 17-point deficit and pushed the Rams to overtime for an eventual confidence-boosting win before the playoffs.

    Of course, you’re going to get a handful of boneheaded throws from him every week. It’s going to happen. But Garoppolo has proven a steady manager of San Francisco’s offense and a better option than top draft selection Trey Lance — for now, anyway.

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