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
It would be easier to tell you who didn’t throw an interception this past week. That’s because quarterbacks were extremely generous in Week 12, giving defenses something to be thankful for. Of the current top 10 passers, all but four threw at least 1 interception. And two of those players were on byes. In all, 32 throws went the other way. That’s one pick for each quarterback that attempted a throw (Drew Lock and P.J. Walker joined the party).
But not everyone fell victim to the turnover bug. Take Aaron Rodgers, for instance. He climbs into this week’s top spot after yet another masterful outing. There are not many quarterbacks hotter than last year’s MVP. Then there are those who dug themselves some deep holes earlier in the year (i.e., Jimmy Garoppolo and Tua Tagovailoa).
With that said, only two new names joined the top 16 this week. And while both signal-callers are deserving, it was poor performances by Ryan Tannehill and Jalen Hurts that paved the way. Regardless, there’s still plenty of time (six weeks) for the aforementioned passers to get back on track. But for guys like Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield, time appears to be running out.
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 ⇑3
Season: 11 GP | 261.6 YPG (10th) | 66.2% (16th) | 4.9 avg CAY (27th) | 6.2 TD% (5th) | 1.1 INT% (2nd) | 76 rush yards (T-18th) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
It seems so long ago that Rodgers returned a day prior to facing the Seahawks, looking every bit unprepared and fresh off the futon. But these past two weeks, Rodgers is averaging 346 passing yards a game. He’s also totaled 7 touchdowns while committing zero turnovers during that span, boosting him atop this week’s QB Power Rankings — broken toe and all.
2) Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ⇓1
Season: 11 GP | 309.4 YPG (2nd) | 67.6% (8th) | 5.4 avg CAY (T-20th) | 6.6 TD% (T-2nd) | 2.0 INT% (12th) | 53 rush yards (26th) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
It should be no surprise that a Tom Brady-led offense begins to get the run game going as the season progresses. Brady knows what propels teams into and through the rigors of late-season and playoff football. Not to mention his aging arm benefits.
However, I can’t help but notice Brady has thrown 6 of his 9 interceptions since losing Antonio Brown (four games).
3) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Season: 8 GP | 284.5 YPG (7th) | 72.7% (1st) | 6.5 avg CAY (6th) | 6.6 TD% (T-2nd) | 2.7 INT% (23rd) | 147 rush yards (11th) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
Coach Kliff Kingsbury won’t confirm Kyler Murray’s availability, but he’s hopeful the MVP candidate returns this week. And with the same being said for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Murray should hit the field running — if it actually happens.
4) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams ⇓2
Season: 11 GP | 301.5 YPG (3rd) | 66.5% (15th) | 6.6 avg CAY (5th) | 6.8 TD% (1st) | 2.3 INT% (T-16th) | 37 rush yards (30th) | 0 rush TDs (T-27th)
Matthew Stafford slides down the QB Power Rankings after the Rams quarterback threw his third consecutive pick-six during his team’s third consecutive loss. Honestly, Stafford could and should have thrown another pair of such passes in this past week’s game. The big plays are still there, but Stafford has gone from MVP candidate to Mr. Inconsistent in the month of November.
5) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Season: 10 GP | 293.2 YPG (5th) | 69.4% (4th) | 5.7 avg CAY (15th) | 5.9 TD% (7th) | 1.9 INT% (T-9th) | 94 rush yards (15th) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
Dak Prescott’s accuracy issues from last week continued into Thanksgiving Day’s must-win matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders. And while Prescott was able to find his groove to lead the Cowboys back and force overtime, it proved too late.
6) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Season: 11 GP | 279.2 YPG (8th) | 66.8% (T-13th) | 6.8 avg CAY (2nd) | 6.1 TD% (6th) | 2.4 INT% (T-19th) | 383 rush yards (3rd) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
Josh Allen concluded his sixth outing since 2020 with 4+ touchdown passes in front of a prime-time audience. Only Rodgers and Brady have done so more often in that time. The Buffalo Bills’ blowout victory was so impressive that we almost missed that Allen threw 2 more interceptions — No. 7 in four weeks.
7) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Season: 11 GP | 290.9 YPG (6th) | 65.5% (19th) | 4.8 avg CAY (T-28th) | 5.6 TD% (10th) | 2.4 INT% (T-19th) | 238 rush yards (7th) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
Luckily for Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense, they were able to watch the Broncos’ defense in real time ahead of Week 12’s prime-time showdown. Because after seeing stud quarterback Justin Herbert getting chased around, coach Andy Reid is sure to make the proper adjustments. Otherwise, Mahomes is at risk of another letdown outing.
8) Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers ⇑1
Season: 11 GP | 293.6 YPG (4th) | 66.0% (17th) | 5.4 avg CAY (T-20th) | 5.5 TD% (11th) | 2.3 INT% (T-16th) | 243 rush yards (6th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)
Justin Herbert totaled 339 total yards and 2 touchdowns while also tossing 2 interceptions. It was yet another game where Herbert struggled for extended moments in between streaks of fantastic play.
It didn’t help that he’d be pressured 16 times and hit on 10 of them. And with protection lacking, Herbert’s long game was disjointed. He’d end up completing just 3 of 10 passes traveling at least 10 yards.
9) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens ⇓1
Season: 10 GP | 261.2 YPG (11th) | 64.2% (24th) | 7.4 avg CAY (1st) | 4.4 TD% (T-15th) | 3.5 INT% (28th) | 707 rush yards (1st) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)
A season-low total in passing yards (165) and a season-high mark in interceptions (4) usually spell defeat for any starting quarterback. However, the Ravens’ defense pulled through, allowing Jackson countless opportunities to make up for his lack of ball security. And allowing Jackson to stick around hasn’t gone well for any opponent this season.
10) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Season: 11 GP | 273.9 YPG (9th) | 67.7% (7th) | 5.8 avg CAY (T-12th) | 5.7 TD% (9th) | 0.7 INT% (1st) | 69 rush yards (22nd) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
For all of the talk surrounding Kirk Cousins’ excellent season, he sure dropped the ball this past weekend. The Vikings’ offense was a shell of itself in the final two quarters as Cousins threw an uncharacteristic interception. Furthermore, with the game on the line, he appeared discombobulated. Luckily, the Lions are next.
11) Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders ⇑2
Season: 11 GP | 310.4 YPG (1st) | 67.3% (T-10th) | 6.1 avg CAY (T-9th) | 4.1 TD% (21st) | 2.2 INT% (15th) | 73 rush yards (20th) | 0 rush TDs (T-27th)
Whether you believe the Raiders deserved to win Thanksgiving Day’s matchup with the Cowboys or not, Derek Carr put on a show. No referee had a hand in that. And with the Raiders’ offense creating big plays again, Carr rises in the QB Power Rankings.
12) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks ⇓1
Season: 8 GP | 226.4 YPG (22nd) | 64.9% (20th) | 6.7 avg CAY (T-3rd) | 5.4 TD% (12th) | 1.4 INT% (4th) | 118 rush yards (13th) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
A quarterback’s best friend is offensive balance. But on Monday night, the Seahawks’ run game was non-existent. And with absolutely nowhere to run, Russell Wilson was unable to hide. While his stat line was an improvement upon previous weeks, Wilson still looks off.
13) Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals ⇓1
Season: 11 GP | 257.7 YPG (12th) | 69.3% (5th) | 6.1 avg CAY (T-9th) | 6.5 TD% (4th) | 3.5 INT% (T-28th) | 63 rush yards (25th) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
Less is more since Joe Burrow and the Bengals have returned from the bye week. After dropping a game to the Jets and then getting blown out by the Browns, the Bengals clearly returned to the drawing board during their week off. Since then, Burrow’s production has declined, yet his efficiency has grown.
14) Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts ⇑4
Season: 12 GP | 232.5 YPG (18th) | 62.8% (T-25th) | 5.8 avg CAY (T-12th) | 5.3 TD% (13th) | 1.3 INT% (3rd) | 159 rush yards (10th) | 1 rush TD (T-16th)
Carson Wentz put on a show against the defending Super Bowl champions. Too bad there are four quarters in football. After a first half where Wentz nearly topped 200 passing yards and tossed 3 touchdowns, the entire offense struggled to return to form following halftime. Wentz’s 3 turnovers were the catalyst for giving up a two-possession lead.
15) Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers ⇑4
Season: 10 GP | 234.2 YPG (17th) | 66.8% (T-13th) | 6.4 avg CAY (7th) | 4.6 TD% (14th) | 2.1 INT% (T-13th) | 40 rush yards (29th) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
Jimmy Garoppolo makes a considerable jump in the QB Power Rankings while overtaking Ryan Tannehill as the league’s top game manager. The 49ers have found their identity in the last five weeks, winning four games with an unstoppable rushing attack. Amidst that span, Garoppolo has averaged 247.2 passing yards while garnering a 9:2 touchdown-to-turnover ratio. He’s clearly best when asked to do less.
16) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans ⇓2
Season: 12 GP | 231.2 YPG (19th) | 65.8% (18th) | 5.4 avg CAY (T-20th) | 3.6 TD% (T-23rd) | 3.3 INT% (27th) | 196 rush yards (9th) | 5 rush TDs (2nd)
All year long, Ryan Tannehill has benefitted from a hard-nosed rushing attack. He’s one of the very best at turning his back to defenses in the play-action game. But on Sunday, the run attack did him no good. Despite the team’s positive production on the ground, Tannehill was missing key receivers, and the Patriots’ defense made his life miserable because of it.