Quarterbacks. We love them. We debate them. And we do it because they're the most important ingredient in a championship recipe. Not that it's impossible to win without an elite signal-caller, but history tells us that it's much easier otherwise. So we're keeping tabs on all 32 starters throughout the 2023 season.
Which ones are the best of the best? Which ones are decidedly not? All QBs are partly a product of their respective situations, but this is how we'd sort today's signal-callers right now. These power rankings, unlike offseason QB lists, are focused more on current standing than the bigger picture in an effort to tell the story of each QB's respective rise and fall.
Without further ado, the latest pecking order:
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
|Yes, he's a rookie, but is anyone playing smarter, more composed, more clutch football right now? Stroud can push the ball anywhere he pleases, and that's reason No. 1 the Texans are relevant. Only Brock Purdy and Tua Tagovailoa are averaging more yards per throw, and those guys are surrounded by all-star weapons. (+3)
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
|It's a testament to Hurts' growth that even amid a stark regression in turnovers, the Eagles QB remains one of the NFL's most level-headed and reliable scorers. He's got 22 TDs in nine games, second among all starters, and he's virtually undeniable as a situational runner. Philly goes as he goes, and he never blinks.
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
|It's been more of a mercurial year for Mahomes, who's on pace to set a career high in picks with eight through nine games, but we take for granted how often he also gets the Chiefs out of jams. Besides his 17 TDs through the air, tied for third-most among QBs, he's been the most efficient scrambler of any passer with more than 200 rushing yards. (+2)
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
|The Ravens have an issue finishing games, and Jackson isn't totally blameless there. But his massive leap in efficiency has often elevated those around him. His athleticism, leading to 33 first-down runs, also cannot be overstated. (-3)
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
|Talk about an impossible assessment. Allen is simultaneously a dream and a nightmare for a Bills contender that can't get out of its own way. His heroic dual-threat approach often saves their imbalanced approach; you don't score 26 TDs in 10 games by accident. But that same go-for-broke mentality has him easily leading the NFL in turnovers, with 14. (-2)
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
|We've come to the point where there just might be two different versions of Tua, at least as the Dolphins are currently constructed: the masterful precision passer who feeds his deep threats to beat up on the inferior, and the unproven freestyler who's yet to control the ball when it counts against pressure from true contenders. (+1)
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
|If you're looking for a sneaky MVP candidate, consider this man, who's been on an absolute tear since the embarrassing 49ers loss in early October. Prescott's always been solid as a true pocket passer who takes what the defense gives, but his touch has been especially surgical the last four weeks, in which he's thrown 12 TDs to just two picks. (+1)
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
|He gave everyone a scare with a string of costly late-game turnovers during the 49ers' three-game losing streak, but the kid still plays like a 10-year vet, and it showed in a big rebound vs. the Jaguars. He remains a Grade-A point guard for Kyle Shanahan, now up to 31 TDs, nine picks and a 110+ rating in his first 17 starts, including playoffs. (+1)
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
|We know Burrow has the "it" factor when the games matter most, but his bid to outduel C.J. Stroud in Week 10 backfired late, with a forced throw sealing a defeat. Still, he's thrown seven of his 14 TD passes in the last three games alone. (-3)
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
|After 58 career games, he's up to 111 TD passes against just 40 picks. And yet, week after week, he and the rest of his team struggle to hit their stride at the same time. When he balls out, the Chargers defense does not, and vice-versa.
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
|Some argued Goff was at his career-best in 2022, his second season in Detroit. He's been even better in 2023, spreading the ball around to help the Lions march toward a playoff run. Only the Dolphins have gained more yardage. (+1)
Deshaun Watson Cleveland Browns QB
|When he's actually stayed on the field, Watson has flashed some of that vintage Texans poise, guiding a comeback against the Ravens in Week 10. Certainly he's taking strides climbing the pocket and slinging it downfield. But availability is a weekly question, as he's now battled shoulder and ankle injuries while moving in and out of the lineup. (+3)
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
|His numbers still aren't as prolific as you might like on a weekly basis, but Wilson seems to be feeling the pocket much better than he ever did during his listless 2022 debut in Denver. Monday's upset of the Bills was a prime example, as he used his legs to set up a jaw-dropping TD to Courtland Sutton and orchestrate a walk-off field goal.
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
|We know he's resilient, and we know he can fire it to anywhere on the field. But his operation of the Jags offense, perhaps in tandem with curious play-calling, has been much more horizontal than vertical in an uneven season. (-3)
Joshua Dobbs Minnesota Vikings QB
|Everyone's new favorite player in Minnesota, Dobbs is benefiting from Brian Flores' persistent defense. But man does he bring juice as Kevin O'Connell's emergency signal-caller, not only with timely touch but underrated speed. Not a single QB has more games with at least 40 rushing yards this year, and he's already produced five TDs since arriving. (+7)
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
|With an occasionally underwhelming setup and staff, Mayfield continues to keep the Bucs in the mix atop an ugly NFC South. He may not be the most efficient of passers, but he's certainly controlling the ball better than he often does. (-2)
Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB
|Are we looking at the next Matthew Stafford here? Big arm, gutsy approach, plenty of giveaways, but also plenty of exciting downfield shots that pan out. Howell can't save the Commanders by himself, but if this test run is any indication, Washington may have found a steal in the fifth round. Let's see if/how the Commanders build around him down the road. (+1)
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
|The whistle-to-whistle consistency hasn't been there for Smith this year; his 2022 production will almost certainly go down as the anomaly. But he's also got a knack for feisty finishes in close games. That's keeping Seattle alive. (+2)
Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB
|After a four-game absence due to a thumb injury, Fields could be back. But to what degree? He's been truly boom or bust when healthy, with 12 TDs in less than six full games but a ton of absorbed sacks and late-game giveaways.
Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB
|After a Week 9 absence and Week 10 bye, the aging gunslinger is on track to return from injury. He's been hit or miss behind the Rams O-line when active, struggling to find the end zone despite a reliable pass-catching group. (-3)
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
|So far, so good. Murray made his 2023 debut in Week 10 and looked fresh coming off the ACL rehab, showcasing his signature elusiveness to guide a comeback. But as has often been the case, he needs more consistency through the air.
Derek Carr New Orleans Saints QB
|Banged up in the Saints' last outing, Carr was forced out of action for the second time this year. He should be OK for Week 12, but his exit teased a more aggressive downfield approach with Jameis Winston. His YPA (6.7) ranks 24th. (-6)
Gardner Minshew Indianapolis Colts QB
|There's not a lot to say here except that the Colts' only real path to winning with Minshew, a defined backup, is winning ugly. He's got spunk, but his tendency to escape the pocket, looking to create on the move, leads to mixed results.
Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB
|With Ryan Tannehill saddled to the bench, Levis has been forced to make do behind the same battered O-line that expedited Tannehill's fall from grace. He's a fun athlete with obvious grit, but he needs more help to move the ball. (-5)
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
|The Love many expected to see has started to shine through in recent weeks; his downfield arm talent nearly allowed Green Bay to stun the Steelers in Week 10. But the Packers' makeshift supporting cast can't afford his risk-taking.
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
|Mike Tomlin keeps defending Pickett for his fourth-quarter prowess, even though the first 45 minutes tend to be a slog through the air. Where does that leave us? Big-picture-wise, there are legit concerns about whether Pittsburgh feels the need to mask Pickett rather than unleash him. But for now, if the wins keep rolling in, maybe it's good enough.
Taylor Heinicke Atlanta Falcons QB
|Whether it's he or Desmond Ridder in the lineup, Arthur Smith can't seem to get the Falcons rolling as a passing offense. But that's no real surprise; both Ridder and Heinicke register as better-suited coming off the bench. (-3)
Aidan O'Connell Las Vegas Raiders QB
|The steadiness isn't there yet, but this is a fourth-round rookie thrust into a full-time gig under an interim coach. What more do we expect? He's at least shown a willingness to air it out and get Davante Adams involved. (-1)
Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB
|The speed at which Young operates just won't cut it when he's dealing with such underwhelming offensive infrastructure. Can he adapt to become more passable than detrimental? Sure. But maybe not in Week 11 against the Cowboys. (+1)
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
|Benched yet again during the Patriots' deflating loss to the Colts in Germany, Jones now appears close to permanent exile under Bill Belichick. But even if it's Bailey Zappe here, the issue is the same: New England can't move the ball. (-2)
Zach Wilson New York Jets QB
|Another week, same conversation: Wilson has the talent to zip the ball once or twice in a game, but few QBs are moving the chains or scoring points with less frequency. There will be no celebration of Aaron Rodgers' historic return from injury if this same version of Wilson continues to be trotted out for one close loss after another.
Tommy DeVito New York Giants QB
|Let's just say it's not his fault. This is an undrafted rookie being asked to pay for, let alone overcome, the shortcomings of basically the entire organization. With little protection and defensive help, he's at least gaining NFL experience.