Divisional Round - Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams
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A new NFL season is finally upon us, and right off the bat, with Thursday night's opener between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, we'll get a clinic on the importance of quarterback play. If not for Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, neither the Chiefs nor the Texans would be where they are today, and K.C. especially wouldn't be coming off a long-awaited Super Bowl title.

In a passing league, the passers are royalty. (It's no coincidence that both Mahomes and Watson are fresh off mega-contract agreements, the former making sports history with a 10-year, $500 million deal and Watson just this week cashing in on a four-year extension that'll pay him $39 million per year starting in 2021.)

And so it's hard -- no, impossible -- to forecast the 2020 season without also forecasting the quarterbacks.

It's with that in mind we are proud to introduce this year's QB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that'll be your cut-and-dry guide to the best and the worst of the NFL's signal-callers -- a 1-to-32 rundown of every starter under center.

A couple of notes, before we get started:

  • This isn't strictly a projection of where QBs will rank by the end of 2020, or even where they stand today (Tom Brady, for example, is ahead of both Watson and Carson Wentz, but the latter two are obviously superior long-term talents). Rather, it's a combination of both, taking into consideration a QB's resume, upside and current team situation.
  • After Week 1, the rankings will be more of a true weekly reflection, fluctuating with each game performance. So, for example, if Daniel Jones throws 450 yards on Pittsburgh's defense (unlikely), he'll probably shoot up the board for Week 2.

Love the rankings? Absolutely despise them? Either way, thanks for reading, and be sure to fire your feedback via Twitter.

QB Power Rankings
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
Do you need an explanation? Any team, save for maybe the Ravens , would happily swap their QB for No. 15 here. It feels like we're already taking for granted just how athletic, poised and polished this guy is at 24. With a championship-level supporting cast, all signs point to Mahomes storming back into the MVP conversation.
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
He's still got the playoffs to tackle, and you could argue he still has room to grow as a passer. But there is pretty much no defending him otherwise. If Jackson is on the field, he's an immediate threat to score. Easily the most explosive dual-threat QB of his time.
Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
He's been doing his thing for a long time now, but Wilson is as nimble at 31 as he was at 26. We can roll our eyes at Seattle's run-first approach all day, but the fact is he's still thrown at least 30 TDs in four of the last five seasons. Pencil him in for another 30 in 2020, with the Seahawks touting a rock-solid receiving corps.
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
Now in his 40s, Brees might seem like a risky top-five placement after missing five games due to injury in 2019, but we can't overlook the numbers: He's completed more than 70 percent of his throws in three straight years and is poised to contend for an MVP operating a loaded attack ( Alvin Kamara , Michael Thomas , Emmanuel Sanders ) this year.
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
We've seen Dak crumble without his weapons before, but the trajectory since 2018 has been as promising as that of any QB. He may never boast the acrobatic wizardry of a Mahomes or Jackson, but Prescott is a smart, accurate and sturdy presence in the pocket. He's also got the benefit of a monster WR corps in 2020.
Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
Old Man River has been written off in some corners for an uninspiring finale in New England, but he's still one of the game's most dedicated pocket technicians. Consider that, over the last five years, from ages 38-42, Brady has totaled 149 TDs, just 36 INTs and 280 yards per game. Now consider that he's in a much better, more explosive offense in Tampa.
Deshaun Watson Houston Texans QB
Handsomely (and rightfully) paid, Watson is more privy to bad games than you'd think, but when he's on, he can go tit-for-tat with anyone. You have to wonder whether his ceiling would be higher if Houston's roster were managed differently.
Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles QB
He's finished three straight seasons on the sidelines but -- believe it or not -- has also started all 16 games twice. In other words, yes, the injuries are a concern, but they're not the end-all, be-all description of a guy who's thrown 81 TDs and just 21 INTs since 2017. The Eagles could use a touch more stability from No. 11, but he's physically capable of top-five feats.
Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons QB
The interception bug was back in 2019, but you pretty much always know what you're going to get with Ryan. He's also had an on-and-off leap into MVP-caliber numbers as of late, and 2020 would mark an "on" year. With his receivers, it's possible.
Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions QB
The opinions are often varied when it comes to Stafford, who's never won a playoff game and is fresh off a back fracture that cost him half the 2019 season. But if you need a guy who can sling it, he's your guy. On an MVP pace prior to his injury, Stafford has the arm and guts to win any shootout, and this year he's got an underrated offense around him.
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
Like Brady, he's been shrugged off as "old news" by a good handful just because of 2019, when he had few answers in some big games but still tossed 26 TDs compared to just four INTs. Is he still the Unstoppable A-Rod of years past? Not necessarily. But let's not kid ourselves. Even with an underwhelming WR corps, most teams would kill to have him running the show.
Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers QB
Everything is riding on his surgically repaired elbow, but all signs point to a big rebound for Big Ben. He's never been immune to a sloppy day or a string of turnovers, but rested and recharged, there's little reason he won't return to Pro Bowl form.
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
This is a lofty projection for a second-year starter with plenty of growing to do. (If Murray wants to last 16 games, he has to be more decisive not only with his throws but moving in the pocket.) But the intangibles and raw dual-threat skills are undeniable. Having Kenyan Drake , DeAndre Hopkins , Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk helps.
Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 49ers QB
He's not a perfect signal-caller, and if we're being honest, even at 28, he's still a young signal-caller in terms of full-time experience. Imagine, though, how our perception would be different had San Francisco held on to win the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, Jimmy G is still an ideal play-action operator for Kyle Shanahan's attack.
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
A highly efficient gamer with an underrated deep ball off the play action, Cousins thrives as part of Minnesota's run-first approach. The underlying concern: When things break down, or when the season's on the line, will he ever be the showstopper to save the day? The Vikings ' perennial O-line issues don't help.
Philip Rivers Indianapolis Colts QB
Is Rivers, at 38, the guy who threw 20 INTs on a 5-11 Chargers team in 2019, or the guy who threw 32 TDs on a 12-4 Chargers team the year prior? Probably somewhere in between. Behind a rock-solid Indy front, he's due for a spike in production.
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
Allen's No. 17 placement is fitting, considering he's still a polarizing player entering Year three. Is he the next star QB breakout? Is he doomed to over-rely on his own athleticism? He's taken strides, but he remains a boom-or-bust play-maker.
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns QB
The former No. 1 overall pick endured lots of justified criticism for a 2019 backslide that saw the one-time preseason MVP candidate devolve into backyard play under Freddie Kitchens. He's still got the arm and moxie to make Cleveland proud, though, and the supporting cast -- coupled with new coach Kevin Stefanski -- promise big things in 2020.
Jared Goff Los Angeles Rams QB
It's hard to completely write him off, mostly because Sean McVay has milked elite production from him on multiple occasions. But Goff has shown us repeatedly he'll waffle under pressure behind Los Angeles' shaky O-line. The scheme and protection better be mapped out to a tee if the Rams want him to make good on their investment.
Derek Carr Las Vegas Raiders QB
Jon Gruden has clung to his guy despite annual forecasts of change, but Carr probably is what he is: A middle-of-the-road starter who operates best within a run-first, quick-strike attack. That said, if the Raiders ' new toys at WR truly show out, perhaps his numbers will finally match his commitment to being "the guy" in Vegas.
Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans QB
Taking over for Marcus Mariota in 2019 proved he's still got plenty of juice in the tank, but are we to completely ignore the seven years of work he logged in Miami? Tennessee will keep Derrick Henry as the focus, but that's because they kind of have to.
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
Rookies rarely dominate in Year one, even with Andrew Luck-level hype. Burrow should at least bring enough poise and swagger to a team used to mediocrity, however, to raise eyebrows early on.
Drew Lock Denver Broncos QB
You can't buy too much into a five-game sample size, but Lock looked surprisingly comfortable running Denver's offense down the stretch as a rookie. If somehow the Broncos OL can hold up, he's got the weapons to make a big leap in 2020.
Cam Newton New England Patriots QB
The league is better when Cam Newton is having fun, and he'll no doubt be motivated to show off in his new digs, with Josh McDaniels getting creative to use the QB's legs. It's tough to slot him much higher, though, after repeat injury-riddled seasons and, more so, the fact he hasn't even been a consistently great passer since ... 2015?
Tyrod Taylor Los Angeles Chargers QB
It's impossible to get carried away with the idea of a Taylor resurgence after how poorly his forgotten Browns stint unfolded, but as a conservative and well-liked leader, you could do a lot worse picking a vet to run the Chargers' talented offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins QB
You know exactly what you're getting with the 37-year-old: A lot of spunk, a big potential for improbable plays (and victories), and probably even more potential for game-altering turnovers. He's a surefire mixed bag, but a fun one, at least.
Teddy Bridgewater Carolina Panthers QB
You could certainly make a case for Teddy over both Taylor and Fitzpatrick. He's a likable leader who made a seamless transition to starter as Brees' injury replacement in New Orleans. Still, what's his ceiling? He remains incredibly conservative.
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
There's a legitimate case to be made for Jones as this year's second-year breakout. We don't talk enough about how polished he was, in some areas, as a rookie. And yet, behind that Giants OL, can we trust he'll even get a chance to break the fumbling habit?
Gardner Minshew Jacksonville Jaguars QB
Going strictly off the numbers, Minshew should be in the same conversation as Lock, Jones and Murray as far as second-year QBs with the potential to go off. The only problem: He likes to hold onto the ball, and he plays for a team in total disarray.
Dwayne Haskins Washington Football Team QB
Things should be better in 2020, with Ron Rivera in town and guys like Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin ready to lighten his load. How much better can they really be, though?
Sam Darnold New York Jets QB
If you believe he's still capable of top-15 production, that's fine. But don't you dare try to sell us on his comeback playing under Adam Gase and for an organization clearly headed for a 2021 rebuild.
Mitchell Trubisky Chicago Bears QB
Trubisky probably isn't as bad as his fiercest critics suggest, but there's a reason Chicago spent money and draft capital to challenge his job in a contract year. When can you ever count on him to single-handedly win you a game?