Josh Allen has always had the tools. An arm as pure as Lannister gold. Speed that can be weaponized. The build to endure the kind of hits that result from a running style of play. But through the first year-and-a-half of his NFL career, after the Bills took him seventh overall in the 2018 draft, those tools couldn't overcome his flaws -- the flaws that made him such a polarizing prospect coming out Wyoming, namely his inaccuracy.
Too often, we saw throws like this:
In the first 15 starts of his career -- a span that begins in Week 2 of last year and ends with Week 4 of this year -- Allen completed 55.5 percent of his passes for 2,903 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), 13 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and a 68.8 passer rating. His only redeeming quality was his ability to morph into the Bills' best running back. He racked up 736 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground -- or 49.1 yards and 0.73 touchdowns per game.
But something has changed since the beginning of October. In his past eight games -- an arbitrary starting point, sure, but also a decently sized sample -- Allen is completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,688 yards (7.2 YPA), 13 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 98.7 passer rating. He's also mostly maintained his effectiveness on the ground with 299 yards and five touchdowns -- or 37.4 yards and 0.63 touchdowns per game. Over his past eight games, Allen is legitimately performing like a top-16 quarterback.
That doesn't make him Lamar Jackson or anything, but he's been good enough in that stretch that his numbers are being compared to Lamar Jackson's.
His crowning achievement, at least to this point, came in his first nationally televised game this past week. On Thanksgiving, Allen went into Dallas and dismantled a talented Cowboys team with his arm and legs. It was a performance that displayed all of his strengths.
His touchdown pass demonstrated one aspect of his development. Instead of looking to run after stepping up in the pocket, Allen kept his eyes downfield and bought enough time for Cole Beasley to gain separation.
Later in the second quarter, Allen reminded everyone just how difficult he is to bring down when he converted a fourth-and-short despite fumbling the center-quarterback exchange. How many other quarterbacks would've been able to salvage the play after the fumble?
His touchdown run displayed his speed. This time, pulling the ball down and running was the right choice.
But his best moment came in the first quarter in the shadow of his own end zone when he looked left, came off his initial read, dodged an incoming pass rusher to his right by stepping up, and then, on the run, threaded a dart into Beasley, barely beyond the trailing defender. It's an example of the kind of arm talent that made him such a tantalizing NFL prospect. But most importantly, it's a demonstration of how good Allen can become if he can continue to hone his ball placement.
There aren't many quarterbacks capable of making a throw like this.
So, what's changed? Over at Sharp Football Analysis, Nate Weller of Sports Info Solutions wrote about the Bills' increased usage of no-huddle, 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, and three receivers), and shotgun, and Allen's improvement as a passer off play-action under center. It's worth a read.
But Allen himself deserves credit for turning the corner. He's playing well enough for someone like me -- I never even thought he'd ever look this good, if I'm being candid -- to acknowledge his development. That doesn't mean it's guaranteed to last or continue along this trajectory. It could always stall. He could always revert back to his old ways. Sunday against a Ravens defense allowing 14.9 points per game during their eight-game winning streak will be a far bigger test. But if Allen does continue to play at this level, he gives the Bills both a realistic shot of winning a playoff game and maybe, just maybe, usurping the Patriots in the AFC East.
The Bills can clinch a playoff spot this week if they beat the Ravens (albeit, one huge if) and if the Bills are two games up on the Titans -- the first team OUT heading into this week's slate of games -- in the wild-card race, and their win over the Titans earlier this season essentially grants them a three-game cushion with four to play. They're essentially a lock to make the playoffs.. Even if it doesn't happen this week, it should happen in the near future. At 9-3,
What's more intriguing is that they have a legitimate chance to chase down the Patriots in the AFC East. They're only one game behind New England with one matchup in Week 16 looming. Sure, the Bills will probably lose to the Ravens. But the Patriots have to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday, so there's a very real chance the Bills will remain one game behind the Patriots even after this weekend.
That still seems like a tall order, but regardless of how it shakes out, what's exciting is that it feels like we're going to learn something about Allen during the final month of the season. In his final four games, he'll face the Ravens (fourth in defensive DVOA), Steelers (third), Patriots (first), and Jets (10th). He'll be tested. If he falters, no one needs to write him off. The past eight games are already enough to offer hope of a better future. Allen has ascended. We still don't know how far that ascent can carry him or the Bills -- he still needs to continue to improve as a passer considering he's still only 25th in DYAR, 25th in DVOA, and 24th in total QBR -- but he's already ascended higher than many of us (me) ever expected.
In this week's edition of quarterback power rankings, Allen ranks in the top half of the list. I have no idea if he'll continue to ascend or if this represents his peak. But I'm excited to find out.
Before we move onto the rest of the power rankings, a reminder of the rules:
- One quarterback per team. Whichever quarterback started in Week 13 will be the quarterback selected. That's why you'll see Nick Foles instead of Gardner Minshew this week.
- Recent success matters more than past success. These are power rankings. That's why you won't see Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, at No. 1. We're valuing performances this season more than performances in previous seasons. We're valuing performances last week more than performances four weeks ago. As a result, don't be surprised if the rankings fluctuate in a major way each week.
- But reputation and history do matter, because they're tools we're using to predict future success. All-time greats get a bit of a boost.
- There's more to the rankings than wins and losses. Wins are not a quarterback stat. While we're definitely taking into account wins and losses, it's not the only thing that matters. You'll see a ton of other stats listed -- like DYAR, DVOA, and total QBR. For an explainer on those stats, click right here. Yes, the eye test matters too.
Onto the rankings.
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
| This wasn't the Jackson we've grown used to seeing on a weekly basis. In a monsoon and against the 49ers' defense, Jackson was less of an explosive, dynamic playmaker and more of a game manager -- for lack of a better phrase. But he was still awesome. He didn't make mistakes in a tight game against another Super Bowl contender, and he still totaled more than 100 yards as both a runner and passer. Most importantly, he led the Ravens to a win. Home-field advantage in the AFC is now in their grasp. And Jackson remains the leader for MVP. |
Last week: 1
Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
| The Seahawks rode their running game in a big win over the Vikings, but outside of one fluky (and hilarious) pick-six, Wilson was his normal great self. Tyler Lockett clearly hasn't been himself since the injury, which has hurt Wilson's deep passing game. But Wilson still threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns against Mike Zimmer's defense. He remains behind Jackson and the gap continues to grow, but he also has a decent grip on the No. 2 spot heading into Week 14. |
Last week: 2
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
| Then again, Mahomes is going to have a real shot to usurp Wilson and maybe even Jackson this week. That's because Mahomes gets to face the Patriots in Foxborough this weekend and if he dismantles them, he'll deserve a promotion. Interestingly enough, even though Mahomes is still playing at a high level compared to normal human beings, he's coming off one of the worst two-game stretches of his career. In his past two games, he's completing only 55.7 percent of his passes and averaging only 5.9 yards per attempt. The Chiefs need him to break out of his funk this weekend. |
Last week: 3
Deshaun Watson Houston Texans QB
| That was impressive. Watson already did what Mahomes will seek to do on Sunday: take down the mighty Patriots. Watson pieced together one of his best performances of the season against the league's best defense, throwing for 234 yards and three touchdowns, and even catching a touchdown of his own. |
Last week: 7
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
| It's not that Prescott played poorly against the Bills on Thanksgiving. It's just that he turned the ball over twice, with one of his giveaways turning into a Bills touchdown. Still, it's impossible to ignore Prescott's entire body of work this season. He ranks first in DYAR, third in DVOA, and third in total QBR. If these weren't power rankings that weigh recent performances more than season-long performances, Prescott would be above Watson. |
Last week: 4
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
| It's difficult to assign blame to Cousins for the Vikings' loss to the Seahawks on Monday night. I actually thought he played pretty well and his entire body of work this season is impressive: sixth in both DVOA and DYAR, and 10th in total QBR. |
Last week: 5
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
| It wasn't impressive, but it was enough for the Saints to survive against the Falcons. It's been that kind of season for Brees, who ranks 11th in DVOA, which measures value per play. What's interesting is that Brees is averaging only 6.5 air yards per attempt, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Only Teddy Bridgewater (which makes sense given it's the same offense) and Derek Carr (which makes sense given Carr's aversion to throwing downfield) average fewer air yards per attempt. |
Last week: 6
Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans QB
| Tannehill continues to play a higher level than anyone could've expected. It's not just the stats (eighth in DVOA and first in yards per attempt). He looks just as impressive when you watch him -- check out his deep touchdown that sealed the Titans' win. He's good enough to start somewhere next year. By the sound of it, that might be in Tennessee under the franchise tag. |
Last week: 10
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
| There's a reasonable case to be made that Rodgers is merely good instead of great, but there's no denying how good he played against the terrible Giants. After his 243-yard, four-touchdown day, Rodgers is seventh in DYAR, ninth in DVOA, 14th in total QBR, and ninth in adjusted yards per attempt. Nobody should be saying that Rodgers is bad in the late stages of his career. But the evidence continues to suggest he's merely good with the ability, every so often, to morph back into a great quarterback, as he did on Sunday. |
Last week: 11
Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 49ers QB
| I thought it was an uneven performance against a Ravens defense that is peaking. His touchdown pass on an early fourth down was a bit lucky. If Marcus Peters had played the ball, he would've had an interception. But at the same time, I won't hold that play against Garoppolo, who did the right thing by throwing up a prayer on fourth down. He also lost a fumble in the wet conditions and was erratic with his ball placement at times. But Garoppolo did play almost well enough to almost lead the 49ers past the Ravens. He remains good enough to help the 49ers reach the Super Bowl, but also inconsistent enough that he might just be the reason why the 49ers -- the best team from top to bottom in the NFC -- might fall short come January. |
Last week: 9
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
| In a disgustingly ugly loss to the Rams, Murray -- under siege the entire game -- submitted his worst performance of the season: 19 of 34 for 163 yards (4.8 YPA), no touchdowns, one pick, and a 56.4 passer rating. He did, at least, run for a touchdown, but there's no way to spin this performance positively. But in Murray's defense, I'm not sure there's a quarterback in the world that could've overcome the offensive line's poor play. He was sacked six times. But I've seen enough from Murray this season to feel comfortable saying he's going to be a star eventually. |
Last week: 8
Tom Brady New England Patriots QB
| Brady didn't play well enough against the Texans by any stretch of the imagination to move UP two spots, but this is more about the other quarterbacks positioned in this area of the leaderboard. There's been a lot of not-good quarterback play -- Brady included. But it's not all Brady's fault. It does look like he's lost a bit of arm strength, but the bigger issue might be the Patriots' offensive line and group of pass catchers. They don't have a viable deep threat. And their line isn't really good enough to sustain long drives. I'm not sure how the Patriots are going to get this fixed, but knowing them, they will. |
Last week: 14
Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles QB
| As is the case with Brady, Wentz's play this week doesn't justify a move UP the board. But as is also the case with Brady, the Eagles' offensive issues aren't entirely on Wentz. What's alarming about his season is that he's averaging only 6.5 yards per attempt after averaging 7.6 YPA the past two seasons. |
Last week: 15
Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons QB
| Has anyone found Ryan after he was stiff armed into outer space? |
Last week: 12
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
| Credit to Allen, who is actually showing major signs of development in Year 2 after a shaky rookie season and first half of this season. More progress still needs to be made, but he's improving. |
Last week: 19
Derek Carr Oakland Raiders QB
| Carr's actually played well by his standards this season, but the past two games have been nightmares. In blowout losses to the Jets and Chiefs, Carr completed 61.4 percent of his passes, averaged 6.1 yards per attempt, threw one touchdown and three interceptions, and posted a 62.7 passer rating. The Raiders should find an upgrade at quarterback in the offseason. But given the dearth of quality quarterbacks, don't be surprised if Carr is starting somewhere next season -- maybe even in Las Vegas if he finishes the season strong. His pick-six against the Chiefs was absolutely killer. |
Last week: 13
Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers QB
| Sunday marked an improvement for their aging, declining quarterback, but it still wasn't enough for the Chargers to avoid another late-game calamity against the Broncos. Three quarters through the season, Rivers ranks 13th, 16th, and 26th in DYAR, DVOA, and total QBR, respectively. These might just be the final four games of Rivers' Chargers career. |
Last week: 20
Jared Goff Los Angeles Rams QB
| Now that's how you rebound. Murray didn't receive an ounce of protection in this game, but Goff did. As a result, Goff tore up the Cardinals for 424 yards and two touchdowns -- and he would've done more damage if he'd been allowed to play the entire fourth quarter. I'm not buying the breakout as a long-term fix. Goff has always been capable when he's well protected in a clean pocket. And the Rams won't get to play the Cardinals every week. |
Last week: 24
Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
| The league-leader in interceptions didn't get picked off this week! Progress! He did, however, lose a fumble, but even that fumble only occured because his running back failed to pick up a cornerback blitz. If Winston can cut the turnovers, he'll keep moving on up. But his entire career has taught us that he probably won't ever kick his turnover habit. |
Last week: 23
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns QB
| I'm still not giving up on Mayfield in only his second season, but he's gone from a sure-thing to a bit of an unknown. Ball placement has been an issue through most of the season. From last year to this year, his completion percentage has fallen by 3.8 percent, his touchdown rate is down 1.9 percent, his interception rate is up 0.5 percent, his YPA is down 0.5 yards, and his passer rating has fallen by 13.8 points. |
Last week: 16
Jacoby Brissett Indianapolis Colts QB
| It's beginning to look more and more like the Colts could be in the market for a quarterback in the offseason as Brissett continues to struggle. For so much of this season, the Colts haven't really tried to throw the ball downfield, which has been my biggest criticism of Brissett. His two bad interceptions on Sunday didn't help matters. If you're going to use a conservative style of quarterbacking, you better not give the ball away too. |
Last week: 18
Ryan Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins QB
| The Dolphins got FitzMagic, not FitzTragic, on Sunday. He's somehow led the Dolphins to three more wins than they have any business having. Of course, it helps when he can just chuck the ball up to DeVante Parker -- apparently the league's best receiver now -- and let him do the rest. |
Last week: 25
Sam Darnold New York Jets QB
| Darnold finally came crashing back down to Earth after a brilliant three-game stretch. What's alarming is that his awful performance on Sunday -- 28 of 48 for 239 yards and a 71.4 passer rating -- came against a Bengals defense that is 30th by DVOA. |
Last week: 17
Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals QB
| Dalton provided confirmation in his first start back that he is, in fact, better than Ryan Finley. If not for a couple of dropped passes, his return performance would've been that much better. Most importantly, the Bengals have finally won a football game. He's good enough to start somewhere next year -- just not in Cincinnati with the Bengals in need of a reset. |
Last week: N/A
Mitchell Trubisky Chicago Bears QB
| I've been as critical of Trubisky as anyone else -- I'm a Bears fan, sadly, and Trubisky had the honor of succeeding my first true football love, Jay Cutler -- but he deserves credit for his second-half performance against the Lions. That's the best he's looked all season. He looked so good that I'm starting to get worried he's going to play himself into another year as the Bears' starter. |
Last week: 27
Kyle Allen Carolina Panthers QB
| It's time for the Panthers to see what they have in Will Grier. Allen's played about as well as could have been reasonably expected, but he's not their long-term starter. I have no idea if Grier is, but the Panthers should find out before the offseason. Allen's final play on fourth down with a chance to tie the game was a disaster in quarterbacking. He missed an easy touchdown and proceeded to take a 28-yard sack instead. 28 yards! |
Last week: 21
David Blough Detroit Lions QB
| I did find it kind of funny when everyone with Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones on their Fantasy team panicked once the Lions announced Blough would replace an injured Jeff Driskel as their starting quarterback, as if Driskel was playing well enough to be considered an upgrade over anyone. And then Blough went out there and threw for 280 yards and two scores against the Bears' defense. He was impressive early on, less impressive as the game wore on, but given the circumstances, he should be commended for his performance. The loss wasn't on him. |
Last week: N/A
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
| In no way was Jones good against the Packers. He just can't stop turning the ball over. He's now fumbled 15 times and thrown 11 interceptions. That's a problem. But Jones has also flashed potential. I think he's played better than most expected after the Giants were widely mocked for taking him sixth overall. Unfortunately, he's out this week with an ankle injury. Enter: Eli Manning. |
Last week: 22
Dwayne Haskins Washington Redskins QB
| Make that two straight wins for the rookie, who continues to struggle individually, but given just how bad all of the parts are around him, can you blame him? He needs more time to develop and more help. |
Last week: 28
Drew Lock Denver Broncos QB
| A promising debut for the second-round pick, who displayed an immediate connection with Courtland Sutton. It wasn't all good. His interception was ugly. But I'll admit I expected his debut to go worse than it did and I'm actually excited to see how he progresses in the final quarter of the season. |
Last week: N/A
Devlin Hodges Pittsburgh Steelers QB
| Gotta give it to Hodges: After Mike Tomlin said he was making the switch from Mason Rudolph to Hodges because Hodges hadn't killed the Steelers the way Rudolph did with all of his turnovers, Hodges went out there on Sunday and played turnover-free football right up until the moment the Steelers were trying to hang onto a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter and Hodges decided to throw the ball to the Browns. Luckily, it didn't cost the Steelers, who somehow might be postseason bound even though they've been stuck with two bad quarterbacks. |
Last week: N/A
Nick Foles Jacksonville Jaguars QB
| He never deserved the contract in the first place or to get his starting job back from Gardner Minshew. Now, he hits the bench. After three turnovers in one half, it's a deserved benching. |
Last week: 26