As goes the quarterback, so goes the team. It's not always true in the NFL, but it usually is. And it makes sense: In a passing league, the passers are like royalty -- the biggest influences on whether a team is destined more for a Super Bowl title or a No. 1 draft pick.
Each year the limits of aerial production are tested, and this season appears to be no exception. It's with that in mind that we come to you with the most important pecking order outside of traditional team power rankings: QB Power Rankings. Consider this your cut-and-dry guide to the best and worst of the NFL's signal-callers -- a weekly 1-to-32 rundown of every starter under center.
How are the QBs ranked? We try to factor in their current standing, their history of success and their future upside, but it's probably simpler to think of the rankings as a general answer to this question: Which QB would we rather have right now, not only for this week but for the rest of 2020?
Now, without further ado, let's get to the Week 12 rankings:
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
|If you need a last-second comeback -- or, frankly, anything -- then there's no one else you'd rather have. It's so easy to take him for granted because he's just so dynamic all the time. He's squarely in the MVP race (again).
Last week: 1
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
|You can hold one of the Packers' three losses against him. Otherwise, this man has been darn near perfect in Year 16. No one should be sleeping on Green Bay in the playoffs, solely because of his effortless arm talent.
Last week: 2
Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
|We all know Russ is closer to the QB who showed up in Week 11's tight win over Arizona than the one who turned the ball over like crazy in the weeks beforehand. His poise remains elite, and he's still worth MVP consideration for his value to Seattle.
Last week: 4
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
|If he has to go head to head with Wilson and the Seahawks a third time this year, look out. This kid is never out of a game, and his dual-threat skill set accentuates an already-explosive offensive group. He might ruin someone's season in the playoffs.
Last week: 3
Deshaun Watson Houston Texans QB
|His production has rarely translated to victories for a transitioning franchise, but Watson is quietly on pace for the best season of his Pro Bowl career. Houston can at least rest easy knowing its QB isn't affected by a wayward infrastructure.
Last week: 6
Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers QB
|Big Ben hasn't been asked to put the Steelers on his back a whole lot in 2020, but he's sure done a heck of a job guiding them to the best start of any team in the league. We're still not talking enough about how efficient he's been this season.
Last week: 5
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
|We're talking about almost the polar opposite of what Miami's trotting out to try to win the East in Tua Tagovailoa, who's been at his best simply managing the offense so far. Allen is more of a take-your-chance guy, but he's got the athleticism to back it up.
Last week: 9
Derek Carr Las Vegas Raiders QB
|No more glossing over this guy. Since 2019, Carr has thrown 40 TDs to just 11 INTs while completing more than 70 percent of his passes and -- get this -- connecting on the deep ball. If his defense helped him out, he'd be challenging for the West title.
Last week: 10
Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
|What is it with Tom on the primetime stage? Brady can still make the throws, and his chemistry with all those big-name WRs is improving. But man, he's too often been totally confused by either basic coverages or basic NFL rules at age 43.
Last week: 7
Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans QB
|One of these weeks, the slow start is going to bite him, but give credit where credit is due: Tannehill continues to step up when he's needed most. The Titans are dogs, and he's now been really solid for over two seasons' worth of starts in Tennessee.
Last week: 11
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
|If you'd have looked at his numbers before the season, you'd have reasonably assumed they belonged to someone like Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson. That's how promising he's been. Just wait until the Chargers improve their supporting staff.
Last week: 12
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
|Jackson had some nice throws in Baltimore's loss to Tennessee, but the bigger picture is still not pretty, at least compared to 2019, when he legitimately scared teams on a weekly basis. Nowadays, he has to be MVP-level to lift the Ravens' offense.
Last week: 8
Teddy Bridgewater Carolina Panthers QB
|There's a pretty big drop-off between Jackson and Bridgewater, but Teddy's contributions in 2020 have been understated. He may never be an elite playmaker, but he's proven more than capable of guiding Carolina to a potential future playoff bid.
Last week: 14
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
|This is the sweet spot for Cousins. When the run game is working, he can light it up on the stat sheet. His passes really can be pretty, too! You just never quite want to rely on Kirk to win you a game on his own, which has long been the case.
Last week: 15
Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons QB
|Each week seems to shed new light on where Ryan is at 35 on a transitioning team. Maybe he's still a franchise guy. Maybe he needs a change of scenery. It's not entirely clear, even if his contract dictates that he'll probably be back in Atlanta.
Last week: 13
Jared Goff Los Angeles Rams QB
|Goff had the makings of a pristine performance in Sunday night's win over the Bucs, but then he had to throw a couple of head-scratchers that almost enabled a Tampa comeback. Best-case scenario, he gets good protection and gives you top-12 stuff.
Last week: 19
Philip Rivers Indianapolis Colts QB
|Old Man Rivers is quietly climbing the board thanks to another solid outing against a good team. Mr. Sidearm is always going to toss a couple of iffy balls, but if he can keep this recent momentum going, he'll have Indy playing spoiler in the postseason.
Last week: 22
Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions QB
|We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Stafford just seems checked out. If he lands elsewhere in 2021, he'll probably prove he belongs in the top 12-15. But like the Lions, he's a total hit-or-miss performer right now. Way too much inconsistency.
Last week: 18
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
|Brian Flores has made it clear he'll ride with the hot hand, which wasn't Tua on Sunday. But to be fair to Tagovailoa, the rookie was under heavy fire against Denver. He still brings some untapped upside to a scrappy wild card contender.
Last week: 17
Cam Newton New England Patriots QB
|Newton's ranking is partly an indictment on the Patriots' supporting cast, which is battered, bruised and just flat-out inferior to most teams. He hasn't been perfect or even game-changing, but considering the circumstances, he's done well.
Last week: 21
Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles QB
|The only reason he's just outside the top 20 is because his resume and proven ceiling make him a higher-upside bet than some of the other bottom-tier guys. Otherwise, yikes. Wentz is playing neither smart nor confident. And his seat is getting warm.
Last week: 20
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
|If Danny Dimes can find a way to lead the Giants to an NFC East title, he'll win over plenty of fans heading into 2021. The question is, can he survive by relying more on his legs than his arm, which has thrown him into tough spots on the regular?
Last week: 23
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns QB
|At least he's been consistent lately. Mayfield is resigned to playing keep-away as the "face" of the Browns' offense, becoming almost solely a hand-off specialist in a run-first attack. But it's working. What happens if they desperately need him, though?
Last week: 24
Mitchell Trubisky Chicago Bears QB
|We're assuming that Matt Nagy will go back to Troobs with Nick Foles still banged up off the bye. But both QBs would slot in here. They're too erratic to depend on, but at least they offer intermittent bursts of athleticism or aggressiveness.
Last week: Unranked
Andy Dalton Dallas Cowboys QB
|If his performance against Minnesota was any indication, Dalton is due to climb the board as he gets more comfortable with the Cowboys' elite weapons. Let's see if he can capitalize on Dallas' momentum and take over the NFC East in Week 12.
Last week: 28
Taysom Hill New Orleans Saints QB
|Jameis Winston might ultimately serve as the primary fill-in for Drew Brees, but since Hill got the call -- and then won big -- in Week 11, he's our guy here. As a dual threat, he's obviously good. But can he consistently make downfield throws?
Last week: Unranked
Drew Lock Denver Broncos QB
|One thing is clear: This young man doesn't lack fight. He's consistently a battler for the Broncos. The issue is, he and his team are almost always backed into a corner, and at least half the time, it's because of mistakes he made early on.
Last week: 29
Alex Smith Washington Football Team QB
|His comeback story is commendable, but let's face it: Smith is an average starter right now, at best. Is it better than what Washington would get from Dwayne Haskins or Kyle Allen? Probably. But he isn't going to win games by himself.
Last week: 27
Sam Darnold New York Jets QB
|Joe Flacco looks set to return to the bench as Darnold finally makes his way back from injury. But at this point, what will Darnold even want to offer a team all but guaranteed to move on from him? He'll be playing for his 2021 trade value.
Last week: Unranked
Nick Mullens San Francisco 49ers QB
|There's a pretty good chance this spot will be occupied by C.J. Beathard at some point, which tells you all you need to know. The Niners are in rough shape, and while it's not all Mullens' fault by any means, he's not a solution, either.
Last week: 32
Ryan Finley Cincinnati Bengals QB
|Finley has an incredibly tall task of trying to keep the Bengals inspired after Cincy lost star rookie Joe Burrow to a serious knee injury. Chances are this is going to look pretty ugly, even with the team's promising crop of receivers.
Last week: Unranked
Jake Luton Jacksonville Jaguars QB
|Gardner Minshew might be back, but it doesn't matter a whole lot. Either way, the Jags are set to finish the year with a bottom-tier QB under center. And maybe Doug Marrone is OK with it, if he believes he'll actually be around for he next one.
Last week: 31