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
Every NFL week is anyone’s guess at this point. Nothing makes sense anymore. Apparently, the New York Jets are good now. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But to say I was impressed with their win over the Cincinnati Bengals would be an understatement.
Outside of the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, Week 8 was headlined by more quarterback injuries and replacement passers answering the call. For instance, the New Orleans Saints found a way to defeat the defending Super Bowl champions with Jameis Winston lost for the year and Taysom Hill still nursing a concussion.
Moreover, Sam Darnold’s early exit didn’t inhibit his team from claiming victory. Most impressive was Cooper Rush’s Sunday night performance in lieu of Dak Prescott. Because of it, Rush has already cemented himself onto the Dallas Cowboys’ list of legends.
While it’s all a bit premature, it’ll be interesting to see how backups like Mike White and Trevor Siemian handle Week 9. Furthermore, how does the influx of new faces under center affect the QB Power Rankings moving forward?
2021 QB Power Rankings | 1-16
NOTE: PFN’s QB Power Rankings of 2021 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) Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season: 8 GP | 331.3 YPG (1st) | 67.3% (12th) | 5.6 avg CAY (T-17th) | 7.3 TD% (4th) | 1.5 INT% (T-7th) | 39 rush yards (24th) | 1 rush TD (T-13th)
While Sunday’s 3-turnover outing was far from what we’ve come to expect from Tom Brady, he still completed 70% of his passes for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns. Despite the up-and-down week, Brady’s grip atop the QB Power Rankings holds, though slightly weakened.
2) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams ⇑1
Season: 8 GP | 309.6 YPG (3rd) | 68.9% (6th) | 7.3 avg CAY (2nd) | 8.1 TD% (T-1st) | 1.5 INT% (T-7th) | 24 rush yards (28th) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
Matthew Stafford — in three quarters of football — threw for more than 300 yards and 3 scores. It was his 27th game in which he mirrored such numbers. Stafford has now completed four games this season with a quarterback rating of 125 or better. If it weren’t for playing the Houston Texans last week, he’d leap over the G.O.A.T. himself.
3) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals ⇓1
Season: 8 GP | 284.5 YPG (8th) | 72.7% (3rd) | 6.5 avg CAY (6th) | 6.6 TD% (T-5th) | 2.7 INT% (T-22nd) | 147 rush yards (10th) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
It’s tough to judge Kyler Murray too much for his Thursday night performance. First of all, I’m not an advocate for making football players take part in contests with little rest and/or preparation. Secondly, if we’re going to do it anyway, why are we doing it to two of the best in the NFC?
Tirade aside, Murray struggled. Still, he engineered a 94-yard drive as the clock dwindled. But a miscommunication (probably because of the short week) put a cap on his late-game heroics.
4) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Season: 7 GP | 277.6 YPG (11th) | 64.9% (22nd) | 8.5 avg CAY (1st) | 4.4 TD% (18th) | 2.2 INT% (T-19th) | 480 rush yards (1st) | 2 rush TDs (T-7th)
The last time we watched Lamar Jackson play football, it didn’t end so well. But there’s no denying his top-shelf play this season. Furthermore, he’s proven better from the pocket and showing grit as he and his offense overcome adversity. Jackson is about to explode out of the bye week. Mark my words.
5) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Season: 8 GP | 236.8 YPG (25th) | 67.1% (13th) | 4.9 avg CAY (28th) | 6.6 TD% (T-5th) | 1.2 INT% (6th) | 47 rush yards (21st) | 2 rush TDs (T-7th)
On a short week and without All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers was content to watch his backfield duo ground out a marquee win. However, it wasn’t by accident that Rodgers found it within himself to lead a successful offensive charge minus his favorite target. With HC Matt LaFleur at his side, Rodgers is a perfect 7-0 when Adams doesn’t suit up.
6) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Season: 6 GP | 302.2 YPG (5th) | 73.1% (2nd) | 6.1 avg CAY (11th) | 7.4 TD% (3rd) | 1.9 INT% (T-13th) | 70 rush yards (T-17th) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
While the jury is still out on whether Dak Prescott returns under center this Sunday, I have to believe he does. If he doesn’t, I will be pushing him down the QB Power Rankings. Sure, he’s a top-six talent, but we all know the most important ability is availability.
7) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills ⇑1
Season: 7 GP | 281.7 YPG (9th) | 65.4% (20th) | 6.7 avg CAY (T-4th) | 6.3 TD% (7th) | 1.1 INT% (T-3rd) | 269 rush yards (3rd) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
After another 300-yard and 3-score performance, Josh Allen finds himself clawing back into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. Sunday’s home game against the Miami Dolphins proved closer than we all envisioned. But after giving his offense a mouthful on the sideline — and probably at halftime — Allen and Co. drowned the Fins for a franchise-record seventh straight time.
8) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs ⇓1
Season: 8 GP | 296.0 YPG (6th) | 66.5% (17th) | 5.1 avg CAY (T-25th) | 5.8 TD% (8th) | 3.1 INT% (25th) | 229 rush yards (7th) | 1 rush TD (T-13th)
Sure, the Kansas City Chiefs won this past weekend. But Patrick Mahomes and that offense are still trying to figure things out. Mahomes seems hell-bent on getting his unit back into form, but the old tricks are not working any longer. He’s forcing passes into coverage, looking for home runs too often, and turning the ball over on a consistent basis. I keep waiting for him to right the ship, but it hasn’t happened yet.
9) Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Season: 7 GP | 324.1 YPG (2nd) | 67.7% (11th) | 6.7 avg CAY (T-4th) | 4.5 TD% (T-16th) | 1.9 INT% (T-13th) | 29 rush yards (T-26th) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
The hits just keep coming for Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders. With that said, he’s ranked this high because he’s shown resolve, and impressively, battled back. But with the latest news regarding wideout Henry Ruggs III, one has to wonder if he’s got it in him to keep everyone on track, yet again.
10) Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals ⇑1
Season: 8 GP | 276.9 YPG (12th) | 67.9% (10th) | 6.8 avg CAY (3rd) | 8.1 TD% (T-1st) | 3.7 INT% (29th) | 43 rush yards (22nd) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
Sure, the New York Jets shocked the league by defeating the up-and-coming Cincinnati Bengals. But if you didn’t watch the game, you wouldn’t have seen the opportunity lost by Joe Burrow and the offense. Burrow, who threw for 259 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception, should have had 4 scores through the air. Rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s dropped pass in the end zone proved the difference between winning and losing.
11) Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers ⇓1
Season: 7 GP | 284.9 YPG (7th) | 63.7% (26th) | 5.7 avg CAY (T-15th) | 5.7 TD% (9th) | 2.1 INT% (T-17th) | 81 rush yards (13th) | 1 rush TD (T-13th)
Last week, I said if Justin Herbert plays rough against the New England Patriots defense again, I’m moving him down the QB Power Rankings. And here we are. Herbert has now played below average in back-to-back weeks. But no games have gone worse for the young gun than his two starts against coach Bill Belichick.
12) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans ⇑2
Season: 8 GP | 250.3 YPG (15th) | 65.6% (18th) | 5.9 avg CAY (13th) | 3.8 TD% (21st) | 2.7 INT% (T-22nd) | 165 rush yards (9th) | 3 rush TDs (T-3rd)
While Derrick Henry was bottled up this past week, Ryan Tannehill completed 23 of 33 for 265 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions — overcoming an early 14-0 deficit and gaining a huge victory in the process. With Henry set to miss significant time, we shall see how effective Tannehill can be for the surging Titans.
13) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings ⇓1
Season: 7 GP | 279.0 YPG (10th) | 69.0% (5th) | 5.4 avg CAY (T-19th) | 5.1 TD% (T-13th) | 0.7 INT% (2nd) | 75 rush yards (16th) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
Classic Kirk Cousins. When the lights are brightest, he falters. That’s been his reputation since taking over in Washington. Not only was it a pivotal game in prime time, but the literal pressure he felt from Dallas’ defense was enough to throw him off his game. Cousins, with the fifth-ranked offense, managed just 16 points and fewer than 200 yards passing. He was 6 of 15 for 29 yards with defenders bearing down on him.
14) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ⇓1
Season: 7 GP | 259.1 YPG (13th) | 68.6% (7th) | 5.3 avg CAY (23rd) | 4.8 TD% (15th) | 2.2 INT% (T-19th) | 29 rush yards (T-26th) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
A week removed from one of his better performances of 2021, Matt Ryan struggled to muster even 150 passing yards as the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t beat a Sam Darnold-led Panthers team. After registering a combined 107 passer rating in the four games leading up to Sunday, Ryan was pressed into an appalling 67.8 rating on the afternoon.
15) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ⇑2
Season: 7 GP | 254.4 YPG (14th) | 65.1% (T-21st) | 4.4 avg CAY (T-26th) | 3.0 TD% (26th) | 1.5 INT% (T-7th) | 6 rush yards (30th) | 0 rush TDs (T-20th)
Experience trumped youth in the infamous Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns rivalry match. Ben Roethlisberger is now 12-5 coming off a bye week with a 24-2-1 career record against the Browns.
16) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns ⇓1
Season: 7 GP | 242.7 YPG (20th) | 66.7% (16th) | 5.7 avg CAY (T-15th) | 2.9 TD% (28th) | 1.5 INT% (T-7th) | 80 rush yards (14th) | 1 rush TD (T-13th)
After the way this season began for Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, it’s difficult to comprehend how they’ve managed to win just four games in eight weeks. We can talk about injuries until we’re blue in the face, but there’s something more significant looming. Mayfield was selected first overall as the supposed franchise passer to bring Cleveland out of perennial despair. But without their two-headed rushing attack, the offense struggles.