Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady gave us a shootout for the ages, showing us that the king is unbowed, while the challenger is coming quickly.
This week, and every Tuesday of the season, the rankings are based with a combination of current play and performance of an indicator of what is to come.
Jim Druckenmiller Division
32. Josh Allen (LW: 32)
Allen has been terrible, even factoring in the complete lack of talent around him. At some point, Allen is deserving of some blame for his stat line, which includes a 54 percent completion rate, two touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also going for 5.99 yards per attempt, which ranks 33rd of 34 qualified quarterbacks.
31. Brock Osweiler (LW: NA)
Brocktober! Yes, Osweiler was actually solid against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, throwing for 380 yards, three touchdowns and, yes, two interceptions in an overtime win. However, Osweiler’s history tells us that this is going to be the exception and not the rule moving forward. Interesting to see if Ryan Tannehill starts this Sunday.
30. Blake Bortles (LW: 30)
Bortles deserves to be in this class. Forget about the passing yardage, because much of it has come in garbage time or against lousy teams. Outside of one terrific performance in Week 2 against the Patriots, Bortles has been bad throughout the season, making Jacksonville’s confidence in him this offseason appear to be a costly error.
Kent Graham Division
29. C.J. Beathard (LW: 29)
Beathard has shown something as a backup for the 49ers. He’s capable of winning some games and he can even play well within Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s not higher on the list because he simply doesn’t bring any upside.
28. Josh Rosen (LW: 31)
Rosen is showing some moxie in Arizona. Against the Vikings, the Cardinals lost but watched as their rookie quarterback went 21-of-31 while playing with an overwhelmed offensive line. Look, things aren’t going to be pretty for Rosen this season statistically, but he’s shown some terrific tools.
27. Case Keenum (LW: 28)
Here’s all you need to know about the Keenum Experience. After playing horribly (both he and the Broncos collectively) in the first half, backup quarterback Chad Kelly came out for the final play of the second quarter to take a kneel down while Keenum was getting evaluated for a potential concussion. The crowd went insane, getting up on its feet. Enough said.
26. Marcus Mariota (LW: 25)
Mariota was sacked more times (11) against the Ravens than he hit completions (10). At some point, the label of bust is going to apply here, and it’s fair to say we’ve reached that juncture. Mariota does nothing particularly well outside of protect the ball within the red zone.
Tommy Maddox Division
25. Sam Darnold (LW: 27)
Darnold has played well two weeks in a row, throwing for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Colts after launching three scoring strikes against Denver the week prior. The rookie out of USC still needs to be more accurate, but we’re getting somewhere with the youngest starting quarterback in league history.
24. Eli Manning (LW: 21)
Good God, throw the damn ball more than three yards in the air.
23. Derek Carr (LW: 19)
22. Jameis Winston (LW: 26)
Winston made his first start of 2018 and played well, although the turnovers continue to be a problem. In Atlanta, Winston went for 395 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions, doing just enough to keep the game within reach but not quite finishing the deal.
21. Dak Prescott (LW: 22)
Prescott didn’t throw for 200 yards (again) but it didn’t matter, because the Cowboys rolled to a 40-point performance in their blowout victory over Jacksonville. Dallas doesn’t have much talent to speak of in the passing game, so if Prescott manages the game, he’s doing his job with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and a promising defense on his side.
Lynn Dickey Division
20. Baker Mayfield (LW: 17)
Mayfield didn’t get a ton of help from his receivers, who are weekly leaders in dropped passes. Still, there are times when the rookie looks tentative and uneasy in the pocket, something that’s expected but also holding him back a bit. Let’s see what he can do against the lousy Buccaneers defense.
19. Mitchell Trubisky (LW: 23)
Trubisky played well in Miami, despite the underwhelming loss . After throwing six touchdowns against Tampa Bay before the bye week, Trubisky went for 316 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Trubisky has his limitations, but he’s played much better of late.
18. Joe Flacco (LW: 20)
Flacco is never going to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. There are too many checkdowns and too many inaccurate throws, but he ranks eighth in yardage (1,788) with nine touchdowns. Considering how good Baltimore is defensively, that’ll play.
17. Alex Smith (LW: 18)
Smith continues to build on his brand. The Redskins were able to beat a quality Panthers team on Sunday at FedEx Field, and Smith went for a pair of touchdowns while only garnering 163 yards on 36 attempts. But, guess what? No turnovers.
John Brodie Division
16. Andy Dalton (LW: 16)
Dalton is the epitome of an average quarterback. He’ll have games that are fantastic and then back them up with a rough outing. On Sunday, Dalton was solid, executing a would-be game-winning drive if not for Pittsburgh’s comeback in the final seconds. Dalton now gets a shot to redeem himself in primetime against the Chiefs at Arrowhead.
15. Matthew Stafford (LW: 13)
Is Stafford ever going to take that final step into being an elite quarterback, or will he always be in the Hall of Very Good? The Lions are 2-2 and the NFC North is up for the taking, giving Stafford a chance to make a nice run towards the postseason and perhaps his first win in the second season.
14. Cam Newton (LW: 15)
Newton isn’t going to bowl you over with numbers, but watch the game and it’s easy to see his value. Nobody makes more plays with his athletic abilities than Newton, along with being one of the best deep-ball throwers in the sport.
13. Deshaun Watson (LW: 14)
Watson continues to play behind the worst offensive line in football, and yet he’s thrown for 1,798 yards on 8.29 yards per attempt. If there’s been one major knock on Watson, though, it’s his interceptions. Seven are far too many, especially when four have come in the end zone.
Norm Van Brocklin Division
12. Andrew Luck (LW: 7)
Luck can’t throw the kind of mind-numbing interceptions he tossed on Sunday in the loss to the Jets. Look, it’s understandable that Luck is just frustrated with the complete lack of talent around him, but any kind of negative play from him is catastrophic.
11. Carson Wentz (LW: 12)
Wentz has been awesome since coming back in Week 3 from his torn ACL. The Eagles have been uneven but the MVP favorite from a year ago is smoking hot, throwing for eight touchdowns against a single interception with 1,192 yards in four starts. Not a bad job from the youngster.
10. Ben Roethlisberger (LW: 11)
Roethlisberger is leading the league in passing yardage with 2,033, despite ranking only 11th in yards per attempt. The Steelers have been throwing the ball a ton thanks to a leaky defense, but the 36-year-old is making it work, keeping Pittsburgh within a half-game of the AFC North lead. Big Ben now gets the bye week to rest before taking on the Browns and Ravens.
9. Russell Wilson (LW: 10)
Wilson is playing with Doug Baldwin and a bunch of random guys on the outside, and yet the Seahawks are 3-3 and somehow competing in the NFC. The future Hall of Famer has only thrown for 1,308 yards but has totaled 13 touchdown passes with only four interceptions. It’s been a quality season against all odds.
Frank Tarkenton Division
8. Philip Rivers (LW: 8)
Rivers might be on the best Chargers team we’ve seen in a decade. Los Angeles is looking like a contender at 4-2, and the veteran quarterback is frolicking in the pocket, throwing for 1,702 yards with 15 touchdowns against three interceptions. It’s been a terrific campaign for Rivers and the team thus far.
7. Matt Ryan (LW: 9)
Ryan is having the best season that absolutely nobody is talking about. The Falcons are ravaged by injuries and aren’t really a factor, but Ryan has been balling to the tune of 1,955 yards on 8.73 yards per attempt with 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Terrific play from a. guy getting no pub.
6. Kirk Cousins (LW: 6)
The Vikings took some heat this offseason for deciding not to re-sign Case Keenum in favor of spending $84 million guaranteed on Cousins. So far, the Cousins move has paid off with the free-agent signee notching 1,921 yards while completing 71.2 percent of throws. Minnesota has been uneven, but it’s not because of Cousins.
5. Jared Goff (LW: 4)
Goff is having an MVP-caliber season as we head into the latter half of October. The Rams are the league’s lone undefeated team at 6-0 and Goff is crushing it with a league-best 9.94 yards per attempt. He’s also gone for 1,928 passing yards (fourth-best) with 12 touchdowns. A great start for the third-year signal-caller.
Joe Montana Division
4. Patrick Mahomes (LW: 5)
Sunday night was one of those rare moments where the losing team/quarterback still earned major respect. Patrick Mahomes looked bad early against New England, throwing a pair of interceptions. By night’s end, the second-year superstar threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns, going blow-for-blow with Tom Brady. Insane.
3. Aaron Rodgers (LW: 2)
Rodgers is insanely great. The Packers are surrounding him with guys nobody has ver heard of, Mike McCarthy calls a game from a playbook straight out of 1981, and none of it matters. Rodgers went for 425 yards and engineered a pair of scoring drives at the end of the fourth quarter to escape with a win over the 49ers.
2. Tom Brady (LW: 3)
Brady proved that at 41 years old, he can still go out and outdoes anybody. On Sunday night, the Patriots needed everything and then some from their master and got it, with Brady going for 340 yards and a touchdown in a wild 43-40 victory.
1. Drew Brees (LW: 1)
Another old-timer, but Brees is playing some of the best football of his career. The Saints are enjoyed an off week before traveling to take on the Ravens this Sunday, the toughest team they’ve faced this season. Brees is looking to continue his greatness against one of the league’s best.