Quarterbacks. We love them. We debate them. And we do it because they're the most important ingredient in a championship recipe. Not that it's impossible to win without an elite signal-caller, but history tells us that it's much easier otherwise. So we're keeping tabs on all 32 starters throughout the 2023 season.
Which ones are the best of the best? Which ones are decidedly not? All QBs are partly a product of their respective situations, but this is how we'd sort today's signal-callers right now. These power rankings, unlike offseason QB lists, are focused more on current standing than the bigger picture in an effort to tell the story of each QB's respective rise and fall.
Without further ado, the latest pecking order:
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
|This is the most efficient Jackson has been in his entire career, including the 2019 MVP run. Besides casually leading all QBs in rushing, he's zipping passes where they need to be to revive targets like Odell Beckham Jr. Only four starters have a better completion percentage (69.5), and he's now compiled a 53-19 record for his career. He is the Ravens offense. (+3)
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
|Another week, another unpretty but victorious outing from the Eagles' unflappable leader. His defense carried him over the Chiefs in prime time, but Hurts also saved some of his best downfield shots for crunch time. As always, he also delivered as a situational runner and is now up to nine TDs on the ground, on pace to clear his career high.
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
|Aside from an off-kilter end-zone pick, Mahomes was not to blame for K.C.'s close loss to the Eagles. Once again, his freestyling nearly saved the Chiefs' unreliable WR corps from itself, but drops remained an issue until the buzzer. This hasn't been a perfect year for No. 15, but he's had to do way too much on his own, including as a scrambler.
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
|Refusing to dial himself back in Week 11, Stroud finally got into trouble with a trio of picks. But that didn't stop him from coming through late. His deep rifle and steady composure should have the Texans in the playoff mix until the end. (-3)
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
|What a roller-coaster ride in Buffalo. Allen is the perfect figurehead. He leads the NFL in both total TDs (29) and turnovers (15). Let's see if Joe Brady's promotion to offensive coordinator actually enables more consistency over time.
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
|Remember that little turnover-dotted skid in October? Purdy still leads the league in completion percentage (70.2), yards per attempt (9.7) and passer rating (115.1). In other words, he's darn near automatic as the quick-strike distributor for Kyle Shanahan. Big-game tests await, but it's quite clear his 2022 emergence was not a fluke. (+2)
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
|There's a real chance, by the end of Thursday's game against the Commanders, Prescott will -- or should -- be part of the MVP conversation. He's thrown 14 TDs and just two picks in Dallas' recent 4-1 stretch (with the sole, one-score defeat coming against the 9-1 Eagles), and he's operating comfortably at every level of the pocket.
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
|He ranks second only to Josh Allen in TD passes (21), but things haven't been nearly as smooth for Miami's offense since the start of the year; Jalen Ramsey helped ensure the Dolphins survived the upstart Raiders in Week 11. (-2)
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
|If Quentin Johnston had secured a perfect deep ball late against the Packers, perhaps Herbert and Co. wouldn't be two games under .500. There's too often an "if" here, because on the surface, Herbert's once again been a mostly stellar starter, even if his laser arm hasn't lent itself to as many big plays as you might think. (+1)
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
|It was pick city for Goff against the rival Bears in Week 11, but resilience has been a key theme of his time with the Lions. Offering borderline top-10 production for 2+ years now, he's got Detroit positioned for a potential Thanksgiving rout. (+1)
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
|Hello, Clutch Russ. Nice to have you back. Wilson's first three quarters are still too underwhelming in terms of scoring drives led (or not led), but man does he seem to have his crunch-time fastball back. His perfect precision touch has now helped lift Denver reel off four consecutive wins -- and suddenly, after starting 1-5, the Broncos are a feisty 5-5. (+2)
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
|It's been an odd year for Lawrence and the Jags, who are 7-3 and yet feel as if they're still figuring out how to win, perhaps because the down moments have been so pronounced. But beating up on Tennessee helps, and Lawrence has now shown multiple times this year he can control the ball while contributing in key ways on the ground. (+2)
Joshua Dobbs Minnesota Vikings QB
|The magic of his emergence wasn't enough to lift the Vikings over the Broncos in prime time, but it was close. Dobbs is still giving Minnesota so much as a scrambler, showing improbable poise while extending plays. It's not wild to think he and the Vikes are still one of the strongest contenders for an NFC wild card going into the home stretch. (+2)
Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB
|Bears fans got the full Fields experience in his anticipated return against Detroit; the former first-rounder showcased his unteachable arm talent while guiding a potential upset, only to lose the ball when it mattered most. That's more an indictment of his protection, or lack thereof, but still, it's often a boom-or-bust affair here. (+5)
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
|Good for him, going down swinging against the 49ers. But is his own coaching staff adaptable enough to let him cut it loose even more moving forward? All in all, Mayfield's been a solidly average starter all year, which is probably more than Tampa Bay could've asked for considering the approach team brass took following Tom Brady's retirement. (+1)
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
|After exiting and returning against the Rams with an injured throwing arm, Smith is set to give it a go against the rival 49ers on Thanksgiving. That may or may not be a good idea. He's been really gutsy and surprisingly effective as a late-game fighter, but injuries and turnovers are two real concerns behind Seattle's offensive line. (+2)
Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB
|Remember that song from "Finding Nemo" years ago, "Just Keep Swimming"? Substitute swimming for throwing, and that about sums up the Howell experience in Washington, where Ron Rivera and Co. ask so much of this kid through the air that, well, he just keeps chucking it into traffic. Over 3,000 yards is great. Twelve picks in 11 games? Not so much.
Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB
|This is like a reality TV show in L.A.: How long can Stafford survive? The vet keeps fighting, and he delivered late to help the Rams sneak by Seattle in Week 11, but his already-battered body keeps taking big shots behind their line. (+2)
Derek Carr New Orleans Saints QB
|He's still in concussion protocol coming out of the Week 11 bye, so Jameis Winston could be summoned to take over against the Falcons. When healthy, Carr's been just OK -- accurate but often conservative to a fault. (+3)
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
|Two games in after his awaited return from rehab, Murray's looked quite similar to his old self, for better and worse. The guy can move, extending and creating on the ground. But there's not a ton of rhythm operating through the air. (+1)
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
|Don't look now, but the former first-rounder might finally be rediscovering his downfield confidence. Love is still not connecting on some of the routine stuff he needs to hit, but his touch late in recent games has helped Green Bay to a 2-1 stretch, with a chance to spoil the Lions' holiday on Thursday. (+4)
Gardner Minshew Indianapolis Colts QB
|He is what he is for a Colts team stuck in the purgatory of both hanging around the AFC South and looking ahead to an Anthony Richardson future. With eight TDs, six picks and just a 6.7 YPA mark in 10 games, he's No. 2 material. (+1)
Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB
|The talented rookie came alive late against the Jaguars, but too late to have any chance at a "W." Until the Titans actually restore their lineup with legitimate protection and weapons, it's tough to read too much into his mercurial showings. (+1)
Aidan O'Connell Las Vegas Raiders QB
|He got beat up a bit, especially in key moments, against the Dolphins. He also slung it deep, at least giving Davante Adams opportunities to stretch the field. The reality is, O'Connell's rough but willing mentality is all they have. (+4)
Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB
|Taylor Heinicke is out, and he's back in. Why? It's anyone's guess. Maybe Arthur Smith just likes to keep opponents guessing. But the truth is, both QBs are better suited coming off the bench, so it's not like there's much unknown here.
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
|Now we finally get to see what he looks like without Matt Canada overseeing the offense. Will it make a difference? Pickett's shown grit in the clutch, but too often the Steelers have played like they're trying to keep the ball out of his hands.
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
|Bill Belichick won't commit to a starter for Week 12, which typically would not bode well for Jones, except for the fact backup Bailey Zappe hasn't done anything when promoted, either. New England badly needs an offseason reset. (+3)
Tommy DeVito New York Giants QB
|The Commanders may be falling apart, but good for the undrafted rookie, hurling three scores against Washington to get the "W." Can he keep it up? We'll see. Certainly he's already offering as much as Daniel Jones did to open 2023. (+4)
Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB
|Frank Reich's job security appears to thin with each passing week, even though it wasn't long ago we were all celebrating their pairing. The issue with Young remains the same: he doesn't appear to be operating consistently at NFL speed.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson Cleveland Browns QB
|Replacing P.J. Walker as Deshaun Watson's fill-in, the rookie was hardly polished as a passer in a tight Week 11 win over Pittsburgh, but he saved some of his best for last, improving upon an abrupt Week 4 start.
Tim Boyle New York Jets QB
|Zach Wilson's time is done, but do the Jets really believe they acted quick enough to salvage their 2023 season? Boyle is at least slightly more of an unknown, though he's also struggled to hit even 50% of his throws as a backup.
Jake Browning Cincinnati Bengals QB
|With Joe Burrow done for the year due to a wrist injury, it's Browning's time to shine. The ex-Vikings reserve, who's been in town since 2021, has thrown all of 15 NFL passes since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2019.