Quarterbacks. We love them. We debate them. And we do it all because, at the end of the day, they're the most important ingredient in a championship recipe. It's possible to win without an elite signal-caller, but history shows 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? And which ones could be nearing a demotion? 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 quarterbacks' respective rises and falls.
Without further ado, the latest pecking order:
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
|Not even Patrick Mahomes is more dynamic than this guy right now. The downfield stuff is just automatic for him in Mike McDaniel's system, and the chemistry with Tyreek Hill is nearly unstoppable. He's up to 39 TDs in his last 19 starts. (+2)
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
|For as talented as he and the Bills are, plays are still being left on the field as he leans heavily (perhaps too much) on Stefon Diggs. But let's be real: Buffalo is 4-2 largely because of his backyard play-making. His 16 total TDs lead all QBs.
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
|Not so unlike the fellow elite QB he faced in Super Bowl LVIII, Mahomes is off to a relatively reckless start to 2023, putting the ball in harm's way more often than expected. But even with an uneven WR corps, how can you not trust him? (-2)
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
|Jim Schwartz's physical Browns defense finally made him look mortal in the 49ers' first loss of the year. Let's not overreact: Eleven starts into his career, he's 10-1, with 23 TDs and just five picks as Kyle Shanahan's calm, quick-footed point guard.
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
|Don't look now, but Goff is on pace for career numbers; he's now up to 40 passing TDs in his last year and a half with Detroit. This is peak-Rams-level Goff, except with even more confidence. As long as his line holds up, he's sharp. (+2)
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
|The more he suits up for the Chargers, the more you start to wonder how much he, not the oft-criticized staff, contributes to their frequent late-game woes. But the bigger-picture production can't be ignored. He's still robotically efficient. (-1)
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
|His aerial output has dipped thanks largely to a still-shaky receiving corps, but the Ravens certainly aren't 4-2 atop the AFC North without him. Even in a more traditional offense, he easily leads all QBs in rushing yards (327) out of the gate. (+1)
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
|Almost halfway through his encore to the super smooth 2022 breakout, Hurts is struggling to stay in rhythm for a full game; he's already matched his turnover total (8) from a year ago. His rugged persistence is also a big reason Philly's 5-1. (-2)
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
|It's been an odd year for Cousins, as Minnesota's two wins have come when he's had his worst performances. Credit Brian Flores' defense for helping there. The big question is how much Justin Jefferson's absence affects him moving forward.
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
|He should be at the top of the polls for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Even after throwing his first career pick against the Saints, he hung in there against a tough "D." Houston is a surprise spoiler, and his quiet leadership is carrying them.
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
|A knee injury has him day-to-day on a short week, but there's optimism he'll be good to go. The former No. 1 pick is still searching for that massive breakout game, but his October has been solid after a more frenetic start to the year.
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
|Did the Bengals light up the scoreboard against the Seahawks? No. Does Burrow need to be better? Sure. But when he's healthy, which he appears to be after a scarily ugly start to the season, Cincy is one of the toughest outs in the NFL.
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
|Good for Dak, rebounding from an empty prime-time loss to the 49ers with a big-boy performance in a close win over the Chargers. Dallas may be more flash than substance sometimes, but Prescott's feel for the game is still evident. (+2)
Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB
|The Cooper Kupp connection is back in full swing. Stafford's played a bit better than his numbers (6 TDs, 5 INTs, 83.5 rating) suggest, working behind a so-so line. Big tests await, however, in the Steelers and Cowboys defenses. (+3)
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
|Coach Todd Bowles said he hurt his thumb late against the Lions, but before that, Mayfield hurt himself with a sluggish start. He opened 2023 with unexpectedly strong ball security, but he's gotta be careful not to press for big plays now. (-3)
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
|The Broncos started 1-4 despite Wilson piling up numbers at mostly the wrong time. They fell to 1-5 as he became part of the problem. Is he a passable starter after 2022's debacle? Sure. But how long can Sean Payton deal with "passable"? (-3)
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
|The spunk is still there with Geno, but it hasn't translated to week-in, week-out results. Seattle is liable to surprise teams when he rips it downfield, but that's happened far less this year. He's also up to 10 picks in his last 12 starts. (-3)
Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB
|If there's a youngster bound to keep rising, it might be Howell. Even on an unpredictable team, under an uneven head coach, the big-armed gunslinger has kept Washington above water. His 1,500 yards rank ninth among starters. (+2)
Deshaun Watson Cleveland Browns QB
|A lingering shoulder issue prevented him from leading the Browns' upset of the 49ers, but if Cleveland's defense stays hot, he should enjoy their support. In his own three starts, despite physical gifts as a pocket-mover, he's been hit or miss.
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
|Among active starters, only C.J. Stroud comes close to his league-worst completion percentage (59.6), but unlike Stroud, he hasn't taken care of the ball, too often lofting throws into trouble. Still, you like the tools and big-play potential. (-1)
Derek Carr New Orleans Saints QB
|This probably wasn't what Carr and the Saints envisioned when they struck a $150 million deal this offseason. Banged up or not, the ex-Raiders leader has yet to push the ball; helped by a tough defense, he ranks 25th in yards per attempt (6.5).
Gardner Minshew Indianapolis Colts QB
|Slated to remain under center for the rest of 2023 with speedy rookie Anthony Richardson sidelined indefinitely, Minshew flopped against his old team, the Jaguars. He's a gamer off the bench, but turnovers have bitten him as a full-timer. (+1)
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
|Are the Steelers good? Eh, we're not ready to say that. Are they a perpetually, inexplicably tough out? Absolutely. It's kind of the same deal with Pickett. He's rarely been in rhythm, but he's had enough crunch-time fight to justify more chances. (+3)
Joshua Dobbs Arizona Cardinals QB
|Dobbs was surprisingly on point to open 2023, keeping Arizona feisty. He's since looked more like the backup he's often been, struggling to hit 50% of his passes in consecutive games. The Ravens and Browns defenses are up soon.
Tyrod Taylor New York Giants QB
|Daniel Jones is still recovering from a neck injury, so Taylor could be in line for a second straight start. No one's mistaking him for a big-time QB1 these days, but he looked more comfortable stepping up into fiery pockets in a near-upset of Buffalo.
Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB
|He's resilient, we'll give him that. The Falcons keep standing by him. But the youngster has now had three different games where he's failed to hit 60% of his throws, which can't really happen for an offense so bent on controlling the ball. (+2)
Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB
|The rookie showed some of his best stuff early against the superior Dolphins, before Miami turned up the heat and got after him with a lead. It may take until 2024, when his setup hopefully gets a splashy boost, to truly evaluate his trajectory. (+4)
Zach Wilson New York Jets QB
|He didn't do much to capitalize on the Jets' four takeaways in a Week 6 upset of the Eagles. But he also didn't do anything to lose the tight contest, showing another dose of improved composure. Like New York, he's hanging in there. (+2)
Malik Willis Tennessee Titans QB
|This kid gets hit so much when he steps in for Ryan Tannehill, and it looks like he'll be under center again with the veteran nursing another ailing ankle. The athleticism is there, but it's tough to project success through the air in their lineup.
Aidan O'Connell Las Vegas Raiders QB
|Brian Hoyer is the official backup in Las Vegas, where Jimmy Garoppolo is banged up again. But O'Connell has more long-term intrigue as a pocket passer, and he might get the nod with a full week of prep for the struggling Bears.
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
|Jones isn't buckling to the public notions that the Patriots are preparing to pull the plug on him yet again, but he is buckling behind New England's front. He's now gone three straight games with zero TDs and at least one turnover. (-3)
Tyson Bagent Chicago Bears QB
|Justin Fields is battling an injury to his throwing hand, which puts the undrafted Division II rookie on track to make his first career start. Bagent is a fun watch with his penchant for dashing all over the place, but that could also hurt him.