CBS Sports illustration (Keytron Jordan)

Nothing steers NFL teams quite like quarterbacks. It's possible, not probable, to win in spite of them. It's preferable, not easy, to land the best of them. They are, more than anyone else, the ones who shape the football landscape, week in and week out.

That's why we're ranking all 32 starting signal-callers throughout the 2022 season: to take stock of the most important players in the game, sorting everyone from the bona fide superstars to the QBs who might be worth replacing.

While these rankings don't necessarily reflect which QBs we'd rather have for the remainder of the year (or their career) -- for example, we still trust Tom Brady over, say, Geno Smith -- they are designed to showcase which ones are performing and positioned best at this moment.

Now, without further ado, our Week 17 pecking order:

Week 15 QB Power Rankings
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
The NFL's Mr. Automatic at the position, Mahomes has now thrown at least 37 TD passes in four of his five seasons as a starter. (The other season, he missed three games due to injury.) Kansas City isn't a perfect team, but they should be title favorites because of No. 15, who's not only an off-script genius but virtually immune to crunch-time miscues.
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
Now squarely in the MVP race with the Eagles' Jalen Hurts on the mend, Burrow is the closest thing to Mahomes when it comes to boasting an almost-intangible feel for the game. He does not get rattled. He elevates the players around him (even the already-great ones). And he's still throwing some of the prettiest touch passes in the NFL.
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
He's a walking fireworks show: explosive for better and worse, but usually for better. Allen is now tied with Matt Ryan for the most turnovers (18) by any player this year, but you just can't teach the arm and legs on this guy, both of which were on display in an imperfect yet convincing rout of the Bears in Week 16. (+1)
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
Monday night's rout of the Colts was symbolic of the entire year: nothing has come especially easy for he and the Chargers, and the numbers just aren't as impressive as they could or should be, and yet this kid, with such a laser on his shoulder, always passes the eye test. Can he elevate L.A. in his first playoff run? (+1)
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
It's no coincidence he's right behind Herbert here: the two are uncannily similar, and not just because they've both got long locks. Lawrence just looks the part, and has some serious zip on outside throws. More importantly, he's delivering for Doug Pederson as the games get more important. Since November, he's thrown 14 TDs and one pick. (+4)
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
Maybe he'll be exposed at some point, but if we're just going off his sample size as Jimmy Garoppolo's emergency fill-in, well, this kid looks like he could be the 49ers' future. Seriously. The rookie is buoyed by Kyle Shanahan's scheme and weaponry, but he's been accurate, appropriately aggressive and, best of all, professionally poised in every game. (+6)
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
Nothing has been pretty for Rodgers and the Packers this year. The reigning MVP is still making one too many ill-advised throws while compensating for Green Bay's moving parts. But with the defense now assisting, he's made sure to save his best precision passes for late, controlling the ball in crunch time to keep the Pack alive in the playoff race. (+4)
Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB
What a wild year for Cousins, who's been less efficient but more clutch for one of the most resilient (or fortunate) contenders in the NFL. Justin Jefferson does a lot of heavy lifting for their offense, and Cousins has big tests ahead with a road trip to Green Bay and an anticipated postseason run, but he's done a lot to win back belief in Minnesota.
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
Prescott is usually considered a steady hand at QB, prone to doing all the little things well, and consistently. This year, he's been far more unpredictable: either a total knockout, or a total flop. Give him soft coverage, and he'll dice you up. Give him a truly big-game spotlight, and be prepared for some head-scratchers. (+6)
Justin Fields Chicago Bears QB
As a promising year winds down, Fields is slightly reverting to his early-season role, in which he barely moved or pushed the ball downfield. But that's not really his fault. A gifted scrambler whose speed is must-see TV, you just hope he can make it to the finish line as healthy as can be, and that Chicago finally gives him toys in 2023. (-1)
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
So much for the little flirt with MVP candidacy. Smith's decision-making has taken a big hit in recent weeks as he tries to make up for Seattle's shortcomings, whether an erratic ground game one week or Tyler Lockett's absence the next. He still offers all the physical tools from inside the pocket, but the reliability is starting to wane. (-1)
Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
Much like Aaron Rodgers, his aging counterpart, Brady is trudging through a mostly clunky campaign. He looked maybe the worst he has all year early in Week 16, half-heartedly airing it out against Arizona. But then, inevitably, his arm and focus and vision reach new levels as the buzzer approaches. He cannot quit, and neither can we! (+6)
Gardner Minshew Philadelphia Eagles QB
Jalen Hurts will push to return in Week 17, but the Eagles might be wise to let Minshew give it one more go, needing just one win in their last two to secure the No. 1 seed. The spirited backup played fast and loose against Dallas; his two picks were costly but more a credit to suffocating coverage, while he nearly led a comeback spreading the ball around.
Daniel Jones New York Giants QB
Where there's a will, there's a way, and Jones has somehow, almost unbelievably, started to take strides throwing the ball with a receiving corps of leftovers. It's still hard to properly forecast his ceiling on a limited roster, but at least Giants fans know he's capable of controlling the ball and even extending plays on his own with a solid coaching staff behind him. (+2)
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
Good luck to Lions brass, who will be tasked this offseason with identifying which of Goff's Pro Bowl-caliber numbers are sustainable. The Rams castoff has shown improved confidence working with their deep receiving corps this year, and he belongs as a starter somewhere. Some of his best stuff, however, comes playing catch-up. (-2)
Derek Carr Las Vegas Raiders QB
You wonder if Josh McDaniels, or whomever is running the show, will just start fresh in 2023. Carr is what he is at 31: scrappy, likable and fully liable to crumble down the stretch, as he did in cold weather against the beatable Steelers in Week 16. If Las Vegas cuts him to save money, someone will buy, but hopefully knowing his limitations. (+2)
Sam Darnold Carolina Panthers QB
Who would've guessed, after his ugly 2021 Panthers debut, that he'd end 2022 as clearly the most promising QB to be on the roster? Carolina is wisely leaning on the run game and defense for most of its oomf, but Darnold has remarkably stayed turnover-free since replacing -- and exiling -- Baker Mayfield. He might compete for a job somewhere in '23. (+6)
Carson Wentz Washington Commanders QB
We're assuming Ron Rivera will roll with his original QB1 after summoning Wentz off the bench in Week 16, but even if Taylor Heinicke is back, the two QBs are of the same ilk. The latter might be feistier and a little more prone to smart short-area targets, but Wentz is similarly mercurial as a big-play hunter. When he's on, he's on. The issue is consistency.
Teddy Bridgewater Miami Dolphins QB
Tua Tagovailoa is back in concussion protocol, which means Bridgewater is on track for his second start of the year, and maybe more. Truthfully, Miami's offense might benefit from the momentary change, as Tagovailoa has recently been more exposed for erratic downfield accuracy. Teddy, of course, is also best suited for a more conservative approach.
Andy Dalton New Orleans Saints QB
He was not responsible for the Saints' Week 16 win over the Browns as much as Dennis Allen's defense, but more often than not during his run as the starter, he's actually done well protecting the ball. Serviceable spot-starter material. (+1)
Baker Mayfield Los Angeles Rams QB
Few QBs have done more to restore their stock in a matter of three weeks. Mayfield hasn't been perfect -- who could be in this preseason-style Rams lineup? -- but is showing some of the free-flowing moxie that once had him looking like a top-15ish starter. At the very least, he should get more looks from around the NFL this spring. (+4)
Mike White New York Jets QB
Back in the saddle as Zach Wilson takes what might be a permanent seat, White's bar is set almost too high because of the dire QBs he's followed. His value is perhaps inflated by that pitch-perfect first start. And yet an efficient outing against the vulnerable Seahawks defense in Week 17 could justify the hype around his return from injury.
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
He nearly helped the Patriots stun the Bengals in a Week 16 comeback effort, but most of the headlines this week have centered on his questionable block on Eli Apple during a potential fumble return. It's fitting; as hard as Jones has tried this year, both the process and results have been iffy. He needs the offense to help him, not the other way around. (+3)
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
Nathaniel Hackett is already out the door; wouldn't it be something if Wilson suddenly reverted to his stardom of old? Russ may be salvageable, but you have to think it'll take a new staff and revised system to either get him back into a play-action approach or get him the plays and personnel to be an efficient QB he's desperate -- and failing -- to be. (-2)
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
One step at a time. That's all the Steelers are asking of the rookie as they lean on an increasingly opportunistic defense. And he answered the call in Week 16, capping an ugly Raiders game with clutch throws on the go-ahead drive. (+5)
Davis Mills Houston Texans QB
Mills has been through the ringer in two years with Houston, trying to balance aggression and smarts on a lineup perpetually undermanned. His best-case scenario is breaking free to grow and serve as a top backup elsewhere. (+3)
Deshaun Watson Cleveland Browns QB
The idea of Watson is far more impressive than the actual Watson right now; the poised pocket passer from the Texans hasn't been seen in literally two-plus years. We'll see what Kevin Stefanski can do in 2023. (-7)
Nick Foles Indianapolis Colts QB
His first start in place of Matt Ryan couldn't have been much worse, and a lot of that is on him, chucking it up and praying for results against the Chargers. But a lot of it is on the setup -- the same shoddy O-line that allowed Ryan to be swallowed up and spit out whole. Put him on a contender, and he's still a serviceable big arm.
Tyler Huntley Baltimore Ravens QB
Lamar Jackson may finally be back from a knee injury against the Steelers, but John Harbaugh isn't telling, and with a playoff berth in tow, Baltimore might just play it safe. Huntley has been just so-so in his place; his legs, a strong suit, haven't been nearly as utilized as expected.
Malik Willis Tennessee Titans QB
Filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill, Willis hardly has a chance to get comfortable behind Tennessee's troubling trenches. He's clearly got lots of room to grow as a decision-maker through the air, but at least the athleticism helps.
Trace McSorley Arizona Cardinals QB
He showed fight in his first career start, nearly upsetting Tom Brady in prime time to close Christmas Day. Still, Arizona's offense remained an inefficient unit when it wasn't leaning on James Conner.
Desmond Ridder Atlanta Falcons QB
Arthur Smith is set to enter Year Three of his tenure with no discernible short- or long-term option under center.