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
|His numbers aren't mind-bending, but his efficiency is on a new level. For a guy who's long been dinged for "just" having elite athleticism, Jackson is now completing passes at a higher rate than anyone in the game. And he's still a game-wrecker with his legs! Even with a hit-or-miss WR corps, he's on pace for the second MVP award of his career. (+2)
Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles QB
|Speaking of MVP, Hurts is right back in the mix. Even with some reckless streaks early in the year, he's up to 22 total TDs for the NFL's best team, virtually unstoppable on the Eagles' notorious push play. The guy is never fazed, whether trailing late or battling through a battered knee, and that composure rubs off on the rest of the club. (+2)
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
|As Allen goes, the Bills go. And this year, with unpredictable help outside of Stefon Diggs, he's gone both up and down, often in the same game. No QB has more TDs (24), and no QB has more interceptions (9). A roller coaster. (-1)
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
|We've gone beyond Offensive Rookie of the Year now. Let's start discussing MVP. At 22, the rookie is slinging it to every level with both precision and authority. With 14 TDs vs. just one pick, he's single-handedly made Houston relevant. (+9)
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
|He's yet to consistently hit his own Hall of Fame standard during the Chiefs' 6-2 start, but as per usual, he's taken care of business in the clutch. His mobility is also saving Kansas City more than most might realize; he ranks fourth among QBs in rushing yards (258) this year, and he's averaged more yards per carry than any of the 10 QBs with 200+ yards.
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals QB
|Any early-season concerns about Burrow losing a step can safely be put to bed. Joe Cool is now showcasing elite slipperiness while extending plays from the pocket, and he's cleared a 108 passer rating in three of his last four. (+1)
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins QB
|Two things can be true: Tua is a masterful point guard for an explosive offense; his 2022 breakout wasn't a fluke. But he's still looking to prove he can transcend physical, superior defenses, especially when playing from behind. (-6)
Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QB
|Complain about the Cowboys' inability to get over the finish line in big games, but don't pin the primary blame on Dak. The steady, savvy vet is reading the field very well (70.2% completion), and his toughness nearly upset the Eagles. (+2)
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
|Three straight games with critical late-game giveaways have the skeptics out in full force. But with a reinforced supporting cast, Purdy is poised to settle down a bit. He's still been one of the NFL's most efficient starters for Kyle Shanahan.
Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers QB
|Herbert is too gifted physically to consistently post ugly numbers, but Monday night's showing vs. the stingy Jets "D" was a reminder that, for all his MVP talent, the actual pace and results of his play have tended to be "just good enough." (-4)
Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars QB
|The Jaguars have survived more than dominated during their 6-2 start, and the same goes for Lawrence. But the steady resilience means something, and he's come up big on the ground more than expected, with 11 first-down runs. (-3)
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
|There's been a bit of a "just hang on" element to Goff's game the last two weeks, with Detroit flopping against the Ravens and surviving the Raiders. But he remains fairly reliable as an on-script, ball-control precision passer. (-1)
Russell Wilson Denver Broncos QB
|The numbers don't lie; Wilson's been much better than he was a year ago, and he's climbing the pocket quicker than earlier this season. But the numbers might exaggerate; nine of his 16 TD passes have come while playing catch-up. (-1)
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
|Machismo can only take a QB so far, but it's taken Mayfield further than many expected, as he nearly spearheaded a shootout win over Houston in Week 9. The Bucs aren't necessarily a smooth ship, but he keeps them feisty. (+2)
Deshaun Watson Cleveland Browns QB
|There might not be a more mercurial, more polarizing QB in the rundown; availability will remain an underlying concern. But some of his vintage downfield touch returned in a big Week 9 win over Arizona. Can he do it to better defenses?
Derek Carr New Orleans Saints QB
|After a painfully conservative start to his Saints debut, Carr has locked in lately, picking apart more vulnerable clubs in the Bears and Colts. But Brian Flores' blitz-happy Vikings "D" in Week 10 could be a better test of his progression. (+1)
Matthew Stafford Los Angeles Rams QB
|The aging gunslinger sat out Week 9 with a thumb injury, and Brett Rypien led L.A. to further ruin. Now Carson Wentz is in town as the new insurance policy, bringing Stafford-esque sensibilities -- big arm, occasionally reckless approach.
Sam Howell Washington Commanders QB
|Not a single player has thrown more passes this year than the second-year firecracker out of North Carolina. Forced throws are inevitable with so much volume, but for what's on his plate, well, he's often looked the part as a fighter. (-3)
Will Levis Tennessee Titans QB
|The Titans were absolutely right to crown him the new starter after two games in place of the battered Ryan Tannehill. Even without a sturdy OL or WR corps, he's got the effortless passing zip and tough mobility to stay in ballgames.
Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks QB
|Is the time coming for Pete Carroll to consider turning to Drew Lock? Smith still has the staff's trust, and his moxie has carried the club a few times this year. But eight turnovers in his last four games is compounding issues up front. (-6)
Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals QB
|Set to make his 2023 debut after a lengthy ACL rehab, Murray is a bit of an unknown these days. At full speed, he can elude anyone. But he's also been scattershot through the air for a while. At any rate, he's an upgrade in Arizona.
Joshua Dobbs Minnesota Vikings QB
|The story of the week after freestyling his way to an upset win for the team that acquired him just five days earlier, Dobbs has breathed new life into Kevin O'Connell's scrappy contender. His key will be trying not to play hero too often.
Gardner Minshew Indianapolis Colts QB
|We're getting plenty of examples why Minshew is better served as a temporary hot hand rather than a full-timer. While a spirited player with occasionally pretty touch, his inconsistency with the routine stuff has made Indy unpredictable. (-5)
Taylor Heinicke Atlanta Falcons QB
|Installed as the official QB1 with Desmond Ridder demoted, Heinicke was an upgrade both visually and statistically in Week 9, pushing the ball and moving the chains more. But a turnover still cost him. Let's see how long he stays put. (-4)
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
|Go figure that Love looks more comfortable when Aaron Jones is actually a major part of the offense. It speaks to the reality: while clearly gifted as a thrower, he's not close to the point where he can elevate a team on his own. (-4)
Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh Steelers QB
|Among regular starters, Pickett ranks third in fourth-quarter passer rating. The first three quarters, of course, remain a clunky, hit-or-miss ordeal. But like the Steelers as a whole, he keeps finding ways to do enough when it counts. (-3)
Aidan O'Connell Las Vegas Raiders QB
|Freed from Josh McDaniels' watch, the rookie played with more confidence as interim coach Antonio Pierce's declared starter, at least protecting the ball. His off-script abilities are limited, but inside the pocket, he can read a field.
Mac Jones New England Patriots QB
|Among current active starters, Jones ranks 28th in yards per attempt (6.1), flailing as Bill Belichick's seat seemingly grows hotter with each week. He may have a future behind a real O-line, but it doesn't look bright in New England. (-2)
Tyson Bagent Chicago Bears QB
|Justin Fields is inching closer to a return from a thumb injury, but his grip strength remains a question. If he can't go, it'll be the spunky D-II rookie, whose athleticism isn't quite offsetting a growing turnover spree as Chicago's fill-in. (-2)
Bryce Young Carolina Panthers QB
|It's sad to say because Young came in with elite intangibles as the No. 1 pick, but there isn't a more inefficient starter right now. That's partly due to a makeshift setup, but he can't afford so many careless tosses when things break down. (-8)
Zach Wilson New York Jets QB
|Wilson is good for one or two eye-opening darts a game. But somehow, inexplicably, the Jets have convinced themselves those fleeting flashes are worth 58 or so additional minutes of frantic yet conservative quarterbacking.
Tommy DeVito New York Giants QB
|It's a devastating state of affairs in East Rutherford, where this poor undrafted rookie will be trotted out behind a battered front that already couldn't keep Daniel Jones or Tyrod Taylor upright. He'll be leaning on the run game a lot.