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NFL QB Index, Week 17: Kirk Cousins back in top 10; Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold trending up

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 16 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 17.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 6

2022 stats: 15 games | 66.9 pct | 4,720 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 37 pass TD | 11 INT | 321 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Mahomes unearths new avenues to victory with each new outing. Operating in the blistering cold of Arrowhead, Kansas City's polestar put the game on his back against Seattle with a late fourth-quarter dive to paydirt that buried the 'Hawks in a 24-3 hole. Showcasing his underrated ability on the ground, Mahomes -- in total control of his physical temple -- planted his hand in the frozen soil to pivot himself UFO-like into the pylon. The Chiefs' offense has been more deliberate than dominating of late, rendering Mahomes and his league-leading 41 total touchdowns vaguely underappreciated. From every possible angle, he's MVP-worthy.

NOTE: Eagles QB and MVP candidate Jalen Hurts was positioned No. 2 on this list before a shoulder sprain sidelined him for Week 16. Once active, he'll be right back in this space.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 5

2022 stats: 15 games | 63.4 pct | 4,029 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 32 pass TD | 13 INT | 746 rush yds | 7 rush TD | 13 fumbles

Can Bills fans live with the turnovers alongside Allen's one-of-a-kind heroics? He finished with a pair of picks against the Bears but could have had more. The first was a less-than-perfect deep shot into double coverage pulled away by Kyler Gordon. The second was a mysterious lob swallowed up by Chicago's Nicholas Morrow. From a macro level, it was encouraging to see Devin Singletary (12/106/1) and James Cook (11/99/1) engine Buffalo to a season-high 254 yards on the ground. Beastly as ever, Allen delivered 41 of those yards and a touchdown. He produced one of his more concerning days through the air, but the offensive balance allowed Allen's gaffes to fade away into nothingness.

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 3

2022 stats: 15 games | 69 pct | 4,260 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 34 pass TD | 12 INT | 247 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 5 fumbles

The offense went into an early shell for two quarters against the Bucs and fell asleep down the stretch in a win against New England. Disturbing trend? Or a bump in the road? After piling up 22 first downs and 303 first-half yards in Foxborough, Cincy produced three punts, a pick, a fumble and a missed field-goal try in the final two quarters of a 22-18 nail-biter. Burrow's streakiness was baked in; he tossed his first red-zone interception since Week 13 of last season in the second quarter to go with another pick in the third. After the break, Bill Belichick kept Burrow 2-for-4 for 46 yards on passes of 10-plus air yards, per Next Gen Stats. Not a masterpiece, but the even-keeled Burrow remained unfazed by Cincy's chilly close, saying: "I'm fighting being upset when we go out and get a win and have almost 500 yards of offense."

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 3

2022 stats: 15 games | 68 pct | 4,254 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 21 pass TD | 10 INT | 146 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Forced to watch yet another nationally televised Colts game, fans at least got a glimpse of Herbert under the lights. It was hardly his meatiest outing; Herbert threw for 235 yards and a pick, and he lost a fumble. Next Gen Stats, though, points to a passer under constant heat from Indy, posting a career high in pressure rate (45.7 percent). Herbert still logged a completion rate over expectation of +10.2 percentage points (the fifth-highest mark in career). His wild sidearm rope to Mike Williams came with a blue-clad behemoth in his face -- a pass few could dream of -- but Monday night raised further ire over play-caller Joe Lombardi's hemmed-in usage of the playoff-bound Herbert: 

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 2

2022 stats: 15 games | 65.9 pct | 3,749 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 24 pass TD | 7 INT | 290 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 10 fumbles 

Lawrence looked the part against the Jets, grinding through a driving rain and swirling winds to complete 20 of 31 passes for 229 yards. We've seen it before in smaller doses, but the 6-foot-6 Lawrence produced one his finest performances on the ground, gashing Gang Green for 51 yards off seven carries when not continuing to turn Evan Engram (7/113) into a late-season super-being. Lawrence made up for his early game fumble with a clean performance the rest of the way. We're watching something special happen in Jacksonville: The rapid evolution of a potential-filled, top overall pick morphing into a glowing new star in the AFC.

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 7

2022 stats: 10 games | 69 pct | 2,450 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 20 pass TD | 12 INT | 155 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

When he's on, Prescott looks as good as anyone around. The vultures were out after his opening-drive pick-six against the Eagles. Unlike Week 15's walk-off disaster in Jacksonville -- that one bounced off wideout Noah Brown! -- Saturday's gaffe was on Dak for not putting enough heat on the ball with Philly's Josh Sweat waiting in the wings. From that point forward in the game, Prescott put up 330 yards and three touchdowns. His final 11 drives included eight scoring marches, one punt and a pair of kneeldowns. Prescott will remain a figure of suspicion until he salts away a Lombardi, but that has more to do with the star on his helmet than his actual tape. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: The turnovers continue for Prescott, who threw another pair of picks in Thursday's tighter-than-expected win over the Titans. His 14 interceptions sit tied with the jettisoned Derek Carr for the most in pro football. Dak's first pick wasn't his fault -- the ball bobbled off the hands of Peyton Hendershot -- but the second was a riskier decision. Prescott also lost a fumble off a botched snap. Dak has tossed a pick in six straight games -- with multiple interceptions in four of those contests -- but he's equally capable of catching holy fire at any moment. His current connection with CeeDee Lamb is especially dangerous. Same story with tight end Dalton Schultz, who hauled in a pair of touchdowns to salt away the Titans down the stretch.

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 3

2022 stats: 13 games | 64.8 pct | 3,548 pass yds | 8.9 ypa | 25 pass TD | 8 INT | 70 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 6 fumbles

Tua's polarizing campaign veered south with Sunday's collapse against the Packers. His ugly numbers in the second half (7-of-13 passing for 81 yards and no touchdowns) were haunted by picks on three straight possessions that helped hand the game away:

  • Pick No. 1: "I tried to throw it over a defender, but I ended up really throwing over the defender and Tyreek [Hill], so that one got away," Tua said.
  • Pick No. 2: "I might have said the wrong play. I'm not too sure. But there was just some communication errors on that."
  • Pick No. 3: "[That] one was just not a good ball for my receivers to have been able to make a play on."

Tua came into the game with five interceptions all season. Against the Packers, his first five completions accounted for 192 yards and a touchdown. Then he fell apart. On Monday, he was placed in concussion protocol. On Wednesday, Mike McDaniel confirmed Tua suffered a concussion in the game and will not play in Week 17. The Dolphins are now expected turn to Teddy Bridgewater to save their season.

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 10

2022 stats: 15 games | 70.7 pct | 3,886 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 27 pass TD | 9 INT | 297 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Geno's in a tough spot inside an offense managing just 73.8 rushing yards per tilt since Week 10. In an unbalanced environment, opponents have teed off on Smith for 18 sacks and five picks while wiping away explosive downfield plays during a 1-5 skid that has Seattle on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Geno was left on an island against Kansas City, throwing short of the sticks on fourth-and-4 and fourth-and-8 on two straight drives that preceded a fatal interception. A second turnover-worthy lob was wiped away by a flag, but what-ifs are beside the point: Geno's current struggles -- within a largely brilliant campaign -- are as tangible as the screen you read this on.

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 11

2022 stats: 15 games | 65.7 pct | 4,117 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 27 pass TD | 11 INT | 60 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles

With 1,184 yards, nine touchdowns and two picks through the air over his past three starts, Cousins sits at the controls of a magical journey. It doesn't matter if the offense tumbles into naps. It doesn't matter where he ranks on this list. Every Vikings adventure feels destined to spin toward high drama in the final seconds. You don't get there without Cousins and Justin Jefferson operating as a deadly duo, without the quarterback trusting his starry wideout to make play after play -- Kirk zings the ball to Jefferson with a different brand of confidence -- when the Vikings require it most. By almost any metric, this hasn't been Cousins' best season, but the experience of guiding this team through stunning portals of improbability loom as something Cousins will happily live with for the rest of his days. The only question remaining: What comes next?

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 2

2022 stats: 14 games | 62.3 pct | 2,167 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 16 pass TD | 10 INT | 1,011 rush yds | 8 rush TD | 15 fumbles

Fields' 11 yards on the ground marked a season low and crystalized how lost Chicago remains when he isn't destroying defenders with his legs. Stuck challenging Buffalo with a cast of wideouts led by Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle and Velus Jones, Fields saw six of eight second-half drives manage fewer than 10 net yards on Saturday. There's no denying his gifts, but Chicago's quarterback of tomorrow needs more around him in 2023.  

Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 18

2022 stats: 15 games | 64.8 pct | 3,331 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 24 pass TD | 11 INT | 82 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles

Just a hunch, but some unlucky division winner will be asked to deal with a messy, hot-to-trot Packers team starring Aaron Rodgers on a heater. That feels problematic.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 7

2022 stats: 15 games | 64.5 pct | 3,959 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 26 pass TD | 7 INT | 66 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 6 fumbles

Goff's 355-yard, three-score day against Carolina was largely the product of a pass-heavy game script after the Lions tumbled into a 24-7 hole. The outing marked his third performance of 330-plus yards in his past four starts. Data aside, Goff's 2022 legacy boils down to how he performs against the Bears and Packers over the next two weeks. If he tugs Detroit into the postseason, he morphs into a cult figure who never buys his own beer again in the state of Michigan. Either way, Goff has shredded the concept that he's little more than a wet blanket draped over a lost cause.

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Rookie

2022 stats: 7 games | 67 pct | 912 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 8 pass TD | 3 INT | 9 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Purdy rides the waves as a carefree marauder, ignoring society's expectations to raise havoc against the Bucs, Seahawks and Commanders in back-to-back-to-back slashings. His chemistry with George Kittle has helped the monstrous tight end to a gaudy 14/241/4 line in those three games. Though he tossed his first pick since assuming starting duties in Week 14, Purdy also found Kittle for 34- and 33-yard scores before whipping a 54-yard laser to Brandon Aiyuk. Purdy's 7.93 yards per attempt places him fifth among QBs to start three-plus games this season. His 8:3 touchdown-to-pick ratio and 67 percent completion rate describe a quick learner. Purdy looks the part, wins over teammates by the bundle and operates as a man determined to drop a bomb on the Draftnik Industrial Complex. 

Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 23

2022 stats: 15 games | 66 pct | 4,178 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 21 pass TD | 9 INT | -5 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

To the eye, Russell Wilson appears washed at 34 years old. Easy to forget that Brady has forged on for another 11-plus years minus a dramatic dip in play. His last four starts, though, have seen him whip seven interceptions (some of them ghastly, uncharacteristic decisions), lose a pair of fumbles and throw for just 5.61 yards per attempt. The late-game and overtime comebacks are the stuff of TB12 legend, but bring only deeper questions about the Tampa attack's otherwise eternal slump. Losing Josh Wells, already operating as a replacement for tackle Donovan Smith, only raises the concern level around the Bucs' destiny. 

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 4

2022 stats: 15 games | 66.5 pct | 3,028 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 13 pass TD | 5 INT | 617 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 6 fumbles

Daniel Jones absorbed hit after hit against the Vikings. He never backed down, throwing for 334 yards -- his second-highest total all year -- against an inviting Minnesota secondary. The feat is more impressive when it's understood Jones is targeting humans such as Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James, while Kirk Cousins, across the way, has Justin Jefferson at his disposal. Jones also threw a costly fourth-quarter pick, but New York's starter has put enough on film to make Brian Daboll think about keeping him around.

Gardner Minshew
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 4

2022 stats: 4 games | 59.1 pct | 389 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 3 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

I enjoyed Minshew burning bright on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive where he hit DeVonta Smith for 19 yards on third-and-10, A.J. Brown for 14 on third-and-6 and Smith again for a touchdown on third-and-7. Plenty of guys on this list can't be trusted to do so, but the Eagles allowed Minshew to stay aggressive from wire to wire against Dallas. His two interceptions were a pair of insane defensive plays: Jayron Kearse leaping over the back of Quez Watkins and DaRon Bland ripping the ball away from Watkins. Minshew also lost a fumble -- his three giveaways led to 17 Dallas points -- but there's a tangible upside to his game.

Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 9

2022 stats: 15 games | 60.8 pct | 3,522 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 24 pass TD | 14 INT | 102 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

An ugly season for Carr blossomed into horror on Saturday night in Pittsburgh, with the Raiders crumbling over the final two quarters to sport a drive chart that read:

  • Interception
  • Interception
  • Punt
  • Punt
  • Punt
  • Interception

Carr moved the offense a mere 50 yards in the second half, and he found star wideout Davante Adams for just 15 total yards off two catches and nine targets on the night. Josh McDaniels deserves plenty of the blame, but he also remains in power. I predict the Raiders and Carr part ways in mere months.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: The Raiders are benching quarterback Derek Carr for the final two games of the 2022 season, head coach Josh McDaniels announced Wednesday. Jarrett Stidham will start against the 49ers on Sunday.

Andy Dalton
New Orleans Saints · Year 12

2022 stats: 12 games | 66.2 pct | 2,495 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 17 pass TD | 8 INT | 54 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

After Dalton heaved a first-quarter pick that led to a Browns touchdown, atrocious conditions in Cleveland convinced the Saints to all but ignore their quarterback in favor of a run-doused approach. Alvin Kamara (20/76/1) and Taysom Hill (9/56/1) bashed through one of the game's worst ground defenses to erase a 10-point deficit and defeat an out-of-sync Browns team at their own game. Hiding Dalton against the Eagles in Week 17 will be far more complicated. 

Baker Mayfield
Los Angeles Rams · Year 5

2022 stats: 10 games | 61 pct | 1,884 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 10 pass TD | 7 INT | 65 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 8 fumbles

Mayfield is a case study in NFL-based shifting destinies. Seen weeks ago as a fizzled-out first-rounder headed for the breadline, Baker has all but cemented a Rams backup job as Sean McVay's precious pet in Los Angeles. Mayfield fits the scheme, as evidenced by his 51-point dismantling of a previously thorny Denver defense; 173 of his 230 yards came off throws under 10 air yards, but who cares? He missed on just four of his 28 attempts and turned Tyler Higbee (9/94/2) into an early-career Ozzie Newsome. Despite a flock of stars on the lam, Mayfield has shown he can move the ball and hand this awful Rams season a brighter-than-expected finish. 

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers · Rookie

2022 stats: 11 games | 65.2 pct | 2,041 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 5 pass TD | 9 INT | 234 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles

There's a calm to Pickett's game. We saw it Saturday night in an emotionally charged 13-10 downing of the Raiders. Trailing 10-6 with 2:55 on the clock, Pickett ground out a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown march during which he hit seven of nine passes for 75 yards, capped by his 14-yard go-ahead dart to George Pickens. The other yard on that drive? Pickett blasting for the first on fourth-and-1 from the Vegas 15. Fighting for the memory of Franco Harris and The Immaculate Reception, Pittsburgh's newbie starter simply got it done. 

Sam Darnold
Carolina Panthers · Year 5

2022 stats: 4 games | 61.4 pct | 759 pass yds | 8.6 ypa | 4 pass TD | 0 INT | 54 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble

Mirroring Baker Mayfield, Darnold has cemented himself as someone's No. 2 man next season after a swath of clean starts. His most recent handiwork included a 15-of-22 outing for 250 yards and two scores (one on the ground) in Carolina's romp over the upstart Lions. You don't need Darnold (or any human) to operate as Y.A. Tittle when the backfield is lashing the enemy for a franchise-record 320 yards on the ground. Knock off Tampa come Sunday, and it's entirely viable that a left-for-dead Darnold is suddenly starting a playoff game. 

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · Year 6

2022 stats: 4 games | 57.7 pct | 703 pass yds | 5.7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 3 INT | 100 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

While the Saints kept Andy Dalton under lock and key in terrible Ohio weather, Kevin Stefanski kept asking Watson to throw the ball in crucial situations. Trailing 17-10 in the final period, the quarterback fired incompletions on third-and-2 and fourth-and-2 from his own 39. One drive later, with the game on the line, back-to-back darts from the New Orleans 15 -- catchable balls to Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku -- never found a home. Watson was then hassled and sacked on fourth down to end the contest. He remains worlds away from the player Cleveland paid a king's ransom for.

Taylor Heinicke
Washington Commanders · Year 5

2022 stats: 9 games | 62.2 pct | 1,859 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 12 pass TD | 6 INT | 96 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Heinicke's mistakes caught up to him in a rough-and-tumble loss to the Niners. He threw for just 166 yards with a pick and a fumble, compelling Ron Rivera to yank the high-energy signal-caller in favor of Carson Wentz, who will start Sunday against the Browns. It's an upset that Heinicke lasted this long, considering his own up-and-down pay and Wentz's $28 million cap number. Heinicke brought life to the offense, won over his teammates and helped Washington to a 5-3-1 mark since taking over. Armed with nothing but imperfect patches at the position for the third year running, Rivera is opting for the imperfect patch who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 237 pounds. 

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 2

2022 stats: 12 games | 65.6 pct | 2,550 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 9 pass TD | 8 INT | 96 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Guiding New England to six straight punts out of the gate, Jones helped turn a 22-0 halftime deficit into a fight in Saturday's 22-18 loss to the Bengals. A 5-yard scoring strike to Kendrick Bourne was paired with a 48-yard rope that ricocheted off tight end Scotty Washington into the arms of Jakobi Meyers. Anomalies and rare bright spots inside a mostly lost second season for Jones, a player surely smitten over the concept of mind-melding with Bill O'Brien after the Patriots invariably shake up their awkwardly constructed coaching staff. 

Nick Foles
Indianapolis Colts · Year 11

2022 stats: 2 games | 58.6 pct | 143 pass yds | 4.9 ypa | 0 pass TD | 3 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Humans across the board could use a break from the Colts operating as a seemingly constant prime-time television vehicle. Throwing two first-quarter picks -- and a third to start the second half -- Foles was the latest underwater signal-caller launched into the fire behind a disastrous line that allowed seven sacks in a 20-3 smashing by the Chargers. Indy's final three marches ended on downs, two in its own territory. After nearly escaping the season without lifting a finger, Foles now prepares for the blitz-heavy Giants. 

Davis Mills
Houston Texans · Year 2

2022 stats: 13 games | 61.8 pct | 2,618 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 14 pass TD | 13 INT | 69 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles

He remains a mixed bag, but it was encouraging to see Mills hit four straight throws on a go-ahead touchdown march that put Houston up 19-14 over the Titans: 6 yards to Brevin Jordan, a 20-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett -- which was helped by the wideout adjusting to the ball -- and a 37-yard sideline rope to Amari Rodgers before Mills found Brandin Cooks in the end zone. "That's growth. He had to hit some tight passes in clutch situations," said Lovie Smith. "He's making the most of this second opportunity." What the coach didn't need to say, because it's understood: Houston remains a lock to draft Mills' replacement in mere months. 

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Rookie

2022 stats: 2 games | 59.3 pct | 315 pass yds | 5.3 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | 46 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Ridder took a ginger step forward Saturday after his lost-at-sea debut in Week 15. Most promising was the chemistry he showed with Drake London, helping the rookie wideout to a season-high 96 yards off seven grabs. Ridder battled through the cold to make a few impressive throws, but four red-zone drives down the stretch netted three field goals. Eight of his completions and 63 of his 218 yards came on lobs behind the line of scrimmage, per NGS. Another two weeks of meaningful snaps will give the Falcons a better idea if Ridder can steer the vehicle come September. 

Malik Willis
Tennessee Titans · Rookie

2022 stats: 8 games | 50.8 pct | 276 pass yds | 4.5 ypa | 0 pass TD | 3 INT | 123 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

A raw project. 

Willis angry-ran for his first pro touchdown in a disastrous loss to Houston. His scampering ability is spicy, but the rookie is largely adrift as a passer. With Tennessee trailing 19-14 late in the game, Willis threw a dangerous pass that was yanked away by Texans linebacker Christian Harris. One drive later, a picked Hail Mary -- just his second attempt of 10-plus air yards all day -- ended the game. With Ryan Tannehill a potential ghost for the rest of the campaign, Willis is auditioning for a central role on a Titans roster that could look vastly different a year from now. He's got miles to go. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Tennessee benched Willis in favor of the recently signed Joshua Dobbs to start Thursday night's 27-13 loss to Dallas. The Titans see what fans see in Willis: A hyper-raw, third-round project who -- amid flashes of potential -- is operating under water. In the league since 2017, Dobbs is a competent alternative who looks the part. He lost the ball on a first-half strip-sack and tossed a pick, but Dobbs (20-of-39 passing for 232 yards) made a smattering of throws, flung a touchdown to Robert Woods and brought an element of calm to the proceedings. With Ryan Tannehill shipped to injured reserve, the smart money is on Mike Vrabel choosing Dobbs over Willis for Week 18's AFC South-deciding clash with the Jaguars, though the Titans coach isn't showing his hand yet.

Tyler Huntley
Baltimore Ravens · Year 3

2022 stats: 5 games | 67 pct | 528 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 113 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The Ravens are 3-1 since losing Lamar Jackson, a mark that becomes more improbable when we learn that Huntley has thrown for a grand total of 528 yards and one score during that stretch. The lone touchdown, Saturday's 6-yarder to Demarcus Robinson, came on the heels of 11 straight runs (and one incompletion) by a Ravens team working around Huntley's shaky play through the air. He wasn't pressured on any of his 17 dropbacks, per NGS, and still managed just 115 yards. Baltimore's 10-5 record points to a resilient operation, but the Ravens are mincemeat when it counts without Lamar. 

Trace McSorley
Arizona Cardinals · Year 3

2022 stats: 5 games | 52.7 pct | 383 pass yds | 5.2 ypa | 0 pass TD | 4 INT | 48 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Down to their third quarterback, the 2022 Cardinals are eight quarters away from mercifully turning into dust. It's a coin flip as to whether Kliff Kingsbury returns to guide an attack that appeared confused under Kyler Murray, low-wattage with Colt McCoy and sub-paint-by-numbers with McSorley at the wheel. Boasting one of the season's weirder box scores, DeAndre Hopkins latched onto just one of 10 targets for 4 yards against the Bucs. McSorley can fling it with some power but killed the Cardinals with a first-half strip-sack in the red zone before losing the ball again on a doomed pitch to Keaontay Ingram that Tampa turned into an overtime-triggering field goal. In overtime, McSorley drove the club 11 yards on 6 plays before punting away the ball -- and the game -- to Tom Brady.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Cardinals QB Colt McCoy had cleared concussion protocol Wednesday and was in line to start Sunday against Atlanta, but after experiencing more symptoms Friday, McCoy will not play Sunday, per head coach Kliff Kingsbury. David Blough will get his first NFL start since 2019.

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 11

2022 stats: 13 games | 60.1 pct | 3,019 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 12 pass TD | 9 INT | 232 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Denver's voyage into bone-black darkness crescendoed with Monday's firing of coach Nathaniel Hackett. The writing was on the wall after a new ownership group watched the first-year figurehead appear totally underwater in a 51-14 loss to a Rams team missing the majority of its best players. Pitched as a quarterback whisperer, Hackett never synced up with Wilson, who spent quarters at a time looking like the worst quarterback in the NFL long before Sunday's three-pick meltdown in La La Land. I don't know how you pitch this version of Wilson to potential hires. Here's my move:

Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Year 2

2022 stats: 9 games | 54.5 pct | 1,688 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 6 pass TD | 7 INT | 102 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Savagely booed by Jets fans from the opening snap, an underwater Wilson was benched in the third quarter of Thursday's disastrous loss to the Jaguars in favor of ex-CFL arm Chris Streveler

The good news for New York? Mike White and his banged-up ribs have been cleared to start Sunday against the Seahawks. As for Wilson, I'm increasingly convinced he isn't even on the roster come next September.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter.

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