Air Index

QB Index, Week 17: Aaron Rodgers reclaims No. 1 ranking

Where do the starting quarterbacks of each NFL team stand heading into Week 17 of the 2020 season? NFL.com editors Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr provide a composite ranking of all 32 players below. Each editor's individual ranking of each quarterback can be found underneath the player's name; analysis is presented in eight-QB chunks below the players being discussed.

NOTE: The rankings and statistics below reflect what has transpired THROUGH WEEK 16. Up-down arrows reflect changes from the previous week's QB Index.

Rank
1
1
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 16

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 1 | Blair: 1 | Filice: 1| Parr: 1

2020 stats: 15 games | 70.3 pct | 4,059 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 44 pass TD | 5 INT | 145 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
2
1
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 4

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 2 | Blair: 2 | Filice: 2 | Parr: 2

2020 stats: 15 games | 66.3 pct | 4,740 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 38 pass TD | 6 INT | 308 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
3
Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 3

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 3 | Blair: 3 | Filice: 4 | Parr: 3

2020 stats: 15 games | 69.1 pct | 4,320 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 34 pass TD | 9 INT | 418 rush yds | 8 rush TD | 6 fumbles lost

Rank
4
1
Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans · Year 4

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 4 | Blair: 4 | Filice: 3 | Parr: 4

2020 stats: 15 games | 70.1 pct | 4,458 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 30 pass TD | 6 INT | 432 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Rank
5
2
Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks · Year 9

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 5| Blair: 5 | Filice: 6 | Parr: 5

2020 stats: 15 games | 69.7 pct | 4,031 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 38 pass TD | 13 INT | 484 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost

Rank
6
2
Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 9

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 6 | Blair: 6 | Filice: 8 | Parr: 6

2020 stats: 15 games | 65.4 pct | 3,603 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 32 pass TD | 7 INT | 228 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
7
1
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 3

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 7 | Blair: 7 | Filice: 7 | Parr: 7

2020 stats: 14 games | 64.8 pct | 2,644 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 23 pass TD | 8 INT | 908 rush yds | 7 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost

Rank
8
2
Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 21

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 8 | Blair: 8 | Filice: 5 | Parr: 8

2020 stats: 15 games | 65.9 pct | 4,234 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 36 pass TD | 11 INT | 3 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Bhanpuri: After an uncharacteristically sloppy showing from Patrick Mahomes and the evisceration of the Titans' defense by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers QB has reclaimed the No. 1 spot -- this time, however, by unanimous vote. The margin separating the two passers on this list, and for the NFL MVP, is razor thin … or at least, it should be. Rodgers has been historically proficient this season, accounting for a league-best 47 total touchdowns and an unfathomably low seven turnovers. And unlike Mahomes, whose 40:8 total-TD-to-TO ratio is locked in, Rodgers will have Week 17 to further pad his production. But when you peel back the traditional stats and dig into the more nuanced Next Gen numbers, some useful context emerges. Rodgers has the highest open percentage (54.4%) -- throws where his intended target has 3-plus yards of separation -- and the second-lowest pressure rate (16.5%) of any quarterback with at least 300 attempts this season. In fact, he's been pressured on 20 percent or more of his dropbacks in just TWO of his 15 starts -- his two worst games of the year (33.3% vs. the Bucs; 20.6% vs. the Panthers) -- while each of the seven other QBs in this grouping have been pressured at an average rate of 21% or higher. More context? His opponent last Sunday night, Ryan Tannehill, was under duress on a whopping 34.6% of his dropbacks -- easily the most terrifying mark he's endured through 16 weeks -- and, by no coincidence, had his worst performance of the season. One final Rodgers note: Not that he has any control over it, but he's benefited from the NFL's easiest slate (.424 strength of schedule) up to this point. Deshaun Watson, who added yet another exceptional outing in a losing effort, and Josh Allen are two other MVP candidates worth recognizing. Both are more than mere also-rans in this year's competition. Four weeks ago, I wrote that little separated Allen, Tannehill and Kyler Murray. Clearly fueled by my spot-on analysis, the Bills QB responded by going 4-0 and throwing for the most yards (1,292) and touchdowns (12) during that span. The poise, confidence and decisiveness he's displayed this season -- punctuated by Monday night's devastation of the rival Patriots -- has been nothing short of outstanding. Russell Wilson's MVP bid has faded in recent weeks, but he's still among my top-three most trustworthy QBs in crunch time (along with Tom Brady and Mahomes). My unwavering belief in his unwavering belief in himself was rewarded again last weekend, when he led two crucial second-half touchdown drives on the Rams' No. 1 defense to clinch the NFC West. I love how Lamar Jackson appears annoyed when a run nets himonly 7 yards, as if he expects to break one every time. He's back to being the best version of himself, and that should petrify the rest of the playoff field.

Rank
T-9
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Rookie

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 9 | Blair: 10 | Filice: 9 | Parr: 10

2020 stats: 14 games | 66.3 pct | 4,034 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 28 pass TD | 10 INT | 225 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
T-9
3
Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 2

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 10 | Blair: 9 | Filice: 10 | Parr: 9

2020 stats: 15 games | 67.1 pct | 3,884 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 26 pass TD | 12 INT | 816 rush yds | 11 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost

Rank
11
NR
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 7

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 11 | Blair: 15 | Filice: 11 | Parr: 11

2020 stats: 15 game | 67.6 pct | 3,732 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 25 pass TD | 7 INT | 139 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles lost

Rank
12
Matthew Stafford
Detroit Lions · Year 12

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 12 | Blair: 12 | Filice: 13 | Parr: 12

2020 stats: 15 games | 64.2 pct | 3,791 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 23 pass TD | 9 INT | 103 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
13
2
Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns · Year 3

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 14 | Blair: 11 | Filice: 15 | Parr: 13

2020 stats: 15 games | 62.7 pct | 3,367 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 25 pass TD | 8 INT | 121 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost

Rank
14
Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 9

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 13 | Blair: 13 | Filice: 14 | Parr: 14

2020 stats: 15 games | 67.4 pct | 3,860 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 32 pass TD | 13 INT | 155 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles lost

Rank
15
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons · Year 13

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 17 | Blair: 17 | Filice: 12 | Parr: 15

2020 stats: 15 games | 64.9 pct | 4,316 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 24 pass TD | 11 INT | 91 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
16
3
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 17

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 16 | Blair: 14 | Filice: 19 | Parr: 16

2020 stats: 15 games | 65.6 pct | 3,804 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 33 pass TD | 10 INT | 10 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Filice: Heading into the final Sunday of the 2020 regular season, the Offensive Rookie of the Year competition is a two-man -- nay, a two-Justin -- race. As one of just two rookies to make the Pro Bowl (along with Washington DE Chase Young), Minnesota receiver Justin Jefferson has a highly compelling case. But when it comes to projecting who'll actually take home the hardware, well, Justin Herbert has those two magical letters affixed to his name: QB. Not that he's undeserving on the merits. Labeled as something of a project coming out of Oregon, the No. 6 overall pick just set a new rookie record with 28 touchdown passes. Even more impressive? His pristine work in muddy pockets. Pro Football Focus credits Herbert with the most passing yards (1,345) and highest passer rating (96.1) of any qualified quarterback when under pressure. Kyler Murray, who received 2019 OROY honors, posted a 62.1 passer rating under pressure in Year 1. This season, that number's crept up to 64.8 -- still more than 30 points below Herbert's sparkling figure. Yes, Murray moves differently than other quarterbacks, but Herbert's storm savvy is as tantalizing a trait as you'll find in a young passer. Derek Carr has ample experience operating under pressure of a different sort. The Raiders are days away from the offseason, which means we're days away from hearing the polarizing QB's reduced dead cap number in 2021 ($2.5 million!) every hour, on the hour. Here's an honest Carr appraisal: This is the best individual season of his seven-year career. Another beacon for offseason fodder in 2021: Matthew Stafford, who's hell-bent on playing in Detroit's meaningless season finale, perhaps because it could be his last meaningless season finale in Detroit. Safe to say Baker Mayfield needs to convert a win-and-in opportunity against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers on Sunday, or those "At Home With Baker Mayfield" spots could take a dark turn, with devastated Dawg Pounders storming the gates of FirstEnergy Stadium. Winding down similarly solid individual campaigns, Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan are out of the playoffs and into the Kyle Shanahan rumor mill.

Rank
17
4
Philip Rivers
Indianapolis Colts · Year 17

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 15 | Blair: 16 | Filice: 17 | Parr: 18

2020 stats: 15 games | 68.3 pct | 4,005 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 23 pass TD | 10 INT | -6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
18
2
Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints · Year 20

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 18 | Blair: 18 | Filice: 16 | Parr: 17

2020 stats: 11 games | 70.7 pct | 2,741 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 21 pass TD | 6 INT | -2 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
T-19
3
Andy Dalton
Dallas Cowboys · Year 10

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 19 | Blair: 22 | Filice: 21 | Parr: 19

2020 stats: 10 games | 65.4 pct | 1,926 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 14 pass TD | 7 INT | 66 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
T-19
2
Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Rookie

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 20 | Blair: 19 | Filice: 18 | Parr: 24

2020 stats: 14 games | 54.7 pct | 989 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 6 pass TD | 3 INT | 320 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
21
Alex Smith
Washington Football Team · Year 16

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 21 | Blair: 20 | Filice: 24 | Parr: 22

2020 stats: 7 games | 66.4 pct | 1,420 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 6 INT | 3 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost

Rank
T-22
Teddy Bridgewater
Carolina Panthers · Year 7

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 22 | Blair: 23 | Filice: 22 | Parr: 21

2020 stats: 14 games | 69.7 pct | 3,557 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 15 pass TD | 9 INT | 272 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Rank
T-22
4
Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Rookie

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 24 | Blair: 21 | Filice: 23 | Parr: 20

2020 stats: 9 games | 65.1 pct | 1,453 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 10 pass TD | 2 INT | 81 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
24
1
Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 2

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 27 | Blair: 25 | Filice: 20 | Parr: 23

2020 stats: 13 games | 62.2 pct | 2,714 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 9 pass TD | 9 INT | 406 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles lost

Parr: The Red Rifle is back, baby! Left for dead at least twice in the past year (after getting the boot from the Bengals in the offseason and a few weeks ago, when Baltimore smothered Dallas on a Tuesday night), Andy Dalton has been downright triumphant during the Cowboys' three-game winning streak. He ranks fifth in the league in passer rating (117.0) among QBs with at least 30 attempts over that span while posting a TD-to-INT ratio of 7:1, per Next Gen Stats. And he's done it playing behind a broken offensive line by getting the ball out quicker than anyone else in the league (2.31-second average time to throw). Dalton, who has a million reasons to keep it going against the Giants on Sunday, is the only guy making a meaningful rise in the QB Index among players in this quadrant. Elder statesmen Philip Rivers and Drew Brees are moving in the opposite direction. We can't shake the sight of Rivers melting down in the second half against the previously moribund Steelers, potentially costing the Colts a playoff spot (13 of 23 for 117 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 52.3 passer rating, -11.6% completion rate over expectation). Brees is throwing the ball downfield more, which is encouraging, but he's posted his two lowest passer ratings of the season since returning from injury in Week 15. Then there are the rookies going through some growing pains. Jalen Hurts is electric at times, but didn't take care of the ball against Dalton and Co. last week (three fourth-quarter turnovers in Dallas territory). It's the opposite story for Tua Tagovailoa, who doesn't turn the ball over or throw it too far beyond the line of scrimmage. He's averaged a miniscule (and league-low) 3.9 air yards per attempt in the last two weeks. That said, Tagovailoa is one of four QBs since 1950 with a .750-plus win percentage and an interception rate below 2 percent in his career (min. 100 pass attempts), per NFL Research. The other three are MVP winners Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Tua was the only one benched from that group last week. The efficient Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater were supposed to go head-to-head in Week 16, but Smith's balky calf had other ideas. Bridgewater (2:2 TD-to-INT ratio in his last four games) continues to be fairly uninspiring, even in victory against one of the NFL's top defenses. The end of Daniel Jones' 2020 season is playing out as a series of weekly disasters, in part because he can't escape the pocket. Get well soon, Dimes.

Rank
25
1
Mitchell Trubisky
Chicago Bears · Year 4

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 23 | Blair: 24 | Filice: 25 | Parr: 25

2020 stats: 9 games | 65.1 pct | 1,803 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 16 pass TD | 7 INT | 173 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
26
1
Sam Darnold
New York Jets · Year 3

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 25 | Blair: 26 | Filice: 28 | Parr: 26

2020 stats: 11 games | 58.8 pct | 1,942 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 8 pass TD | 9 INT | 214 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
27
1
Drew Lock
Denver Broncos · Year 2

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 26 | Blair: 27 | Filice: 26 | Parr: 27

2020 stats: 12 games | 57.0 pct | 2,594 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 14 pass TD | 15 INT | 153 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Rank
28
1
Cam Newton
New England Patriots · Year 10

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 28 | Blair: 28 | Filice: 27 | Parr: 28

2020 stats: 14 games | 65.4 pct | 2,415 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 5 pass TD | 10 INT | 513 rush yds | 12 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
29
2
Brandon Allen
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 4

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 29 | Blair: 29 | Filice: 29 | Parr: 29

2020 stats: 4 games | 69.4 pct | 877 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 25 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
30
2
C.J. Beathard
San Francisco 49ers · Year 4

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 30 | Blair: 30 | Filice: 30 | Parr: 30

2020 stats: 5 games | 61.2 pct | 514 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 5 pass TD | 0 INT | 18 rush yd | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
31
NR
Mike Glennon
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 8

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 31 | Blair: 31 | Filice: 31 | Parr: 31

2020 stats: 4 games | 62.0 pct | 811 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 5 pass TD | 5 INT | 15 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
32
NR
John Wolford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 3

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 32 | Blair: 32 | Filice: 32 | Parr: 32

Blair: The top three players in this section are staring down a potential future embodied by QB No. 28, a.k.a. The Ghost of Attempted Career Revivals Yet to Come. Mitchell Trubisky is doing the most to escape that fate. He didn't exactly dazzle in a laugher against a Jaguars defense that seemed prone to falling down on the job, but he executed on short, quick throws (he's averaging 2.61 seconds and 7.4 air yards per attempt since Week 12, per Next Gen Stats) and play-action passes (34.9 percent of dropbacks, most in the league, per NFL Research) while keeping Chicago in the playoff hunt, which is exactly what he and his coach need right now. Sam Darnold probably wouldn't put a ton of his so-so afternoon against the Browns on his personal sizzle reel, but he did secure his first winning streak since December 2019, further turning the assumption that the Jets will move on from him into an open question. Drew Lock would do well to hop in a time machine and jump back to before 2012 or so, when fitfully promising QB prospects were still afforded a chance to develop. Or he could just erase the mistakes that keep complicating John Elway's evangelization efforts, like the ugly pick that sabotaged Denver's first possession of Sunday's loss to the Chargers. There's not much to say about Cam Newton's forgettable Monday against the Bills, except that it's an honest-to-god shame the Cam Revival we thought we were getting in September crumbled into dust. The three confirmed veteran backups in this section are arranged according to their level of Week 16 success. Brandon Allen shattered his personal best with 371 yards in a pedal-to-the-metal day against the Texans. C.J. Beathard notched his first win (and triple-digit passer rating) in four career starts against the Cardinals. Mike Glennon's two picks vaulted him into a tie for third-most interceptions (25) by players with 30 starts or less since he entered the NFL in 2013. John Wolford belongs at 32 for now ... and yet, when you watch this compilation of his AAF highlights, you can talk yourself into thinking he might be kind of good? Or at least an effective distributor in Sean McVay's offense.

The Air Index presented by FedEx ranks NFL quarterback performances all season long. Check out the weekly FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote after Sunday Night Football.

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