Air Index

Presented By

QB Index, Week 9: Ben Roethlisberger cracks top 10

As listeners of the Around The NFL Podcast know, Chris Wesseling is currently in the middle of a second battle with cancer. And as anyone who's faced cancer knows, it's a grueling fight with taxing treatments. Some weeks are better than others. Sometimes, you just need to lean on a little help from your friends.

Below, per usual, you'll find Chris' updated rankings of the league's starting quarterbacks, 1-32. But in terms of this week's supplementary analysis, Chris has made a call to the bullpen. In for relief: THE EDITORS! (Mr. Wesseling's usual source of stress.)

Write-ups for the top 10 signal-callers -- the cream of the QB Index crop -- are provided by Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr, who just so happened to handle this weekly quarterbacking rundown last season. So, while the rankings are Chris', if you've got beef with a blurb, take it up with the author of the analysis!

NOTE: To keep all 32 quarterbacks on common ground for evaluation, the rankings and statistics below reflect what has transpired through WEEK 8; the events of Thursday night's game between the Packers and the 49ers are not included.

Rank
1
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks · Year 9

2020 stats: 7 games | 71.5 pct | 2,151 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 26 pass TD | 6 INT | 260 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Filice: Yep, he's cookin' up a storm. What's on the menu? Touchdown passes -- by the trayful. Over the first eight years of Wilson's NFL career -- 143 games, including the playoffs -- he threw four-plus TD passes 10 times. Over the first seven games of this season, he hit that mark four times -- including this past Sunday, when he knocked out the rival 49ers with four scoring strikes in the first two-and-a-half quarters. Russ saved the best for last, too. Midway through the third quarter, San Francisco was on the ropes, with Seattle leading 20-7 and facing a third-and-goal from the 6-yard line. On the snap, Niners DT D.J. Jones shook rookie guard Damien Lewis out of his shoes and burst into the backfield. Seemingly dead to rights for a moment, Wilson calmly sidestepped the raging behemoth, spotted David Moore entering an open window over the middle and flicked an off-platform seed for six. Mwah! Chef's kiss.

Rank
2
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 16

2020 stats: 7 games | 65.9 pct | 1,948 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 20 pass TD | 2 INT | 54 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Blair: Aaron Rodgers' TNF cakewalk against the Niners probably already made you forget about the ending of Vikings-Packers on Sunday -- unless you're a Vikings fan, in which case the image of Rodgers getting sacked from behind by D.J. Wonnum and coughing up the ball on the game's final play will forever be tattooed in your memory, and maybe even on your back. I'm not going to read a lot into this; it's not on Rodgers to stop Dalvin Cook. And it didn't help that Rodgers had to burn precious final seconds getting Jamaal Williams lined up correctly before spiking the ball. He still belongs in this lofty spot, as his 305-yard, four-touchdown effort against San Francisco (which, technically, is fodder for next week's QBI) showed. But for a moment, at least, Rodgers was fallible in a situation where you expect him to make magic.

Rank
3
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 4

2020 stats: 8 games | 66.9 pct | 2,315 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 21 pass TD | 1 INT | 165 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Parr: I get it. You can't move a guy up in the rankings for melting the poor Jets defense into a green goo. But, as expected, Mahomes made it look effortless, taking care of business against Gregg Williams' overmatched unit in Week 8. He became the eighth player since 1948 to post 400-plus passing yards, five or more TD passes, zero interceptions and a completion rate of 70-plus percent in a single game, according to NFL Research. Only MVP front-runner Russell Wilson has accounted for more TDs than Mahomes, who recently became the first player in NFL history with 20-plus TD passes and one or fewer INTs in the first eight games of a season. He's coming for the No. 2 spot, Aaron Rodgers.

Rank
4
Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 9

2020 stats: 7 games | 67.4 pct | 1,823 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 17 pass TD | 3 INT | 102 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Blair: Ryan Tannehill's game tape so far this season could be cut into a PSA about the importance of playing well in the red zone. Last Sunday against the Bengals was no exception -- only this time, he finally demonstrated the perils of blowing a scoring chance, tossing his first red-zone pick of the year (though he added two TDs to keep his TD-to-INT ratio inside the 20 at a sparkling 15:1) on a first-quarter throw to A.J. Brown. It was his only glaring mistake of the day, but it put the Titans behind the eight ball, and they were never really able to catch up to Joe Burrow and Co. after that. Otherwise, Tannehill suffered a bit of tough luck, made some very nice throws and didn't do much to diminish his standing here. 

Rank
5
Josh Allen
Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 3

2020 stats: 8 games | 67.1 pct | 2,172 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 16 pass TD | 5 INT | 227 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost


Blair: So Josh Allen became embroiled in a nail-biter against a scuffling New England team. Don't dock him too much for an effort that, though imperfect, did not suggest any significant backtracking in his progress as a third-year pro. He coughed up one bad pick, missing on a second-quarter pass intended for Stefon Diggs, but otherwise mostly refrained from risky behavior, showing the ability to, as CBS analyst Charles Davis pointed out during the broadcast, pull the ball down and run rather than force a throw. He made some nice plays, finding Diggs on a strike in the third quarter that Diggs turned into a 41-yard gain, setting up a TD. Oh, and he beat the freaking Patriots, an important feather to add to his cap before a high-visibility showdown with the Seahawks. 

Rank
6
1
Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans · Year 4

2020 stats: 7 games | 69.5 pct | 2,095 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 15 pass TD | 5 INT | 147 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Parr: Deshaun Watson is being wasted. He's having a sensational season, leading the league in yards per attempts (8.8), ranking fourth in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric and fifth in Pro Football Focus' QB grades. Yet, because of the Texans' deficiencies in most other areas, he seems doomed to footnote status in 2020. We haven't seen a disparity between QB play and overall team performance this wide since ... Well, perhaps ever: Watson is the only quarterback since at least 1950 to lose six or more of his team's first seven games despite posting a passer rating of 100-plus through seven games, per NFL Research.

Rank
7
1
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 21

2020 stats: 8 games | 66.2 pct | 2,189 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 20 pass TD | 4 INT | 6 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Bhanpuri: Big thanks to TB12 for not hanging me out to dry after my 230-word testimonial this summer in support of the maligned 43-year-old passer. The six-time champ ranks among the league's best quarterbacks in most passing categories, but his production on downfield throws has impressed me the most -- especially after hearing all offseason about his supposed waning arm strength. Brady is one of just four quarterbacks (Matt Ryan, Joe Burrow, Carson Wentz) with more than 100 passes of 10-plus air yards this season, boasting a 10:2 TD-to-INT ratio, a 115.5 passer rating and a whopping 20.2 air yards per attempt, per Next Gen Stats. Adding one of the game's most prolific downfield threats of the last decade to Brady's arsenal almost doesn't seem fair.

Rank
8
Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 1

2020 stats: 6 games | 67.4 pct | 1,820 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 15 pass TD | 5 INT | 142 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Filice: The standout rookie posted his first multi-pick game in last week's one-point loss at Denver. He's not perfect. ... Well, except during one three-drive stretch this past Sunday. After failing to generate any points during L.A.'s first four possessions of the game, Herbert got the ball back with just under six minutes remaining in the first half and proceeded to complete his next 13 passes over three drives, racking up 155 yards and three touchdowns in the process. Granted, a number of the throws were routine dump-offs to backs, and one was essentially a jet-sweep handoff. But 13 straight's nothing to scoff at, especially when each of the scoring strikes was a thing of beauty: the third-down fadeaway laser to Keenan Allen; the patient, bootleg-fueled fling to fullback Gabe Nabers; and the majestic, exquisitely placed, 24-yard rainbow to Mike Williams.

Rank
9
2
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 17

2020 stats: 7 games | 67.9 pct | 1,628 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 15 pass TD | 4 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Bhanpuri: With a win on Sunday, Roethlisberger will own a .500 or better record in all 17 of his NFL seasons, which would be a league record. While the 38-year-old’s big arm and even bigger production has been the backbone of several of those winning seasons, this year, he’s taken on a less-is-more approach. He’s currently averaging 35.1 attempts per game, his lowest mark since 2012, while generating his highest TD percentage (6.1) since he hit 7.9 in 2007. Roethlisberger’s increased efficiency and balanced distribution of the ball -- the Steelers are the only team in the NFL with three receivers with 20-plus catches and three-plus receiving scores -- has allowed Pittsburgh to jump out to only its second 7-0 start in franchise history. Big Ben seems to have embraced this Brees-esque stage of his career, and the Steelers are better for it.

Rank
10
1
Derek Carr
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 7

2020 stats: 7 games | 71.1 pct | 1,837 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 14 pass TD | 2 INT | 94 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost


Parr: The Cleveland slush wasn't so nice to Derek. Vegas' QB1 recorded season lows in completion percentage (62.5%) and passer rating (87.3) in less-than-ideal conditions. Carr's 111 passing yards against the Browns were the fewest of his career in a game he started and finished. That said, his team won! Carr accounted for the contest's lone TD -- a 4-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow early in the fourth quarter -- and also made some key plays with his legs, rushing for 41 yards (his most in a game since 2017). He continues to dink and dunk at a rate that will frustrate some people -- 26.4 percent of his passes have traveled 10-plus air yards (ranks 30th in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats) -- but the Raiders have a winning record and he's posted a passer rating of 97.5 or better in every game this season that wasn't played with a wintry mix falling from the sky.

Rank
11
1
Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons · Year 13

2020 stats: 8 games | 66.8 pct | 2,462 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 12 pass TD | 4 INT | 58 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
12
2
Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 2

2020 stats: 7 games | 66.8 pct | 1,847 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 13 pass TD | 7 INT | 437 rush yds | 7 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
13
3
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 3

2020 stats: 7 games | 60.5 pct | 1,343 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 12 pass TD | 4 INT | 411 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Rank
14
1
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Indianapolis Colts · Year 17

2020 stats: 7 games | 69.7 pct | 1,860 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 10 pass TD | 6 INT | -2 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost

Rank
15
2
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Los Angeles Rams · Year 5

2020 stats: 8 games | 65.5 pct | 2,145 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 13 pass TD | 6 INT | 40 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Rank
16
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints · Year 20

2020 stats: 7 games | 73.1 pct | 1,898 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 13 pass TD | 3 INT | 4 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
17
3
Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 1

2020 stats: 8 games | 67.0 pct | 2,272 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 11 pass TD | 5 INT | 130 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost

Rank
18
Teddy Bridgewater
Teddy Bridgewater
Carolina Panthers · Year 7

2020 stats: 8 games | 71.6 pct | 2,106 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 9 pass TD | 6 INT | 161 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
19
Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns · Year 3

2020 stats: 8 games | 61.4 pct | 1,514 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 15 pass TD | 7 INT | 65 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost

Rank
20
3
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Detroit Lions · Year 12

2020 stats: 7 games | 61.4 pct | 1,916 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 13 pass TD | 5 INT | 77 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
21
4
Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 9

2020 stats: 7 games | 65.6 pct | 1,635 pass yds | 8.7 ypa | 12 pass TD | 10 INT | 55 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
22
NR
Nick Mullens
Nick Mullens
San Francisco 49ers · Year 3

2020 stats: 4 games | 70.4 pct | 852 pass yds | 8.7 ypa | 4 pass TD | 3 INT | -2 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
23
Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 5

2020 stats: 8 games | 58.4 pct | 1,883 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 12 pass TD | 12 INT | 202 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost

Rank
24
2
Cam Newton
Cam Newton
New England Patriots · Year 10

2020 stats: 6 games | 66.0 pct | 1,143 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 2 pass TD | 7 INT | 298 rush yds | 6 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
25
1
Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 2

2020 stats: 8 games | 61.8 pct | 1,666 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 7 pass TD | 9 INT | 316 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles lost

Rank
26
1
Nick Foles
Nick Foles
Chicago Bears · Year 9

2020 stats: 6 games | 64.8 pct | 1,411 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 8 pass TD | 7 INT | -1 rush yd | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost

Rank
27
1
Drew Lock
Drew Lock
Denver Broncos · Year 2

2020 stats: 5 games | 58.0 pct | 927 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 5 INT | 11 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
28
1
Kyle Allen
Kyle Allen
Washington Football Team · Year 3

2020 stats: 3 games | 68.8 pct | 548 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 4 pass TD | 1 INT | 26 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
29
2
Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold
New York Jets · Year 3

2020 stats: 6 games | 58.6 pct | 1,045 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 6 INT | 138 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost

Rank
30
Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 1

2020 stats: 2 games | 58.3 pct | 102 pass yds | 4.3 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost

Rank
31
NR
Jake Luton
Jake Luton
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 1



Rank
32
NR
Garrett Gilbert
Garrett Gilbert
Dallas Cowboys · Year 3

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.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

Related Content

Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.