Ranking NFL quarterbacks has never been more difficult. The league has never seen so many good passers (and runners) at the position as it has in 2019, from rising young stars to accomplished veterans with plenty of above-average players in between.
Because our preseason rankings weren’t enough, we will keep doing weekly updates based on the natural fluctuation of football’s most important position.
This week, the focus turns to the award that essentially rewards the top quarterback in the NFL in a given season — league MVP. Three quarterbacks have emerged as the strongest candidates through the first half of the season based on how much they’ve carried their teams, but now a fourth — the reigning MVP, no less — is set to return to make up some major ground.
From the best to the worst current starters for every team, let the debate continue.
WEEK 10 NFL PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
NFL quarterback power rankings Week 10
1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (last week: 2)
Wilson has played spectacular football and is long overdue for a Seattle reign as MVP. With their lingering defensive issues and running game not being quite as a reliable, the Seahawks’ playoff hopes rest mostly on his arm and legs. The 49ers present a big chance to pad his lead.
2. Deshaun Watson, Texans (3)
Watson did get some more help from his running game and defense in Week 9 before the bye, but he’s provided plenty of razzle and dazzle to lift his team back to first place in the AFC South.
3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (not ranked)
Mahomes is trending toward a return from knee injury with his full practice week and can pick up where he left off picking apart an injury-riddled Titans defense. He has two games of lost production for which to make up, but we know he can get hot in a hurry to put up more undeniable numbers and jaw-dropping plays.
4. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (9)
Jackson got the biggest win of his young career by passing and running the Ravens to a rout of the Patriots. He’s a gamer and a winner, and although Baltimore’s defense has figured out more things of late, the team wouldn’t be in first place in the AFC North without everything he’s done, including a key win vs. Wilson.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (1)
Rodgers had some MVP momentum going into Week 10 after his two biggest games under Matt LaFleur, but then came the rough game in the loss at the Chargers. He’s doing his best to lift a limited receiving corps led by a limited Davante Adams. He will look to get well in a big way back in Green Bay.
NFL POWER RANKINGS
49ers, Saints jump Patriots; Ravens, Seahawks pass Packers for Week 10
6. Drew Brees, Saints (4)
With the five games lost to his right thumb injury — all Saints wins — Brees, who has never won the MVP, will be more concerned about working on getting another Super Bowl MVP later with a contender that might be stronger than last year’s NFC runner-up.
7. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (6)
Prescott is on the fringe of the MVP conversation as he’s also playing at a high level. What’s hurt him are losses to Rodgers’ Packers and the Brees-less Saints. He has plenty of big-game chances ahead, however, with the Vikings, Patriots and Rams left.
8. Tom Brady, Patriots (5)
Brady is trying to lift an offense that has a struggling power running game and no true downfield threats in the passing game. He’ll be the first to admit he hasn’t played nearly his best, but his average is still better than most of the league.
9. Carson Wentz, Eagles (11)
Wentz’s season doesn’t have gaudy numbers and the Eagles are only 5-4, but his tough, gritty play in a compressed passing game continues to impress as a old-school quarterback ideal for colder-weather success.
10. Matthew Stafford, Lions (8)
Stafford has everything on him with the Lions’ defense and running game offering nothing toward their bottom line. He’s dealing well all over the field at the highest level of his career.
11. Kirk Cousins, Vikings (7)
Cousins has played very well playing off the running game but had a bit of a cool off with his downfield passing against the Chiefs. He also could use to raise his play in bigger games, because he’s still at his best ripping apart weaker teams.
12. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (10)
Jimmy G’s explosion in prime-time against the Cardinals reminded everyone he’s a lot more playmaker than caretaker for the NFL’s only undefeated team. He take that up a notice with another national night game vs the Seahawks on Monday.
13. Matt Ryan, Falcons (12)
Ryan should return from his ankle injury to face the rival Saints. He has done his best to keep Atlanta in games knowing it can’t run well and its defense consistently gives up big plays and big leads.
14. Derek Carr, Raiders (15)
Carr has been super-efficient all season and there are no more questions about how he meshes with Jon Gruden and the Raiders’ offense, given he’s doing this without Antonio Brown and with a committee of versatile receivers. He’s a pretty good reason why they’re 5-4, fresh off the winning comeback he led against the Chargers.
15. Jacoby Brissett, Colts (14)
Brissett might play through his knee injury against the Dolphins. With his mental and physical toughness, the Colts couldn’t have asked for much more than what he’s doing in their strong support system. He’s done plenty to prove he was worthy of being extended as the starter.
NFL BACKUP QB QUIZ:
Can you name your favorite team’s second-stringer?
16. Jared Goff, Rams (16)
Goff returns from a bye without wide receiver Brandin Cooks and faces a make-or-break second half featuring a slew of tough defensive matchups, starting with the Steelers.
17. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (17)
Murray has had some terrific games as a rookie like the one against the 49ers to prove the Cardinals got it right by pairing him with Kliff Kingsbury. The passing game is very friendly for his talents, and his running should be more effective with David Johnson back.
18. Philip Rivers, Chargers (18)
What was that? Rivers had every opportunity to rip apart a weak Raiders’ pass defense and ended up having one of his classic mistake-filled games. He was enjoying career-best play with Anthony Lynn, but now it’s back to some shaky times from San Diego.
19. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (18)
Winston did have a turnover in Seattle, but as Bruce Arians pointed out, it was yet another one that wasn’t his fault. He is locked in with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to think the Bucs should make sure to lock up him as their franchise passer.
20. Nick Foles, Jaguars (not ranked)
Foles gets the starting gig back from Gardner Minshew after the Week 10 bye, following Minshew’s bad game in Week 9. But there’s no guarantee Foles will be better than Minshew was in most of the games he played since Week 1.
21. Baker Mayfield, Browns (19)
Mayfield gets propped up here again by considering the physical talent he still has and there were more signs of him breaking a sophomore season-long slump during a tough matchup in Denver. There’s still time to restore some good vibes as now the playoffs aren’t a concern.
22. Josh Allen, Bills (23)
Allen has held steady with slight improvement from his rookie season but the defense and running game are way more responsible for having the Bills playoff positioned. He’ll need to raise his game in the second half for them to nail down the wild card.
23. Kyle Allen, Panthers (27)
Allen has done well to help Carolina win when Christian McCaffrey is making things easier with big runs and catches and the defense is creating shorter fields with takeaways. It’s now on him to help them come through against tougher competition such as the Packers, now that he has an extended audition for the job with Cam Newton on IR.
24. Ryan Tannehill, Titans (20)
Tannehill is back to being the usual inconsistent thrill ride, athletic playmaker who can turn ineffective passer at any moment. He’s still a huge improvement, which doesn’t bode well for the NFL future of Marcus Mariota.
25. Daniel Jones, Giants (22)
Sometimes in quarters, Danny throws dimes. Other times, he gets confused by the nickel package and his coin tosses become turnovers. Our two cents is that he’s still a promising rookie who will keep learning from mistakes.
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26. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (29)
Fitzpatrick was trending toward getting Miami in the win column and it had to be sweet to do that against one of his many former teams, the Jets. He’s still the same old (emphasis on old) gunslinger.
27. Mason Rudolph, Steelers (25)
Rudolph has done his best to guide Pittsburgh’s sleigh without Ben Roethlisberger, but there’s still not a comfort level he should be Big Ben’s full-time successor as he can quickly fall into a checkdown shell.
28. Sam Darnold, Jets (26)
Darnold isn’t hitting on the shorter or longer passes like we thought he could in a potential breakout season under Adam Gase, stuck in intermediate or interception mode. He needs to finish strong against a very easy schedule to take key positives into Year 3.
29. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears (29)
Trubisky doesn’t want the televisions on at Halas Hall because he doesn’t want to hear anything about the way he’s struggling. Our guess is he probably gets plenty of that already from coach Matt Nagy.
30. Brandon Allen, Broncos (32)
Allen made it three victorious Allens with a pretty good playmaker-facilitating performance against the Browns. It will be interesting to see if Allen can keep the job ahead of a healthy Drew Lock.
31. Ryan Finley, Bengals (not ranked)
Finley did perform well in the preseason and had a good career at NC State and will be the fourth NFL starter from that program when he takes the field against the Ravens, but we know that’s a very tough first game.
32. Dwayne Haskins, Redskins (31)
Haskins looks like he might get an extended look after the bye. The limited playing time so far has been rough, but maybe a full trial by fire to end his rookie season is exactly what he needs to improve vastly for Year 2.