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NFL QB Index, Week 13: Lamar Jackson vexes; Russell Wilson tumbles

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 12 QB Index. Rankings include each team's starting quarterback from the previous game, based solely on 2021 play.

Rank
1
Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 22

2021 stats: 11 games | 67.6 pct | 3,403 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 30 pass TD | 9 INT | 53 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles


Before Leonard Fournette finished off Indianapolis, Brady made all the right throws on a game-winning drive. This was the first win of its kind by the Bucs all season: a come-from-behind victory where the offense came through late against a quality opponent. It was as if Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich spent the first quarter finding the weak spots of the Colts defense and most of the next three quarters exploiting them. Same as it ever was. 

Rank
2
1
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 17

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.2 pct | 2,878 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 23 pass TD | 4 INT | 76 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles


Like everyone on this list, Rodgers has put up a few stinkers this season. Unlike everyone on this list, he’s playing his best as the calendar turns to December. Week 1 was its own bizarre nightmare, and his first game back from the COVID-19 list was ugly, but over the last two weeks, he's looked just like 2020 MVP Rodgers. It was as if the 17th-year vet was biding his time earlier in the season, managing the injuries around him, learning what this group did well. Now he's in full flow, dissecting two quality pass defenses with big-play theatrics. As is true of all four names on top of this list, the NFC's No. 1 seed and MVP award are there for the taking for Rodgers.

Rank
3
NR
Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 3

2021 stats: 8 games | 72.7 pct | 2,276 pass yds | 8.9 ypa | 17 pass TD | 7 INT | 147 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 7 fumbles


It was smart for the Cardinals to avoid rushing Murray back from his ankle injury. Assuming he's back Sunday, he'll have gone 38 days between starts without missing much. No one has taken charge of home-field advantage or the coveted QB Index title race in his absence. Murray has played well enough to be atop this list, but he is getting knocked down because missing three games is a significant chunk of the season. 

Rank
4
2
Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 6

2021 stats: 10 games | 69.4 pct | 2,932 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 22 pass TD | 7 INT | 94 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 8 fumbles


It turns out that CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper matter. Prescott missed a number of early throws against the Raiders while looking harried against pressure -- but by the end of the game, the Dak of the first two months showed up, making a number of big-time throws in a comeback attempt that should provide confidence he's back on track heading into the stretch run. Lamb is set to return Thursday against the Saints, so the worst stretch of this Cowboys season may already be over. 

Rank
5
2
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 8

2021 stats: 11 games | 67.3 pct | 3,414 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 17 pass TD | 9 INT | 73 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles


I'm glad Carr played like he has so many times this year in the most-watched game of the NFL season. If you go man coverage against the Raiders, Carr is going to throw it deep. Credit his aggressiveness for helping to draw all those pass-interference penalties on top of his 373 yards. Despite the early November dip, Carr's overall level has been as steady as nearly any quarterback all season. You know what you are going to get. 

Rank
6
NR
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 4

2021 stats: 10 games | 64.2 pct | 2,612 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 15 pass TD | 12 INT | 707 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles


I don't know what to do with Lamar in these rankings. No quarterback is more integral in facilitating everything his offense accomplishes. Even in his worst games, like on Sunday night, Jackson makes a few ridiculous plays to help his team win. He's top 10 in rushing yards and third in yards per carry. 


He also has thrown for seven touchdowns with nine picks, while taking 17 sacks, over his past five games. He's topped 7.0 YPA in a game once in that span. The Ravens have scored 17 points or less in three of those games. This is an extended slump that I expect Lamar will escape like so many would-be tacklers

Rank
7
3
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 2

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.0 pct | 3,230 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 24 pass TD | 10 INT | 243 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble


Herbert faced pressure on 19 of his dropbacks against the Broncos, according to Pro Football Focus, more than any quarterback in the league in Week 12. Vic Fangio's coverage forced Herbert to hold the ball longer, and it was eye-opening to see how quickly the Chargers' offensive line folded, despite facing the fifth-lowest blitz percentage from any defense last week. This is starting to feel like the Philip Rivers era, because Herbert is being let down by his line, running game and coaching staff.

Rank
8
3
Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 10

2021 stats: 11 games | 67.7 pct | 3,013 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 23 pass TD | 3 INT | 69 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles


Kirk's whole essence this season was about not missing throws or turning the ball over. On Sunday in San Francisco, he did both. It was one of those increasingly rare Cousins days where he hesitates before everything, and the hesitation drives everyone crazy, including Cousins and Justin Jefferson. With Dalvin Cook out and the Vikings getting more aggressive with play-calling, Cousins is about to take on a bigger load than usual. Can he carry that weight? 

Rank
9
1
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5

2021 stats: 11 games | 65.5 pct | 3,200 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 25 pass TD | 11 INT | 238 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles


I'm curious to see what adjustments Andy Reid, Bye-Week Maven has made. This first matchup of the season against the Broncos will be telling. There is no defense in the NFL that begs you to run more with its personnel and scheme. The Chiefs have the personnel to comply. Will they? 

Rank
10
1
Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 4

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.8 pct | 3,071 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 25 pass TD | 10 INT | 383 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 6 fumbles


The roller coaster continues. The flip side of Allen's off weeks are the exhilarating highs, like his Thanksgiving night performance. He played about as well as you possibly could while also throwing two picks. If Allen can hit tight-window throws like he did all night against the Saints, he's very difficult to stop. If the Bills keep calling designed runs, and Allen keeps finding ways to scramble for key third-down conversions, he's impossible to stop. He's the solution to their run-game problems. 

Rank
11
5
Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 13

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.5 pct | 3,316 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 27 pass TD | 9 INT | 37 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles


Stafford's worst three games of the season have been his last three. This is the type of slump that was blamed on surroundings when he was in Detroit. FOX's Troy Aikman said -- without saying it -- that Stafford's injuries were a factor. The answers to Stafford's problems are all in-house, and he's capable of getting hot, as the big-time throws in the loss to the Packers show. It's just a letdown when the Rams come out of their bye without finding those answers. 

Rank
12
2
Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 2

2021 stats: 11 games | 69.3 pct | 2,835 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 22 pass TD | 12 INT | 63 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles


Whether it was third-and-12 or third-and-17 against the Steelers, Burrow looked like a student who got all the answers to the test the night before. "I knew exactly what I was seeing," Burrow said after the game. The 24-year-old went through his progressions with the same confidence that he showed while putting some sauce on Minkah Fitzpatrick en route to a touchdown. In a season where most quarterbacks have been up and down, Burrow looks like he's a little better each week. 

Rank
13
2
Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Rookie

2021 stats: 12 games | 70.3 pct | 2,850 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 16 pass TD | 8 INT | 71 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles


The rookie completed all 11 of his play-action passes for 169 yards and a score against the Titans, according to Next Gen Stats. His first touchdown to Kendrick Bourne showed off his anticipation, and it's getting harder to ignore the fact that the Patriots are a big-play passing attack. (They had six pass plays of 20 yards or more.) Jones still makes his share of rookie mistakes, nearly had a pick-six and struggled to identify the blitz for a second straight game. Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard and Pro Football Focus had the game graded as Mac's lowest of the year. A challenging three-game stretch -- two against the Bills, one against the Colts -- awaits.

Rank
14
2
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons · Year 14

2021 stats: 11 games | 67.5 pct | 2,617 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 16 pass TD | 11 INT | 43 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Sunday's game in Jacksonville marked the first time all season that Ryan's teammates carried him to a win. Ryan wasn't bad, but he mostly watched Cordarrelle Patterson stake the team to a 14-0 lead and threw an ugly interception in the second half. Those peak Ryan games are coming around less often, even when he's in a plus matchup. 

Rank
15
1
Teddy Bridgewater
Denver Broncos · Year 8

2021 stats: 11 games | 68.7 pct | 2,518 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 15 pass TD | 5 INT | 79 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble


The numbers don't pop off the page, but Sunday's win must have been one of Teddy's most satisfying as a pro. In his first game since apologizing for his lame tackling attempt and a bye week in which Denver reporters wondered if he should be benched, Bridgewater returned to pilot a decisive fourth-quarter touchdown drive despite a painful shin injury. The disastrous snaps that Drew Lock took in the second quarter were a window into Teddy's value this season. 

Rank
16
2
Carson Wentz
Indianapolis Colts · Year 6

2021 stats: 12 games | 62.8 pct | 2,790 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 21 pass TD | 5 INT | 159 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles


Wentz turned the ball over three times in the second half against the Bucs, although it wasn't the meltdown the box score suggests. Antoine Winfield made one of the best interceptions of the year on one pick, and Wentz's other pick came on the game's final play. Wentz had one of his best stretches of play all season before that, throwing it accurately at every level. He's streaky, but the kind of streaky the Colts can win with.

Rank
17
2
Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 10

2021 stats: 12 games | 65.8 pct | 2,774 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 14 pass TD | 13 INT | 196 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 7 fumbles


The Zombie Titans unsurprisingly struggled in Foxborough and need the Week 13 bye to get healthy. Tannehill was held under 100 yards passing, which couldn't be blamed entirely on the injury situations. He misfired on a beautifully schemed-up red-zone throw, the type of play he can't miss on when the margin for error is so thin. It marked his first sub-100-yards start since 2015, when Dan Campbell was his interim head coach in Miami. 

Rank
18
1
Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers · Year 8

2021 stats: 10 games | 66.8 pct | 2,342 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 13 pass TD | 6 INT | 40 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 5 fumbles


It's good to be Jimmy G during games like the win over the Vikings. Garoppolo struggled throughout the first half, and the score was tied, 14-14. He was handed two drives inside the Vikings' 10-yard line, and he watched teammates like Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell do most of the work for him. The 49ers are killing opponents with long drives, with Garoppolo hitting just enough throws to keep his team on the field. 

Rank
19
6
Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks · Year 10

2021 stats: 8 games | 64.9 pct | 1,811 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 12 pass TD | 3 INT | 118 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles


It feels heretical to rank Wilson here, but his solid first five starts of the season are the only reason he's ranked this high. Even during the Seahawks' final drive on Monday night, the high point of Wilson's performance in the loss to Washington, he showed the traits that are killing him lately. He held the ball forever on one sack, with apparently every option racing through his head except to throw the ball away. On the Seahawks' failed two-point conversion, he held the ball too long again, missing the chance to hit two open receivers. The timing isn't there. This feels like the bottom, with the Seahawks scoring three touchdowns in 30 drives since Russ' return, but there are still six games to go, including three in the NFC West. 

Rank
20
6
Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 2

2021 stats: 12 games | 60.1 pct | 2,435 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 13 pass TD | 8 INT | 695 rush yds | 8 rush TD | 6 fumbles


Hurts' hot month hit a dead end. Against the Giants, he completed just 14 of 31 passes for 129 yards and three interceptions. He was indecisive and threw a grisly red-zone pick. Then again, the Eagles would have escaped with a win had Jalen Reagor made good on either of his two late chances to be the hero. Hurts ran wild and was the key to the Eagles topping 200 yards rushing again. Philadelphia's passing attack has been streaky even in its best games, so I'm not panicking. 

Rank
21
1
Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 2

2021 stats: 8 games | 70.5 pct | 1,701 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 10 pass TD | 6 INT | 68 rush yd | 3 rush TD | 4 fumbles


There's always a lot of focus on what Tua can't do. Here's what he can do: deliver on-time, accurate throws again and again. The quick game is an art form, one that even great quarterbacks like Russell Wilson never master. Tua's perfect ball placement allowed Jaylen Waddle to accelerate for his 57-yard touchdown last week. The second-year pro's slowly building a career.

Rank
22
1
Taylor Heinicke
Washington Football Team · Year 4

2021 stats: 11 games | 67.2 pct | 2,613 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 16 pass TD | 10 INT | 279 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Heinicke has been a different guy since the Week 9 bye, cutting down on his turnover-worthy plays. Monday night's performance showed he could remain patient enough to pile up 41 minutes of time of possession, yet Washington still scored only 17 points in 10 full drives, including an interception. Heinicke is not Brett Favre, but he's doing an increasingly passable Ryan Fitzpatrick impression. That bodes well for a long and lucrative career ahead. 

Rank
23
NR
Andy Dalton
Chicago Bears · Year 11

2021 stats: 5 games | 64.3 pct | 788 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 49 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


Forgive me for this blasphemy, but there's no guarantee Justin Fields would have given the Bears a late lead over the Ravens or beaten the Lions on Thanksgiving. This is no slight to Fields and certainly no endorsement of the idea of continuing to start Dalton. Fields' development is the primary reason for the Bears to continue playing football this year. It's more of a statement about Dalton, who knows where to go on third down. He's a solid veteran quarterback, playing a position where experience matters, one where not much separates the high-level backups like Dalton and most of the middle-lower class of these rankings. The Dalton Scale will live forever.

Rank
24
5
Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns · Year 4

2021 stats: 11 games | 62.2 pct | 2,413 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 11 pass TD | 6 INT | 93 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles


So that's what the Browns' offense looks like when the O-line gets pushed around in the running game. Baker said postgame that he felt better physically than he has in a while, and it showed in a few pretty passes. His accuracy remains consistently inconsistent, and pump-fake plays where Mayfield holds the ball almost always lead to trouble.

Rank
25
Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 3

2021 stats: 11 games | 64.3 pct | 2,428 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 10 pass TD | 7 INT | 298 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles


The first game of the Freddie Kitchens era included production typical of the Jason Garrett era, with 13 points and 202 yards passing. There was an emphasis on Jones' legs, with five runs in the first two drives. There were a sneaky number of positive plays from Jones, including some third-and-longs versus pressure and no turnovers. Unfortunately, Jones strained his neck during the win over the Eagles, making his status uncertain for Sunday's game in Miami. (UPDATE: On Friday, Giants coach Joe Judge said Jones hasn't been cleared for contract, ruling him out of this week's game.)

Rank
26
4
Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers · Year 11

2021 stats: 3 games | 55.8 pct | 289 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 65 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 0 fumbles


So that's one fun relief appearance, one rock-solid start and one outright disaster. Newton's early interceptions set the awful tone for the day, but Carolina's pass protection grades from PFF were among the worst I've ever seen in a game. With no Christian McCaffrey the rest of the season, expectations should probably be kept in check.

Rank
27
NR
Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 6

2021 stats: 10 games | 67.3 pct | 2,280 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 10 pass TD | 6 INT | 76 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles


The Lions' offense in a nutshell: Goff was 21-of-25 against the Bears, but those completions only went for 176 yards and 14 points. Detroit's No. 1 receiver, Josh Reynolds, was picked off waivers two weeks ago because he couldn't crack a depleted Titans group. It's a shame Goff never got the ball back with a chance to have his Thanksgiving moment, but if nothing else, he's proven that he's much better than Tim Boyle.

Rank
28
2
Tyrod Taylor
Houston Texans · Year 11

2021 stats: 5 games | 62.8 pct | 921 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 5 pass TD | 4 INT | 136 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles


After some high highs and low lows in his first three starts this season, Taylor has settled into the background in the last two weeks, like the rest of the Texans franchise. He hit on a nice deep pass to Brandin Cooks, connected on some short stuff and took too many sacks. This sounds familiar to Bills fans, but he has a lot less around him now than he did in Buffalo.

Rank
29
6
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers · QB

2021 stats: 10 games | 64.6 pct | 2,522 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 14 pass TD | 6 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles


On two of Roethlisberger's three turnovers Sunday, it was his reaction time, not his legs, that looked slow. He didn't move off his spot as his left tackle was pushed into his lap on one interception. He also held the ball too long before making a decision on a fumble. To survive like Drew Brees or even Peyton Manning did at the end of their respective careers, Roethlisberger needs to be one step ahead of the defense mentally, and I'm not seeing it. 

Rank
30
3
Trevor Siemian
New Orleans Saints · Year 7

2021 stats: 5 games | 57.2 pct | 1,083 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 9 pass TD | 3 INT | 21 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles


I'd like to formally apologize to Jameis Winston for suggesting the Saints hadn't yet downgraded at quarterback following two feisty starts by Siemian. Two disastrous starts have followed in which New Orleans didn't move the ball until garbage time. Jameis wouldn't be able to save this Saints team, either, with the offensive line hurt, a third-stringer at running back and no one open at receiver. But he'd give it more of a shot. It sounds like Taysom Hill will take over for Siemian on Thursday night, but Sean Payton isn't revealing his hand just yet. 

Rank
31
2
Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Rookie

2021 stats: 11 games | 58.0 pct | 2,369 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 9 pass TD | 10 INT | 231 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles


A home game against the Falcons was a spot to do damage, but Lawrence opened the game misfiring. He had a near-interception on the first drive, was picked off on the second drive and showed poor awareness on a fumble. Lawrence threw in a few of his typical fourth-quarter gems, but his ball location overall hasn't been great, whether from the pocket or on the run. Given a chance to have a fourth-quarter, game-tying drive, Lawrence finished the game with four straight incompletions. 

Rank
32
NR
Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Rookie

2021 stats: 7 games | 57.6 pct | 1,313 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 4 pass TD | 10 INT | 25 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles


The Jets didn't win because of Wilson, but at least they didn't lose because of him. He recovered from a rough first half where he was hurling fastballs on 5-yard throws and struggling with the pass rush like he did early in the season. The rookie calmed down in the second half with a lot of help from his running game, defense and Texans special teams penalties. Hopefully it's a game to build upon.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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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