Get an SSL in minutes, from $3.44

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 4, 1-32 poll

18

When looking at the NFL Power Rankings, it’s never too early to evaluate the quarterback position. And it’s always welcome, as talking about signal-callers never gets old. So this week, we had our NFL Nation reporters look at ESPN Stats & Info’s Total QBR figures and use those numbers to tell the quarterbacking stories of the teams they cover.

Some of those stories will be happy (the early returns on Matthew Stafford going to the Los Angeles Rams look pretty great), some will be a bit complicated (is Daniel Jones actually pretty good even though the New York Giants are not?), others might be sad (are Ben Roethlisberger’s days with the Pittsburgh Steelers looking numbered?) and still others might have more of a horror theme, especially if rookies are involved (welcome to the NFL, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Justin Fields). But this week is all about QBs, so dive on in and read about the men manning the NFL’s glory position.

How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

1. Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

Previous ranking: 2

Team QBR: 82.8
QBR rank: 1st

Matthew Stafford is off to a blazing start in L.A., leading the Rams to a 3-0 record and passing for nine touchdowns, including three of more than 50 yards. “He’s playing lights out,” said Aaron Donald, the Rams’ three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Stafford’s nine passing touchdowns are tied with Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner (1999) for the most through three games in Rams history. “He pushed it down the field so easily,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said after Stafford dismantled their defense in Week 3. “You’re right up in his face one time, he finds a guy wide open down the field and gets it to him. A lot of guys, they see it but they can’t get it to him. He’s a special player.” — Lindsey Thiry

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Previous ranking: 1

Team QBR: 64.5
QBR rank: 7th

Even without a consistent ground game, which sets up their play-action and keeps opposing defenses from teeing off on him, Tom Brady has been absolutely terrific, throwing for 1,087 passing yards (second most in the league through three games) while his 10 touchdowns are tops in the NFL. He looks far more comfortable than he did a year ago in Bruce Arians’ offense, which continues to adapt to what he does best; and the Bucs’ red zone scoring has picked up significantly, although they struggled in that department in their 34-24 loss to the Rams. Brady doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. — Jenna Laine

3. Buffalo Bills (2-1)

Previous ranking: 5

Team QBR: 60.1
QBR rank: 13th

Josh Allen called out his own play after the first two games of the season, but he took a big step in the right direction during the team’s win over Washington in Week 3. He had five total touchdowns and found success in the middle of the field, completing 20 of 25 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown on throws between the painted field numbers, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Allen’s overall play should improve from the small sample size of the first three weeks, but it remains to be seen if he will match last season’s consistent high-level success for an entire campaign. — Alaina Getzenberg

4. Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Previous ranking: 11

Team QBR: 60.7
QBR rank: 11th

If Aaron Rodgers’ uninspiring performance in the 38-3 season-opening loss to the Saints had you thinking he was a shell of his MVP self, then the past two games should have snapped you out of it. Since throwing two interceptions in Week 1, Rodgers has six touchdowns and no picks. Rodgers tried to tell people not to be worried about him or his team’s play after just one game, and now he has given them reason not to be. “It gives some legitimacy to some of the things we’ve been talking about,” Rodgers said. “That [Saints loss] was kind of an aberration and that we are a talented football team.” — Rob Demovsky

5. Las Vegas Raiders (3-0)

Previous ranking: 10

Team QBR: 63.1
QBR rank: 8th

The question bandied about by both Derek Carr fans and detractors alike — is Carr elite? — might finally have an answer. Because if being in the top eight in QBR is indeed elite, then, yes, he is. For now. This is the most in command Carr has looked in Jon Gruden’s offense, and it should be considering they are now in their fourth season together, right? With little to no running game early in contests to speak of and a makeshift offensive line held together by duct tape, the one-dimensional attack has thrived rather than suffered. — Paul Gutierrez

6. Cleveland Browns (2-1)

Previous ranking: 8

Team QBR: 49.9
QBR rank: 22nd

Despite what his QBR suggests, Baker Mayfield has played well. He has been unlucky with touchdown passes, as the Browns lead the NFL with eight touchdown runs (no other team has more than five). His QBR also is being dragged down by nine sacks; he is last in the sack element that factors into QBR. Considering he also ranks fifth with a completion rate of 73.8% and fourth with 9.75 yards per passing attempt, Mayfield’s QBR will be just fine once he eliminates some of those sacks and a few of those Browns scoring runs turn into Mayfield touchdown passes. — Jake Trotter

7. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

Previous ranking: 9

Team QBR: 53.4
QBR rank: 19th

Lamar Jackson has been uncharacteristically sloppy at times, committing five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles) in the first three games. But Jackson has more than redeemed himself with how he has carried the short-handed Ravens this season. In an upset victory over the Chiefs, he came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter by running for two touchdowns. In the last-second win at the Lions, Jackson had one of the best passing days of his career and converted a fourth-and-19 with a 36-yard completion to Sammy Watkins. Asked why no one should count out the Ravens despite the numerous injuries, wide receiver Marquise Brown said, “Because we got Lamar Jackson.” — Jamison Hensley

8. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

Previous ranking: 7

Team QBR: 70.3
QBR rank: 5th

Kyler Murray’s growth from last season to this season is very evident. He has taken the necessary jumps from years one and two to year three, and it’s showing on the field. He is putting up MVP-like numbers with 1,005 passing yards (third most in the NFL) and seven passing touchdowns (fifth most). And he’s going to keep getting better. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll finish the season among the best quarterbacks in the league. But there’s more. He also has rushed for a touchdown in each of his first three games. Murray’s dual-threat ability makes him among the most — if not the most — difficult quarterbacks to defend in the league. — Josh Weinfuss

9. Los Angeles Chargers (2-1)

Previous ranking: 18

Team QBR: 53.1
QBR rank: 20th

Justin Herbert was terrific on Sunday versus the Chiefs, completing 26 of 38 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns with zero turnovers. He had a better completion percentage in a loss against Dallas the week before, but turnovers and penalties took two touchdowns away. Everything indicates his numbers will continue to grow. He has completed 69.8% of his passes through three games. “We are fortunate enough to have a gangster quarterback,” coach Brandon Staley said. Herbert took his team through two crucial fourth-down plays on the final drive of Sunday’s win in Kansas City and didn’t blink. “We want to put the ball in Justin Herbert’s hand and have him be the decider,” Staley emphasized. — Shelley Smith

10. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)

Previous ranking: 3

Team QBR: 76.1
QBR rank: 4th

The Chiefs’ record doesn’t reflect it, but Patrick Mahomes has played well given a new offensive line and a defense that has been consistently dismal. His touchdown (nine) to interception (three) ratio of 3-1 would be the lowest of his career. On the interceptions, he was guilty twice of trying to force a play, and the other was tipped by a receiver and should have been caught. There is definitely room for improvement for Mahomes and the team as a whole. — Adam Teicher

11. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

Previous ranking: 4

Team QBR: 58.5
QBR rank: 14th

Jimmy Garoppolo has been OK through three games, which is clear from his standing right in the middle of the pack. The Niners have to be encouraged by the fact that he has only one interception but frustrated by some of the inconsistency and the team’s penchant for slow starts over the past couple of games. Garoppolo still struggles to push the ball down the field; he has attempted just four passes traveling 20-plus yards in the air, completing one and throwing his lone pick on another. That inability combined with a lack of dynamic running ability could lead to the drumbeat for rookie Trey Lance growing louder if a few losses pile up. — Nick Wagoner

12. Carolina Panthers (3-0)

Previous ranking: 15

Team QBR: 66.8
QBR rank: 6th

If there were a comeback player of the year for somebody who wasn’t injured that previous season, Sam Darnold would have a big head start. He has gone from the worst total QBR (41.4) over the past three seasons with the Jets to No. 6 so far this season. He has completed 68.2% of his passes, way up from his league-worst 59.8% in New York. He has thrown three touchdowns to only one interception and has three rushing touchdowns, two fewer than he had from 2018 to 2020. According to recently traded tight end Dan Arnold, now with the Jaguars, Darnold is playing at a “premier level,” a level that could continue. — David Newton

13. Denver Broncos (3-0)

Previous ranking: 14

Team QBR: 78.0
QBR rank: 3rd

Teddy Bridgewater has been what a team with a potentially elite defense needed — a calming, prepared and opportunistic passer who can close out drives and avoid turnovers. Yes, the Broncos’ first three opponents are now 0-9, but the Broncos won those games by 14, 10 and 26 points. Bridgewater leads the league in completion percentage, is seventh in average length of completion and is fifth in passer rating. He already has become a leading voice in the locker room. And most importantly for a team that led the NFL in both giveaways overall as well as interceptions last season, he has not turned the ball over. — Jeff Legwold

14. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Previous ranking: 13

Team QBR: 57.3
QBR rank: 15th

The fact that Dak Prescott has started the season as well as he has is only somewhat surprising, what with all the time missed after suffering the ankle injury in October and then in training camp because of a latissimus strain. In his first game in 11 months, he threw for more than 400 yards. In his second game, he completed better than 85% of his passes. In his third, he completed 21 of 26 passes and threw for three touchdowns. He has shown no rust or ill effects from either injury early in the season, which is a plus for the Cowboys, because as Prescott goes, they will go. — Todd Archer

15. New Orleans Saints (2-1)

Previous ranking: 17

Team QBR: 62.8
QBR rank: 10th

The jury is still out on how effective Jameis Winston will be, since the Saints haven’t been in a truly close game yet. He has yet to attempt more than 22 passes or throw for more than 148 yards in a game. That worked great in the Saints’ two victories, since they would love to rely on their defense and run game while avoiding turnovers. And he still provides the deep ball threat, as he displayed with a 55-yard scoring pass in Week 1. But Winston did throw a pair of desperation interceptions when things weren’t going well in Week 2 and got away with an ill-advised TD pass while being hit in Week 3. — Mike Triplett

16. Tennessee Titans (2-1)

Previous ranking: 16

Related Posts
1 of 125

Team QBR: 56.5
QBR rank: 16th

The Titans haven’t been able to connect as much on the play-action vertical shots, outside of Ryan Tannehill’s 51-yard completion to Julio Jones in Week 2 against the Seahawks. As a result, Tannehill’s yards per attempt is 7.40, which is less than his 8.7 average last season. That will get better with more big plays from play-action. One thing that has helped Tannehill’s QBR is how well he has been able to run the ball. “It helps us as an offense, driving it down the field and getting into drives,” running back Derrick Henry said. “We all love it whenever we get the positive play, especially when he gets out of the pocket and moves the ball down the field.” — Turron Davenport

17. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)

Previous ranking: 6

Team QBR: 55.9
QBR rank: 18th

It has depended on the half. The Seahawks have scored a league-high 62 points over the first two quarters and a league-low 13 after halftime. By no means is that all on Russell Wilson, but his play has been a factor. He has looked like an MVP candidate while throwing five of his seven touchdowns in the first half but less so in the second. He missed a third-down throw in the fourth quarter on Sunday as Seattle was shut out for the final 41 minutes by the Vikings. Wilson has yet to turn the ball over, so he has avoided the most costly mistakes. And his play figures to even out as the Seattle offense settles into its new scheme. — Brady Henderson

18. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

Previous ranking: 25

Team QBR: 41.5
QBR rank: 24th

Joe Burrow is still feeling his way back into the offense after last season’s knee injury. In the Week 3 win over Pittsburgh, Burrow audibled to a designed QB run, something he said he didn’t know if he’d still be able to do coming into the season. His numbers should get better as the season progresses. Burrow has looked to be too aggressive at times this season, which has contributed to his four interceptions through three games. But given his strengths in decision-making and accuracy, those miscues should taper off as the campaign goes on. — Ben Baby

19. New England Patriots (1-2)

Previous ranking: 19

Team QBR: 52.3
QBR rank: 21st

Mac Jones has completed 81 of 120 passes for 737 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. Jones is growing into the job, and there have been some predictable rookie growing pains — such as his first interception against the Saints on Sunday. He has been solid in the shorter passing game, but he hasn’t been able to consistently connect down the field. Overall, teammates are bullish on him as their leader, and that should bode well for his development. “Tough kid, poised, kept throwing punches,” starting center David Andrews said. — Mike Reiss

20. Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

Previous ranking: 26

Team QBR: 78.5
QBR rank: 2nd

Kirk Cousins has been lights out for the Vikings in the best three-game start to his career — eight passing touchdowns to zero interceptions and a 73.9% completion percentage. His fifth straight game with multiple passing touchdowns led Minnesota to its first win of the season versus Seattle, and he did it by capitalizing on his strengths. Cousins was 24-of-28 for 273 yards and three touchdowns when not pressured. (He has averaged 8.27 yards/attempt with no pressure in his career, fifth best in the NFL since he entered the league.) He dominated against the blitz. (Over the past three seasons, he has 26 TDs to two interceptions when being the blitzed.) And he continues to find success with Justin Jefferson, connecting on 20 of 30 passes for 254 yards and two TDs. — Courtney Cronin

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)

Previous ranking: 12

Team QBR: 35.7
QBR rank: 27th

Ben Roethlisberger’s performance through three games is only surprising if you ignore his age and the offensive line’s many red flags. The offense is undeniably bad, but that doesn’t fall entirely on Roethlisberger. Even with his limited mobility, he is still the best quarterback on the roster, with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins being the others. Roethlisberger has been hit 22 times in three games, and some bad passes are the result of near-constant duress or miscommunications with receivers. But the biggest indictments of his slow start are the coverage sacks and the interceptions during the loss to the Bengals. Roethlisberger has to be smarter with the football if he is going to spur an offensive turnaround.- — Brooke Pryor

22. Washington Football Team (1-2)

Previous ranking: 22

Team QBR: 38.4
QBR rank: 26th

The quarterback play has been as expected, given that starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was hurt in the second quarter of the opener. Taylor Heinicke is a terrific story, and he is capable of helping, but he is limited. He threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Giants, but he only had 212 passing yards and forced two throws for ugly picks versus the Bills. While he can spark a team, he is unable to carry one. The sad thing is, it’s better overall play than last season, when Washington ranked last with a 32.6 rating. But going forward, Washington will look, once more, for a long-term solution in the offseason. — John Keim

23. Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Previous ranking: 20

Team QBR: 43.6
QBR rank: 23rd

Tua Tagovailoa was six plays into his second game of the season before fracturing his ribs against the Buffalo Bills, so he never really got into any sort of rhythm. Jacoby Brissett has been somewhat conservative in his stead, particularly during the Dolphins’ Week 3 loss to the Raiders; but he did flash some brilliance late in the contest. He led a game-tying drive with time running out in the fourth quarter and converted a critical fourtth-and-20 in overtime. His teammates have confidence in him and his number should rise as Brissett becomes more comfortable in the offense. Tagovailoa will miss at least the next two games. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

24. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

Previous ranking: 21

Team QBR: 56.0
QBR rank: 17th

Jalen Hurts was lights out in Week 1 and cooled considerably in Week 2, and the numbers landed him right in the middle heading into Monday night. He has been extremely effective with his legs (144 rushing yards and a TD) while getting the ball out quicker and with better accuracy in the passing game. And he didn’t turn the ball over in the first two games, before throwing two interceptions on Monday. If he can play more like he did the first two tilts, the Eagles will end up in a much better place than most predicted at the start of the season. Greater consistency as a passer will be the key to Hurts’ success. — Tim McManus

25. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

Previous ranking: 29

Team QBR: 33.6
QBR rank: 29th

Matt Ryan has become a short-field passer this season under new coach Arthur Smith and without star receiver Julio Jones, registering his lowest yards per attempt (6.04) and yards per dropback (5.29) of his career so far. That could have to do with how often he has been hit — so far a career-worst 20.7% of the time — yet he is on pace to complete a career-high 70.9% of his passes. Atlanta’s offense hasn’t been pretty for much of the season, and there haven’t been many shot plays involved, which is why the Falcons’ QBR is where it is. — Michael Rothstein

26. Indianapolis Colts (0-3)

Previous ranking: 23

Team QBR: 35.2
QBR rank: 28th

The good news for Carson Wentz is that the quarterback can basically only improve from his current ranking. The bad news is there’s no guarantee of that happening, because Wentz is currently dealing with injuries to both ankles suffered in Week 2. Wentz’s 60.4% completion rate is 29th in the NFL, partially because the Colts’ receivers have been underwhelming, outside of Michael Pittman Jr. And T.Y. Hilton has been out all season with a disk injury. Wentz also has issues holding the ball too long (fifth longest in the league). The biggest key for Wentz is to get healthy. “I’m very confident that we can progress this thing along and be myself,” Wentz said. — Mike Wells

27. Chicago Bears (1-2)

Previous ranking: 24

Team QBR: 22.6
QBR rank: 31st

The Bears better figure out how to use Justin Fields. Chicago’s loss to the Browns in Week 3 was an abomination. Fields was not particularly sharp — he completed 6 of 20 passes and was sacked nine times — but the Bears never put him in position to succeed. With Andy Dalton sidelined due to a left knee bruise, the clock is ticking on Chicago’s offense to play to Fields’ considerable strengths. That did not happen on Sunday. — Jeff Dickerson

28. Houston Texans (1-2)

Previous ranking: 27

Team QBR: 63.0
QBR rank: 9th

The Texans are 1-2, but the team felt really good about Tyrod Taylor’s play through the first six quarters of the season, before he injured his left hamstring against Cleveland. Now, Houston hopes to see growth from Davis Mills. The rookie quarterback will play at least two more games with Taylor on the injured reserve, and coach David Culley said he thought Mills showed that “he can handle a lot more than what we felt like, because of the way he handled himself” in his first NFL start. — Sarah Barshop

29. New York Giants (0-3)

Previous ranking: 28

Team QBR: 60.6
QBR rank: 12th

Maybe, just maybe, the Giants have their answer with Daniel Jones. The biggest problem early in his career has been the turnovers. Well, he has one in three games this season. And Jones has competed pretty well early this year despite playing behind a rough offensive line that has contributed to him being pressured on 38.4% of his dropbacks, the fourth most in the league, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Jones might only have three touchdown passes, but he also has run for two others and had a third called back. It has been a promising start to the season for the third-year quarterback. — Jordan Raanan

30. Detroit Lions (0-3)

Previous ranking: 30

Team QBR: 40.0
QBR rank: 25th

Statistically, quarterback Jared Goff has been decent. Through three games, he has completed 86 of 123 passes for a 69.9% completion rate, the highest by a Lions quarterback through the first three games of a season. He also has produced a passer rating of 92.0 or greater in each of the first three games of the season, joining Matthew Stafford (2013, 2011) as the only Lions players to do so. The biggest question mark is dealing with pressure. Goff entered the Week 3 loss to Baltimore completing 9 of 17 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions when pressured this season. He still has to get fully comfortable in the offense, all while dealing with some key injuries, notably to wide receiver Tyrell Williams. — Eric Woodyard

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)

Previous ranking: 31

Team QBR: 23.3
QBR rank: 30th
Trevor Lawrence has flashed some signs that he can be an elite NFL QB, but he has turned the ball over way too much (seven interceptions and two fumbles). He is the fourth quarterback since the 1970 merger to throw multiple interceptions in each of his first three starts, joining Peyton Manning (1998), Troy Aikman (1989) and Jim Zorn (1976), per ESPN Stats & Info data. The good thing is that Lawrence hasn’t lost an iota of confidence. But he has to stop turning the ball over. Otherwise, he is going to threaten Manning’s rookie record of 28 interceptions. — Mike DiRocco

32. New York Jets (0-3)

Previous ranking: 32

Team QBR: 22.1
QBR rank: 32nd

Zach Wilson is struggling — big time. He is throwing too many interceptions (seven), and he is taking too many sacks (15). They’re not all his fault, but he must do a better job of delivering the ball on time. At times, he appears indecisive, as if he isn’t trusting his reads. Look, he is a rookie, and this is to be expected. He knew there would be adversity in this position, and he is getting it all — and early in the season. The arm talent is there, and he is more physically skilled than people realize, but that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know where to go with the ball. Right now, he looks lost. — Rich Cimini

You might also like
Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More