DB’s Weekly Take: The NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks right now

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) eludes Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (42) as he throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. Photo by Jason Behnken/AP Photo.

By the time you’re reading this, the 2020 NFL season will be essentially a quarter of the way over, with every team except the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers having played four games. So I thought I’d do a quarterback ranking based on my observations from the first four weeks of the season. Some of the guys on this list are very predictable, since they were expected to hold their place among the league’s best. But others have overachieved this season and made their way into the top 10 discussion. Feel free to disagree with me, as this is just my personal list. Here we go. 

10. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

If I was writing this at halftime of Sunday’s game, Brady wouldn’t even have been in the running for a spot on this list. He looked pretty bad. But his incredible second-half comeback against the L.A. Chargers led by rookie Justin Herbert — a guy who could definitely be on this list before season’s end — allows him to sneak on at No. 10. He threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns to mount a 17-point comeback against the same defense that gave Patrick Mahomes fits a couple of weeks ago. (Spoiler: Mahomes is on this list somewhere.) 

After a below-average first two weeks, Brady has played like himself again in the last two, throwing eight touchdowns to just one interception during that time. His most recent performance against the Chargers was one of his best since his 2017 MVP season. The 43 year-old quietly is sixth in the league in passing yards with 1,122 and third in the league in touchdown passes with 11 at the time of writing. 

He has thrown four interceptions this season, including two really ugly pick-sixes, but the good has definitely outweighed the bad so far, and the Buccaneers are 3-1 as a result. If Brady continues to get comfortable in his new environment, the “Brady is washed” crowd may have to postpone their party for another season. Because it looks like the six-time Super Bowl champion still has more in the tank. 

9. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals 

Murray being on here is a classic example of passing the eye test. His stats aren’t particularly impressive this year passing the ball, but if you made a highlight reel of the 10 best plays in the NFL this season, Murray could easily have three on there. He’s up there with Lamar Jackson for the most electric running quarterback in the game. 

In fact, he’s ahead of Jackson for the league lead in rushing yards (265) and rushing touchdowns (four, tied with Cam Newton) for a quarterback this season. And while he’s struggled a little bit passing — he’s third in the league with five interceptions — Murray has also thrown for seven touchdowns and is developing a great connection with DeAndre Hopkins, who leads the league with 39 receptions. 

Murray had his best game passing in the Cardinals’ most recent game, a 31-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He threw three touchdowns and zero picks. If he can have more days like that moving forward, he’ll find himself in the top five not before long. 

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) looks to pass against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. Photo by David Becker/AP Photo.

8. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders 

Carr is definitely one of the surprises on this list. Once considered one of the brightest young players in the league, he kind of fell by the wayside the last couple of years. But he is back in a big way this season looking to lead the Raiders to the playoffs for just the second time in his seven-year tenure. 

Carr has completed over 73% of his passes this season for 1,095 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions through the first four games. His 113.6 passer rating is good for fifth in the league at the time of writing. He’s been extremely efficient so far and exactly what the Raiders need to balance their impressive rushing attack headlined by Josh Jacobs. 

If Carr can keep this up, the Raiders could be a surprise playoff team in this year’s expanded postseason. He’s been nothing short of terrific. 

7. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans 

The Texans are a terrible organization who just fired their head coach and general manager. The one thing they got right was drafting a franchise quarterback in Watson, but they’ve been so inept at putting him in a position to succeed. Still, he has willed the Texans to the playoffs in the last two seasons and has become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. 

Unfortunately this year, Houston had one of the hardest schedules to start their season, and despite playing well at times, they’re in a 0-4 hole with a slim chance to make the playoffs. Despite the Texans’ struggles, Watson has looked the same, extending plays behind a bad offensive line better than anyone in football. 

He’s thrown for 1,092 yards and six touchdowns so far, and we know he’s good for at least one jaw-dropping play each week. The Texans certainly aren’t losing because of him, but he’s going to have to be even better if they’re going to turn the season around. 

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Daryl Worley (28) and quarterback Dak Prescott (4) walks to the sideline after Prescott threw an incomplete pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Photo by Ron Jenkins/AP Photo.

6. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys 

Forget everything you know about the Cowboys for a second. Forget that they’re 1-3 and underperforming for what seems like the 25th year in a row. Prescott has been really good, and there’s no denying that. 

He’s leading the league by a landslide in passing yards with 1,690, and he has thrown nine touchdowns and rushed for three more. He’s on pace to demolish the single-season passing record and become the NFL’s first ever 6,000-yard passer. Granted, that likely won’t happen because the reason he’s thrown for so many yards is he’s constantly in situations where he has to throw because his team is always losing. 

The Cowboys defense has been atrocious this season, allowing 38 points or more each of the last three weeks. The only win Dallas has is the result of Prescott taking advantage of a Falcons collapse and throwing for 450 yards. Like Watson, Prescott is not the reason for the Cowboys’ struggles. The defense has put him in bad positions in almost every game, and he’s had to work his hardest to overcome that. 

It’s sad to think about, but there’s a real possibility that Prescott has the best passing season in NFL history and still goes 5-11 and misses the playoffs. How ‘bout them Cowboys? 

5. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills 

Allen has been the biggest quarterback surprise by far this season. He wasn’t bad last year, but he wasn’t anything special. This year, he’s special. He’s thrown for 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns, both of which are second in the league at the time of writing. He also has the second best passer rating at 122.7. He’s only thrown one interception and has added three rushing touchdowns as well. 

The Bills are 4-0 right now and look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders because of Allen. His improvement in accuracy has been a big reason for his success. Allen, who completed under 59% of his throws last year, is completing almost 71% of his passes. That’s a big one-year leap. 

He’s the definition of a dual-threat quarterback with the way he’s playing right now. He even discovered his clutch gene in Week 3 against the Rams, when his game-winning drive spared the Bills the embarrassment of blowing a 28-3 lead. The toughest part of the Bills schedule is ahead, but Allen has earned a top-five spot on this list with his brilliance so far. 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers prepares to throw before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. Photo by Mike Roemer/AP Photo.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers 

Rodgers may prove this ranking is too low with an amazing performance on Monday night, but for right now, he’s fourth. He’s played at an MVP level so far with almost 900 passing yards in three games and nine touchdowns compared to zero interceptions. He looks like peak Rodgers right now, and that should be scary for the rest of the league. 

Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks of this generation, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise to see him playing so well. But he looks especially good to start this season, playing at a level comparable to his amazing 2016 season. The craziest part is that he only has one great receiver, Davante Adams, and he hasn’t even played every game this season. Any time Rodgers is playing at his best, the Packers are Super Bowl contenders, and that certainly seems like the case this year. 

3. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens 

The reigning MVP comes in at No. 3 after a very good start to his season. While he doesn’t have the yardage totals that other guys have on this list, Jackson shouldn’t be punished for that. The Ravens have a very run-heavy offense, but when he does get a chance to sling the ball, he makes the most of it. 

Jackson is completing an even higher percentage of his passes than last season (68.4%). He’s thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception, and he’s still making great plays with his legs, rushing for 235 yards and a touchdown. Jackson is exactly who the Ravens need him to be to win, and as long as he stays healthy, he’s going to be a top-three quarterback in this league. 

2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks 

Wilson is probably the league MVP at this moment. He’s been unbelievable this season even by his high standards. He leads the league with 16 touchdown passes, which puts him on pace to beat the single-season NFL record of 55. He’s only thrown two interceptions, so he’s taking care of the football. 

Wilson is completing an astounding 75.2% of his passes to lead the league, and he is also the league leader in passer rating with 136.7. Because of how great Wilson has been, the Seahawks are probably the favorite to reach the Super Bowl from the NFC with their 4-0 record. If Wilson keeps playing at this level, there’s no reason he can’t bring home his first MVP award this season. 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Kansas City. Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP Photo.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs 

Wilson may have the edge over Mahomes for the MVP right now, but Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the game. He was clearly the best coming into the season, and he’s done nothing to lose that title. 

In three games at the time of writing, Mahomes has thrown for 898 yards, nine touchdowns and zero picks while leading the Chiefs to a 3-0 start. You can’t ask for much more than that. He tore up an elite Baltimore defense a week ago in one of the most impressive performances by any quarterback this year. 

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he’s going to add to his case tonight with another great game against the New England Patriots. Simply put, Mahomes is the best in the league until someone proves differently, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. 

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