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QB Power Rankings: Who was the best quarterback after Week 1?

Which quaterbacks had the best performances after the first week of the NFL season?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of the NFL season did not disappoint. Fans got to see Aaron Rodgers without DeVante Adams, Josh Allen begin his 2022 MVP campaign, and a bunch of familiar faces in new places that included Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan.

It was a bag of mixed results as NFL kickers missed 15 field goals across the 14 games. This resulted in then Cincinnati Bengals getting upset at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints coming back from 15-points to beat the Atlanta Falcons.

Rodgers, Joe Burrow, and Matthew Stafford all struggled in their debuts while Smith and Kirk Cousins each impressed.

Every week this season, I will be power-ranking the NFL quarterbacks based on their previous weeks’ performance. Just because a quarterback is low now, doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t rise as the season goes on. You can check out my preseason rankings here.

Tier 1

1. Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs (Preseason Rank: 5)

The biggest concern for Mahomes heading into the season was how he would perform without Tyreek Hill. Mahomes finished 30-of-39 for 360 yards and five touchdowns. It was about as perfect of a performance as one could have.

Mahomes led the NFL in EPA per play for quarterbacks by a pretty wide margin. The same gap between Mahomes at one and Allen at two was the same as Allen at two and Tua Tagovailoa at eight. The Chiefs quarterback also ranked first in QBR and passer rating.

2. Josh Allen - Buffalo Bills (Preseason Rank: 1)

It wasn’t necessarily what Josh Allen didn’t do to drop from the number one spot. It was all about what Mahomes did. Allen played extremely well against the Los Angeles Rams defense.

The Bills quarterback completed an impressive 83.9 percent of his passes and completely took over the second half. Allen’s 1.44 EPA per play in the fourth quarter led the NFL. Still, Allen had two turnovers and wasn’t as sharp in the opening half.

3. Justin Herbert - Los Angeles Chargers (Preseason Rank: 4)

You could honestly make a case for any of these top-three guys to be at number one. Herbert had 279 yards to go with three touchdowns and looked like a quarterback that is ready to take that next step. He’ll be among the elite group of quarterbacks all season.

Allen got all of the hype for 2022 MVP favorite. However, Herbert made a strong case against the Raiders to be in that early-season conversation as well. The Raiders defense ranked fifth in pressure percentage on Sunday and Herbert was still unstoppable.

4. Tom Brady - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Preseason Rank: 2)

The Buccaneers offense struggled to find the end zone on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. It was one touchdown from Brady to receiver Mike Evans that made the difference.

The 45-year old quarterback wasn’t sharp as he ranked just 17th in EPA per play and his QBR ranked outside the top-10. He’ll need to improve over the next few weeks to stay in the top-five.

5. Kirk Cousins - Minnesota Vikings (Preseason Rank: 8)

Is it premature to put Kirk Cousins inside the top-5? It very well might be, but we’ll find out on Monday night when the Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles. Against the Packers however, Cousins was very good against an elite Packers secondary.

The Vikings quarterback had two touchdowns with zero interceptions. His off-target throw percentage of 3.1 percent was the third-lowest mark in the league in Week 1. The Packers created pressure on Cousins on 40 percent of his drop backs and he continued to make good throws. Get on the Cousins hype-train now before it leaves the station.

6. Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers (Preseason Rank: 2)

Over the last two games, the Packers offense has scored a combined 17 points. While the Vikings defense has some good players, they shouldn’t have been that good. Rodgers ranked 30th in EPA per play and 29th in QBR.

The Packers had a similar outing last year to start the season against the New Orleans Saints. Rodgers should be able to get back on track next week at home against the Chicago Bears.

7. Russell Wilson - Denver Broncos (Preseason Rank: 10)

Wilson had a very good debut despite the Broncos losing. His .426 EPA per play ranked third for the week. Wilson threw for 340 yards with a touchdown and had a passer rating of 101.3.

The main talking point this week is going to be why Denver didn’t allow Wilson to throw on 4th-and-5 and instead opt for a 64-yard field goal. Losing to the Seahawks will be tough for Wilson, but overall he showed why the Broncos made the trade.

8. Matthew Stafford - Los Angeles Rams (Preseason Rank: 6)

The offensive line didn’t protect Stafford and he didn’t necessarily play well either. Thursday was Stafford’s worst game as a Ram on a per play basis. His previous worst game was last season against the Tennessee Titans when he had a -.292 EPA per play. That number was best on Thursday as Stafford had a -.308 EPA per play.

Stafford’s performance did him no favors when it came to questions about his elbow. It marked the first time he threw three interceptions since last season against the Vikings. The offensive line didn’t help, but the Rams need Stafford to be better.

Tier 2

9. Joe Burrow - Cincinnati Bengals (Preseason Rank: 7)

Mike Tomlin continues to show why he’s such a good coach and how defenses can still change a game. Burrow and the Bengals had an opportunity to make a statement win at home coming off of a Super Bowl loss. Instead, Burrow threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. He finished the week ranked 30th in QBR.

Even after four interceptions, the Bengals had a chance to win. It should get a little easier over the next three weeks against the Cowboys, Jets, and Dolphins.

10. Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens (Preseason Rank: 13)

It was only the Jets, but Jackson did enough to put the Ravens in position to win while completing just 17-of-30 passes for 213 yards. This was all while the Jets held the Ravens to their fewest rushing yards since Jackson took over.

Still, there was a lot to like about Jackson’s performance. His average depth of target of 13.1 yards led the NFL. Jackson finished with nine passes that went 15 or more yards down the field and three of them went for touchdowns.

11. Jameis Winson - New Orleans Saints (Preseason Rank: 15)

Winston showed why the Saints went 5-1 with him to start the season last year before he got hurt. It took a comeback, but Winston remained efficient and set up a game-winning field goal.

Since 2000, Winston has thrown for 200 yards in the fourth quarter five times. That number leads the NFL. Winston was very good in the intermediate areas of the field and if he can stay healthy can continue to move up this list.

12. Jalen Hurts - Philadelphia Eagles (Preseason Rank: 16)

There was a lot of criticism of Hurts heading into the 2022 season. On Sunday against the Detroit Lions, he was the most accurate quarterback beyond the sticks and looked much more comfortable in the pocket.

Hurts completed just 56.2 percent of his passes, but finished with 243 yards through the air to go with 90 rushing yards. He finished the week ranked ninth in QBR and sixth in EPA per play.

13. Kyler Murray - Arizona Cardinals (Preseason Rank: 12)

Ranked 13th overall after Week 1 and behind Hurts may seem harsh on Murray. However, he simply wasn’t very good on Sunday against the Chiefs. He ranked 19th in EPA per play and 13th in QBR. Murray threw for just 193 yards against the Chiefs secondary.

The Cardinals were trailing 33-7 to the Chiefs heading into the fourth quarter. In quarters 1-3, Murray’s -.234 EPA per play ranked 24th. All eyes will be on Murray this season because of the contract he signed and he didn’t impress on Sunday.

14. Derek Carr - Las Vegas Raiders (Preseason Rank: 9)

I might have been a little high on Derek Carr coming into the season. Without his three interceptions, it’s possible that the Raiders win the opener. However, his five interceptable passes on Sunday were the third-highest in the NFL.

There’s no denying that Carr has the talent. Even in a loss to the Chargers, he made a few really nice throws. The issue with Carr has always been the consistency. Next week will be a big game against the Cardinals.

15. Ryan Tannehill - Tennessee Titans (Preseason Rank: 18)

When it comes to Tannehill, he’s always been that guy that will do just enough, but won’t be the guy that elevates players around him. He has a very defined ceiling. While the Titans lost on Sunday, Tannehill ranked inside the top-10 in QBR, overall passer rating, EPA per play, and PFF grade.

This is who Ryan Tannehill is. He completed 20-of-33 passes on Sunday with two touchdowns and put his team in position to win. A blocked field goal kept him out of the win column.

16. Tua Tagovailoa - Miami Dolphins (Preseason Rank: 18)

Like Hurts earlier, there’s been a lot of criticism on Tagovailoa this offseason. However, he showed exactly what he can be in the Dolphins offense on Sunday. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 270-yards and a touchdown. Tua ranked inside the top-5 in both QBR and completion percentage over expectation.

He left some plays on the field and made a few bad decisions. However, this is a step in the right direction.

Tier 3

17. Carson Wentz - Washington Commanders (Preseason Rank: 17)
18. Geno Smith - Seattle Seahawks (Preseason Rank: 25)
19. Daniel Jones - New York Giants (Preseason Rank: 23)
20. Matt Ryan - Indianapolis Colts (Preseason Rank: 20)
21. Mac Jones - New England Patriots (Preseason Rank: 14)
22. Trevor Lawrence - Jacksonville Jaguars (Preseason Rank: 27)
23. Davis Mills - Houston Texans (Preseason Rank: 26)
24. Jared Goff - Detroit Lions (Preseason Rank: 21)

Geno Smith was very good on Sunday night against the Broncos. I almost want to put him higher on this list. If he continues this next week, he’ll certainly move up. Smith was blitzed nine times and was 8-for-8 for 60 yards and a touchdown.

While Saquan Barkley stole the show against the Titans, Jones did enough to have some reason for optimism. He didn’t throw a single off-target pass and was effective under pressure.

Tier 4

25. Baker Mayfield - Carolina Panthers
26. Mitchell Trubisky - Pittsburgh Steelers
27. Justin Fields - Chicago Bears
28. Marcus Mariota - Atlanta Falcons
29. Jacoby Brissett - Cleveland Browns
30. Trey Lance - San Francisco 49ers
31. Joe Flacco - New York Jets
32: Cooper Rush - Dallas Cowboys

Mayfield was good in the fourth quarter, but it was the first three quarters that were concerning. His EPA per play in quarters 1-3 ranked 30th in the NFL and he completed just 57.9 percent of his passes.

Trey Lance can blame some of his performance on the monsoon in Chicago. The interior offensive line for the 49ers also drew some concerns. However, Lance also didn’t play well. He missed reads and looked raw. Lance will need to bounce back quickly next week in better conditions.