NFL QB rankings 1-32: Carson Wentz, Drew Brees fall; Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton rise into Week 3

The NFL has never had so many competent and great quarterbacks playing in the league at the same time. Early in the 2020 season, there are several strong MVP candidates after only two games.

Since Sporting News ranked all 32 starting quarterbcks in the preseason, based on a combination of upcoming upside and recent past performance, there have been some exciting developments near the top and disappointing results that have caused reshuffling elsewhere.

The past two league MVPs are off to hot starts, but there’s one quarterback who’s played at a level above all the rest going into Week 3. In other cases, top-10 caliber QBs have struggled for some reason or another, giving rise to younger upstarts and old reliables alike.

Looking at who’s starting for every team this weekend, here’s our latest QB rankings update, which also serves as de facto MVP handicapping:

More NFL Week 3: Team power rankings | Picks straight up | Picks against the spread

NFL quarterback power rankings: 1-32 for Week 3

1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2020 preseason ranking: 3)

Wilson has thrown for a combined 610 yards in the first two games, wins over the Falcons and Patriots. He has 9 TDs, a league-best 140.0 passer rating. He is completing 82.5 percent of his passes at an incredible 9.7 yards per attempt. Even with a pick six in Week 2, Wilson is in the downfield passing zone. #LetRussCook like this and he will win that elusive MVP award.

2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (1)

Mahomes has weirdly thrown for only 6.5 yards per attempt while rating a strong 104.0, but the Chiefs ran all over the Texans in Week 1 and he overcame a very tough Chargers pass defense on the road to deliver a comeback victory in Week 2. He’s doing the same old magical things as reigning Super Bowl MVP.

3. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (2)

Jackson is right there right behind Wilson with his 77.6 completion percentage and 134.6 passer rating with a better 9.8 yards per attempt. He’s taken advantage of two shaky defenses in the Browns and Texans. He’s in a virtual tie with Mahomes behind Wilson, one that will be broken in the Chiefs-Ravens Monday night battle in Baltimore.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (6)

Rodgers has a very vintage Rodgers-like 119.4 passer rating at 8.2 yards per attempt. With Aaron Jones and the running game humming again, Rodgers has been allowed to let loose downfield playing off that, and the results have been spectacular, ripping apart the Vikings’ and Lions’ defenses. He has a big test on the road against the Saints on Sunday night as he tries to get into the conversation for his third MVP.

BENDER: Packers’ plan for Aaron Rodgers looks just right

5. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (8)

Rayne Dakota has only two TD passes over the first two games with his 101.7 passer rating and 8.3 yards per attempt. But Prescott also has been a scoring machine on the ground and saved the Cowboys with the epic Week 2 comeback against the Falcons, following the close, tough loss to the Rams in Week 1. He gets his head-to-head shot with Wilson in Seattle in Week 3.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (10)

Don’t forget about Old Man Big Ben in the MVP talk. The Steelers’ 8-8 playoff-less mess without him proved just how much they needed him back to healthy to sling it to their deeper, more talented wide receiver corps. He’s led their offense back to dominance with a 107.1 passer rating and should keep rolling against the Texans.

7. Josh Allen, Bills (18)

The wild stallion from Wyoming also would like multiple MVP votes. Keep in mind Buffalo has played the Jets and Dolphins to start, but he’s ripped through two bad division teams for a 122.8 passer rating and 9.0 yards per attempt, in the neighborhood of Wilson and Jackson. He’s evolving from a running quarterback into a complete one, partly thanks to Stefon Diggs.

8. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (19)

Murray’s traditional passing stats of 83.1 rating and 6.6 yards per attempt suggest he shouldn’t be this high. But let’s remember he faced a couple of teams with strong defensive fronts and pass rushes in the 49ers and Washington. Also, his team is a surprise 2-0 and he’s run for 158 yards and three TDs over two games, showing off his bulkier but still lightning-fast frame.

BENDER: Don’t sleep on Kyler Murray for MVP

9. Ryan Tannehill, Titans (15)

Tannehill was out to prove his supersub stint in 2019 wasn’t a fluke, fresh off being rewarded with a long-term contract. He has continued his career-best play in an offense perfect for him with his elite play-action passing off the running threat of Derrick Henry. Tannehill is rating 120.7 with 7.3 yards per attempt.

10. Drew Brees, Saints (4)

Brees, with his 93.5 rating and 6.9 yards per attempt isn’t having the best start a season in his career. He has thrown only three TDs to a single interception. But the perception there’s been this major drop-off to the point “he’s lost it” at age 41 is a little ridiculous. Brees has definitely been hurt by losing go-to wide receiver Michael Thomas to an ankle injury early. The bottom line, he’s a more dependent QB than he used to be.

11. Matt Ryan, Falcons (13)

How bad would the Falcons be without Ryan? After two games, he is just ahead of Prescott with his league-leading 723 passing yards. He is at a robust 109.6 rating with 8.0 yards per attempt, locked into Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst. The volume will keep coming for a pass-happy team that can’t stop anything defensively, so he can’t be blamed for their 0-2.

12. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (5)

Brady’s below-average numbers of 79.3 rating and 6.4 yards per attempt would suggest he should be way lower and the more concerning fortysomething passer vs. Brees. But that doesn’t account for the major intangibles he has brought to the Bucs’ offense, which has found a great power running game with Leonard Fournette and their top tight end blocking that will soon open up big things in the passing game for Brady. He is a grittier, more dependent QB, but the GOAT, as usual, is getting the best out of his team.

13. Deshaun Watson, Texans (7)

Watson carries an 87.1 rating and 7.8 yards per attempt into Week 3. His team is 0-2 after facing a brutal early schedule vs. the Chiefs and Ravens, and it doesn’t get easier with the Steelers’ defense next. He misses DeAndre Hopkins badly and the Texans aren’t helping him with designed runs. Should Bill O’Brien keep ruining his franchise QB’s potential after a big contract, there will be a coaching change.

14. Jared Goff, Rams (21)

Goff is quietly off to a great start with the Rams being 2-0. Playing off a strong running game even without Todd Gurley and continuing to use tight end Tyler Higbee and slot ace Cooper Kupp, Goff has a 108.5 rating at 9.3 yards per attempt. The degree of difficulty raises with the Bills opposite Allen in Week 3.

15. Cam Newton, Patriots (not ranked)

Newton has been a rushing beast as the Patriots haven’t shied away from using that dominant, athletic aspect of his game now that he’s fully healthy. In Week 2, Newton proved his big arm to push the ball downfield is back. He’s got a 96.8 rating and 8.8 yards per attempt on top of the big-time running to lead the team.

IYER: Cam Newton needed Patriots to discover MVP form

16. Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (27)

Minshew had a rough Thursday night home loss to the Dolphins, but he was really hampered without reliable No. 1 wide receiver D.J. Chark. His 101.3 rating, 73.8 completion percentage and 7.4 yards per attempt are still solid, rewarding the Jaguars’ faith in sticking with him as the starter.

IYER: Revisiting Gardner Minshew’s rise with the Jaguars

17. Joe Burrow, Bengals (20)

Burrow’s numbers as the No. 1 overall pick are very rookie-like: an 0-2 record, 81.2 rating, only 5.2 yards per attempt. But he’s got the intangibles working, looking like a veteran leader immediately and giving his team a real chance to win both games despite major offensive line struggles, no running game and inconsistent receivers. He’s the real deal.

IYER: Why Joe Burrow is already a winner for Bengals

18. Philip Rivers, Colts (16)

Rivers’ base numbers of 92.3 rating and 8.1 yards per attempt while completing 77.1 percent of his passes are solid, but that still keeps him as a middle-of-the-pack quarterback on a run-heavy team centered now around rookie Jonathan Taylor. He’s fully operating as an older dependent quarterback after a rough last season with the Chargers.

19. Matthew Stafford, Lions (9)

Stafford was having the best season of his career before his back injury cost him the second half of 2019. Unfortunately, without go-to wide receiver Kenny Golladay early, he’s had a rough start, down to rating 83.2 at 7.2 yards per attempt. At 0-2, he needs pick up the pace fast for a team that doesn’t look like it will give him consistent running game or defensive help.

20. Carson Wentz, Eagles (11)

Wentz has been atrocious to take a big fall ahead of Week 3. He’s rating a microscopic 64.4 with 6.0 yards per attempt, with four interceptions during his team’s disappointing 0-2 start. There have been offensive line injuries and wide receiver limitations, but beyond that, Wentz has brought the offense down trying to do way too much.

21. Kirk Cousins, Vikings (12)

Cousins, like Stafford, was in the zone, playing his best ever in 2019 — but that was because the Vikings lowered his volume, were highly successful going run-heavy and make him consistently pass in favorable situations. Now Cousins is down to a 61.9 rating and 7.3 yards per attempt, matching Wentz with 4 interceptions. Minnesota’s defense has put Cousins in major discomfort with poor 0-2 worthy complementary football.

22. Justin Herbert, Chargers (not ranked)

Is this too high after Herbert’s first game, an overtime loss to the Chiefs? Not really. After a great camp working behind Tyrod Taylor, he had a very nice beginning to his NFL career with a strong supporting skill cast with a 94.4 rating and 9.4 yards per attempt. He has a bigger arm than Taylor at this point and his athleticism is already on display.

IYER: Breaking down Justin Herbert’s NFL debut

23. Baker Mayfield, Browns (17)

Mayfield is rating 81.9 with only 6.6 yards per attempt after two games. The Browns have taken games out of his hands as they should, becoming more run-oriented with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

BENDER: Browns find right offensive identity with Baker Mayfield

24. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (28)

The bearded one looked headed for the bench in favor of rookie Tua Tagovailoa after struggling vs. the Patriots in Week 1, but this old man has shown efficient passing and running since, stamped by a stellar Thursday night game against the Jaguars. Keep in mind he’s streaky, however, and Fitzmagic could disappear at any time.

25. Derek Carr, Raiders (25)

Carr has a 115.0 rating at 7.7 yards per attempt during their surprise 2-0 start. Those numbers are very good and he’s finding more ways to push the ball downfield with a much deeper wide receiver corps. But he’s still highly dependent on the running game and he still misses a lot more big throws than he makes. He’s status quo for Week 3.

26. Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (26)

Bridgewater also stays put because he is what we thought he was, also putting up good numbers like Carr with a 90.7 rating at 8.4 yards per attempt. He just isn’t geting much help from his defense and running game, now minus Christian McCaffrey.

27. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears (not ranked)

“Maserati Mitch” has driven the Bears out of the garage for a 2-0 start, after edging out Nick Foles and showing more motivation to play well as a starter. He has a solid 92.7 passer rating and getting the job done with much more support from David Montgomery and the running game.

28. Daniel Jones, Giants (22)

“Danny Dimes” has thrown a few of them early, but now he’s without Saquon Barkley for the season and Sterling Shepard for a while. Evan Engram is having issues at tight end, too, with Darius Slayton and Golden Tate suddenly left as his only two reliable pass-catchers. Looks like a rough sophomore season ahead.

29. Sam Darnold, Jets (24)

“Sad” Sam has seen his wide receiver corps depleted by injuries with also no Le’Veon Bell in the backfield for a while. Adam Gase’s coaching is pushing for a breakup with his QB.

30. Dwayne Haskins, Washington (29)

“Dealing” Dwayne has been better with Scott Turner’s offense as expected, more comfortable throwing downfield even with a limited receiving corps. There’s still a long way to go, but he’s getting there, one game at a time.

31. Nick Mullens, 49ers (not ranked)

“Nice” Nick will need to fill in for Jimmy Garoppolo for at least one week with the latter having a troublesome ankle injury. Mullens should be doing plenty of handing off to backup RBs Jeff Wilson Jr. and Jerick McKinnon while throwing to the tight ends against the Giants.

32. Jeff Driskel, Broncos (not ranked)

“Jolting” Jeff is once again needed off the bench in Denver for a hurting Drew Lock after subbing for Stafford in Detroit last season. That 84.9 rating and 7.5 yards per attempt that he dropped on the Steelers’ defense actually make him, like Lock, more efficient than Stafford early.

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