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2023 NFL QB Power Rankings: Analyzing each Week 1 starter

So many young QBs are starting in Week 1

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A new NFL season is here, and as usual, much of the attention is on the quarterbacks.

There are many intriguing storylines at the position with Week 1 about to begin:

  • All three rookie quarterbacks selected in the first round will start their season opener.
  • Lamar Jackson is healthy and ready to go.
  • Second-year QBs such as Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett are garnering plenty of hype.
  • Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are all facing Super Bowl expectations in the AFC.
  • Can Aaron Rodgers save the Jets and end their playoff drought?
  • Will Sean Payton save Russell Wilson's career?

Here's our first NFL starting QB power rankings of the 2023 season. We will publish updated rankings throughout the year.

32. Josh Dobbs, Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray is still working his way back from an ACL tear. The starting QB decision for Week 1 came down to fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune and veteran Josh Dobbs. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Dobbs, who has eight games of pro experience, will start Sunday versus the Commanders. Either way, the Cardinals' quarterback situation is by far the worst in the league. And that might not be the worst thing for the franchise. The best-case scenario for the Cardinals is finishing with the worst record and drafting USC star Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

31. Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts took a huge chance on Richardson, who might be the ultimate boom or bust prospect. His ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his legs is exciting. He could eventually be a quality dual-threat quarterback, but there likely will be plenty of growing pains along the way in 2023.

30. C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans

Ohio State quarterbacks have not enjoyed a ton of success in the NFL, although a couple players on this list -- Stroud and Justin Fields -- are hoping to reverse that trend. Stroud was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and will lead a very young group of offensive players in Houston.

29. Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay lasted three seasons, and it was a very successful one thanks to the Buccaneers' Super Bowl LV title in 2020. This might be Mayfield's last opportunity to prove he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. The offensive line is a little suspect, but Mayfield does have some pretty good wide receivers -- specifically Mike Evans and Chris Godwin -- to target in the passing attack.

28. Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers

Young was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft and will start Week 1. He also was named a team captain. Young has great potential, but the Panthers have done a poor job surrounding him with quality players at the skill positions. A past-his-prime Adam Thielen is Young's best wide receiver.

27. Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons

There's a lot of hype surrounding Ridder, and not all of it is warranted. He played well as a rookie last season, but he only threw 113 passes in four games. That's a pretty small sample. Luckily for Ridder, he is surrounded by plenty of talent in the Falcons offense. Wide receiver Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and first-round pick running back Bijan Robinson should help make Atlanta a fun team to watch, even if this team loses a bunch of games.

26. Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers

The Aaron Rodgers era is over and it's Love's time to shine. He should know the offense pretty well after sitting and watching behind Rodgers for two seasons. Love played well during the preseason and has all the physical tools to be successful. A season-opening rivalry game against the Chicago Bears on the road is a good first test for Love.

25. Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas Raiders

Garoppolo is an accurate quarterback who doesn't make a ton of mistakes. He doesn't put up eye-popping stats but usually gets the job done, and that's fine because winning is really all that matters. But injuries are always a major concern with Jimmy G. He's rarely healthy for a full season, and the Raiders aren't going anywhere if he can't play 15-plus games. Garoppolo has played just 32 games since the end of the 2019 season.

24. Sam Howell, Washington Commanders

Howell is another young QB receiving a lot of hype after a strong training camp and preseason. In fact, the Commanders probably should have given him more of an opportunity last season as a rookie instead of sticking with veteran Carson Wentz. Howell has plenty of good players to target in the passing game, too, led by wideouts Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. The problem for Howell and the Commanders is they play in the NFC East -- one of the league's toughest divisions.

23. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers

Expectations are pretty high for Pickett after he finished his rookie campaign strong with five touchdowns and only one interception in his last six games. The Steelers went 5-1 in those games and barely missed the playoffs. A good sophomore season for Pickett might be enough to get the Steelers back into the postseason.

22. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

Wilson's lackluster performance last season was one of the most notable and surprising storylines of 2022. He was awful, completing just 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,524 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It was the first time he threw less than 20 touchdown passes in a single season. New head coach Sean Payton's No. 1 priority needs to be getting Wilson back on track.

21. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Tannehill is healthy again and ready to be the starter in Week 1. But how long will the Titans stay with him if he struggles? Malik Willis and 2023 second-round pick Will Levis are available if Tannehill slips up.

20. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

This is a huge season for Jones. He missed three games to injury last year, and his performance over the 14 games he played was subpar. Jones has the potential to be a franchise QB, but he has to show it on a more consistent basis.

The offseason hiring of Bill O'Brien as the new offensive coordinator should be great for Jones. O'Brien has a long history of success developing quarterbacks and he will put Jones in the right schemes and plays. If the offensive line holds up, Jones could deliver a huge bounce-back season.

Phil Perry, filling in for Tom E. Curran on Quick Slants, shares his My Slant for the week

19. Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers

Purdy came out of nowhere last season and led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game. He has recovered from an elbow injury suffered in the NFC title game loss in January and is ready to start Week 1. Purdy looked like the real deal in 2022, but we only have a 12-game sample size (including the playoffs) to analyze. He does have plenty of weapons on offense, which is a huge help. Running back Christian McCaffrey, tight end George Kittle and wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are all legit playmakers.

18. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

Watson missed most of last season due to suspension and appeared in just six games for the Browns. Those six games were horrendous for Watson, who completed just 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,102 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Cleveland went 3-3 in those games. Many people expect Watson to be an elite quarterback again after having a full offseason, camp and preseason to learn the Browns offense and build chemistry with his teammates.

It's been three years since Watson was a top-10 quarterback. The Browns desperately need him to get back to that level (or close to it) considering how much they gave up to acquire him and the massive contract they paid him.

17. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Fields was a very good quarterback in the second half of last season. In his last eight games he threw 12 touchdown passes with five interceptions. He also ran for 85-plus yards in five of those eight games, with a total of six rushing touchdowns during that span. Will Fields take a Year 3 leap in 2023? It's very possible.

16. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Jones finally had a breakout season in 2023, setting a career high with 3,205 passing yards, along with 15 touchdown passes and a career-low five interceptions. The Giants went 9-7-1, made the playoffs and upset the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card Round. Jones signed a four-year, $160 million extension with the Giants in March. After a very good season and getting paid, expectations will be quite high for Jones in 2023.

15. Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints

Carr is free of the Raiders' dysfunction and takes over a Saints team that is favored to win the weak NFC South division. The veteran QB is often criticized, but he's actually been a pretty good player for a long time with 217 touchdowns and 99 interceptions over nine seasons. No player has more fourth-quarter comebacks in the NFL since 2016 than Carr.

14. Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

Smith came out of nowhere to play at a Pro Bowl-caliber level in 2022. His career high in touchdown passes before last season was 13. He threw 30 last year. His previous career high in passing yards was 3,046 in 2013. He threw for 4,282 last year.

If Smith continues to play at that level, the Seahawks will be a legit contender for a wild card playoff berth and might even challenge the 49ers for the NFC West title. He's got plenty of weapons in the Seattle passing attack, led by wide receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

13. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

Goff ranked sixth in passing yards last season with 4,438 in 17 games. He also threw 29 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. It was a strong second season in Detroit for Goff, and he nearly led the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The Lions made some key offseason additions on defense and drafted Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round. Oddsmakers have made the Lions the favorites to win the NFC North. They could be a surprise contender in the NFC if Goff plays at an elite level again.

12. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Stafford is back as the starting quarterback after missing eight games due to injury last season. Can he rediscover the elite form he showed during the Rams' Super Bowl-winning 2021 campaign? It'll be tough if No. 1 wideout Cooper Kupp is dealing with a hamstring injury most of the season. Stafford also is 35 years old and entering his 15th year. Will we start to see a decline in his performance? Don't be surprised.

11. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott was good, not great last season. He threw for 2,860 yards with 23 touchdowns and a career-high 15 interceptions despite playing just 12 games due to injury. Prescott has a very good offensive line, an elite wideout in CeeDee Lamb and a top-tier running back in Tony Pollard. All of the pieces are in place for Prescott to enjoy a bounce-back season. But, as usual, Prescott ultimately will be judged on whether he can lead the Cowboys to the NFC Championship Game (or further) for the first time since 1995.

10. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

Concussions were an issue for Tagovailoa and the reason he missed five games last season, including the Dolphins' loss to the Bills in the AFC Wild Card Round. When Tagovailoa was healthy in 2022, he played like a top 10 quarterback with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in 13 games. The Dolphins went 8-4 in games where Tagovailoa threw 18 or more passes.

Another positive for Tagovailoa is the weapons he has on offense. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle form the best wide receiver duo in the league. The Dolphins could be a dark horse Super Bowl contender if Tagovailoa plays a full season.

9. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

If you're looking for a quarterback to win your team a Super Bowl, then Cousins probably isn't your guy. But he has been a model of consistency for a long time. Cousins has thrown for 4,000-plus yards in seven of the last eight seasons. He has thrown a total of 123 touchdowns and 40 interceptions over the last four years. Cousins also has the benefit of throwing to the league's best wide receiver in Justin Jefferson.

Despite Minnesota's 13-4 record in 2022, a lot of experts are picking the Lions to dethrone the Vikings atop the NFC North. Cousins and the Vikings won't have to look very hard to find sources of motivation this season.

8. Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets

Rodgers was an average quarterback by his standards in 2022. His 3,956 passing yards were a career-low for a full season. He threw 12 interceptions, which was three times his total from 2021. As a result, his streak of 11 consecutive seasons with fewer than 10 interceptions ended.

Rodgers is now in New York, where he's expected to be the savior for a Jets franchise whose postseason appearance drought of 12 seasons is the longest in the league. The Jets have a ton of talent around Rodgers and a defense that has the potential to be elite. If he plays anywhere near a top-tier level, the Jets should be in the mix for the AFC title.

7. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Changing head coaches and bringing in offensive guru Doug Pederson to replace Urban Meyer was a brilliant move by the Jaguars, and it benefited their franchise quarterback tremendously. Lawrence set career highs last season with 4,113 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. He also threw just eight interceptions. Jacksonville finished 7-10 but won the AFC South title and beat the Chargers in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Expectations are high for the Jaguars in 2023. Getting back to the playoffs is the goal, and they'll need Lawrence to have another excellent season for that to happen.

6. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Jackson has missed five games in each of the last two seasons. When healthy, he is a legit MVP candidate. Few, if any quarterbacks are harder to defend than Jackson. He's a very good passer -- 101 touchdowns and 38 interceptions in his career -- and an elite runner. He's the only quarterback to ever rush for 1,000-plus yards in multiple years.

Jackson's weapons on offense haven't been amazing throughout his career in Baltimore, but that trend appears to be reversing. Mark Andrews is one of the top tight ends in the league, and the offseason additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers give the Ravens better depth and more talent at wide receiver.

Jackson has only one playoff win in his NFL career. With a better supporting cast around him, anything less than an AFC Championship Game appearance will be a disappointment.

5. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

The last memory we have of Justin Herbert and the Chargers was the disastrous playoff loss to the Jaguars last season. Los Angeles had a 27-0 lead in the second quarter and lost 31-30. Herbert didn't play well in that crushing defeat. The offseason addition of highly respected offensive coordinator Kellen Moore should help Herbert reach another level. He already has one 5,000-yard passing season on his resume, and it wouldn't be shocking if he went over that mark again in 2023.

You won't find many quarterbacks with better physical tools than Herbert. He's 6-foot-6 and can make every throw. The Chargers also drafted TCU star wide receiver Quentin Johnston in the first round of the 2023 draft.

4. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

It's an important season for the Bills. Their playoff exit to the Bengals at home in the 2022 AFC Divisional Round was a massive disappointment. Despite all of their talent and having a top five QB in Allen, the Bills have made just one AFC Championship Game appearance over the last four years. If the Bills are finally going to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 20 years, Allen will need to lead them there. He has thrown 35-plus touchdown passes in three straight seasons. He also picks up plenty of yards and touchdowns running the football.

Allen is super talented, but at this stage of his career, he's going to be mostly judged on team performance and not his individual stats.

3. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts was the MVP favorite last season before he missed a couple games in December because of injury. He was the league's best dual-threat quarterback and set career highs with a 66.8 completion percentage, 3,701 passing yards and 22 touchdowns. Hurts also ran for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns -- one shy of Cam Newton's record for rushing TDs by a QB in a single season.

Hurts nearly led the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory over the Chiefs, and he's the main reason why many experts are picking Philly to get back to the Super Bowl and win it next February.

2. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Few players are more calm under pressure than Burrow. He helped lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl in 2021 and nearly got them back there last season before losing a close AFC title game to the eventual champion Chiefs. Burrow threw for 4,475 yards with 35 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. It was his best statistical campaign.

The Bengals are loaded on offense with Burrow, running back Joe Mixon, and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance will be considered a disappointment for the Bengals, especially if Burrow is healthy and plays a full season.

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

This is an obvious one. The reigning league MVP and Super Bowl MVP is without question the best quarterback and best player in pro football. He became the Chiefs' starting QB to begin the 2018 season and Kansas City has made at least the AFC title game every year since, including three Super Bowl appearances and two championships.

The Chiefs are once again the Super Bowl favorites and the reason is Mahomes. He's on pace to be one of the top three quarterbacks of all time.

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