This was not an easy task. For starters, leaving Jared Goff and Tua Tagovailoa off the list felt wrong, while putting Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott was a leap of faith. After all, Prescott led the league in interceptions last year, while Stafford and the Rams were a wreck in their title defense.
Still, though, this list is about both respecting a player’s entire body of work while also attempting to prognosticate about the year ahead. And in doing so, you’ll notice a predictable slant toward the AFC, which is loaded to the hilt with signal-callers. As for the NFC, it’s Hurts and everyone else.
Let’s get to the list, starting with Prescott.
10Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Which Prescott will we see in Dallas this year? Last season, Prescott injured his thumb in Week 1, missed five games and was never quite right upon return. Despite playing in only 12 contests, Prescott led the NFL with 15 interceptions.
However, the Cowboys have seen Prescott thrive before. In 2021 he threw for 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns; two years before that Prescott amassed 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. If Dallas gets that version, it’s a Super Bowl contender.
9Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Stafford threw for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns during the Rams’ Super Bowl season while also leading the league with 17 picks. He’s long been a high-volume passer with an elite arm who makes great plays but also pairs them with mind-numbing mistakes.
However, when Stafford is healthy, he absolutely belongs in the top 10. Last year Stafford was limited to nine games, and, this year, he will return to a roster low on talent outside of former All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp. In short, Stafford needs to be great.
8Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets
Rodgers is 39 years old but has won the MVP award in two of the past three seasons. The Jets are hoping to see Rodgers revert to his aforementioned form and not become an extension of last year, when he failed to throw for 300 yards in any game.
Still, Rodgers has elite talent and the résumé of a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The Jets also have ample talent around him, led by receivers Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard, along with second-year running back Breece Hall.
7Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Jackson finally got paid this offseason. The Ravens also invested in weaponry around him, including a surprising $18 million deal for free-agent wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round receiver Zay Flowers.
While Jackson has never thrown for 4,000 yards, he’s a former unanimous MVP with the most electric skill set in the league. If Flowers and Beckham work out, Baltimore’s offense could take off under new coordinator Todd Monken (provided Jackson stays healthy for the first time in three years).
6Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
After a travesty of a rookie season under coach Urban Meyer, Lawrence broke out with Doug Pederson at the helm. The former No. 1 pick was a force last year, throwing for 4,113 yards and 25 touchdowns against eight interceptions, while also leading the Jaguars to an AFC South crown.
In a division up for grabs, Lawrence and the Jaguars should cruise, especially with the addition of receiver Calvin Ridley on the perimeter. This could be the first Pro Bowl (as a nonalternate) of many for the former Clemson star.
5Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Herbert is a tough one to rank. On one hand, he has thrown for 5,000 yards in his career, and last season put up 4,739 passing yards and 25 touchdowns despite playing with a painful rib injury for much of the year.
However, the Chargers have fallen apart consistently in big spots, including last year’s 27–0 meltdown to the Jaguars in the wild-card round. Nobody has more natural talent, but Herbert needs to begin winning more to ascend beyond this spot.
4Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts made a tremendous leap in his third season. After playing sparingly as a rookie and then being inconsistent in his second year, Hurts emerged in 2022 to take the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Finishing second in the MVP balloting, Hurts accounted for 4,461 total yards and 35 touchdowns, earning second-team All-Pro honors.
In the Super Bowl, Hurts showed everything you could want to see. Despite a pivotal second-quarter fumble, Hurts bounced back and finished with 304 passing yards, four total touchdowns and a 103.4 passing rating.
3Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
This is a monumental year for Allen. After being the near-consensus favorites to win the Super Bowl last season, the Bills were bounced at home in the divisional round by the Bengals. As for Allen, his numbers were almost identical between 2021 and ’22, but there was a bevy of red zone turnovers throughout the year.
With large cap hits now kicking in for Allen’s deal, the Bills need him to eliminate the mistakes while continuing to be a dual threat. Last season Allen accounted for 5,045 total yards and 42 touchdowns, showing why he’s undeniably a top three quarterback in the league.
2Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
The last two years have established Burrow as the second-best quarterback in football. The Bengals have enjoyed team success largely because of their leader, reaching a Super Bowl and consecutive AFC title games. Over that span, Burrow has thrown for 9,086 yards and 69 touchdowns.
While Burrow doesn’t have the raw athleticism of Allen or Jackson, he’s incredibly accurate, stands tough despite a leaky offensive line and consistently performs when the game is on the line. He’s a rare talent.
1Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes is unquestionably the best quarterback of today. He has already won two Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVPs and two NFL MVPs. The only other players to do that? Joe Montana and Tom Brady.
Only five years into his career, Mahomes is already a Hall of Fame lock. He’s thrown for 5,000 yards twice and has 192 touchdown passes against 49 interceptions. This season, Mahomes is looking to become the first quarterback since Brady to repeat as champion, while reaching his fourth Super Bowl in six years.