Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Christian D'Andrea

NFL QB Rankings, Week 13: Who says Josh Allen can’t be MVP (aside from the standings)?

Barring a significant turnaround in western New York, Josh Allen will not be 2023’s regular season MVP. But maybe he should be.

The high variance quarterback showcased his dizzying highs in a 420-yard, four touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. But he failed to come away with a win thanks to a defense that’s been riddled with injuries and some poorly timed miscommunications in a 34-37 overtime defeat. That left his Buffalo Bills at 6-6 and, per the New York Times’ postseason predictor, with just a 15 percent shot at a playoff bid.

Teams that fail to qualify for the second season rarely produce MVP candidates. But Allen remains in the argument over the league’s top quarterback even as his house crumbles around him. Sure, it helps that no one has been especially dominant in a season without a clear-cut MVP favorite. But Allen has been better than an interception number that suggests he’s merely upstate Jameis Winston.

The numbers bear this out. Per advanced stats, the Bills can boast a top three quarterback, even if he comes without a postseason start this winter.

Let’s talk about those stats. Expected points added (EPA) is a concept that’s been around since 1970. It’s effectively a comparison between what an average quarterback could be expected to do on a certain down and what he actually did — and how it increased his team’s chances of scoring. The model we use comes from The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin and his website, which is both wildly useful AND includes adjusted EPA, which accounts for defensive strength. It considers the impact of penalties and does not negatively impact passers for fumbles after a completion.

The other piece of the puzzle is completion percentage over expected (CPOE), which is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a comparison of all the completions a quarterback would be expected to make versus the ones he actually did. Like EPA, it can veer into the negatives and higher is better. So if you chart all 33 primary quarterbacks — the ones who played at least 192 snaps in 12 weeks — you get a chart that looks like this:


Top right hand corner is good. Bottom left corner is bad. Try splitting those passers visually into tiers and you get an imperfect eight-layer system that looks like this:

These rankings are sorted by a composite of adjusted EPA and CPOE to better understand who has brought the most — and the least — value to their teams across the small sample size. It’s not a full exploration of a player’s value, but it’s a viable starting point. Let’s take a closer look.

The very much disputed king

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

1. Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers: 0.205 EPA+CPOE composite

Purdy’s number dipped in Week 12 despite a 31-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Chalk that up to a 1:1 touchdown:interception tally. He’s still head and shoulders above the fray two-thirds of the way through 2023 — though not so far ahead he can’t be caught.

Flawed MVP candidates, very good quarterbacks

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

2. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: 0.173 EPA+CPOE composite

3. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills: 0.162

Allen was awesome against the Philadelphia Eagles and still backslid slightly. Prescott blew out yet another bad team and jumped up to second place. Yep, these rankings aren’t perfect.

Extremely good and slightly concerning

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins: 0.150 EPA+CPOE composite

5. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: 0.139

6. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles: 0.139 

7. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings: 0.134

Tagovailoa’s last three games: 251 passing yards per contest, four touchdowns, five total turnovers. Is it time to be concerned about a player who has yet to put a full season of top tier quarterbacking on his resume? Hurts is still throwing more interceptions than the Eagles would like but gritted through some lower body soreness to add huge value on the ground to beat the Bills in Week 12.

Comeback veterans and rising young talent

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

8. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos: 0.121 EPA+CPOE composite

9. CJ Stroud, Houston Texans: 0.112

10. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions: 0.105

11. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars: 0.100

12. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens: 0.098

13. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers: 0.096

Wilson isn’t doing anything explicitly better as a passer, but he’s keeping plays alive with his legs and creating enough space for his wideouts and tight ends to make plays. They’ve come through in a big way and the Broncos have stopped crumbling in the second half so here we are; with a top 10 Russ and a borderline playoff team.

Lawrence rose up in a big way against the Texans while Stroud was merely decent, giving Jacksonville control of the AFC South. Herbert should be in line for a new head coach soon, which will be neat.

What to do with Jordan Love?

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

14. Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0.088 EPA+CPOE composite

15. Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers: 0.076

16. Sam Howell, Washington Commanders: 0.072

17. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: 0.069

18. Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks: 0.064

Love’s composite between Weeks 4 and 10? 0.030, 25th best in the league and sandwiched between Will Levis and Bryce Young. His last two weeks? 0.183, fourth best between Prescott and Allen.

This has been a staggering improvement, but it’s also a small sample size. Right in the middle of the 2023 rankings feels like a proper landing spot for Schrodinger’s quarterback in Green Bay.

We (mostly) expected better

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

19. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears: 0.057 EPA+CPOE composite

20. Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints: 0.057

21. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns: 0.052

22. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams: 0.050

23. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans: 0.041

24. Gardner Minshew II, Indianapolis Colts: 0.038

Fields ran an offense that was almost entirely screen passes and beat the Vikings in Week 12, which is … something. Carr is air rushing to fill a vacuum and nothing more, but at least he’s getting paid well for it. Stafford is suddenly flanked by young playmakers and should — should! — be better than this.

Best case scenario, you'll be able to bet against them in a Wild Card game

The Tennessean

25. Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons: 0.031 EPA+CPOE composite

26. Joshua Dobbs, Arizona Cardinals/Minnesota Vikings: 0.031

27. Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas Raiders: 0.027

28. Daniel Jones, New York Giants: 0.026

29. Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers: 0.019

30. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers: 0.018

Half the quarterbacks in the second-to-last tier have better than 50-50 odds to make the playoffs. That’s a testament to the value of an aggressive defense or, if nothing else, playing in a terrible division like the NFC South.


AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

31. Mac Jones, New England Patriots: 0.011 EPA+CPOE composite

32. Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas Raiders: 0.004

33. Zach Wilson, New York Jets: 0.001

Two of these guys have been benched. The other is proof of just how little the Raiders value Jimmy Garoppolo. You know, other than that $72 million contract they gave him to back up the league’s second-worst starting quarterback.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.