Showdown features Mahomes and Brady
Each week during the NFL season, USA TODAY will assess everyone’s favorite topic: quarterbacks. Who’s hot? Who’s not? Who has the most exciting matchups? This week’s QB Hot Sheet.
Five to watch this weekend
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: Despite putting out his worst statistical performance of the year (313 yards, 0 TDs,
2 interceptions), he’s answered every question he’s encountered. Kansas City is 5-0, and a huge challenge looms Sunday at New England. A big game could be a defining moment in his season.
2. Tom Brady, Patriots: It’s weird to think Brady will be the “other” quarterback in a matchup as he seems poised to be against Mahomes and the Chiefs. He and the Patriots offense seem to have corrected early-season issues after scoring 38 in each of their last two games. But Brady’s five interceptions over the past three weeks (including four in the last two) indicate he’ll have to be a little bit better with his ball security.
3. Andy Dalton, Bengals: The Bengals are facing a Steelers team (2-2-1) that appears to have solved some issues in the secondary and leads the NFL with
19 sacks. But Dalton ranks second in the league in passer rating when being blitzed (139.6), so more pressure could bring big plays for Cincinnati.
4. Matt Ryan, Falcons: The Falcons sputtered to only 17 points against a Steelers team that had yielded several explosive plays in previous weeks. Though a connection with rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (six TDs and 302 yards on 19 grabs) has been a positive, Ryan still can’t establish a scoring link with Julio Jones. Facing a Buccaneers team that struggles to generate a pass rush could be the perfect opportunity to find that spark. 5. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears: He had the bye week to let his six-TD game from Week 4 marinate. Now Trubisky gets his shot to show that it wasn’t a fluke. Expect coach Matt Nagy to continue to be creative in scheming skill-position players open against the Dolphins.
Three trending up
1. Drew Brees, Saints: This isn’t a sentimental nod for breaking Peyton Manning’s record for career passing yards; Brees is operating at an elite level. On Monday night, he had as many touchdowns (three) as incompletions and racked up 363 yards. And he hasn’t thrown an interception this season.
2. Philip Rivers, Chargers: He led the NFL in Week 5 with 12.6 yards per attempt and is on pace for career highs in completion rate (70.1 percent) and touchdowns (currently 13). He’s the perfect distributor in this offense.
3. Kirk Cousins, Vikings: He ranks second in the NFL in yardage (1,688) and bounced back nicely against the Eagles (30 of 37 passing, 301 yards, 1 TD) after a tough loss in Week 4. Minnesota’s offense, however, mostly stalled once it got to the red zone (1-4).
Three trending down
1. Blake Bortles, Jaguars: A four-interception day, with three coming inside Kansas City’s 25-yard line and the other a pick-six, against a secondary that had been exploited for huge plays was the main reason for Jacksonville’s dud.
2. Alex Smith, Redskins: He missed some open targets and could not feed his playmakers consistently enough in a
43-19 blowout to the Saints. Smith’s season yardage (1,042) and completion rate
(65.9 percent) are decent, but five TDs through four games isn’t sufficient.
3. Mahomes: The Chiefs won and Mahomes still played well, but his second-lowest completion percentage of the season (57.9) and two picks were a dip from his explosive production from the first quarter of the season. Still, a bit of a regression was to be expected at some point, especially against Jacksonville’s star-studded defense.
Season rankings 1. Mahomes (last week: 1): One be-
low-average game will not knock him from the top, but the margin is shrinking.
2. Brees (2): He leads the league in completion rate (77.9 percent) and is putting up MVP-like numbers.
3. Rivers (5): His accuracy and ball placement allow receivers to catch in stride and rack up yards. One of the most entertaining to watch today.
4. Jared Goff (3), Rams: He drops one spot after throwing for 321 yards, 1 TD and 2 picks against the Seahawks, but he should get the benefit of the doubt given his top two receivers left the game with concussions. 5. Aaron Rodgers (NR), Packers: He lost two fumbles in a disastrous first half. But even with Mason Crosby missing four of five field goal tries and an extra point attempt, Rodgers (33 of 52 passing for 442 yards and 3 TDs) led a furious second-half charge that fell just short.
Dropped: Matt Ryan (4)