Ranking the 10 Best Quarterback Performances Through Week 11

Both Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger have notched six touchdown passes in a game, but they aren't the top dog so far this season.

For better or worse, teams succeed and fail based on the player quarterbacking the team. Usually, if the team wins, he’s showered with praise. If they lose, they have to shoulder all the blame.

But at numberFire we have a metric that will measure how good – or bad – a quarterback did in a given game. Using Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), we can quantify how many points a quarterback contributed to his team in a specific game. Below you will notice yards and touchdown passes for each player. However, for this exercise, we are judging the best performances solely on Passing NEP.

With all of that out of the way, here are the 10 best single-game quarterback performances through Week 11.

10. Aaron Rodgers, Week 4

Passing NEP: 24.20
Passing Yards: 302
Passing Touchdowns: 4

Aaron Rodgers’ best performance through 11 weeks is from his matchup against the Bears in Week 4 - not Week 10 against the Bears. Despite 2 more touchdown passes and 13 more yards in Week 10’s game, numberFire’s Passing NEP grades Rodgers’ Week 4 performance just 0.39 points higher.

In the first game of 2014 against the Bears, Rodgers had pinpoint accuracy, completing 78.6% of his passes. Rodgers spread the ball around, too, as both Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson caught 2 touchdowns each and both were over 100 yards receiving. As good as Rodgers was, this is just the tip of the iceberg of best performances this year.

9. Matt Ryan, Week 3

Passing NEP: 24.67
Passing Yards: 286
Passing Touchdowns: 3

The Bears are to the Packers just like the Buccaneers are to the Falcons this year. The Bears and Bucs are ranked among the five worst pass defenses according to our Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP, which you can see on the power rankings page. The Packers and Falcons are both top-ten offenses according to our Adjusted Passing NEP. And like Rodgers, with Matt Ryan has the experience and talent to put up gaudy numbers against bad defenses.

Ryan didn’t have to do a whole lot against the Bucs though as he only passed for 286 yards and received help from a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown. Ryan was nearly perfect in his passing going 21 of 24, helping out his Passing NEP total for the day. One touchdown went to Harry Douglas while 2 went to Julio Jones, including a 40-yard strike at the beginning of the third quarter.

8. Andrew Luck, Week 3

Passing NEP: 25.43
Passing Yards: 370
Passing Touchdowns: 4

Jacksonville has been another team that has been easy to pick apart, and Andrew Luck had a walk in the park in Week 3 for his first entry on this list. Luck did everything right as he didn’t turn the ball over, stayed accurate with his throws (83.8%), and spread the ball around to everyone.

It didn’t matter who was running a route - Luck was finding a receiver and did so on 31 of 39 attempts. Nine different players caught a pass from Luck in Week 3, and even though T.Y. Hilton ranks fifth in the league in Reception NEP, he was relatively quiet, catching 5 passes for 80 yards. Rather, Luck relied on his other targets for touchdowns: Ahmad Bradshaw, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and Hakeem Nicks were the four recipients of his touchdown passes in Week 3.

After this clinic, if I’m Jacksonville, I start lobbying for a mercy rule before Week 12 begins.

7. Tom Brady, Week 6

Passing NEP: 25.65
Passing Yards: 361
Passing Touchdowns: 4

If there is anyone that can make a receiving corp look good, it’s Tom Brady. There are a lot of similarities between Brady’s Week 6 performance and Luck’s Week 3 performance. The completion percentage and passing yards are nearly identical and both threw for four touchdowns. Yet Brady played 0.22 more points above expectation in his game.

Of Brady’s 361 yards, 97 yards were caught by Brandon LaFell, 94 were caught by Rob Gronkowski and 91 were caught by Julian Edelman. But it wasn’t Gronkowski that caught a touchdown pass – it was Tim Wright. Edelman didn't snag a touchdown pass either as Brian Tyms caught one and LaFell caught two. Brady can still get the job done and this was one of the best examples in recent memory.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Week 9

Passing NEP: 27.18
Passing Yards: 340
Passing Touchdowns: 6

In Ben Roethlisberger’s second consecutive game of throwing six touchdowns, he wasn’t as sharp as the first time and didn’t have as many yards as the week before, but he had help from his defense and made some big plays with young receivers along the way.

The Steelers’ defense gave Roethlisberger a short field on a couple occasions in the second quarter, but Roethlisberger made use of the deep ball as well with touchdown passes of 47, 53, and 33 yards each to a different receiver. When given the right opportunities, Roethlisberger has shown how dangerous this offense can be.

5. Joe Flacco, Week 4

Passing NEP: 27.97
Passing Yards: 327
Passing Touchdowns: 3

The most telling stat of this game is that Joe Flacco led the Ravens on four different 80-yard drives during this game against the Panthers while a fifth drive was for 68 yards. Each drive led to a touchdown; two were rushing touchdowns while Steve Smith Sr. hauled in two touchdown receptions and Torrey Smith hauled in the other.

This was a revenge game for Steve Smith as well and he exacted that by catching a second touchdown in the game as well from Flacco. Thanks to help from the Smiths and completing 71% of his passes, Flacco clocks in with the fifth best performance of the 2014 season.

4. Andrew Luck, Week 4

Passing NEP: 28.33
Passing Yards: 393
Passing Touchdowns: 4

Something must have been in the water during Week 4 as Luck’s Passing NEP is the third from this week alone. We just mentioned Flacco, and Aaron Rodgers had his best game of the year during Week 4 as well. Throw in Philip Rivers’ 23.96 Passing NEP and four different quarterbacks had at least 23.00 Passing NEP in one week – the most all season.

Luck spent his time spreading the ball around as much as he could, completing 29 passes to 2 different running backs, 3 different tight ends and 4 wide receivers with 4 different players grabbing a touchdown reception. It was Luck’s best game to-date and if not for an interception in the game, this performance may have been third on the list.

3. Joe Flacco, Week 6

Passing NEP: 29.49
Passing Yards: 306
Passing Touchdowns: 5

Sometimes Joe Flacco becomes the forgotten quarterback. He helped lead his team to a Super Bowl trophy just two seasons ago. And before Roethlisberger threw for six touchdowns in two consecutive games and Rodgers threw for six touchdowns in one half, Flacco threw for five touchdowns in the first 16:03 of a game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been picked on by a lot of teams this year, and Flacco’s Ravens weren’t an exception. Flacco was surgical from the get-go of this game thanks to an early interception from the Ravens’ defense and great field position. By the time he was done, Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken and Mike Campanaro had all caught a touchdown pass, and Flacco had completed 72% of his passes.

2. Ben Roethlisberger, Week 8

Passing NEP: 33.83
Passing Yards: 522
Passing Touchdowns: 6

Roethlisberger’s first game of six touchdowns was actually the better game for him. By completing 81.6% of his passes, Roethlisberger notched the second highest Passing NEP of the 2014 season. And he didn’t do it in quick-strike fashion – the Steelers methodically marched down the field on nearly all touchdown drives.

Each drive for the Steelers that resulted in a touchdown went for at least 67 yards, and all but one drive consisted of 7 or more plays. Each of Roethlisberger’s touchdowns were less than 20 yards except for Antonio Brown’s second touchdown for 44 yards in the second quarter. Roethlisberger performed like he was completing brain surgery and ended up with one of the best games of the season – and one better games of all-time.

1. Tom Brady, Week 8

Passing NEP: 35.05
Passing Yards: 354
Passing Touchdowns: 5

How do you pass for one less touchdown and 178 less yards in the same week as Ben Roethlisberger and have the “better performance?” The numberFire analytics give the edge to Brady as he played 1.22 more points above expectation than Roethlisberger.

Brady also had the advantage of the best tight end in the league while facing one of the worst secondaries in the league at the same time. Even more remarkable was Brady’s accuracy: three different players caught all of their targets. Rob Gronkowski was targeted nine times, and three of his catches went for touchdowns. Brandon LaFell caught all 11 of his targets, and in-season acquisition Tim Wright managed to catch all 7 of his targets. In all, Brady completed 85.7% of his passes on his way to the best quarterback performance of the season so far.