QB ratings (con't ...)
17. Andy Dalton, Bengals: Cincinnati's three losses in four games coincides with a drop-off in play by Dalton, who has thrown for just one score in each of the last three games. This is not a coincidence. Still, the blame doesn't rest solely with the rookie. His protection hasn't been top notch, his receivers have battled injuries at a position that lacks depth, and his level of competition has increased dramatically, with the three losses coming against Pittsburgh (twice) and Baltimore.
18. Philip Rivers, Chargers: For the first time this season, San Diego's trigger man has gone consecutive games without throwing an interception. He also is coming off his first triple-digit passer rating in eight games. Still, these rankings are based on the season, with added weight being given the past four weeks. If Rivers, who leads the league in turnovers, continues to take care of the ball, he will climb the ladder. If not ... you know the drill.
19. Carson Palmer, Raiders: He was at a disadvantage from the start, joining the Raiders midway through the season. And just when he started to develop a rapport with a couple of his receivers -- notably Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford -- they were sidelined by injuries. So was big-play running back Darren McFadden. With them in the lineup, Palmer had nine completions of 25 yards or longer in his first two starts. He has six in the last three.
20. Christian Ponder, Vikings: The rookie first-round pick continues to improve. In six starts he has thrown nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. He makes mistakes, but he also makes plays, with his legs as well as his right arm. A rookie quarterback's best friends are a running game and a stout defense. The Vikings have a running game, but their once-vaunted defense is a shell of its former self.
21. TJ Yates, Texans: The rookie fifth-round pick showed a lot of promise last week in his first career start. Unlike QBs taking snaps in their first season, he didn't look to simply check down to running backs or drop the ball in the flats. He took his shots down the field. Believing you can make plays is the first step to making plays, and Yates appears to have that swag. We'll see.
22. Joe Flacco, Ravens: Baltimore is tied for the best record in the AFC, but Flacco is on pace to throw for his fewest touchdowns since his rookie season in 2008. His 55.3 completion percentage also is a career low. Normally he would be higher in the rankings, but if a player has shown us more but gives us less, it's tough to give him full credit.
23. Dan Orlovsky, Colts: In his lone start last week, he completed 81.1 percent of his passes for 353 yards, two scores and one pick. Is this a blip on the radar of a sign of things to come? History says the former; he had eight TDs and eight INTs in seven previous career starts.
24. Tarvaris Jackson, Seahawks: In a season that started with two rookies and a second-year pro in the offensive line, injured receivers who hindered their ability to work together in training camp, and a new offensive scheme, it's a credit to Jackson that he has remained upright, let alone complete 60 percent of his passes with 10 TDs and 12 picks.
25. Josh Freeman, Bucs: Tampa Bay's third-year pro prides himself on leading his team to wins, particularly with comebacks in the fourth quarter. Well ... the Bucs have lost six straight and seven of eight and Freeman has thrown 10 more INTs than a year ago.
26. Colt McCoy, Browns: In five of his last seven games, he has thrown for fewer than 200 yards, and it's not simply because the Browns lack the weapons to go downfield. McCoy is relying largely on three-and five-step drops and looking to get rid of the ball quickly, not that it's translating into success. Since mid-October, he has thrown just six TDs and six INTs for an offense that ranks 30th overall and 28th in scoring.
27. Caleb Hanie, Bears: In two starts, he has completed 48.3 percent of his passes, with six interceptions and just two touchdowns. Without injured running back Matt Forte to keep the defense honest last week against Kansas City, he threw three picks and no scores. Forte won't be back this week, but linebacker Von Miller is expected to return for the Broncos, who host the Bears on Sunday.
28. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals: It has been a miserable season for Kolb, who was acquired in a major trade with Philadelphia. When he's not taking hits in the pocket, he often appears to be looking for the pass rush. And he definitely appears uncomfortable holding the ball in the pocket. Perhaps Sunday's overtime win over Dallas will boost his confidence.
29. Rex Grossman, Redskins: Good Rex, where have you gone?
30. Sam Bradford, Rams: Healthy Sam, where have you gone?
31. Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars: Gabbert is completing just 49.5 percent of his passes and has eight TDs and seven picks. Is it wrong to expect more -- even from a rookie QB -- when he has the league's No. 1 rusher in his backfield and consistently is seeing eight- and nine-man fronts? I think not.
32. Tyler Palko, Chiefs: One touchdown drive in three games? Need we say more?