1. Jalen Hurts
2023 stats: 8 games | 68.4 pct | 2,140 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 13 pass TD | 8 INT | 280 rush yds | 6 rush TD | 3 fumbles
You can point to recent turnover numbers to make the argument Hurts is disappointing, but as I wrote last week, you’ll be revealing yourself as an evaluator who is almost entirely dependent on the stat sheet. Speaking of numbers, take a peek at Hurts’ results from the Week 8 win: 29 of 38, 319 yards and four touchdowns, including three perfectly placed passes (two to superhuman A.J. Brown and one to the ageless Julio Jones). Hurts was completely dialed in on Sunday and continues to trend toward peaking at the perfect time for the Eagles, who will deal with an occasional turnover or two in exchange for the sky-high upside Hurts brings to the field each week.
2. Tua Tagovailoa
2023 stats: 8 games | 70.4 pct | 2,416 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 18 pass TD | 7 INT | 26 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles
It was another stat-sheet-stuffing Sunday for Tagovailoa, who lit up the scoreboard with a 30-of-45, 324-yard, three-touchdown day in a win over the Patriots. Tagovailoa ended up on the bad end of a great play made by Kyle Dugger, who showed off his film study by sliding underneath a staple of Miami’s offense (Tyreek Hill’s deep-in route) to intercept the pass. Otherwise, Tagovailoa was largely excellent, firing a dart to Cedrick Wilson for a touchdown, dropping a dime on Hill for a score and connecting with Jaylen Waddle for another trip to the end zone. He and the offense continue to roll, and while it’s not perfect, it certainly is thrilling to witness.
3. Patrick Mahomes
2023 stats: 8 games | 68.8 pct | 2,258 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 15 pass TD | 8 INT | 234 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles
Week 8 was a nightmare for Mahomes and the Chiefs. Denver did a great job of focusing resources on stopping Travis Kelce, and Mahomes’ receivers did him zero favors in both catching and hanging onto the ball. The difficulties clearly frustrated Mahomes, who made a couple of ugly mistakes in throwing two interceptions and discovered he also couldn’t be saved by his rare ability to evade pressure, producing another turnover via strip sack. The end result was very unlike Mahomes: 24 of 38, 241 yards and three total giveaways. The same can be said about the Chiefs, who were shut out of the end zone on the day. This is a game tape a staff reviews, makes adjustments accordingly and then burns.
4. Lamar Jackson
2023 stats: 8 games | 70.5 pct | 1,767 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 9 pass TD | 3 INT | 380 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 8 fumbles
A week after dominating in a blowout win over the Lions, Jackson returned to earth against the Cardinals in a game that was somewhat odd. He finished with one touchdown pass, but also pulled off the magic acts needed to move the Ravens into scoring position. His stats — 18 of 27, 157 yards, one touchdown — weren’t anything to write home about, but for the first time all season, Jackson wasn’t quite needed to go win the game for Baltimore. In fact, as I reached the end of the game, I found myself wondering how Baltimore mustered 31 points. He can thank Gus Edwards and a stout defense for the help while doing his job to produce a win.
5. Josh Allen
2023 stats: 8 games | 71.7 pct | 2,165 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 17 pass TD | 8 INT | 189 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 3 fumbles
Allen has been given the herculean task of carrying the Bills on his back in the last few weeks, which was too big an ask against a blitz-happy Patriots team in Week 7. He found the going easier in Week 8 and was able to rely on his strengths — improvisation, arm talent and running — to wake up Buffalo’s offense against the Buccaneers. All three of his touchdowns were rather pretty, but his best was probably his scoring connection with rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid, which required Allen to extend the play by rolling right before throwing slightly across his body to the tight end. Allen could still use a more reliable running game, especially in scenarios like the one the Bills experienced last Thursday — in which they couldn’t effectively put away the game offensively — but Buffalo did enough on the ground to take some of the responsibility off Allen’s shoulders. Overall, it was nice to see Allen play comfortably and let his talents do the work.