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Andrew Luck is the Best Quarterback So Far by ESPN's QBR, Once You Account For Opponents

Andrew Luck is officially listed as the #4 ranked quarterback in ESPN’s QBR Rankings after five weeks. Alex Smith actually ranks first after his dismantling of the Bills, ahead of Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. I thought it would be interesting, though, to see what happens when we take the weekly game QBR numbers and adjust them for opponent. After all, lighting up the Bills isn’t exactly note-worthy this year. Mark Sanchez also posted a near perfect rating in the QBR in week one, along with Tom Brady two weeks ago.

So, I compared the weekly game scores of each quarterback, to the average of the other quarterbacks who played the same defensive opponent. Obviously, some injuries have changed some defenses from week one to week five, but this is still better than ignoring it altogether.

Quarterbacks are then ranked by how much above or below average they are compared to other quarterbacks with the same schedule. (I’ll note that my “QBR” rankings do not match up with ESPN’s. Mine are just the average of the weekly QBR scores for each player, there may be weighting issues changing the numbers slightly). QBR represents the individual’s average weekly QBR score. “OPP QBR” is the average weekly score of the other QB’s who played the same opponents, and Adjusted QBR is a +/- representing how much above or below average the QB is compared to others playing the same teams.

There is Andrew Luck sitting at the top, and just below him is Eli Manning, who was down at 8th in the raw rankings. What does this mean? Both have played tougher passing schedules than peers listed ahead of them. Andrew Luck, in fact, has had either the best or second best performance against each defense he has faced this year.

Schedule matters. Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo are struggling, right? Well, part of that, a big part of it, is who they have played. They check in with the two hardest passing schedules so far, and other quarterbacks have struggled more than them. Rodgers, in fact, jumps up from 17th in the rankings, to 7th on this list, just behind Alex Smith, once we account for opponent strength. That’s not going to get any better this week, as Rodgers goes against Houston. If he can put up, by raw numbers, just a slightly below average game against the Texans, he’ll jump even higher. That’s how dominant Houston has been against everyone not named Peyton Manning.

Romo, meanwhile, moves to a slightly above average quarterback once we account for playing the likes of Seattle and Chicago in half his games.

The flip side is Philip Rivers. He and Rodgers appear next to each other in the unadjusted rankings, but once we account for their schedules, it’s not even close. The Chargers have faced the easiest passing schedule in the league. The San Diego performance on offense doesn’t look nearly as good once you realize that.

[photo via US Presswire]

 

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