Mason Rudolph are C.J. Beathard are in line to be the 58th and 59th different starting QBs this year. There's two potential Super Bowl previews with very intriguing QB matchups and Matthew Stafford is cooking. The QB storylines are ripe for the picking in Week 16:

1. Matthew Stafford and Rams are dangerous

Matthew Stafford and the Rams showed the world they'll be a dangerous playoff team after their 30-22 win vs. the Saints on Thursday.

Their offense has been deadly in the last five games with Sean McVay pulling the strings with a healthy core of Stafford, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. They are averaging 32.4 points per game in that span, which includes three games against top-10 defenses in the Browns, Ravens and Saints.

Stafford has been dropping dimes, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns in that span, Williams and Nacua lead the NFL in rushing and receiving since Week 12. 

The Rams have rebounded from a 3-6 start and are fully capable of upsetting a team like the Eagles, Cowboys or Lions in a wild card matchup on the road. If the playoffs started today, Stafford and the Rams would face the Lions in Detroit. Doesn't get much juicier than that. 

They may not have a Super Bowl ceiling with this defense, but with Stafford's arm and supporting cast they'll be fun to watch in January. 

2. Lamar Jackson vs. Brock Purdy in MVP showdown

The Ravens at 49ers on Monday is going to be some Christmas gift. I'm giddy with excitement to watch this game, especially to see a showdown between Brock Purdy and Lamar Jackson, who are one-two in NFL MVP odds.

Purdy can virtually put the MVP discussion to bed with a strong performance against the Ravens No. 1 scoring defense with only games against the Commanders and Rams bad defenses remaining. It won't be easy as the Ravens are allowing the fewest net yards per pass attempt since the 2008 Super Bowl-champion Steelers. They also allow the fewest YAC per reception in the NFL. MVP discussion aside, throws like this are the reason the 49ers ceiling is much higher with him than Jimmy Garoppolo.

Jackson can swing the MVP odds in his favor with a win on the road vs. the 11-3 49ers after losing Mark Andrews and Keaton Mitchell for the year. Gasoline would be poured on the "he does more with less" narrative. This electric play on Sunday night shows few can do what he can.

Jackson ranks third in the NFL in yards per attempt when pressured this season (8.0), which will definitely come in handy against San Francisco's pass rush with a one seed and an MVP hanging in the balance.

3. Are Dak Prescott and Tua Tagovailoa game changers?

All the haters will be out in full force for Sunday's game between the Cowboys and Dolphins. There are few QBs who draw more criticism than Dak Prescott and Tua Tagovailoa, so I was happy to see Tua's "I keep receipts" comments this week. Tua hit Jaylen Waddle on Sunday with this deep ball as the Dolphins cruised past the Jets, 30-0, without Tyreek Hill.

In the last two seasons Tua is 19 of 27 with 8 TD targeting Tyreek Hill 20+ yards downfield and 9 of 23 with 2 TD to all other teammates. He's capable of making big-time plays without Tyreek but he also benefits a ton from his presence. Both can be true. One thing that can't be argued is the results. Tua leads the NFL in completion rate and passing yards this year, which nobody has done since Drew Brees in 2011. He is the third QB since 1970 to average at least 8.5 yards per attempt in back-to-back years (min. 400 attempts) along with Steve Young and Philip Rivers. If anyone could do it, you wouldn't be seeing throws like Sunday's to Waddle or numbers like this. 

Prescott said postgame after a track meet win vs. the Seahawks in Week 13 that he's been using his legs more since an early-season loss to the 49ers. Prescott leads all QBs in yards per attempt (10.9) and EPA per play (0.25) with 3.0+ seconds to throw by a wide margin since Week 6. That screams game changer. He has 23 touchdown passes and three INTs in that span. 

4. Eagles' struggles come down to Jalen Hurts and predictable offense

We've reached "our pets heads are falling off!" panic mode in Philadelphia after comments last week that the offense is too predictable and then Jalen Hurts questioned their commitment after Monday's loss where he threw two fourth-quarter interceptions. 

So where does the blame lie? The rise in Hurts' turnovers this season and the Eagles lack of execution has exposed their predictable offense. 

One thing I noticed from rewatching Monday's loss was the amount of similar routes Philadelphia was running. Particularly, WR screens off RPOs, comeback routes and go routes. They rank top 10 in frequency of those routes this year, no different than 2022, but when execution isn't as good the lack of creativity is more apparent. 

The RPO game has also lost some of its edge. Hurts is 18th in throw EPA (-0.19) on RPOs this year vs. 5th (+0.29) last year, which may be a result of defenses catching up to the predictable nature. 

For the record, I think some of Philadelphia's struggles are overblown as they've played the hardest schedule in the NFL and are still 10-4. But, it's also tough to ignore some red flags on offense. 

5. QB carousel

Mason Rudolph and Trevor Siemian will be the 58th and 59th different starting quarterbacks this season as we creep toward last year's NFL-record total of 68. In other news:

  • Taylor Heinicke will start the rest of the year for Atlanta, in place of Desmond Ridder
  • Case Keenum will likely start again for the Texans since C.J. Stroud is still dealing with concussion symptoms.
  • Trevor Siemian will get the start for the Jets with Zach Wilson ruled out with a concussion. 
  • C.J. Beathard could start for the Jaguars with Trevor Lawrence not cleared from his concussion.
  • Geno Smith is back for the Seahawks after missing two games.
  • Ryan Tannehill could start for an injured Will Levis (ankle).
  • The amount of QB changes this year is incredible. Here's the starting QB moves every team has made. If it teaches us anything, it's that backup QBs are very valuable. 
TeamStarting QB Sequence This Season


Deshaun Watson > Dorian Thompson-Robinson > P.J. Walker > Deshaun Watson > P.J. Walker > Deshaun Watson  > Dorian Thompson-Robinson > Joe Flacco 


 Jimmy Garoppolo > Aidan O'Connell > Jimmy Garoppolo > Brian Hoyer > Jimmy Garoppolo > Aidan O'Connell


Anthony Richardson > Gardner Minshew > Anthony Richardson > Gardner Minshew


Daniel Jones > Tyrod Taylor > Daniel Jones > Tommy DeVito


Kirk Cousins > Jaren Hall > Josh Dobbs > Nick Mullens


Aaron Rodgers > Zach Wilson > Tim Boyle > Zach Wilson > Trevor Siemian


Desmond Ridder > Taylor Heinicke > Desmond Ridder > Taylor Heinicke


Justin Fields > Tyson Bagent > Justin Fields  


Matthew Stafford > Brett Rypien > Matthew Stafford  


Bryce Young > Andy Dalton > Bryce Young


Josh Dobbs > Clayton Tune > Kyler Murray


Kenny Pickett > Mitch Trubisky > Mason Rudolph


Geno Smith > Drew Lock > Geno Smith


Mac Jones > Bailey Zappe 


Ryan Tannehill > Will Levis


Justin Herbert > Easton Stick


Joe Burrow > Jake Browning


C.J. Stroud > Case Keenum


Trevor Lawrence > C.J. Beathard?


Patrick Mahomes


Jordan Love 


Lamar Jackson


Tua Tagovailoa


Josh Allen


Jared Goff


Jalen Hurts


Dak Prescott


Brock Purdy


Derek Carr


Baker Mayfield


Sam Howell


Russell Wilson

6. Year of the Backup QB features three big matchups this week

There's three matchups between backup QBs in Week 16 featuring playoff contenders. 

  • Jake Browning (Bengals) vs. Mason Rudolph (Steelers)
  • Gardner Minshew (Colts) vs. Taylor Heinicke (Falcons)
  • Joe Flacco (Browns) vs. Case Keenum (Texans)

If we've learned anything from this year, and last week, it's don't overlook any of these guys, and know they'll be deciding several playoff spots as Tyler Sullivan wrote about on Tuesday. Five playoff contenders won after trailing by 10+ points last week and all had backup QBs delivering in the clutch. Incredible.

7. Will the Cardinals and Bears move on from Kyler Murray and Justin Fields?

The Cardinals and Bears play in a surprisingly meaningful game on Sunday, both jockeying for position at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Both teams have multiple first-round picks, with the Bears currently slotted to pick first and fifth and Arizona at third and 17th. One of the biggest questions of the offseason that is already brewing is whether these teams will hang on to Kyler Murray and Justin Fields or opt for Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels in the draft. Josh Edwards already detailed the Bears' situation with Fields this week.

Seeing as how neither front office drafted these QBs and both have had inconsistencies and injuries, I think both franchises will opt for a cheaper (and just as talented) option in the draft rather than develop around their current passers with all their draft capital.

You could hardly blame either team for doing the latter, though. They've both shown flashes of brilliance. Fields had the fourth 1,000-yard rushing season by a QB ever in 2022. Lamar Jackson is the only QB who averages more career rush yards per game than Fields. Murray was playing at MVP levels during the Cardinals 7-0 start in 2021. Despite missing almost an entire season with a torn ACL he is still tied for the third-most games with a Pass TD and Rush TD (18) through five career seasons.

It'd be especially surprising to see Chicago double down on Fields by trading the No. 1 overall pick in back-to-back years after another up-and-down year. They may not want to go down the road Arizona did, who gave Murray a five-year deal worth $230 million before the 2022 season. 

8. Josh Allen no longer a one-man band

Who had the Bills beating the Cowboys by 21 on Sunday with only seven completions from Josh Allen? It was the fewest completions by any team in a win this season and underscored a positive trend for the Bills. Entering Week 15, Allen had accounted for the most touchdowns (35) and total yards (3,821) in the league. The stat sheet has been filled up, but not always the win column as the heavy burden also leads to a lot of turnovers. 

Enter new OC Joe Brady and RB James Cook. Cook totaled 179 rushing yards and 221 scrimmage yards against the Cowboys, both the most by a teammate in Allen's 98 career starts, including playoffs. Cook is averaging 21 touches per game with Brady compared with 14 with Ken Dorsey this year. It's nice to see Buffalo has more than one formula to win, which should serve them well the rest of the season. 

And don't worry, Allen will be alright. He's three touchdowns away from his fourth straight season with at least 40 touchdowns (passing + rushing), which no player has ever done in NFL history. He might break that record in the first quarter in Week 16 vs. a Chargers defense that just allowed 63 points. 

9. Baker Mayfield made every throw on the route tree 

Over a year ago, nobody would have expected Baker Mayfield to pitch a perfect game (158.3 rating) at Lambeau Field like he did on Sunday. Maybe someday we'll all be looking back at how the crazy comeback (and 98-yard drive) last year against the Raiders, two days after the Rams signed him, saved his career. 

It's been an amazing journey from the Browns to the Panthers, Rams, Buccaneers, culminating in the second perfect passer rating game ever at Lambeau Field (more on that in a minute). 

Rewatching the game, it was cool to be reminded of why he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 as the perfect game was accompanied by the perfect route tree. He made every throw. If you don't know what a route tree is, it's OK, google is your friend. Here's proof of Baker's feat (I hyperlinked all the video I could find). 

I'm sure other QBs have done this, and of course professionals are expected to make every throw. But, let's not take for granted the ability it takes to go out and execute it. 

10. Baker Mayfield and 'perfect games'

Mayfield's perfect passer rating (158.3) was the second ever in a game at Lambeau Field along with Aaron Rodgers in 2019 vs. the Raiders. 

I could go on a rant about the flaws of passer rating, including how it was far from a perfect game starting with Mayfield's fumble near his own goal line that led to a Packers touchdown. While I certainly recognize the many flaws of the metric, I have a special appreciation for "perfection", flawed or not, and always gravitate toward the "perfect game," even if that number is 158.3. 

Perhaps I enjoy the feat a little too much. I still get texts from my former colleagues at ESPN when there's a perfect game because I'm known for my infatuation with the accomplishment, having treated it like the holy grail at a place the metric is basically (and rightfully so) banned in favor of Total QBR.

So for the perfect passer rating fans out there, you no longer have to hide in shame. Here's a brief history. 

  • According to Stathead, there's been 58 perfect passer rating games in NFL history (min. 15 attempts).
  • Off memory (joking), the first was by Ray Mallouf in 1948 for the Chicago Cardinals (14/18, 256 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT). 
  • Lamar Jackson accounts for two of the four perfect passer rating games by QBs at age 22 or younger (both in 2019).
  • Marcus Mariota is the youngest player to ever do it (21), and the only one to do it in an NFL debut.
  • Tom Brady is the oldest (43), hitting 158.3 vs. the Lions in 2020.
  • The most career perfectos is three by Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.
  • Notable QBs to never do it include Dan Marino, Steve Young, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Brett Favre and Troy Aikman, basically all your favorite QBs from the 1990s. And, oh, Patrick Mahomes. But, of course, names like Doug Flutie, Jeff Blake, Bobby Hebert and Dick Shiner have done it. Not a typo on the last one. LOL. 
  • Nobody has given up as many as the Dolphins, who have been victimized by Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Geno Smith, Kurt Warner, Lamar Jackson and Joe Namath. 
  • Three active franchises have never had one (Jaguars, Raiders, Panthers) and six have never allowed one (Browns, Titans, Chiefs, Cowboys, Commanders, Bears).

Johnny Vander Meer had back-to-back no-hitters in the MLB way back in 1938 but nobody has back-to-back perfect passer rating games in the NFL, so maybe Mayfield can pitch one against the Jaguars in Week 16