Every Wednesday during the NFL season, USA TODAY Sports will assess everyone's favorite topic: quarterbacks. Who's hot? Who's not? Who has the most exciting matchups?
Here's this week's QB Hot Sheet:
Five to watch this week
1. Kirk Cousins, Vikings: Minnesota has lost four of its last six, and Cousins has underwhelmed in that span. The Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday and promoted quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski to handle play-calling. Hosting a Dolphins team looking to make a playoff push, Cousins and Stefanski can try to finish strong and hold onto the sixth seed and final wild-card spot in the NFC.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: After Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury in his team's third consecutive loss, Pittsburgh may be on the verge of collapse. The Steelers still need more out of the running game, but with a huge matchup against the Patriots, Roethlisberger will likely need to carry the load – especially if running back James Conner is out.
3. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: Everyone is raving about his no-look pass, but Mahomes needs 13 touchdown throws over his final three games to break Peyton Manning’s record for single-season TD passes (55). He’ll get his chance to come within striking distance in a massive AFC West matchup against the Chargers on Thursday.
4. Philip Rivers, Chargers: Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) might be out. And with the Chargers just one game back of Kansas City in the division, Rivers is going to have to add to his sterling, MVP-type campaign for Los Angeles to have any shot to topple the Chiefs.
5. Josh Johnson, Redskins:The Mark Sanchez experiment didn’t work, so now it’s Johnson’s turn. He played well coming off the bench against the Giants in relief of Sanchez, but Washington was getting blown out by then. Against the Jaguars, Johnson may not have the room to use his legs like he did last week.
Three trending up
1. Mahomes: Against a very good Ravens defense, Mahomes put his improvisation, arm strength, touch and awareness all on display. A potential MVP season only continued to get better.
2. Baker Mayfield, Browns: Cleveland fans have to be thrilled that Mayfield is on their team. He outdueled Cam Newton and helped beat the Panthers, and he’s getting better – and more efficient – as the season wears on.
3. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: He benefited from a wild, double-lateral, game-winning touchdown, but Tannehill has an 8:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio since returning from a shoulder injury. He won’t tear up the stat sheet, but he’s efficiently managing games.
Three trending down
1. Jared Goff, Rams: Four interceptions, no touchdowns and just 180 yards against a tough Bears defense made for a nightmare night.
2. Sanchez: There was a reason he was a free agent and out of the league before the Redskins' moment of desperation. His 38-yard, two-interception day against the Giants could end up as his last stint in the NFL.
3. Newton: In his last two games, he has just two touchdowns and five interceptions. Carolina had seven total fourth-quarter possessions in those contests when trailing by one score but take the lead or tie things up. The Panthers' are now sinking with five straight losses.
1. Mahomes (last week: 1): As long as he doesn’t stumble, he should be on his way to an MVP, and perhaps a record-setting season.
2. Drew Brees (2), Saints: He has three interceptions in his last three games, but Brees is still pacing the NFL in completion rate (75.7 percentage) and QB rating (120.8).
3. Rivers (3): It wasn’t his crispest performance in a victory against the Bengals, but Rivers is only five touchdowns away from matching his career-best total (34).
4. Andrew Luck (5), Colts: Great chemistry with receiver T.Y. Hilton (nine catches on 12 targets for 199 yards) opened up the rest of the offense and allowed Luck to add two more touchdowns to his season total (34) that ranks second in the NFL.
5. Russell Wilson (4), Seahawks: A really quiet game against the Vikings (10 of 20 for 72 yards and one interception) drops him one spot.
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
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