Note to readers: Welcome to the 2013 NFL season. Each week, we will highlight the best and the worst Real Quarterback Rating performances from the schedule of games and explain what happened on the road to whatever outcome we witnessed.

Already this season, teams are proving that if you win the Real Quarterback Rating battle, you will win most of the time—teams are 25-7 (.781) through two weeks. That should improve even more as the season wares on, however, as teams went an unfathomable 227-39 (.853) including the playoffs last year when winning the battle of the new Mother of All Stats.


By Shaun Church
Cold, Hard Football Facts Desert Fox (@church_NFL)

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (+52.39) topped the weekly Real Quarterback Rating Differential Big Board for the second straight week to open the 2013 campaign, besting Tom Brady and the New England Patriots who rode a great defensive performance to +40.67 differential.

Peyton picked on little brother Eli for the third time in his career, moving to 3-0 after a 41-23 drubbing of the New York Giants.

Peyton's Real Quarterback Rating of 103.89 Sunday more than doubled Eli's mistake-filled 51.50 Real Quarterback Rating.

Denver through two games is lapping the field in the most critical indicator of success in football:

Brady, who has struggled out of the gates but is 2-0 largely because of his defense, outlasted New York Jets’ rookie quarterback Geno Smith in a 13-10 tussle.

The Patriots quarterback was far from great. But his 69.15 was far superior to the 28.47 Real QB Rating posted by Smith and the Jets. It's the worst Real QB Rating by any team so far in the young season, and a fairly positive sign for New England's long-struggling pass defense.

San Francisco 49ers fans may not be worried about Colin Kaepernick’s worst performance of his young NFL career, but they should be worried that he cannot beat the arch-rival Seattle Seahawks.

His two worst Real QB Rating games came in his first two meetings with Seattle at CenturyLink Field—losses of 42-13 last season and 29-3 Sunday. Kaepernick’s 28.54 Real QB Rating Sunday night is the second-lowest of the young season, in front of only Smith’s 28.47 performance this weekend.

The Miami Dolphins entered Sunday’s road game against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts as three-point underdogs. That didn’t stop them from stealing a victory from the most clutch young quarterback in the league, as Ryan Tannehill stole the show late to lift his Dolphins over Luck’s Colts.

Tannehill completed 23 of 34 (67.6%) for 319 yards, 9.4 YPA, 1 TD and 0 INT. He was sacked five times and was ineffective running the ball, but his six-play, 69-yard touchdown drive that left Luck with 4:40 and a 24-20 deficit was enough to get the job done—especially with Miami’s apparently stingy defense.

More Domination from Peyton (Broncos 41, Giants 23)

Last week, Peyton tied an NFL single-game record by throwing seven touchdown passes in a 49-27 rout of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. This week, he’s tied another record and has his offense on the verge of more NFL history.

The 41-23 victory over the Giants (0-2) put the Broncos (2-0) at 90 points scored through two games. They are one of six teams to average at least 45 points per game through two weeks in history and just the second AFC team.

The five other teams to score at least 90 in two games racked up a season record of 55-17 (.764), and two of them—the 1971 Cowboys and ’09 Saints—won the Super Bowl in their respective year. Only the ’75 Redskins and ’62 Lions failed to make the playoffs (there were no playoffs in 1962, only a championship game, and the Packers with their 13-1 record earned the berth over the Lions and beat the Giants for the title).

Sunday’s game was close at the half, a low-scoring 10-9 affair in favor of Peyton’s Broncos. But the elder Manning led four touchdown drives to open the second half, while the younger threw three second-half interceptions.

Peyton’s first-half Real QB Rating was 82.50, explaining the close score at the break. But in the second half, he completed 12 of 14 (85.7%) for 107 yards, 7.64 YPA, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 133.59 Real QBR, pulling away from Eli and New York’s defense.

Eli leads the NFL with seven interceptions after Sunday’s four-pick debauchery. You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach after you know you’ve just screwed up in a colossal way? Eli can’t seem to get enough of that feeling this season. He’s led the NFL in interceptions twice (2007, 2010), and he appears headed there again.

He completed 28 of 49 (57.1%) for 362 yards, 7.4 YPA, 1 TD and 4 INT. His 51.50 Real QB Rating is his lowest since Week 15 of last season, a 34-0 ass whipping in which he completed just 52.0 percent of his passes for no TD, two INT and a 37.18 Real QB Rating.

When the bell tolled Sunday evening, Peyton’s domination of Eli had led to the third-highest Real QB Rating Differential of the season, at 52.39.


Kaep is Gabbert-like at Seattle (Seahawks 29, 49ers 3)

That’s not an exaggeration. Kaepernick (28.47) had a worse game against the Seahawks than Blaine Gabbert (35.83) did Week 1 at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. Granted, playing a home game is only slightly easier than playing in the seventh circle of hell, also known as CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

This game was won on defense for the Seahawks (2-0), as they kept the pressure on Kaepernick all night and took advantage of his mistakes. The defense brought him down only three times, but they put pressure on him on 18 of his 35 drop-backs. It’s not common for San Francisco’s offensive line to be that permeable (1.94 drop-backs per pressure allowed).

For the game, Kaepernick completed 13 of 28 (46.4%) for 127 yards, 4.5 YPA, 0 TD, 3 INT and took 3 sacks. His three interceptions represent a career high.

In fact, it’s the first multi-INT game of Kaepernick’s NFL career.

Seattle’s defense has been the best in the league through two games. Here are some numbers:

  • No. 1 in Defensive Real QB Rating (55.89)
  • No. 1 in Defensive Rusher Rating (37.62)
  • No. 1 in Bendability (34.71 YPPA)
  • No. 1 in passing yards per game (113.0)
  • No. 1 in scoring defense (5.0 PPG)
  • No. 4 in Negative Pass Plays (12.73%)
  • No. 6 in Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt (4.96)

Almost lost amid Seattle’s defensive excellence is the fact that Russell Wilson’s 64.08 Real QB Rating is the lowest in a victory in his short NFL career. The previous low was a Week 5 win over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers last season, during which he earned a 78.12 Real QBR.

Wilson was not great. His Real QBR was as high as it was only because of his rushing. If you take away his 10 carries for 33 yards (3.3 YPC), that rating goes from 64.08 to a vomit-inducing 48.82.

His ability to scramble contributed to defeating the 49ers (1-1). He ran for three first downs, extending two drives and keeping Kaepernick on the sideline—though, more snaps for Kaep could have resulted in an even worse beating for the poor, young QB (no one is crying for him, by the way).


Luck’s Failed 4th-Quarter Comeback (Dolphins 24, Colts 20)

The quest for a ninth game-winning drive from Luck and the Colts (1-1) fell 24 yards short Sunday against the Dolphins (2-0).

After nine plays and 59 yards, Luck came upon a fourth-and-10 from the Miami 24-yard line with 1:35 left.

He took the snap out of the shotgun and may have had wideout Griff Whalen open on dig-route, but running back Donald Brown—who is helping replace the injured Vick Ballard—could not pick up Dolphins linebacker Phillip Wheeler, who blitzed the A-gap.

Wheeler took Luck down with help from defensive tackle Randy Starks, and one first down from Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense later, the game was over.

Luck completed 25 of 43 (58.1%) for 321 yards, 7.5 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT and took 3 sacks. He has had worse games (nine of his 16 regular-season games last season resulted in lower than Sunday’s 78.17 Real QB Rating), but this one—like the Seahawks-49ers game above—came down to the defense.

Here’s how the Dolphins rank in key defensive statistics:

  • No. 2 in interceptions (4)
  • T-No. 3 in scoring defense (15.0 PPG)
  • No. 3 in Defensive Real QBR (57.78)
  • No. 3 in Bendability (24.63 YPPA)
  • No. 4 in 3rd-down conversions (27.59%)
  • No. 5 in NPP (12.38%)
  • No. 7 in Defensive Hog Index (12.00)

Miami’s defense has been surprisingly up to the task so far. After facing a mediocre Cleveland Browns team led by 30-year-old second-year QB Brandon Weeden and Luck’s Colts, it could be too early to decide whether the Dolphins are adept at defending quarterbacks, but so far, so good.