Bulger holds off Manning, Brees
Michael Lazarus / FOXSports.com


Things have tightened up considerably in our Clutch Factor quarterback rankings.
How close is it?

Thirteen different quarterbacks are ranked in the top three in our six categories, yet our No. 1 quarterback this week isn't one of them.

Marc Bulger is the fourth-best QB in the two-minute drill for his highest ranking, but he is the only quarterback ranked in the top 10 in five of the six categories (the only exception is his No. 21 spot when leading by seven or less), giving him just enough consistency to jump three spots from last week and hold off Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for the No. 1 spot.

The categories our ranking system is based on:

Last two minutes in each half: How good is the two-minute drill?

Fourth quarter: the game is often in the balance

Red zone: Can they punch it in?

Ahead by seven points or less: Time to put a team away.

Behind by seven or less: One TD and the lead is back.

Third down: Often a last chance to avoid a punt.
After several e-mail requests, here are the top 3 in all six of our categories:
Last 2: 1. Rex Grossman (156.6), 2. Drew Brees (150.7), 3. Jake Plummer (140.3).
4th qtr. 1. Phillip Rivers (126.8 ), 2. David Carr (125.6), 3. Brees (113.6).
Red Zone: 1. Bruce Gradkowski (127.1), 2. J.P. Losman (118.4), 3. Eli Manning (114.7).
Small lead: 1. Plummer (126.0), 2. Mark Brunell (119.4), 3. Matt Hasselbeck (114.6).
Small deficit: : 1. Peyton Manning (113.3), 2. Damon Huard (108.3), 3. Hasselbeck (108.2).
Third down: 1. Peyton Manning (130.7), 2. Rivers (109.4), 3. Chad Pennington (106.0).

Statistics are based on 2006 season results only. Those quarterbacks eligible for the NFL passer rating title (35 this week) are ranked in each of the six categories by their passer rating. The QB with the best rating in each category is given one point, the second-best two and so on down. The point totals in the six categories are then added up and QBs are sorted according to point total the fewer the better.


Rk Last QB Last 2 4th qtr Red Zone Ahead <7 Behind <7 3rd down TOTAL Comment
1. 4. Marc Bulger 4 7 7 21 7 5 51 Leader of a very tight pack
2. 8. Peyton Manning 14 4 16 19 1 1 55 New England awaits
3. 2. Drew Brees 2 3 23 8 4 15 55 Piled up some garbage-time numbers
4. 1. Phillip Rivers 18.5 1 6 17 13 2 57.5 Didn't really do anything wrong
5. 3. Donovan McNabb 13 5 17 6.5 5 13 59.5 Heading in the wrong direction
6. 5. David Carr 6 2 13 11 24 7 63 Wasn't that bad when he wasn't fumbling
7. 14. Damon Huard 5 9 12 12 2 24 64 Latest to tear apart Seahawks' D
8. 6. Carson Palmer 9 6 4 24 9 19 71 Helped by having Henry back
9. 9. Matt Hasselbeck 10 27 15 3 3 14 72 Seahawks still are going to miss him
10. 10. Mark Brunell 11 14 20 2 18 8 73 Redskins need to make a move in standings or else

And the rest...
11. Eli Manning (LW: 7): For once, didn't have to do too much.
12. Alex Smith (LW: 13): This one was over early.
13. Tom Brady (LW: 12): Not too many tight games for Pats so far.
14. Kurt Warner (LW: 15): At least he won once for Cards.
15. Brett Favre (W: 19): Turns out to be having a decent year.
16. J.P. Losman (LW: 16): As winds kick up, look for numbers to go down.
17. Michael Vick (LW: 27): Two good games means big jump.
18. Chad Pennington (LW: 11): Not one of his better games.
19. Jake Plummer (LW: 20): No longer perfect in 2-minute drill.
20. Rex Grossman (LW: 21): Still plenty of room for improvement in 4th quarter.
21. Steve McNair (LW: 28 ): Week off did him some good.
22. Bruce Gradkowski (LW: 17): Bucs beginning to stagger again.
23. Duante Culpepper (LW: 24): When will see him again?
24. Jon Kitna (LW: 25): Has put up yardage numbers.
25. Matt Leinart (LW: 18 ): Getting diminishing results each week.
26. Joey Harrington (LW: 26): Can't be looking forward to Chicago trip.
27. Jake Delhomme (LW: 23): We're expecting more at this point.
28. Byron Leftwich (LW: 29): If he plays, he could clean up vs. Titans, Texans.
29. Vince Young (LW: 31): Used his legs more than arm.
30. Brad Johnson (LW: 22): Usually steady, he wasn't on Monday.
31. Ben Roethlisberger (LW: 33): Another injury, another rough comeback week.
32. Andrew Walter (LW: 30): Not pretty, but has two wins.
33. Drew Bledsoe (LW: 34): Doesn't look like he'll be back.
34. Charlie Frye (LW: 35): Ranked 26th or lower in every category.
35. Chris Simms (LW: 36): Will finally drop off rankings next week