Sorry, everyone (especially Cowboys and Bears fans). It looks like the Green Bay Packers have somehow managed to find yet another franchise QB.

The Detroit Lions managed to win their first-ever NFC North title in 2023, but Packers fans probably still feel pretty good about their chances next season and beyond with how Jordan Love has looked in his first year as a starter.

Love’s near-perfect 272-yard, three-TD performance against the Cowboys in the Wild Card round not only earned them a resounding 48-32 victory in Jerry World, but it also likely cemented his status as Green Bay’s QB for the foreseeable future.

Yes, it was just one game, but it was also literally the most efficient playoff performance since 2000 in terms of EPA per play (+1.13).

I mean, what the hell is this witchcraft?

The Wild Card win was yet another $500,000 escalator reached, adding to Love’s total earnings for the season. But even with all the extra incentives he's earned this year in addition to his base salary, all that could look like chump change compared to his impending extension this offseason.

There are currently 12 QBs earning at least $40 million on a yearly basis. That Love will receive at least the low-end of a Daniel Jones or Russell Wilson-esque contract is no longer in question. 

The predicament now seems to be whether Love is already one of the top-five QBs in the NFL…period.

Recapping Jordan Love's 2023 Season

Longevity matters in discussions like these, and at just 25 years of age, Love's bet on himself has gone just about as well as it could this season. By all measures, he's been an elite signal-caller ever since November rolled around.

Here's how Love ranks in various metrics among 38 QBs with 100-plus dropbacks from Week 9 through the Wild Card round:

  • EPA per dropback: +0.294 (No. 2)
  • CPOE: +5.9% (No. 2)
  • PFF Pass Grade: 91.9 (No. 1)
  • Passer rating: 111.6 (No. 2)
  • Yards per attempt: 8 (No. 7)

Sure, a few of Love's performances have been aided by cozy matchups against bottom-10 defenses like the Buccaneers, Chargers, Lions and Panthers, but he also managed to shine brightly in some tough games against two of of the league's stingiest pass defenses:

  • Week 13 against the Chiefs (No. 3 in EPA allowed per pass)
    • 25-36 (69.4% completion rate)
    • 267 yards (7.4 YPA)
    • 3 TDs and no INTs
  • Wild Card round at the Cowboys (No. 6 in EPA allowed per pass)
    • 16-21 (76% completion rate)
    • 272 yards (13.0 YPA)
    • 3 TDs and no INTs

Love's Week 10 performance against the Steelers was one of the first signs that he could be especially lethal in extending plays. The NFL’s second-ranked QB in yards per scramble (9.1) behind only Kyler Murray (10.1), Love possesses a combination of athleticism and arm talent that has proven to be absolutely devastating in this well-schemed offense led by Matt LaFleur.

Opposing defenses have been forced to account for nearly every square inch of the field on any given snap, as only the 49ers have averaged a higher EPA and yards per play than the Packers since Week 9.

Of course, the X’s and O’s can only take the Jim’s and Joe’s so far. Some credit is due to these young Green Bay pass-catchers, as they've been absolutely balling out this season.

  • Jayden Reed (24 in April) joined D.J. MooreDeebo Samuel, and Percy Harvin as the only rookie WRs to have 750-plus receiving yards, eight-plus yards per target and 100-plus rushing yards (H/T @DynoGameTheory).
  • Dontayvion Wicks (23 in June) has scored four times in his last three games and even proved capable of winning one-on-one with stud Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore
  • Romeo Doubs's (24 in April) 6-151-1 performance against the Cowboys was the cherry on top of a low-key impressive 59-674-8 stat line in the regular season.
  • Christian Watson (25 in May) flashed weekly game-breaking upside down the stretch of 2022 and was heating up with 2-21-1, 5-94-1, and 7-71-2 performances before he suffered (another) hamstring injury back in Week 13.
  • Bo Melton's (25 in May) 2.68 yards per route run tied for seventh-best among 123 WRs with 25-plus targets in 2023.

And that doesn’t even include long-time stud RB Aaron Jones, who now has four straight 100-plus yard performances while averaging at least 5.0 yards per carry in each and every game along the way. Even rookie TEs Tucker Kraft (24 in November) and Luke Musgrave (24 in September) have emerged as viable all-around options at the position, as both have earned more than respectable 67.5 (26th) and 62.0 (44th) PFF offensive grades this season.

This brings us to the (likely) $200 million-plus question: Can Love keep it up?

Jordan Love's Outlook Going Forward

Not to be a downer and bring up bad memories for Packers fans, but Love was one of the league’s worst QBs over the first eight weeks of the 2023 season. Over that span, Love's 62.8 PFF pass grade (24th), 6.4 yards per attempt (26th), 58% completion rate (33rd), and 79.7 passer rating (29th) were downright Desmond Ridder-esque.

Obviously, it makes sense that Love and his young receivers took some time to gel, but what's the precedent for this unparalleled kind of improvement over the second half of the season?

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Jan 14, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA;Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) drops back to pass against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter for the 2024 NFC wild card game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

I looked at the split between the first and second half of the regular season over the last 10 years to see which QBs had managed to put together the biggest turnarounds in passing efficiency metrics. Love joins the following six QBs as the only signal-callers who improved their passer rating by over 28 points from the first half to the second half of the season with a minimum of 100 dropbacks per year:

There are some great QBs on that list along with some duds, so it's not a guarantee that Love will ascend into that Brett Favre / Aaron Rodgers tier. Still, the first-year starter in Green Bay has shown remarkable improvement and potential over the second half of the year.

Love’s +1.34 improvement in yards per attempt also puts him on a similar list of mostly good names. I say “mostly” because the only QB who had a better second-half improvement in adjusted completion rate (+11.9%) belonged to NVP Mitchell Trubisky (14.5%). And to be fair, Trubisky was a double-doink away from capturing a playoff victory during his solid 2017 campaign.

The biggest concern here is probably that Love’s newfound pinpoint accuracy is bound to regress at least a little bit because it’s hard to be any better than he’s been the last couple of months. In fact, Love’s average depth of target (aDOT) of 9.1 yards this season trails only Will Levis (11.1) and C.J. Stroud (9.5) among QBs with at least 250 dropbacks this season.

Maintaining top-tier accuracy while consistently throwing downfield like this is not an easy task. Then again, it makes sense that Love is the NFL’s highest-rated passer when throwing at least 20 yards downfield when you consider just how much stress he puts on secondaries when extending plays.

Love’s strong real-life performance also led to plenty of fantasy production in 2023, as he scored more total fantasy points than any QB outside Josh AllenJalen HurtsDak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson. This included fantasy finishes as the QB11, QB5, and QB2 when it mattered most in the fantasy playoffs. Because of that, you shouldn’t need more than two hands to count the number of QBs who should be drafted before Love next year.

Sure, guys like Patrick MahomesJoe BurrowJustin HerbertC.J. StroudKyler Murray, and Justin Fields still present some tantalizing upside in 2024. Just realize that none of those QBs managed to produce the week-to-week fantasy goodness that the Packers’ young gun just pulled off during his first season as a starting QB in the NFL.

The betting markets favor the 49ers by a whopping 10 points for this coming Saturday night’s clash, but it’s safe to say that the future is bright for Love and the Packers regardless of how that game will turn out.

After all, since Green Bay drafted Favre back in 1991, they've maintained decades of dominance with 15 divisional titles in 33 years. Packers fans wondered if that would continue after Rodgers left for the Jets last offseason, but they found Love in a hopeless place. It seems as though he's picked up right where Rodgers left off, much like Rodgers did with Favre before him.

Think Love can shock the world against the 49ers? You can bet on the Packers at BetMGM, where you can also get $158 in bonus bets when you sign up below and place your first bet of just $5 or more!

Fantasy Football Report
Ian Hartitz
Ian Hartitz
Ian is a senior fantasy analyst at Fantasy Life and he truly believes every day is a great day to be great. He's spent time with Action Network, NBC Sports and Pro Football Focus over the years, writing and podcasting about all things fantasy football along the way. Ian's process relies on a mix of film analysis and data study; whatever is needed to get the job done (job done). There's no reason fun can't be had along the way — we do live on a rock floating around a ball of fire after all. Outside of football, Ian enjoys MMA, his dachshund Lilly and candles.