Column

Young QBs are outplaying older ones, with a couple of expected exceptions — and one extremely surprising one

Young quarterbacks all over the NFL are thriving — Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Dak Prescott.

Several quarterbacks in their 30s seem to be heading in the other direction — Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler.

With one group, we’re counting the touchdowns. With the other, we’re counting the days.

This could all change, as the regular season isn’t even at the midway point. But through five weeks, it has been a young man’s game.

It’s always perilous to make sweeping statements, especially about quarterback play, as their ability to rebound from bad games is one of the aspects that has made these seasoned veterans so good.

So when Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger sarcastically says, as he did last weekend after his career-worst five interceptions against Jacksonville, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” brace yourself for a bounce-back game.

The Steelers will have their hands full when they play at Kansas City on Sunday.

Not surprisingly, an exception is New England’s Tom Brady, who at 40 continues to add to his Hall of Fame credentials. He leads the league with 1,702 yards passing, with 11 touchdowns and one interception.

The Patriots play at the New York Jets on Sunday. Even though the Jets have won three in a row, New England opened Monday as a 9½-point favorite. In an early-season twist, there’s a three-team tie atop the AFC East among the Patriots, Jets and Buffalo Bills, all 3-2.

Then there are the two quarterbacks from the first round of the 2005 draft, No. 1 pick Alex Smith, and No. 24 Aaron Rodgers, who are having all-star seasons.

Kansas City’s Smith is having a career year as he directs the league’s best and only unbeaten team, with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions and an NFL-best passer rating of 125.8.

Green Bay’s Rodgers was typically spectacular last weekend in a 35-31 victory at Dallas, throwing three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 11 seconds left.

The Packers play at Minnesota on Sunday.

Just wince, baby

The Raiders and Chargers, who once envisioned sharing a stadium in Carson, could wind up sharing the same record through six weeks.

The Chargers are 1-4 after picking up their first victory of the season at the New York Giants. The Raiders are 2-3, having lost three in a row, most recently getting blown out at home by Baltimore.

The Chargers play at Oakland on Sunday, and there’s a good chance the Raiders will have injured quarterback Derek Carr back. He missed last weekend’s game with a broken bone in his back.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio reaffirmed to reporters Monday that he anticipates Carr starting against the Chargers. The Raiders are desperate to stop their slide, and play host to Kansas City just four days later.

In a rush

The Thursday night matchup of Philadelphia at Carolina looks especially good now that both teams are 4-1 and rolling.

The Panthers held off Detroit, 27-24, on Sunday and the Eagles torched Arizona, 34-7. Both lead their respective divisions.

In addition to the strong play of Wentz, the Eagles have been excellent on the ground, with the fifth-ranked run offense (138.8 ypg) and second-ranked run defense (62.8 ypg).

“It's been a good recipe for us in the last few ballgames,” Coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “We need to establish the run in football games to start. It just helps our offense, helps our offensive line settle into games. And when you see your defense, the three and outs that they do have and stopping the run, it can frustrate an opponent as it would us when you can't run the ball.”

Jersey boys

The Denver Broncos will wear their alternate all-blue uniforms Monday night when they play host to the New York Giants, the team normally known as Big Blue.

The Broncos have had mixed results the past two times they wore those uniforms. They previously donned it in Week 14 of 2015, when they lost to the Raiders. Before that, they wore it in a 2014 game against San Francisco in which Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre’s record for career touchdown passes.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer

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