With Peyton Manning sidelined indefinitely with a neck injury, the quarterback position has become a hot topic.
Manning has been one of the best quarterbacks over the past 10 years, and with the Colts' star out for perhaps the season, and after Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees had an epic battle at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, we head into Sunday's Week One with a look at the elite active quarterbacks in the NFL.
With apologies to Josh Freeman, Matt Cassel, Sam Bradford, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, and Mark Sanchez, here's the Top 10 Best Quarterbacks heading into the 2011 NFL Season.
10. Joe Flacco. Every year Flacco seems to be better than the prior season. Flacco has a very good arm, and doesn't make many mistakes. In April, Flacco said he believes he's a Top-Five quarterback, even though most people would disagree. That type of confidence is a good thing, though, as the Ravens are eager to finally get back to the Super Bowl after several consecutive seasons of coming up short.
9. Matt Ryan. Like Flacco, Ryan is only 26 years old, but his stock continues to rise. Few expected Atlanta to have the type of season they did in 2010, and Ryan was a major reason. The Falcons won 13 games, and when Ryan was on his game, the team succeeded. Ryan threw 28 touchdown passes last season, but it's his high-ceiling potential that has NFL experts so mesmerized.
8. Tony Romo. The Cowboys have only one playoff win in more then four seasons as a starter. Romo can change all that this season, as Dallas looks to rebound from a season where Romo played in only six games. The 31-year-old is experienced, has the physical tools, and that talent around him, to potentially lead the Cowboys to playoff glory this season. Perhaps most important to Romo's success is his competitive spirit. He desperately wants to win, and his attitude rubs off on others.
7. Matt Schaub. Over the last three seasons, Schaub has proven to be an elite quarterback with passer ratings of 92.0 or better, and has consistently cracked the Top 10 in that category. What separates the Texans' star from most quarterbacks in the league is his accuracy. Though he has perhaps the best receiver in the game in Andre Johnson, Schaub does an excellent job of finding him in double coverage.
5. Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben wins. Period. How many quarterbacks with seven years of experience can boast that they took their team to three Super Bowls, and brought home two rings? One of the most efficient passers in NFL history, Roethlisberger is also one of the most difficult quarterbacks to sack with his 6'5, 240-pound frame. The Steelers are always a legitimate threat in the playoffs with Roethlisberger.
5. Philip Rivers. The Chargers' star has put up monster numbers over his career, and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to thrive. In the last three seasons, Rivers's worst completion percentage was 65.2, and his worst quarterback rating was 101.8. He has become synonymous with the Chargers and if San Diego had an average quarterback instead of Rivers, they would probably be a five-win team. The three-time Pro Bowler has lived up to the hype.
4. Drew Brees. There probably isn't a more intense starting quarterback in the NFL than Brees. The heart and soul of the Saints, Brees has shown that this talent matches his charisma. In a high-octane offense, Brees has proven his ability to execute by averaging more than 33 touchdown passes a season over the past three years. In 2009, not only did Brees lead New Orleans to their first Super Bowl title, he did it by completing an exceptional 70.6 percent of his passes.
3. Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers might be the best quarterback in the NFL before this season is over, but for now he just keeps climbing the ladder of superstardom. The Packers won a Super Bowl last season more for Rodgers's poise than his statistics. Only 27, he showed tremendous maturity in three playoff games that won Green Bay the title. He finds a way to dance by defensive lineman and hit his target in a way that's Elway-esque.
2. Michael Vick. No quarterback in the NFL has more all-around skills than the Eagles' Vick. Perhaps the greatest running quarterback to ever play the game, Vick rushed for 676 yards last season, and no other quarterback was even close. Vick threw just six interceptions last season, and he has one of the strongest arms in the game. Time away from football has made Vick a more fierce and smarter competitor, and his passion for the game is growing.
1. Tom Brady. There may not be smarter quarterback in NFL history than Brady. Last season, his numbers were spectacular. The Patriots' veteran was the clear leader in quarterback ratings by throwing 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Most importantly, Brady is a winner, having won more Super Bowl rings than any other active quarterback. New England are always in the mix to win a title if Brady is playing.