Football is just about a month away as the 2012 NFL season kicks off on September 5 with the New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. Around the same time last year, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning stirred up a bit of “controversy” when he claimed that he was among the NFL’s elite at the position. Manning went out and proved the doubters wrong by having an MVP-like performance in the regular season before leading the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl championship.
Here are the top 10 quarterbacks heading into 2012 (based on past success and how well they should fare this year), beginning with some honorable mentions.
Just missing the cut:
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
The Top 10:
10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: Rivers had arguably the worst season of his NFL career in 2011. On paper, the Chargers roster does not look as good as in years past which may not bode well for 2012 either.
9. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Flacco can be very inconsistent but he played well in the playoffs and should have gone to the Super Bowl last year. With a good team around him, he might have that opportunity once again this year.
8. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: For the first time in his Hall of Fame career, you just do not know what you are going to get out of Peyton Manning. He could very well be among the five best quarterbacks next season or his injury could be worse than imagined. We will soon find out.
7. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: Schaub has put up great numbers while in Houston. Do not expect anything to change with offensive players like Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels on the team. The Texans could be looking at another big year in a weaker AFC but Schaub needs to stay healthy if they are going to go all the way.
6. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Sure, it might be a little early to put him this high on the list but Stafford is coming off of a year in which he threw for 41 touchdowns. The Lions are loaded with offensive talent and the NFL’s best wide receiver in Calvin Johnson. Watch out for another big year in Detroit.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Quite simply, Big Ben is solid and does not lose many games. Look for him to put up his usual numbers while the Steelers remain competitive in the AFC North.
4. Eli Manning, New York Giants: What a difference a year makes. Eli threw for almost 5,000 yards last season and has a great 1-2 combination at wide receiver in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. After guiding his team to a second Super Bowl in four years, Eli has proven that he is elite.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: To say there is some uncertainty surrounding the Saints this season would be an understatement. Brees has put up gaudy numbers in New Orleans but with offensive mastermind Sean Payton suspended for a year, could there be a drop off? You would think that if it did happen, it would not be too drastic but it obviously remains to be seen.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: For years, Brady has either been the best or second best quarterback in the NFL. This year is no different. The Patriots will always be in the hunt with him at quarterback and Bill Belichick as head coach.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: After winning Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers had one of the greatest regular seasons by a quarterback in NFL history as he threw for 45 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions, while taking home MVP honors in the process. What will he do this year? Stay tuned.
Sources: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/stats, http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/