After five weeks of NFL action, I think that it has become pretty clear as to which quarterbacks have elevated themselves above the rest. A large part of a teams success depends on how their quarterback produces, and when you dive into the numbers, solid quarterback play directly correlates with a good winning percentage. And now, here is this week’s edition of the top five quarterbacks thus far in the NFL season.
1. Peyton Manning
Week in and week out, I desperately hope for Peyton to slip up, so I can drop him in these rankings. But his level of play has yet to fall, and here we are again with Mr. Manning on top. Even though Denver’s defense decided to take a day off versus Dallas, Peyton turned in another masterful performance to add to his already impressive 2013 campaign. In what was perhaps the game of the year, Manning threw for 414 yards, to go along with four touchdowns in a 51-48 victory over the Cowboys. This brings Peyton’s 2013 touchdown total to a staggering 20 through five games, while also amassing 1,884 passing yards. All of this has come with only one interception, which occurred this past Sunday. As I have been saying throughout this young season, Peyton Manning is playing at a very high level right now, and it will take a lot for him to fall from this number one ranking.
2. Drew Brees
Over the last couple of seasons, Drew Brees has slipped under the radar when it comes to discussing the top quarterbacks in the league. The usual debate surrounds Brady, Manning and Rodgers, with Brees coming in at a distant third. But I think that he has vaulted himself right back into the conversation with his play here in 2013. He has completed close to 70% of his passes for 1,722 yards while tossing 12 touchdown passes to only four interceptions. His accuracy is unbelievably sharp, his knowledge of where to go with the football in certain situations is up there with the best of them, and he has led the Saints to an unbeaten start. His QBR rating currently stands at 77.7, which is third only to Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers. As a Patriots fan, it is a scary sight to see Brees playing at his current level, as the Pats have to take on Brees’ Saints in Foxboro next week.
3. Andrew Luck
If there was any doubt of who was the top quarterback among the 2012 draft class, Andrew Luck has squashed that notion with his blazing hot start to this season. His Colts are 4-1, and he is playing the best football of his life. This past Sunday, he completed 16 of 29 passes for 229 yards and two big touchdowns against arguably the best defense in the league in the Seattle Seahawks. Rarely does Seattle give up 30 points to an opposing offense, but the young and talented Luck tore them up, on his way to a 30 point outing in week five. In a year where the over-hyped (in my opinion) Robert Griffin III is really struggling, Luck is smashing expectations in what has been a truly amazing five weeks of quarterbacking from number 12.
4. Tony Romo
Despite a 2-3 record, Tony Romo has played very well thus far in this young season. As I mentioned before, he was barely out-dueled by Peyton Manning on Sunday in a wild 51-48 shootout. We will probably remember a typical Romo-esque interception with two minutes left, which essentially gave Denver the win, but up until that point, he had played a phenomenal football game. Romo completed 69% of his passes, which went for a total of 506 yards and five touchdowns. This just adds to what has been an impressive season statistically speaking, as Romo now has thrown for 1,500 yards (fifth in the league), connected on 13 touchdowns (tied for second) while only getting picked off twice. His 114.3 passer rating is good for second as well, trailing only the great Peyton Manning. If the Cowboys had gotten a few lucky breaks, their record might be a lot better than 2-3, but as it sits right now, they are below .500, which is a big reason why Romo is not higher on this list.
5. Alex Smith
The Kansas City Chiefs are probably the surprise team of this season through five games, as nobody expected them to be among the undefeated. Most of the praise has gone to their stout defense, and rightfully so. But I think their offense deserves some credit as well. They haven’t been an explosive group, but they have gotten the job done, which is all that matters at the end of the day. Alex Smith has been deemed “game manager” since he led the Niners to the NFC Championship game in 2011. His lack of arm strength, and tantalizing athletic ability has led to this classification, and he has certainly played like a game manager in his short time with the Chiefs. But he has mastered the role, which is why he has landed a spot in my top five. He doesn’t make stupid mistakes with the football, but he also makes the tough throws when needed. His 1,202 yards and seven touchdowns don’t look like much, but when you factor in the explosive running attack that Kansas City has, and the fact that he has only thrown three interceptions thus far, his 2013 season has been a success, in my eyes.