Is Peyton Manning Still The Best Quarterback in the NFL?

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IIOctober 18, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos drops back to pass against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 15, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Peyton Manning is currently second in the NFL with a 105.0 passer rating.

This wouldn't shock anyone if it were 2002, or even 2010. But in 2012, after missing a full season after neck surgery, it's an astounding accomplishment.

Manning is also second in touchdown passes with 14, second in yards with 1,808 and fourth in completion percentage at 67.8. But the biggest stat in Manning's favor is the fact that he's only thrown four interceptions (with three of them coming in the same game). 

Simply put, Peyton Manning is back, and to say otherwise at this point would be foolish. The only black mark against him could be Denver's current 3-3 record, but only one of those losses could really be attributed to Manning, and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have the exact same record.

But is Peyton Manning still the best quarterback in the NFL? No, but he is in striking distance of reclaiming his spot.

Currently Manning has one man ahead of him in most statistical categories, that man being reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers leads the league in passer rating and touchdown passes, and he's ahead of Manning in completion percentage (Tom Brady leads the league in yards).

Rodgers even throws better than Manning now. While any completed pass is a beautiful one, take a look at Rodgers' passes in this video.

Now compare them to some of Manning's passes.

Now, this is mostly due to Manning's neck surgery, but it is something that is looked at by scouts and coaches.

One huge stat to look at with both players is sacks. This season Manning has been sacked only 10 times. Rodgers, on the other hand, has been abused in the backfield, getting sacked 23 times.

Both quarterbacks have quick releases, but for Rodgers to put up the type of numbers he has despite the constant pressure is a testament to his poise in the pocket, and it's a challenge that Manning hasn't had to deal with nearly as much.

Rodgers does have the same record as Manning; however, it came against tougher opponents. The Packers' six opponents have a combined record of 23-12. The Broncos' six opponents are 20-14.

It's a small difference, but Green Bay's six opponents included the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans. Those teams compose three of the top 10 teams against the pass and four of the top 10 teams in terms of total defense.

Manning's lone two teams against top-10 defenses in either category came against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, and against the Texans in Week 3. Both of those games were at home, whereas Green Bay had to face two of those defenses on the road.

When you rank the top quarterbacks, Manning is sure to be up there, which makes his comeback from neck surgery at age 36 all the more impressive. But he's not the top quarterback in the league right now, as the top quarterback resides in Green Bay.