In an NFL season as crazy as 2008 is turning out, it's good to see some shining stars emerging from the chaos.
On one side we have Kurt Warner, past league MVP and Super Bowl champion leading an Arizona team that has consistently underachieved over the years.
On the other, we have Drew Brees, a quarterback on pace to break Dan Marino's season passing record and the only player that gives his team a shot at the playoffs.
Near the beginning of the season, fan support was clearly on Brees's side. His team's offense was explosive and the defense had at least improved since last year. Even when the injury bug plagued the Saints, they could always rely on him to keep them in the game.
As the season progressed, Warner's MVP popularity grew. The Cardinals were winning games and pulling away from the rest of their division for the first time in what seems like forever.
But in the end, it will come down to a lot of variables.
1. Who is more important to the team?
Warner is surrounded by a talented corp of receivers to throw to, who have helped him amass a completion rating of nearly 70 percent. The question is, how much of his success can be contributed solely to him compared to his receivers.
Brees, on the other hand, has had a medley of first and second stringers to throw to throughout the season. The fact that all of them have been as successful seems to point to the one consistent factor: Brees behind center.
Could the Cardinals still win the weak NFC West without Warner? Possibly.
Would the Saints still be in the playoff hunt without Brees? No way.
2. Who is having the most productive year?
Thus far, Warner has completed 302 of his 433 passes, putting his completion rating at 69.7 percent. Warner has thrown 21 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions and his quarterback rating is 102.4. He has also fumbled the ball nine times, losing six of them.
Brees, on the other hand, has thrown 424 passes and completed 286 of them. His completion rating is 67.5 percent. Brees has also thrown for 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His quarterback rating rests at a solid 99.9 and he has fumbled six times, only losing one of them.
Once again, arguments could be made that Warner's success is split between him and his receivers, but the stats say a lot.
3. Who has played through the most controversy?
At the beginning of the year, we weren't even sure if we would see Warner behind center. He and Matt Leinart were locked in a battle for first string. Ultimately, Warner won and was given the starting job.
Looking back on his career, Warner has been shafted by some of his respective teams. The Rams, who he led to the Super Bowl, cut him after one mediocre season. After that, the Giants gave his starting job to soon-to-be Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.
Then he coasts into Arizona and plays an above average 2007 season only to enter 2008 unsure of his standings in the organization.
Talk about a lot of disrespect.
Brees, on the other hand, was drafted by the San Diego Chargers as the first pick in the second round of the 2001 draft. After spending five years with the Bolts, four as the starter, Brees was promptly handed the reigns to the struggling New Orleans Saints. San Diego had decided to back Phillip Rivers as their quarterback.
In 2006, Brees and his team went on a miracle ride through the regular season. Despite the turmoil their city was going through, the Saints played hard and even managed to win a few playoff games. Had it not been for Brees, this team certainly would not have been as successful.
2007 was a disappointing season for the Saints, after they were projected to clinch their division again and maybe even see their first Super Bowl.
Despite going 7-9 in 2007, Brees remained the starter in 2008.
By my estimation, at this point in the season the edge goes slightly to Warner. However, if Brees and the Saints win out or go 10-6 and make the playoffs this year, it wouldn't be a long shot to say that Brees steals the crown.
What are your thoughts?