The statement "The NFL has become a passing league" is slowly becoming a cliche. It's true, though. Teams that win the Super Bowl need to have a great quarterback.
Ever since the defensive minded Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl almost a decade ago, every champion has been led by an elite quarterback.
This season will be no different.
2011 has been a crazy year thus far. We've seen some quarterbacks who we thought would improve actually regress. Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford obviously are nowhere to be found on this list. Both have been inconsistent and combined are 1-5.
The following list ranks the top 10 quarterbacks of 2011 after three weeks of play. There are some familiar names and some fresh, new faces. Without further ado, let's go!
Am I jumping the gun by putting Cam Newton 10th on this list?
But Newton has done everything right this season and has really impressed everyone.
From his first two games where he threw over 400 yards in losing efforts, to his heroic performance which led to his first ever victory at home this Sunday in a monsoon, Newton has shown America that he is destined to become an elite quarterback one day.
Sure, having the same amount of touchdowns as interceptions is nothing to write home about, but his big yardage games, along with his heroics this afternoon, put him in the top 10.
Newton is a gamer and he's really shown it thus far. His statistics in Week 3 were not that shiny, but it showed his IQ on the field. The conditions were sloppy in Carolina and he really didn't air it out Sunday. Instead, he settled for short passes and averaged close to five yards per completion. This is definitely a low number, but it's the wise decision to make when the field is being flooded by a treacherous storm.
He beats out Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, who are both not on this list.
First off, Big Ben has barely beat the dismal Colts on Sunday night. Secondly, his other win came against the lowly Seahawks and in his only loss he was a turnover machine.
As for Flacco, his numbers are really great, but in a league where even Tarvaris Jackson has a completion percentage of over 60 percent, Flacco's is at a mere 54.1 percent. He'll need to improve on that to break the top ten.
Eli Manning's biggest criticism in the past few years has been his inconsistency. He's been showing some of that this year, but has cleaned it up in the last two weeks.
After a dismal performance against the Redskins in Week 1, Manning came out strong against the Rams in Week 2, throwing two touchdowns on Monday night.
This week, he took it to another level on the road against the rival Eagles. Manning aired it out for four touchdowns, upping his total to six, and he had a passer rating of 145.7.
Now it'll be interesting to see if Manning can continue his consistency, especially with two NFC West opponents coming up next on the schedule.
Matt Schaub has gotten better every week this year.
After a shaky performance against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 where he threw two interceptions in a winning effort, Schaub responded with a two touchdown performance and a victory in Miami.
This week, in a losing effort against the Saints, he played his best game of the season. Schaub threw for three touchdowns and aired it out for 373 yards, which is a season high for him.
With Peyton Manning out, Schaub is expected to lead the Texans to the AFC South title, and so far, his Texans are tied for first with a 2-1 record.
Overall, it's been an excellent start to the season for Schaub, and the fact that he's improved week-by-week makes it even better for Texans fans.
Tony has yet to play his Week 3 match against the Redskins, which takes place Monday night. It's unclear if he will even play at all.
That's because he took a major blow to his ribs last week against the San Francisco 49ers. As a result of the hit, his ribs were fractured and his lungs were punctured.
Nope. Romo came back onto the field and led the Cowboys to victory over the Niners in an impressive performance.
Just that performance alone puts him in the top 10, and it could even put him higher, but other quarterbacks' sample sizes are larger, so we'll have to put Romo at seventh for now.
In two games, Romo has thrown for four touchdowns and only one interception. His passer rating is hovering over 108 and he showed great resilience last weekend after the media crushed him for his miscues in the Meadowlands during the Week 1 showdown against the Jets.
That shows a lot about Romo. He has thick skin psychologically and physically. A strong performance against the Redskins tonight should propel him ahead of some other quarterbacks on this list.
The veteran quarterback came into Tennessee this offseason, and nobody really knew what to expect. The Titans were a mess at the time, but Hasselbeck has really turned around the team.
He has stated that he's having the most fun at quarterback since he was on the Seahawks team that reached the Super Bowl several years ago.
Unfortunately for Hasselbeck, his favorite target, Kenny Britt, was hurt yesterday and could be out for a long time.
That being said, Hasselbeck has led the Titans to a surprising 2-1 record. One of those wins came against the stifling Ravens defense. In that game, Hasselbeck threw for 358 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
On the season, he has five touchdowns, two interceptions, over 900 passing yards and a passer rating of 102.2
Most impressive is Matt's accuracy. His completion percentage is at a whopping 69.6 percent. He has learned the offense well, and even with the loss of Britt, Hasselbeck should be able to utilize other targetes.
Hasselbeck has also been incredible efficient on third downs. In those crucial situations, he has thrown two touchdowns and is 30 for 37 with a passer rating of 122.1.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has easily been the best story of the NFL thus far.
The former Harvard quarterback has looked like someone who went to a Pac-10 or SEC school.
What's more impressive than the Bills' improbable 3-0 record is the way Fitzpatrick has led them to victory. The Bills were down by large deficits against both the Raiders and the powerhouse Patriots, yet they were able to surge back and win.
Fitzpatrick has thrown for nine touchdowns this season, along with 841 yards. Most importantly, though, he's only thrown for three interceptions. If the Bills are going to want to compete in the tough AFC, they're going to have to limit turnovers and Fitzpatrick is doing just that.
What's most amazing about Fitzpatrick during the last three weeks is that his numbers during the fourth quarter are absolutely remarkable. In the final quarter, Fitzpatrick has a 131.1 passer rating, a 72 percent completion percentage and two touchdowns.
In fact, statistically, he has been getting better as the game goes along. In other words, his worst numbers are in the first quarter and his best ones are in the fourth. This is an important quality that a lot of big game quarterbacks share, and Bills fans are happy to see Fitzpatrick doing it big late in games.
The other amazing story in the NFL this season has been Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Stafford and the Lions have won seven consecutive games dating back to last season (11 consecutive if preseason is counted for).
Stafford led his Lions to a furious 20 point comeback against the Vikings on Sunday, where he threw for two touchdowns and 378 yards.
On the season, Stafford has nine touchdowns, two interceptions, 977 passing yards, a 110.7 passer rating and almost a 67 percent completion percentage.
What has been even more impressive than those incredible numbers has been Stafford's consistency. There isn't much variability between the stats he puts up game by game. His passer rating has been hovering well over 100 every game. He's had at least two touchdowns in every game and he's done an extremely good job in not turning the ball over.
Lions fans feel blessed to finally have hope and a great starting quarterback who will continue to brighten their days.
Drew Brees continues to make it look easy.
Brees continues to be one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. This season, his completion percentage is at 68.5 percent. He also has nine touchdowns and two interceptions and has thrown for over 1000 yards already.
Brees and the Saints may be 2-1, but their lone loss came at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. (Some foreshadowing?)
Like most great quarterbacks, Brees steps up his game in the fourth. His 114.2 passer rating in the fourth is the highest compared to other quarters, and his late game heroics against the Texans this week were another example of Brees' excellence.
Let's not forget, he came half a yard short of almost tying the game against the Packers in the opening game. He led the team downfield very quickly but they fell short at the goal line.
This just exemplifies, once again, Brees' flare for the dramatic. He's a true big game quarterback and he's been showing it on multiple occasions this season.
Only Tom Brady can throw four interceptions in a game and still be considered the second best quarterback of the year.
Just look at the numbers, and more importantly, who he is working with.
Tom Brady has set the passing yards record after a three game stretch already with 1327 yards. He has a remarkable 69.9 percent completion percentage and an awe-inspiring 113.8 passer rating.
Earlier this season, he threw for a 99-yard touchdown to Wes Welker, which was absolutely jaw dropping.
Sure, Brady threw four interceptions this week, but two of them were tipped by his own receivers and another one was because of Chad Ochocinco not running his route correctly.
Fact of the matter is, all legends have bad games. Even Kobe Bryant has been limited to single digit points in playoff games. It doesn't mean he's not great; it just means he's human.
Oh and by the way, Brady is on pace for 7,077 passing yards as we speak. No, that wasn't a typo.
Aaron Rodgers has been playing perfect football since last December. He's probably the most efficient quarterback in the league. He just makes it look so simple when he's in the pocket.
Rodgers may not have Brady like numbers when it comes to passing yards, but he does have eight touchdowns and only one interception. He also has 917 passing yards, which isn't bad at all.
The Packers are 3-0 on the season, and most of the reason why they have yet to lose is because of Rodgers' solid play. Rodgers is the most accurate quarterback in the league right now with a passer completion percentage of 71.8 percent. His passer rating is just as impressive at 120.9.
Can't get much better than that!