NFL Power Rankings: The Best Quarterbacks Heading into Week 4

Robert DemmettCorrespondent IIISeptember 28, 2011

NFL Power Rankings: The Best Quarterbacks Heading into Week 4

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    With Week 3 in the books, some surprise quarterbacks have emerged to lead their respective teams to strong starts. On the other hand some of the experienced and great quarterbacks have come back better than ever in the early part of this season.

    The main reason teams like the Lions and Bills have jumped out to quick starts is because of their quarterback play. The quality of a quarterback can take a team to new heights, as the fans of Buffalo and Detroit have found out, and fans of New England, New Orleans and Green Bay have known.

    So let's take a look at the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL going into Week 4.

10. Matt Ryan

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    Matt Ryan is the best of the rest right now. His team is 1-2 and he has not played well. He has five touchdowns with four interceptions on the young season, but for a fourth year quarterback more has to be expected from him.

    The Falcons have placed a lot of stock into this season and Ryan needs to step up and be a franchise quarterback. The playoff game against the Packers last season is a bad memory for him and he needs to overcome that quickly. He has enough weapons to make a difference in a game and he needs to utilize them.

    Ryan has a chance to be better and move up this list quickly if he can play up to his potential.

9. Joe Flacco

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    Joe Flacco has had two great games, one against division rival Pittsburgh in which he took advantage of Pittsburgh miscues and led the Ravens to a statement victory. Flacco has seven touchdowns along with only two interceptions, which is great news for Ravens fans.

    Flacco definitely needs to improve his accuracy as he has only completed 54 percent of his passes. He found a connection with Torrey Smith last week in St. Louis and if this depth of wide receiver emerges for the Ravens, they will be even more dangerous.

    The Ravens rely on defense to win games and if Flacco can keep his turnovers low, he will put them in a position to win.

8. Cam Newton

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    Cam Newton has been amazing so far. Although the rebuilding Panthers are 1-2, the skill of the rookie from Auburn cannot be denied. The No. 1 pick has justified the selection so far by having the third most passing yards in the NFL after Week 3. Not bad for a rookie.

    However, Newton has to be more efficient. For all of the yards he has racked up, he only has four touchdowns along with four interceptions. He played well against the Packers, Cardinals and Jaguars. However the Packers are the only team with a top tier secondary in the NFL.

    Newton's gotten off to a dream start for a rookie but he needs more time before he even thinks about cracking the top five.

7. Phillip Rivers

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    Philip Rivers has thrown for a lot of yards but hasn't been great in his first three games. He has two interceptions in each game and has struggled against three weak secondaries.

    Rivers threw for two touchdowns and 335 yards against Minnesota but didn't dominate. Then he played well against New England, throwing for 378 yards and two touchdowns but against one of the weakest secondaries in the NFL could have done more. Then in a division game against the Chiefs (who were missing Eric Berry) threw for only 266 yards and the Chargers narrowly escaped.

    Rivers is a better quarterback than those numbers suggest, but as of now I'm not ready to put him in the top five as we head for Week 4.

6. Matt Schaub

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    I put Matt Schaub in the "great stats, no victories" category. He has played well in three games, amassing six touchdowns with only two interceptions but lost a shoot-out in New Orleans after having a stranglehold on the game.

    Schaub and the Texans are the favorites in the Peyton Manning-less AFC South but Schaub has done nothing to suggest that he is capable of winning in crunch time. Year after year the Texans collapse when November and December come around.

    Until he proves me wrong, he's not a winner but he has nice stats.

5. Matt Stafford

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    I was not a believer in the Lions at the beginning of the season. I thought they were overrated and were going to have a decent year but not make the playoffs. I'm starting to jump on the bandwagon.

    Matt Stafford has been healthy thus far and Lions fans are praying that he remains on the field. The connection between Calvin Johnson and Stafford is among the best in the NFL. Stafford ranks fifth in passing yards and has led the Lions to a 3-0 record, including a huge comeback at the Metrodome (a hostile environment) in Week 3.

    As long as Stafford stays healthy the Lions may have something special.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    As a Jets fan, any quarterback who defeats the Patriots has my respect (good job taking advantage of the loss New York, looking right at you Mark Sanchez and Antonio Cromartie). The emergence of Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot be underestimated in the revival of football in Buffalo.

    Fitzpatrick has played as well as any quarterback in the NFL in the first three weeks. Fitzpatrick has nine touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions, which is great for the Bills. His running ability is always a threat that defenses have to be aware of.

    Fitzpatrick may be the Cinderella of the NFL this season and at 29 he is showing that he is capable of leading a winning team.

3. Drew Brees

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    Now we get to the elite quarterbacks of the NFL.

    Drew Brees has been very efficient this season with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. Brees has led the Saints to a 2-1 record but could have been 3-0 if a couple of bounces went his way in Green Bay.

    Brees being in the top three of this list should not surprise anyone. He has proven that he is an elite quarterback, with that being cemented after his Super Bowl victory. The San Diego castaway has averaged 353 yards per game this season. That stat should be consistent throughout the season.

2. Aaron Rodgers

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    What Super Bowl hangover? Aaron Rodgers just leads the NFL in passer rating, accuracy and is tied for the league low in interceptions (counting players who have started three games). Rodgers has led the Packers to convincing wins over the Saints and Bears, putting on a clinic in the process (they squeaked one out in Carolina).

    After winning the Super Bowl last year, Rodgers put himself with the top tier quarterbacks of the NFL, if anyone didn't put him there already. He is now in the debate for best quarterback in the NFL, but the next quarterback still triumphs over him as of now.

1. Tom Brady

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    Yes, Tom Brady threw four interceptions against the Bills in Week 3. Yes, Tom Brady hasn't been good in the playoffs recently. And yes, he has not won a playoff game since the 2007 AFC Championship game (hard to believe) but Tom Brady is still the best quarterback in the NFL until further notice.

    Brady only threw for 500 yards against an underrated Dolphins secondary, then for 423 against the Chargers, who by the way had the No. 1 overall defense in 2010. Every quarterback has an off-day and Brady had one on Sunday. I wish Mark Sanchez's off day included him throwing four touchdowns and 387 yards (I only get the four interceptions).

    Brady leads the league in yards and touchdowns, these are the two key stats for quarterbacks and has the Patriots looking like AFC contenders yet again.

    To quote the great Vince Vaughn in Anchorman "I hate you Tom Brady, but God do I respect you" (I substituted Tom Brady for Ron Burgundy, sorry).

Conclusion

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    Fans of these teams are hoping that their quarterbacks can play even better than they have been in the early stages of this season. These ten quarterbacks have the goods to lead their team somewhere special if they have a team built around them.

    Some on this list are surprises, while some have been mainstays for the past couple of years. Regardless these quarterbacks have proven through Week 3 that they are the best at their craft and can be relied upon by their teams.

    Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.

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