NFL's Top 5 Quarterbacks in 2011

Andrew SilversheinContributor IIINovember 23, 2011

NFL's Top 5 Quarterbacks in 2011

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    There have been some great performances by quarterbacks this season. Arguably, the hardest position to play in professional sports is quarterback in the NFL. A team that wants to contend must have a competent QB at the helm, who can read defenses, make quick decisions and throw the ball accurately.

    This list looks strange without Peyton Manning, but his injury has given other players a chance to step into the spotlight.   

    Here are the top five quarterbacks in the NFL so far. 

5. Eli Manning

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    Eli Manning has been playing the best football of his career in 2011. It can be argued that no top quarterback has done more with less.

    The Giants lost WR Steve Smith in the off-season to their arch-rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Manning has also seen his top two receivers (Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham) miss multiple games due to injuries. Yet Manning has connected with two players that were on the practice squad to begin the season: Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard.

    Through Week 11, Manning has completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,952 yards. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His QB rating is 94.7 (sixth-best in the NFL).

    Manning has orchestrated FIVE fourth-quarter comebacks in the 2011 NFL season, against the Eagles, Cardinals, Bills, Dolphins and Patriots.

    With the running game completely ineffective throughout the year (the Giants are 31st in the league with 83.2 rushing yards per game), Manning has had a big burden on his shoulders. His knowledge of the game is remarkable, as he tends to audible at the line of scrimmage quite often. His two-minute drill has been close to flawless all season long.

    Manning has been very impressive with his play thus far. He must continue having these types of performances if the 6-4 Giants want a shot at making the playoffs.

4. Matthew Stafford

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    Matthew Stafford, at only 23 years of age, has had a fantastic season for the Detroit Lions. Just a few short years ago, the Lions were the laughing stock of the NFL, but they have completely turned their franchise around, starting with their young quarterback. 

    The Lions have surrounded Stafford with solid pieces. They have arguably the best wide receiver in the game in Calvin Johnson, and an emerging TE in Brandon Pettigrew. Jahvid Best, if he can stay healthy, provides a nice complement out of the backfield.

    Stafford has led the Lions to an impressive 7-3 record so far. He has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 2,843 yards. He has tossed 25 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. His QB rating is 93.4.

    The NFC North has turned out to be a competitive division, with the undefeated Packers on top, and the 7-3 Bears still in contention. With Jahvid Best’s return in question, Stafford must keep up his high level of play to keep the Lions in the playoff hunt.

3. Drew Brees

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    Drew Brees has been outstanding ever since he joined the New Orleans Saints in 2006, and this season has been no different. He is leading the NFL with 3,326 passing yards, and has a remarkable 70.9 completion percentage (second best in the NFL). He has thrown 23 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

    Brees has solid pieces around him. Jimmy Graham is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are all formidable wide receivers. Darren Sproles, who is second on the team with 60 receptions, has been a nice option for Brees as well.

    The Saints look poised for another run in the playoffs, led by the consistent and effective play from their veteran QB. 

2. Tom Brady

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    Tom Brady is having another Brady-like season. He has his Patriots sitting at 7-3, with the AFC East Division in their lap. Brady has been a model of consistency since taking over the starting job after Drew Bledsoe was injured, and this season has been more of the same.

    Brady has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 3,266 yards (second-best in the NFL). He has thrown for 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His overall QB rating is an exceptional 102.5.

    Brady has fantastic weapons around him. He loves his two TEs, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Wes Welker is a reception machine, and the veteran Deion Branch is still making an impact.

    Don’t expect the Patriots to make a deep run in the playoffs, due to their atrocious defense, but you can expect Brady to keep being Brady.

1. Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Rodgers has been nothing short of sensational. He is the complete package; he can throw accurately and with plenty of zip, he can scramble when he has to and he can read defenses. He is having one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.

    Rodgers’ statistics are Madden-like. He has completed 72.3 percent of his passes (highest in NFL history) for 3,168 yards (third best in the NFL). He has thrown for 31 touchdowns (leads all quarterbacks) and only four interceptions (two of which were deflected by his own receiver). His QB rating is an incredible 128.8.

    The Packers have surrounded him with a great supporting cast. Greg Jennings is one of the NFL’s most dangerous deep threats. Donald Driver is a veteran that understands the game. The emergence of Jordy Nelson has been a pleasant surprise, and TE Jermichael Finley is a matchup nightmare for any opposing defense.

    If Rodgers continues this brilliant play, he can certainly reach 50 touchdowns this season. Thus far, he looks to be virtually unstoppable, and there is no reason to believe that he will slow down anytime soon.