After winning his third MVP, Tom Brady has earned the top spot among his peers
Make no mistake -- the most important position in the NFL is the quarterback. Football may be a team sport but chances are that team will only go as far as the quarterback will take it. After all, there's a reason 10 of the past 11 MVPs have been quarterbacks.
Tom Brady won his third MVP award last season and even though New England came up short in Super Bowl LII against Philadelphia, the soon-to-be 41-year-old leads off Athlon Sports' ranking of the top quarterbacks entering the 2018 season. And while many young signal-callers have made a name for themselves in recent seasons, the top of this list is still dominated by the "old" guys with Aaron Rodgers (34), Drew Brees (39), and Ben Roethlisberger (36) lining up behind Brady.
Rounding out the top five is Carson Wentz, who at 25 was playing at a MVP level in his second season in the league before suffering a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee in Week 13 against the Rams. While Wentz is expected back, perhaps as early as Week 1, remember what was said earlier about a team going as far as the quarterback will take it? The Eagles still went on to win the Super Bowl behind the MVP performance of, you guessed it, backup quarterback Nick Foles. Foles also just so happens to check in at No. 18 on this list, ahead of 12 other starters ranked. It's safe to say Philadelphia has the best quarterback situation of any team in the NFL.
Athlon's player rankings are just one of the features that appear in the 2018 NFL Preview magazine.
2018 NFL Quarterback Rankings
1. Tom Brady, New England
Still no signs of slippage as the 41-year-old prepares to enter his 19th NFL season. Added a third career MVP trophy and made eighth Super Bowl appearance in 2017.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
A fractured collarbone derailed what was turning into another stellar season (13 TDs, three INTs, 4-1 record before getting hurt). Should be right back in MVP mix in 2018.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans
Made it back into the playoffs for the first time since 2013 thanks to better support defensively and in the running game to complement his passing prowess. Posted his lowest interception total (eight) since the 2004 season.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
The NFL's version of Big Ben isn't shut down for repairs like its London namesake. Roethlisberger is now ranked in the top 10 all-time in passing yards (51,065) and touchdowns (329) after another strong season.
5. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia
Was on track to win the NFL's MVP award before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 14. Put the Eagles in position to capture home-field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to a breakthrough campaign with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
6. Russell Wilson, Seattle
Continued to excel in 2017 despite the Seahawks' failure to produce a respectable running game. Threw a league-high 34 touchdown passes while becoming the first QB to post a winning record in his first six NFL seasons.
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta
Slumped coming off his 2016 MVP season like all of Atlanta's offense under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Still guided the Falcons to the second round of the playoffs and reached 40,000 career passing yards in fewer games (151) than any QB in NFL history.
8. Matthew Stafford, Detroit
Entered the 2017 season as highest-paid QB in NFL history (five years, $135 million) and proved worthy of the payoff. Posted a career-high 99.3 quarterback rating despite Lions fielding the NFL's worst rushing attack.
9. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Operated the NFL's top passing attack while helping steady the Chargers after an 0-4 start. Became the ninth quarterback to reach 50,000 career passing yards along the way.
10. Alex Smith, Washington
The die was cast for his departure from Kansas City when Patrick Mahomes became the team's 2017 first-round pick. Didn't let it drag him down, instead posting a career-best 104.7 quarterback rating while improving his career record to 51-30 (including playoffs) as a Chiefs starter.
12. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota
13. Cam Newton, Carolina
14. Dak Prescott, Dallas
15. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco
16. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
17. Derek Carr, Oakland
18. Nick Foles, Philadelphia
19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
20. Eli Manning, New York Giants
21. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville
22. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee
23. Case Keenum, Denver
24. Deshaun Watson, Houston
25. Joe Flacco, Baltimore
26. Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland
27. Ryan Tannehill, Miami
28. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago
29. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
30. AJ McCarron, Buffalo