If we’re ranking the best quarterbacks in the NFL, forgive me if I don’t fall into the Peter King trap and include Brett Favre over the likes of, oh, let’s say his replacement, who continues to pound daggers into opposing defenses with little-to-no credit nationwide if only because he doesn’t peddle Wranglers.
Anyway, Top 5 would look something like this, in no particular order:
Well, let’s just go ahead and make it a Top 4.
With all due respect to Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers (who might be Top 5, but loses points for being a whiny punk), and Eli Manning (nah, just kidding), those four are in an elite field all to themselves. Despite never having raised Lombardi, Brees and Rodgers are quarterbacks you would build a franchise around, as obviously are Brady and Manning. There are only so many of those guys that exist.
Two of them were on the field in Indy a fortnight ago. Brady and Brees will be on the field Monday in New Orleans. And Brett Favre will probably get the MVP.
There are probably 10 guys I’d rather have over Mr. Diva. But give me that list of those four guys, and it’s a tough call. So, let’s just say 1. Brady, 2. Brees, 3. Manning, 4. Rodgers.
Who takes the top spot in the next tier? Probably Rivers or Roethlisberger, but there’s some good distance there. Lo and behold, Jay Cutler is not on the list, despite what he might think.
Who they’re picking
Our roundup of picks for this week’s Patriots-Saints game:
- Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Saints 34, Patriots 30. “The Game of the Week committee usually is only unanimous that libations at the Quill ‘n Swill should follow deliberations, but in this case the vote was sans dissent. Monday night stage is fit for two kings, as Patriots absolutely rate with 10-0 Saints and Colts as NFL’s best teams right now. This has the heft and feel of a very possible Super Bowl preview, and the prospect of a Tom Brady-Drew Brees shootout should send TV ratings heavenward. Saints could clinch division title if Atlanta loses Sunday. Hard to turn down Pats getting points, but make it N’Awlins in a venue pick. Even though game is more important to Patriots and they’ve won six straight on Monday, watch an electric home crowd demand the best of Saints.”
- ESPN.com staff: Five out of nine pick the Saints.
- Globe Staff picks: Three out of four pick the Patriots.
- Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Saints 37, Patriots 33. “Slightly alarming trend: Pats have been outscored in the second half of their three losses 47-10. More alarming trend Monday night: Drew Brees has about 11 favorite receivers. There can’t be too much hype for this game. It’s going to be really good. Gregg Williams is going to have to be really good to put his beat-up secondary in position to make enough plays against the great Brady to win.”
- Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Saints 41, Patriots 37. “First one to 40 wins. This will be a treat to watch. Both offenses can throw it well. Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees is as good as it gets without Peyton Manning in the game. The Patriots are banged up on the offensive line, and that shows up here. Saints take it in a shootout.”
- CBS Sports staff: Split decision vs. the 2 1/2-point spread.
- Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 34, Saints 31. “Look for the Patriots to keep things going on the ground with Laurence Maroney, and also bring Sammy Morris back in the fold. They should know New Orleans has struggled against the run of late, and it’s a way to ensure Brady gets more opportunities than Brees. Another big matchup helping New England is the ability of Randy Moss and Wes Welker against a Saints secondary that’s hurting at cornerback. Remember what the Pats couldn’t quite do against an undefeated team indoors at Indy? They finish the difficult task in the Big Easy on Monday night.”
- Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com: Saints 36, Patriots 31. “It’s tough picking against the Patriots on Monday night. The Pats have won their past six MNF games and are winners of their past 17 straight regular-season games against the NFC. The latter is the longest streak for any team against the opposing conference dating to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. But this Saints team is something else, and on that turf, they’re not losing this season — regardless of the opponent. Expect a shootout. And when the final whistle blows, it’ll be Drew Brees jogging off the field a victor, improving his career record against New England to 3-0.”
- USA Today staff: Five out of eight pick the Patriots.
- Pete O’Brien, USA Today: Saints 34, Patriots 30. “… track meets that live up to the hype.”
- Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Saints 30, Patriots 24. “Noise will be a factor since Saints fans are going crazy over the club-record start. Drew Brees should be able to move the ball on New England the way Peyton Manning did.”
- Yahoo! sports staff: Two out of three pick the Saints.
- Our pick: Patriots 38, Saints 35 Patriots win their first road game on American soil, as Brady and Brees put on a show in a matchup that we can only hope to see again in February.