Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/7/12
Passing records were broken, Eli Manning proved he really is elite, and a pair of rookie quarterbacks performed far better than expected.  Throw in the fact that two of the NFL’s top QBs took their teams to the championship while teams led by strong defenses (Ravens, 49ers) fell short and you’ve got ‘The Year of the Quarterback’.  In fact, the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants had the league’s worst rushing game and the Pats ranked dead last in the AFC in total defense.  Want to win the Super Bowl?  You’re going to need a top QB.

So, who are the NFL’s best under center heading into next year?  It’s time for some quarterback rankings!

10. Michael Vick
After a monster campaign in 2010 (21 pass TDs, only 6 interceptions, and 9 rushing TDs), Vick came back down to Earth this past season, throwing 18 TDs and 14 picks.  He also missed three games and only had one rushing touchdown.  So, how’d he get in the Top 10?  Check out Vick’s stats from the last three games of the season:

Vick can do things that no other QB in the league can on the ground.  He’s ridiculously athletic. Vick likely won’t put up the kind of numbers he did in 2010 next year, but if he stays healthy, he can build off what he did to end the 2011 season.

9. Tony Romo
Tony Romo is perhaps one of the most frustrating quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.  He puts up some great numbers, looks phenomenal at times, and then, he chokes.

How did he compare during the regular season to Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning?

However, when the going gets tough, Romo isn’t reliable.  He’s got the skills, but until he can take his team deep into the playoffs, he won’t get any higher on this list.

8. Matt Ryan
Here’s another QB that looks good at times, but can’t get it done when it really matters.  Stat wise, he had a very good year (29 TDs, 12 Ints, 4177 yds), but he has yet to lead the Falcons to a playoff victory despite the fact that they’ve been a combined 23-9 the past two seasons.
Matty Ice has been efficient, but far from elite.  Still, if Roddy White and Julio Jones stay healthy next year, Ryan should improve.

7. Matt Schaub
Schaub’s been playing well for the past few seasons and he was continuing the trend in twenty eleven before he got injured Week 10.  With Matt Schaub, the Texans were 7-3.  Without him, they were 4-4.
In 2009, Schaub had 29 TDs and, in 2010, he had 24.  Over the past four years, he’s also posted a QB rating over 92 every season.

6. Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben is one of the league’s three active QBs with more than one Super Bowl ring.  He doesn’t put up great numbers, but he does what’s needed of him to get the Steelers wins.
Roethlisberger has been injured roughly a million times over the course of his eight-year career, yet he’s never missed more than four games in a season.  He’s one tough cookie and that’s a fitting quality for a Pittsburgh Steeler.

5. Matthew Stafford
We finally got to see what a healthy Matthew Stafford could do…and it was pretty awesome.  Stafford had more yards in 2011 than Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers and more touchdowns than Tom Brady.  In fact, he ranked high in most passing categories.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Stafford gets to throw the ball to the best wide receiver in the NFL, Megatron!

4. Tom Brady
Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game, but his legacy took a big hit losing to the G-Men in the Super Bowl.  A 4-1 Super Bowl record sounds pretty darn good, but 3-2, with two losses in a row, looks a lot less impressive.
Brady’s had some phenomenal seasons, but this past year, Manning, Brees, and Rodgers were all better, and there’s no reason to think all three won’t be better again next year.

3. Eli Manning
Alright, let’s start with this:

Looks like that debate is settled.  But wait, there’s also this:

So what’s more important, football fans, stats or Super Bowl victories?

Regardless of what you think about the Eli vs. Peyton debate, Eli has definitely proven that he is an elite quarterback.  He’s beaten Brady twice in the Super Bowl and, because of that, he moves ahead of him in these QB rankings.

2. Drew Brees
A few of the records Drew Brees broke in 2011:
Most passing yards in a season: 5476
Most completions in a season: 468
Completion percentage: 71.2
Consecutive 300+ yards passing games: 7
Most games 300+ yards passing: 13
Most games 350+ yards passing: 8
If he’d won the Super Bowl, Brees would’ve just had the best season for a quarterback ever.  The Saints didn’t take home the Lombardi Trophy, but that doesn’t take anything away from what Brees accomplished.

1. Aaron Rodgers
Speaking of quarterbacks who would’ve had the best season in NFL history had they won the Super Bowl… it’s Aaron Rodgers!

With 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions, A-Rod led the Packers to an NFL-best 15-1 record.  At times, with his perfect passes and amazing accuracy, I wondered if Mr. Rodgers was actually a super robot designed to play football.

Rodgers has been getting better and better every year since taking over as the Packers’ starting QB in 2008.  The Giants’ might’ve spoiled his fun in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, but until further notice, he’s your #1 QB.

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