Sports fans love to debate, and few discussions get as heated as the ones regarding quarterbacking: Who is the best of all time? Yes, but who is really the best of all time? And who is the best in the game right now? The New England Patriots' Tom Brady is a popular answer for the first two questions and there is certainly a valid argument to be made that the third also should also be answered that way.
Brady, the reigning league MVP, is coming off a terrific season despite his team losing the Super Bowl. This would not be a debate, though, if there were no dissenting opinions: enter CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, who recently released his top 100 players of 2018. The top spot on the list is not occupied by Brady. Instead, Green Bay Packers passer Aaron Rodgers sits on top with Brady coming in at number two.
There certainly is an argument to be made for Rodgers. He is, unlike Brady, one of the most naturally gifted quarterbacks to ever play the game and can do things at a consistent level the majority of other passers cannot do. Prisco sees it the same way in his argument why the 34-year old takes the top spot on his list:
When he’s on his game, and on the field, there is nobody better. I know he doesn’t have the rings of Tom Brady, but right now he is the NFL’s best – even coming off an injury-marred season.
The problem with Rodgers is that he recently has not been able to play at the same outstanding levels he did in the early 2010s, when he led the Packers to a Super Bowl win and was named MVP twice. To use Prisco's words: he has not been on his game as regularly as in the past. Rodgers has certainly been good over the last few seasons – top five in the NFL, arguably – but not quite as good as at least one other quarterback: Tom Brady.
Statistically and in terms of team success, Brady tops Rodgers over each of the last three years including 2017. While New England's passer won MVP honors last season, Green Bay's was forced to miss more than half of the season due to a shoulder injury. Rodgers was very good when healthy and on the field – but so was Brady, and the 40-year old did not miss any playing time due to injury.
Ultimately, both are among the NFL's few elite quarterbacks and year in, year out have their teams in contention for the Lombardi Trophy. Both the Patriots and the Packers can consider themselves lucky to have the two under contract. Given their most recent performances, however, ranking Rodgers (or any other passer) ahead of Brady seems to be a bit of a stretch.
Prisco also has two other Patriots on his top 100 list: Rob Gronkowski, the highest-ranked tight end on the list, checks in at number seven, while defensive edge Trey Flowers comes at 99. Furthermore, three members of the team received honorable mentions: wide receiver Julian Edelman, safety Devin McCourty, and center David Andrews.
All six deserve to be mentioned among the best players in the league. Two notable names are still missing, though: Dont'a Hightower and Stephon Gilmore. Hightower, when healthy, is a top-10 linebacker in the NFL, while Gilmore has been a standout over the second half of last season.