2013 NFL Preview: Peyton Manning and the Top 10 Quarterbacks Going into 2013 Season

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2013 NFL Preview: Peyton Manning and the Top 10 Quarterbacks Going into 2013 Season

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With roughly three months until the start of the new NFL season, it is time to check in on the quarterback position. The league is quarterback-driven, no doubt, and at the moment we have a phenomenal group of them heading into the 2013-2014 campaign.

In this case, however, only the top 10 guys make the headline. Below the tenth spot there are still yet a few more that have great years ahead of them, but I can assure you, Tim Tebow did not make the list - I know, shocker.

Seven out of these 10 quarterbacks have won at least one Super Bowl, this being a big reason they are listed where they are in the rankings. The question then begins, do championships automatically equal a higher position on the list? Not necessarily in the case of some. For others, absolutely.

Other guys who may be in the argument for filling out the top 10 without a ring like Tony Romo, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are tougher to judge especially with only a few playoff wins between them all. Do they make the list?

We know the list has a handful of automatic bids like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It seems this could wind up being an ageless conversation between these three guys by the time their careers are over. Each having won at least a Super Bowl in their careers, on top of so many Pro Bowl appearances and MVP awards will make this argument even tougher as time goes on.

In any event, this discussion is in regards to the upcoming season less than three months away. Here are your top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL heading into the 2013 season.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA writer for also contributing to the NFL. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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10. Tony Romo

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After a big deal during the offseason, it is time for Tony Romo to put in some serious work. By that, I mean a playoff run. He has a talented group on offense that could be a very high-powered group, now it is up to him to get it done. Known as a phenomenal regular season quarterback, Romo boasts a 95.6 rating since entering the NFL. The problem in Dallas has been the ability to win in the postseason for the often-criticized quarterback. Despite the criticism, Romo put up nearly 5,000 yards last year and 28 touchdowns. He's a well-rounded and very talented quarterback. This year, though, must be different.

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9. Robert Griffin III

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Robert Griffin III? In the top 10? I've got to be crazy! Well, maybe just a little. But, no one can argue with his production last season and this is a list ranking the top quarterbacks as they stand. Right now, not many can say they ended the year with a rating of 102.4. In fact, only two can say they topped the second year pro - we'll be seeing them later on here. Griffin presents such a problem for defenses, one that not even Cam Newton presented at this level during his rookie year - the ability to not only run, but pass efficiently. Griffin was not just all excitement last year. He was incredibly efficient. I guess I would be crazy to not place him in the top 10, no?

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8. Eli Manning

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Last year was a down year for Eli Manning, as he finished 14th overall in passer rating at 87.2. But, like they say, sometimes numbers aren't everything. The thing Manning has going for him is that he knows how to win. Last season may not have proved that at times, but with two Super Bowl rings under his belt Manning is surely still cemented in the top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL. It seems odd that a 'down' year for Manning included 26 touchdowns and just short of 4,000 yards. Plenty of teams would kill for those numbers - thus, he comes in justifiably placed at number eight.

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7. Ben Roethlisberger

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After two Super Bowl wins, you would think a guy like Ben Roethlisberger would be able to avoid the tag 'under-the-radar,' but that's exactly what he continues to be to many fans and experts. Roethlisberger finished the 2012 season with only eight interceptions and a 97.0 rating, good for seventh in the league. He presents problems for defenses with the ability to extend plays on his feet and create something out of nothing seemingly at least a couple times a game. After losing a huge target like Mike Wallace, this year could figure to be a struggle for the tenured veteran, but he is still one of the best there is.

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6. Matt Ryan

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After leading his Atlanta Falcons to one of their best seasons in recent memory, quarterback Matt Ryan is still left unsatisfied. Without a Super Bowl, at this point, it just is not good enough. Last year though, Ryan finished with the fifth best passer rating at 99.1 after throwing for over 4,700 yards and 32 touchdowns. Ryan still remains one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the league and is nearly unstoppable at home. With weapons like Roddy White and Julio Jones lining up with him, Ryan is again poised for a huge year as the addition of Steven Jackson will surely help the cause.

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5. Joe Flacco

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Winning his first Super Bowl and becoming one of the most elite postseason quarterbacks we have ever seen, Joe Flacco appears to have established himself as a top-5 quarterback in the NFL. While his regular season passer rating was only good for 12th overall, Flacco simply gets it done in the playoffs. He certainly earned his new contract given to him this offseason and should continue to prove his doubters wrong. Flacco is consistently good when it counts, dropping him in at number five.

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4. Drew Brees

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The New Orleans Saints had a down year and ultimately missed the playoffs. It wasn't for a lack of effort from quarterback Drew Brees, though. Brees amazed last season as most are accustomed to seeing from him as he threw for over 5,100 yards and finished with 43 touchdowns. There were a couple of games where he struggled, surprisingly, with his accuracy. But, like all great quarterbacks have their bad games, we shouldn't expect perfection from the record-holding gun slinger. Brees still possesses quite a cannon and is normally very accurate. He is a fantastic leader on and off the field, and in 2013 will continue to light up the stat sheet - hopefully ending with a playoff berth for his Saints.

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3. Aaron Rodgers

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It is difficult for me not to propel this guy up to the number one spot due to how he performs when he gets hot. I believe when Aaron Rodgers gets in his zone, he is the best quarterback in the entire NFL. However, that's when he hits that particular pace. It's not every single second of every single game, but it's close. He's got himself a Super Bowl ring and could very well have another in his future. The two guys ahead of him, though, are just more tenured and have accomplished a bit more than Rodgers has. It won't be long, however, until he launches himself into the conversation of one of the greatest ever.

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2. Tom Brady

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I recognize this top two could be argued for days. Let's just focus on Tom Brady for the moment. Brady is one of very few to ever play the game that can make every single person around him on the offense a better player. He effects not only his wide receivers but his offensive line and the backfield too. He simply inspires people to be greater than they ever thought they could be. It doesn't matter who he's throwing the ball to, they understand they better catch it. They understand they better run the route correctly and be where they're supposed to be. Brady has three Super Bowls and has earned this type of respect from not only his teammates but the league in itself. He's played the game at a higher level than almost anybody in history - again very well could be at the top. It's this reason that he ranks at number two.

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1. Peyton Manning

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Instead of talking about what Brady lacks, let's talk about what Peyton Manning possesses that makes him the NFL's top quarterback. Stats, Super Bowl and MVP aside, Manning has one thing that I don't believe anybody else has at the position right now. Manning has the talent to read a defense pre-snap, understand how they are lined up and what they most likely will do, and then respond. This response is why he is so unique. I've always joked that Manning is the only quarterback who is skilled enough that if he wanted to, he could tell a defense what he is going to do before he does it, and probably still complete the pass to his targeted receiver. It sounds absurd, but that is just how smart Manning is. It's this intelligence and his continued accuracy throughout his career that makes him the number one quarterback in the NFL.