Great numbers will only get better
The best thing about Aaron Rodgers -- and there are many things to choose from here -- is that he is only getting better. He has not peaked. As terrific as he was during Green Bay's playoff run last season, Rodgers is even better now.
And even better than Tom Brady.
Rodgers doesn't have Brady's three rings or his ridiculous number of come-from-behind wins, but give him time. He is only 27. This is only his fourth season as the Packers' starter. If he continues to stay healthy and the Packers continue to surround him with playmakers, Rodgers can have a Brady-esque résumé.
Consider what he is doing this season. Rodgers leads the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage that would stand up with Drew Brees' record of 70.62 set in 2009, Ken Anderson's 70.55 in 1982 and Sammy Baugh's 70.33 in 1945. Rodgers simply doesn't miss.
His 9.8 average yards per pass is also first in the league and would go down as an NFL record if it were to hold up over 16 games. Rodgers' 17 touchdown passes are the most in the NFL, and his three interceptions are the fewest among the quarterbacks ranked in the top 20 in passing yards. His passer rating of 122.5 leads the league and also would go down as the best single-season passer rating in history, better than even Peyton Manning's record of 121.1 in 2004.
And let's face it. Rodgers is so on target and his passes travel with such zip that he could throw through a specific brick on a wall.
"It's great," Packers receiver Jordy Nelson told me a couple of weeks ago. "You want the ball to be there quick. He's got great timing, accuracy, velocity on it. We want the ball in our hands as soon as possible so we can try to make some plays after the catch."
Which is what Nelson was able to do on Sunday against St. Louis, thanks to his quarterback. Rodgers dropped back to his 1-yard line, got Rams cornerback Al Harris to bite on a pump fake, and hit Nelson in the hands with room to run near the 32-yard line. Nelson took it the rest of the way for a 93-yard touchdown. It was vintage Rodgers.
"He's always been a confident player. He's always been a playmaker," Nelson said. "It's just continuing."
Rodgers is good, very good, and he is only getting better.
Ashley Fox covers the NFL for ESPN.com.
Fewer weapons, more comebacks
First, we have to put Peyton Manning on the side because of the neck injury that has prevented him from playing this season. Manning's absence has only made him more valuable. With him, the Indianapolis Colts are annually an 11- or 12-win team. Without him, they can't win a game.
With Manning out, I moved Rodgers to the No. 2 position in my evaluation of elite quarterbacks because he has come on so fast. I still kept Brady No. 1, and nothing has changed that. In fact, his position has been reinforced.
I hate to say that Brady is doing it with less than Rodgers, but he is. Look how deep the Packers are at wide receiver. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb might be the deepest group of wide receivers in football. Heck, Jennings, Driver, Nelson and Jones each make more than $3 million a year. The tight end rotation of Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree is good, too.
Brady has hard-working, elusive players who know how to work within the system. Wes Welker was undrafted. So were Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Deion Branch is on his second tour of duty with the Patriots.
Until Sunday's 20-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Brady had strung together the longest streak of 30-point games since Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams in 1999-2000. He's on pace for a 5,768-yard passing season and 43 touchdowns.
Against the Cowboys, he showed his great ability to orchestrate comebacks. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett made the mistake of calling three running plays with 3:36 remaining in the game and the Cowboys leading 16-13. The defense stopped them, and Brady got the ball back with 2:31 left.
Brady then drove the Patriots 80 yards in 10 plays to win the game. It was the 33rd game-winning drive of his career, and the 24th fourth-quarter comeback. Rodgers still has to master the comeback craft. He's had only three fourth-quarter comebacks in his 53 starts.
You might make the argument that Brady hasn't won a playoff game since 2007, but Brady still has three Super Bowl rings. Rodgers has only one. Advantage, Brady.
John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.