Not sure if you heard or saw, but Monday night was a historical game for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who passed Peyton Manning en route to becoming the all-time leader in terms of passing yards. It is an important achievement showcasing just how explosive Brees has been as a quarterback since arriving in New Orleans. And even if the broadcast spent an overwhelming amount of time covering the record, it still needs to be noted that we are, as a collective society, still underrating Brees as an all-time quarterback. Brees is a modern medical marvel, a guy who managed to recover from a torn labrum he suffered with the Chargers (in a game he had no business playing in) and go on to produce huge numbers. He’s also the greatest single quarterback ever to play the game under six feet tall; Brees has long been given a “he’s the exception” tagline when it comes to evaluating people who can play the hardest position in sports without being tall. (Nevermind that most really tall quarterbacks struggle to succeed; it might be more difficult to be tall than to be short.) There are non football reasons to respect Brees, who battled with multiple teams over the franchise tag and battled with management over labor relations and who was part of the reason why the franchise tag has seen limitations placed on it during the last CBA.More NFLBaker Mayfield has already made Todd Haley a believer and the Browns’ future bright, and more notesBut all of it pales in comparison to Brees’ on-field production. Brees has led the NFL in passing yards seven different times. He has led the league in passing touchdowns four times. He led the league in completion percentage five times and repeatedly broke his own completion percentage record for a full year over and over. Last year he completed a ridiculous 72 percent of his passes and this year he’s upped the ante — he is completing 77.9 (!!!) percent of his passes through five weeks. Brees has 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions this year. Two years ago he led the league with 325 passing yards per game and he’s upped that number this year, averaging 331 yards per game, which doesn’t lead the NFL right now, but which likely will be the top number if he sustains it over the course of a season. In 2017, people questioned whether Brees still had “it” because the Saints leaned on Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to couple a stout running game with a surprisingly improved defense. 

Those people are idiots. Brees is averaging the second highest passing yard per game total of his career right now, while also managing the highest yards per attempt of his career right now. Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff are your quarter season MVP leaders, but do not sleep on Brees when it comes to making a run for the NFL’s top award. According to, Brees made a move up this week into the No. 2 spot in terms of NFL MVP odds.Bear in mind, throughout a career that features nearly 500 touchdowns, the most passing yards in NFL history and a Super Bowl , Brees has never won an MVP award. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback who has shredded the league repeatedly since arriving in New Orleans. That’s preposterous.And it’s part of why he’s underrated: Brees’ entire career has been played with the specter of multiple legendary quarterbacks in the NFL as well. He has never played without either both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the league. Somehow, Drew Brees has never been considered the best quarterback in football at any point in his career. Debates about Brady vs. Manning treated Brees as a third wheel of sorts, and by the time Manning fell off a cliff, Brees was simply a member of the “elite” quarterbacks along with Brady and Rodgers. 

Manning won MVP in 2009 — Brees’ Super Bowl season, in which he beat Manning — without leading the league in any meaningful category. (Seriously.) Manning also won it in 2008; Brees and the Saints went 8-8. Brady, the obvious 2007 winner, netted the award in 2010 as well. It’s hard to argue with Rodgers in 2011, when the Packers went 15-1, but Brees’ stats were better. It’s a lot like Phil Mickelson happening to play professional golf at the same time as Tiger Woods only with multiple goats roaming the pasture. We’ll look back years from now and wonder how Brees never captured the award. We may even look back and wonder if Brees has a case to be above Manning and Rodgers in terms of the quarterback pantheon, especially if he punctuates his resume with a late-career MVP run and a second Super Bowl victory for New Orleans. Yell at me on Twitter @WillBrinson with your complaints, questions and (unlikely) compliments and make sure to check out my daily NFL podcast, the Pick Six Podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes here. To the rankings:QB Rankings Week 61

Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints QB

Shredded his way to the all-time passing yards record against Washington.2

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers QB

Are people aware of how good Rivers is playing right now? Another old guy shredding the league. Chargers have only lost to the Chiefs and the Rams so far by the way.3

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs QB

Passed another test by beating the Jaguars and their mighty defense. Next stop? Foxborough in primetime.4

Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers QB

Rodgers is starting to move around a lot better and would have beaten the Lions with third-string dudes at WR were it not for Mason Crosby.5

Tom Brady

New England Patriots QB

The return of Julian Edelman is massive for him. He was untouchable Thursday against the Colts.6

Jared Goff

Los Angeles Rams QB

Goff’s “worst” game of the year still resulted in a massive division road win and he’s still averaging 10.4 yards per attempt with 48 percent of his pass attempts going for a first down.7

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers QB

Got a terrible defense at home and did what he does best. Ben owns the Bengals too, so don’t be surprised if this streak continues.8

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts QB

How on Earth did he end up with the ball, down seven, against New England on the road with only Eric Ebron to throw to? Luck is back.9

Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers QB

There were two first downs that Cam ran for against New York that made me yelp loudly, but there were two terrible interceptions that made me do the same thing.10

Matt Ryan

Atlanta Falcons QB

Bad effort from the Falcons against the Steelers away from their track. Expect better things from them against Tampa at home.11

Kirk Cousins

Minnesota Vikings QB

The Vikings offensive line is a problem and Cousins is throwing a LOT. But he’s throwing pretty well: he completed more than 80 percent of his passes against the Eagles and he’s on pace for his best statistical season ever.12

Deshaun Watson

Houston Texans QB

He’s got to stop taking hits or this will go sideways quickly, but Watson has looked like he’s coming back very well from injury.13

Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks QB

The Seahawks won’t turn him loose but he showed why they should with a three-touchdown performance against the Rams.14

Matthew Stafford

Detroit Lions QB

What was a good effort statistically should have been better but guys were tackled short and dropped touchdown passes.15

Joe Flacco

Baltimore Ravens QB

Not a great performance but I’m going to chalk it up to the Browns defense just being really good.16

Carson Wentz

Philadelphia Eagles QB

Nice statistical game against the Vikings. Even if Wentz doesn’t look totally comfortable, you can see signs of the Eagles offense coming together.17

Marcus Mariota

Tennessee Titans QB

Not willing to sell quite yet but the Titans offense has not shown an ability to score at will the way we hoped, or the way we saw late against Philly.18

Mitchell Trubisky

Chicago Bears QB

Six touchdowns before the bye has Vegas favoring the Bears by a field goal on the road out of the bye. Let’s see if they can live up to the hype.19

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati Bengals QB

Putzed around and should have lost at home to the Dolphins as nearly a touchdown favorite but the defense bailed them out.20

Alex Smith

Washington Redskins QB

Woof. That performance against the Saints was maybe the worst one I’ve ever seen Smith have.21

Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB

High hopes for Winston starting this week, when he heads to Atlanta with a choice matchup on hand.22

Ryan Tannehill

Miami Dolphins QB

Things are starting to fall apart (basically the second he got mentioned as a good quarterback in this very column).23

Derek Carr

Oakland Raiders QB

The Raiders really need to find a win and it won’t be easy in London against the Seahawks.24

Case Keenum

Denver Broncos QB

The Broncos passing on a quarterback at No. 5 may end up not looking so great.25

Blake Bortles

Jacksonville Jaguars QB

Some good and some very bad. He threw an interception off someone’s helmet!26

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB

Who’s to blame for this Dallas mess? The wide receivers are pointing fingers at the coaching staff.27

Eli Manning

New York Giants QB

Maybe Odell Beckham should be here? Or maybe he should just go do interviews with Lil’ Wayne more often. It certainly helped Eli.28

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns QB

Mayfield hasn’t recaptured the magic of that first half he played but he’s keeping the Browns in games.29

Sam Darnold

New York Jets QB

Really nice effort pushing the ball vertically against Denver in a big home win.30

Josh Rosen

Arizona Cardinals QB

Heck of a first touchdown for Rosen, who hit some bumps but still managed a road win.31

Josh Allen

Buffalo Bills QB

The Bills have scratched their way to a pair of wins, which is pretty impressive. Allen’s working with not a lot around him.32

C.J. Beathard

San Francisco 49ers QB

Beathard came back to earth pretty quickly after a good first game. Tough test Monday night against the Packers in Green Bay.

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