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Fresh off the wire

Rodgers, Brady top NFL Quarterback Power Rankings

It's Thursday. That means another edition of esoteric tiered power rankings on ATL. This week: Quarterbacks.

We've rolled power rankings for coaches, offenses and defenses, and running backs. Quarterbacks will be the first set of rankings we re-visit with regular season data.

Keep in mind: These rankings aren't about future years. It's about who we'd want as our quarterback moving forward this year. Let's do this.

Top Shelf: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady

It's worth noting both top-shelf quarterbacks have started the season a little slow. Brady is struggling somewhat with major changes in New England. It's possible the Green Bay Packers haven't changed their offense enough. Expect both players to improve throughout the year.

Next level: Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers

Drew Brees is an incredible player. I knock him down a tier because he tries to force plays that aren't there more than the top two on this list. (Remember the 2010 season.) Big Ben is quietly off to a nice start despite a lot of problems around him. Peyton Manning is too smart not to figure out his limitations. He'll be better in December than he is now.

Eli, Romo, and Rivers move up a tier while staying in the same order. Rivers is quietly off to a nice start. It's a little outrageous how many high level quarterbacks there right now. Points scoring is at an all-time high. Speaking of ...

Knocking on the door: Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco

We have our first major shuffling. Ryan and Flacco fit their new offenses. It's uncanny how the 2008 draft picks make major strides in their careers together. Stafford's start to the season reminded me why he's a better fantasy quarterback than reality option.

Even better than advertised: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III

We're hesitant to crown these guys just two weeks in, but man they look so good, so fast. The bar has been raised. Would you rather have Luck and RG3 this year or the tier below? 

Boxes of chocolates: Michael Vick and Jay Cutler

Both players are supremely talented. This deep into their career, you're still never sure what you are going to get in a given week. It's hard to rely on a player like that over the course of a season.

Middle of the pack: Matt Schaub, Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton and Josh Freeman

No quarterback is more quietly competent than Schaub. Smith and Bradford jump up a tier after strong starts to the year. We're very excited to see where Bradford goes from here. It was great to see Freeman making big plays again versus the New York Giants. Dalton has also showed a nice second-year maturity.

Tier Hope: Christian Ponder, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel, Jake Locker, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick

These players either provide hope for the future, or they are veterans teams hope can improve. (Rather than expecting them to improve.)

Ponder moves to the head of the tier, but he'll wait to be promoted until we see him against a better defense. We love Wilson long-term, but he's a complementary player for now. Palmer gets knocked down far; he doesn't appear to fit this Oakland Raiders offense. Cassel hasn't actually looked that bad despite the team around him. Locker is less "ready" than some of this year's rookies. Sanchez and Fitzpatrick remain wildly up and down. Nothing new.

Prove us wrong: Ryan Tannehill, Blaine Gabbert, Kevin Kolb and Brandon Weeden

Tannehill and Weeden are coming off strong second weeks, but they are going to take their lumps. Kolb had one impressive drive against the Seattle Seahawks. Gabbert has taken baby steps, but looked like a rookie against the Houston Texans.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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