And then there were 10.
We're down to the best 10 football players on earth. Got chills? You aren't alone.
We aren't going to spoil too much, other than the one you already saw blaring in the headline. There is one stunner in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018 that involves Aaron Rodgers taking a backseat to a young, budding star. You'll have to read down to find out who it is. Don't worry, it won't take much scrolling.
What might take a little more scrolling is finding out why Tom Brady has successfully defended his Top 100 crown. Here's where the top 10 players in this year's player-selected rankings fell:
Rodgers' value, as if it weren't already known, was proven when he was forced out with a broken collarbone before the Packers even reached Week 8. His injury sent a 4-1 Green Bay squad into a tailspin, one that was ultimately too much to overcome, even with late-season Rodgers' return. He owns the strongest case for the title of Best Quarterback in the League next to Tom Brady, and at 34 years old, looks to have another half-decade of greatness in him. With all of this considered, it's actually surprising he isn't higher than 10. Injuries will do that, though.
Miller's Broncos were bad in 2017, 5-11 bad, but that wasn't an indictment of Miller. He's the league's best edge rusher, causes perhaps the most nightmares during the REM sleep cycles of opposing tackles, and doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon. Miller posted his fourth-straight double-digit sack season, racking up 10 to go along with 57 tackles and three passes defensed, and did so without a consistent edge rusher lining up opposite him. Miller will potentially get that back in 2018 with the arrival of highly touted rookie Bradley Chubb. We might end up seeing Miller inside the top five again, like he was last year.
It was refreshing, beautiful and heart-warming to see Drew Brees engineering a balanced and entertaining offense again in New Orleans in 2017. It feels just as good to welcome Brees back into the top 10. The ageless wonder posted a career-best completion percentage of 72, threw for 4,334 yards but tossed an abnormally low touchdown total of 23. Why? Well, he had an excellent two-headed backfield with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. For Brees, less was more and was the best the Saints have been since their run to a title in 2009. At age 39, that's worth the No. 8 spot, if not more.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year hasn't yet been paid, but he's more than put his work in. Donald recorded 11 sacks from the defensive tackle position and racked up 41 tackles in 2017, but his most impressive stat? Five forced fumbles. Donald is unquestionably the league's best defensive tackle and -- at 27 years old -- looks as if he'll only get better for one of the league's most loaded rosters.
Following Donald is his Rams teammate and offensive counterpart (in both value and honor) in Gurley, the game-breaking running back who won the Offensive Player of the Year in 2017. A year after averaging 3.2 yards per carry in an extremely frustrating campaign, the star returned to prominence, rushing for 1,305 yards (4.7 average) and 13 touchdowns while also catching 64 passes for 788 yards and six touchdowns in Sean McVay's multi-dimensional offense. The league's two best individual players resided in Los Angeles in 2017, and considering their collective youth, stand to continue to make such an impact for years to come.
Contract issues aside, Bell's impact on the current NFL is profound. Any time one watches a tailback run with patience, a Bell reference is made. He's branded patient running -- which existed long before him -- thanks to his immense success enjoyed on the biggest NFL stages. Bell is the versatile workhorse who elevates Pittsburgh from good to great -- even if his compensation isn't as secure.
Jones' Falcons avoided the Super Bowl loss hangover with a ton of the credit due to Jones. For a second straight season, Jones caught 80-plus passes for 1,400-plus yards as a bonafide superstar wideout who changes how every opponent attacks Atlanta. He only found the end zone three times, but that doesn't change his impact. He's right there with Antonio Brown in discussion for best receiver in the game. I personally think he is the best. He'll get another shot to prove it in 2018.
This ranking is the one I consider to be a tad extreme. Wentz was excellent in 2017 and should continue such success as his career continues its path off the ground and into the sky, but No. 3 after two seasons? And especially after Wentz didn't get to finish that season due to a knee injury? This makes more sense in the teens, but not in the top five, and not ahead of Rodgers. Nonetheless, Wentz proved to everyone why the Eagles were correct in moving up to grab him with the second-overall pick in the 2016 draft. His 33:7 TD-to-INT ratio stands as enough to convince most, but his game-by-game performances make an even stronger case. Should he return healthy, this guy will be a joy to watch for the next decade.
Brown's best skill is tough to identify, because he's so good at so much. His route running is precise, his top-end speed is so smooth, it's sublime. And we haven't even gotten to his hands. The former sixth-round pick is the model of consistency, catching 100-plus passes and recording 1,200-plus receiving yards in each of his last five seasons and missing double-digit touchdowns in just two of those five campaigns. Pittsburgh has itself a top-tier running back and wide receiver to go along with a high-level quarterback. That should explain the Steelers' perennial success.
A year ago, we cemented him as the G.O.A.T. -- the Greatest of All Time. Coming off his fifth Super Bowl win, what was there left for Brady to conquer? Well, a year later, he's coming off being conquered -- at least temporarily. Brady returns with more drama surrounding him than ever, yet he's also armed with plenty of talent to win yet another AFC title and a shot at a sixth ring. Will Brady retire soon? Will the trophy-winning triumvirate of the quarterback, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft be broken up? Know why we're asking this? Because he remains the G.O.A.T. -- and the reigning No. 1 player in football.
Brady thanked all the players that voted for him.
"I am honored, grateful and appreciative of such a incredible honor. Thank you to all the NFL players for their kind words," Brady posted on Instagram. "I'm am blessed to play a sport with so many inspiring athletes. This recognition belongs to my teammates, coaches, fans, friends and family. Thank you all! It doesn't matter if you start #1 or #199. Bring the same discipline and determination every single day. You will see progress! We are always learning and growing. I wish you all the best on your personal journey."