As if there is any doubt given his fistful of Super Bowl rings, Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL.
In the first of the weekly Associated Press position rankings for this season, Brady easily came out on top in voting by Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton and 10 AP football writers.
The New England star and four-time Super Bowl MVP still shines brightest even as he turns 40 - and despite struggling in the Patriots' 42-27 season-opening loss to Kansas City. Brady received eight of the first-place votes in balloting completed before Thursday night's game in a 10-points-to-one-point system, and he placed second with the other three voters for 107 points.
''Super Bowl after Super Bowl,'' was Lofton's succinct comment about Brady.
''He's the G-O-A-T. Enough said,'' added the AP's Simmi Buttar, based in New York.
EDITOR'S NOTE - The Associated Press is ranking the top 10 players at a different position every week of the NFL season, based on the votes and insights of Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton and AP football writers Simmi Buttar, Dave Campbell, Schuyler Dixon, Josh Dubow, Howard Fendrich, Rob Maaddi, Arnie Stapleton, Teresa M. Walker, Dennis Waszak Jr., and Barry Wilner. This feature will move on Fridays.
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers was next at 94 points, getting the other three first-place choices and being votes second best on eight ballots.
''He does it all well and is smart as can be,'' said the AP's Howard Fendrich, based in Washington.
Drew Brees of the Saints was third, followed by 2016 league MVP Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Seattle's Russell Wilson.
The rest of the order had Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh, Andrew Luck of Indianapolis, Derek Carr of Oakland, Cam Newton of Carolina, and Matthew Stafford - the league's highest-paid player after recently getting a new contract.
Others receiving votes were the Chargers' Philip Rivers, the Giants' Eli Manning, the Cowboys' Dak Prescott (last season's Offensive Rookie of the Year), the Titans' Marcus Mariota, and the Buccaneers' Jameis Winston.
But Brady and Rodgers easily outdistanced the competition, and if QB really is the most important position in the game, that bodes well for the Patriots and Packers in January and February.
''Sure, he's 40 and has no Julian Edelman,'' said the AP's Dennis Waszak Jr., based in New York. ''But he has shown no signs of slowing and until proven otherwise, Brady still stands at the top of the list.''
The AP's Schuyler Dixon, based in Dallas, also went further than just current rankings by saying: ''As long as arguably the greatest QB of all time is active, where else can you rank him?''
But the AP's Fendrich, Josh Dubow (based in San Francisco) and Dave Campbell (based in Minneapolis) threw their support to Rodgers, a two-time league MVP with a Super Bowl ring of his own.
Campbell noted that Rodgers is ''still very much in his prime,'' while Dubow said ''Brady might have all the rings, but Rodgers' better mobility and strong arm give him the slight edge in 2017.''
Brees' got the other second-place selection, from the AP's Teresa M. Walker of Nashville.
''Playing for one last contract might push the 38-year-old quarterback to another 5,000-yard passing season,'' Walker said of Brees being in the final year of his New Orleans deal.
The AP's Rob Maaddi, based in Philadelphia, liked the kids: Maaddi had Winston eighth and Mariota ninth on his ballot.
''Winston is an MVP candidate this season,'' Maaddi said, ''and Mariota has potential for greatness.''
Luck's recent injury history surely damaged him in the voting. He made it on to nine of the 11 ballots.
''He needs to quit taking a licking to keep on ticking,'' said the AP's Arnie Stapleton, based in Denver.
Luck's highest placement was fourth, by Lofton, who surely knows a standout quarterback when he sees one.
''He's the best physical talent,'' Lofton said.
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