Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's season debut will go down as one of the most impressive offensive performances in NFL history. Fellow signal callers will have a difficult time matching Manning's Week 1 totals - but a handful are in position to make a run.
Here are four quarterbacks with the best chance to top Manning's incredible Thursday:
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
The loss of receiving threats Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, coupled with tight end Rob Gronkowski's continued recovery from offseason back and forearm injuries, have left some wondering if Brady can still expect to rack up the yardage totals. Memo to the doubters: It's Tom Brady. Even in his mid-30s, the prolific QB will find a way to get Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Zach Sudfeld and the rest of his offensive weapons plenty of targets.
The Patriots open the regular season Sunday in Buffalo against the Bills.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
How could Brees possibly improve upon last year's jaw-dropping statistics (5,177 yards, 43 touchdowns)? If there's a way, returning head coach Sean Payton will find it. Brees will have all of his offensive stars back in the fold, including elite tight end Jimmy Graham, explosive wideout Marques Colston and running-back-in-name-only Darren Sproles. If everyone stays healthy, Brees will make 400-yard afternoons a regular occurrence.
The Saints kick things off Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Sometimes, all you
need is one go-to guy. Stafford proved that theory correct in 2012, as
he racked up nearly 5,000 yards despite having just one quality wide
receiver. Of course, when that guy is Calvin Johnson (NFL-record 1,964
receiving yards), it certainly helps. The receiving corps remains thin
behind Johnson, but the addition of pass-catching tailback Reggie Bush
and another year of experience for tight end Brandon Pettigrew could get
Stafford past 5,000 yards.
The Lions face the visiting Minnesota Vikings in Sunday's season opener.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
One of the NFL's new class of dual-threat quarterbacks, Luck will have plenty of intriguing targets to throw to in 2013. In addition to holdovers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, the Colts added Darrius Hayward-Bay from the Oakland Raiders in the offseason to shore up the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Add in talented tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, and Luck won't need much to have a successful second season.
The Colts begin the 2013 campaign at home against the lowly Oakland Raiders on Sunday.