It's pretty simple in the modern-day, pass-heavy NFL: You can't win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback. As good as Seattle's defense was in 2013, Russell Wilson still was elite under center. Here's an early quarterback power rankings heading into the 2014 season.

1. Peyton Manning, Broncos: How can you argue with a guy who set NFL records for passing yards and touchdowns while leading the NFL's most prolific scoring offense in history? Manning won't have Eric Decker (87 catches, 1,288 yards, 11 TDs) this season but has plenty of other weapons. The Broncos are second Super Bowl favorites with San Francisco at 15/2 at Bovada's NFL odds.

 

 2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: Green Bay learned what life would be without Rodgers last season when he was limited to just nine games and the Pack fell apart without him. Rodgers returned with an epic performance in the regular-season finale in Chicago to win the NFC North.

 

3. Drew Brees, Saints: He likely would have been the 2013 MVP if not for Manning. Brees was second in the NFL in yards, touchdowns passes and completion percentage. He's still not quite the same player outside the dome, however.

 

4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks: Wilson won't win you too many games but he's not going to lose any, either. He's the prototypical game manager. His Seahawks are 6/1 favorites at sportsbooks to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

 

5. Andrew Luck, Colts: Luck still throws too many interceptions but is very clutch and led that amazing playoff comeback against the Chiefs. The addition of former Giants WR Hakeem Nicks should help boost Luck to his best season yet.

 

6. Philip Rivers, Chargers: He was reborn under new coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The latter is gone, with former NFL QB Frank Reich replacing him, but that McCoy is still around should keep Rivers at a high level.

 

7. Tom Brady, Patriots: Brady looked very mortal at times last season and posted his lowest season rating (87.3) since 2003. His receiving corps continues to leave much to be desired because you can't count on tight end Rob Gronkowski staying healthy.

 

8. Matthew Stafford, Lions: The additions of new head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi as well as the signing of free-agent receiver Golden Tate should bring the best out of Stafford. Plus he can always just throw jump balls to Calvin Johnson.

 

9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: Still fairly inaccurate and turnover-prone, but a full season of Michael Crabtree can only help Kaepernick. And if the 49ers somehow get DeSean Jackson, look out.

 

10. Matt Ryan, Falcons: Tony Gonzalez said Ryan wasn't quite elite last year, but Ryan also lost top receiver Julio Jones in the fifth game of the season. Unfortunately for Ryan, now Gonzalez is gone.

 

11. Nick Foles, Eagles: Purely on 2013 statistics, the NFL rating leader should be higher. However, Foles has yet to prove it over a full season and could lose his No. 1 WR in DeSean Jackson.

 

12. Tony Romo, Cowboys: Remains a regular-season star. Sports bettors should stay away from Romo and the Cowboys in those winner-take-all Week 17 games, however.

 

13. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Rather quietly, Big Ben threw for the second-most touchdowns and yards in his career in 2013. However, the Steelers look pretty old and now Roethlisberger doesn't have second-leading receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

 

14. Jay Cutler, Bears: Look at what Marc Trestman did with Josh McCown with Cutler out. Chicago has some of the best skill position talent in the NFL around Cutler. He simply needs to stay healthy.

 

15. Andy Dalton, Bengals: He will be playing for a contract extension most likely and his future in Cincinnati. Dalton had his best regular season in 2013 but flopped again in the playoffs.

 

16. Cam Newton, Panthers: He would likely be a few spots higher if Carolina didn't appear to have the worst receiving group in the NFL after losing its top three pass-catchers from last year.

 

17. Joe Flacco, Ravens: His serious regression in 2013 is fairly concerning. That can happen to a guy who gets a mammoth contract. Flacco has never been a great regular-season QB. The addition of Steve Smith should help Flacco's numbers.

 

18. Eli Manning, Giants: Eli has always been interception-prone, but he tossed a whopping 27 of them in 2013. Does he have one more Super Bowl season in him? Manning's numbers have gotten worse each of the past two seasons.

 

19. Robert Griffin III, Redskins: Will he ever be the dynamo he was as a rookie? Two career knee surgeries indicate otherwise. However, now that he's a full season removed from his most recent one, and rid of the Shanahans, RGIII should be better in 2014 than last year.

 

20. Sam Bradford, Rams: This is likely a make-or-break season for the former No. 1 overall pick in St. Louis. Bradford was playing well before suffering a season-ending injury in 2013. Also expect the Rams to get him more receiving help in the draft (Sammy Watkins?).

 

21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: If Miami can protect last season's most-sacked quarterback, Tannehill could take a big-time jump in production in 2014. It is concerning the Fins offense went into the tank the final two weeks of 2013 with a playoff berth on the line.

 

22. Carson Palmer, Cardinals: Now that Palmer  has a full season under his belt in Bruce Arians' offense, Palmer could have his best season since his early Bengals years. He played much better the second half of 2013.

 

23. Alex Smith, Chiefs: If Smith plays like he did in the playoff loss to the Colts, the Chiefs are Super Bowl contenders for sports bettors. However, Kansas City appears to be a worse team through free agency so far.

 

24. Jake Locker, Titans: It's make-or-break season for Locker in Tennessee for sure. The good news is he has a terrific offensive head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, who has worked wonders with an old Kurt Warner and a broken Philip Rivers.

 

25. Case Keenum/Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans: Keenum wasn't half-bad at times for Houston after replacing Matt Schaub last season and there's still plenty of talent around him in the likes of Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and DeAndre Hopkins. Keenum, who presumably will beat out Fitzpatrick, likely is only holding the job for a rookie.

 

26. Josh McCown, Buccaneers: Chicago's offense was always a problem when Lovie Smith was the head coach there so it's ironic the new Tampa Bay head coach signed McCown away from the Bears. Smith says McCown is his starter despite the fact Mike Glennon was the best rookie QB in the NFL a year ago. McCown may have been a Marc Trestman-created flash in the pan.

 

27. Chad Henne, Jaguars: Henne is a serviceable veteran who also is likely only holding the job for whichever QB that Jacksonville takes in this year's draft. If No. 1 receiver Justin Blackmon can stay out of trouble and on the field that will help Henne's numbers. Jacksonville has the lowest opening 2014 wins total of 4.5 at sportsbooks.

 

28. Geno Smith/Michael Vick, Jets: The Jets want Smith to win this job, but Vick is probably the better bet. It's also wise to expect Vick to get injured at some point as happens every season. Vick had a solid 86.4 rating last season in his limited time with the Eagles. Smith has proven he can lead fourth-quarter comebacks at least.

 

29. Brian Hoyer, Browns: Hoyer had two solid starts with Cleveland before suffering a season-ending injury. He has two excellent targets in WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron. It's all but a lock Cleveland will take a QB with the No. 4 overall pick but unlikely the guy taken starts from Day 1.

 

30. Matt Schaub, Raiders: It wasn't so long ago Schaub was considered a near Top-10 quarterback, but he looked shell-shocked last season in continually throwing pick-sixes and getting benched. Still, Schaub seems good value for a sixth-round pick in a trade and as a placeholder for whichever QB the Raiders choose in the draft. A 12th straight losing season looks likely for Oakland.

 

31. E.J. Manuel, Bills: Buffalo was 4-6 in Manuel's 10 games a season ago. He didn't show he was the long-term solution at the position, but didn't show he wasn't, either.

 

32. Matt Cassel/Christian Ponder, Vikings: Ponder, the former first-round pick, could be traded or released, while Cassel got a two-year, $10 million extension. That leaves one to believe he will start. Poor Adrian Peterson. The Vikes also are likely to grab a QB early in the 2014 draft.