This is the position.
The one that gets far too much credit for victories and defeats. The one that wins all the MVP awards. The one that pilots the offense.
It's possible to win without a great quarterback at the helm, sure. Just ask Tampa Bay and Baltimore, who managed to win Super Bowls with Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer, respectively, trying to avoid mistakes under center.
Teams with elite quarterbacks are far more likely to succeed in their quest for conquest, and there are plenty of contenders whose quarterbacks fit that bill.
Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning headline the playoff hopefuls this season—the same as it ever was, it seems—and Eli Manning is just revving up New York's engine, which seems to stall every midseason before getting into gear come playoff time.
Then there is Ben Roethlisberger, the ever-injured, perennially under-appreciated quarterback of the Steelers, who is attempting coming back from another injury to save Pittsburgh's season.
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are both trying to get to that next level, while Matt Schaub is still trying to get to the playoffs without being hurt.
Of course, perhaps the biggest quarterback story in recent weeks resides in San Francisco, where Alex Smith—the man who efficiently led the 49ers to the brink of a Super Bowl appearance last season—has been supplanted by second-year man Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers offense certainly seems more dangerous with Kaepernick under center, but is his inexperience going to blow up in their face?
Then there are the rookies, who will be at a disadvantage for so many reasons if they get to the postseason.
Contenders: Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Broncos, Giants
Pretenders: 49ers, Seahawks, Colts
On the Edge: Texans, Falcons, Bengals, Buccaneers, Bears, Ravens