In case you hadn't noticed, the NFL has become increasingly more reliant on its quarterbacks. Not only for the purpose of national attention, but also for continued success of their respective teams.
Come January there will no more valuable asset than strong quarterback play to help a team make a run to the Super Bowl.
If the playoffs were to begin today (prior to the day's slate of games) the QB's in this article would be leading their teams into the postseason.
Whose stock is up? Whose stock is down? And whose stock has yet to truly be evaluated?
Aaron Rodgers: In a season that has been marked with excellent quarterback play, Rodgers rises above the rest because he has not cost him team a game. The undefeated Packers would go from Super Bowl favorites to postseason underdogs if Rodgers were to go down.
Tom Brady: There won't be another QB playing into January with the hardware that Brady brings to the table. The question about the Patriots does not lie with the offense, but rather can the defense protect the lead that Brady will likely stake them to?
Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben has slowly worked his way into the NFL's elite quarterbacks and along the way he has already been to three Super Bowls and won two. His style of play is conducive to staying in a shoot out or making an improbable fourth quarter comeback if the need arises.
Drew Brees: In case you didn't notice, Drew Brees is going to break Dan Marino's single season yardage record before the regular season is over. The Saints seem to be the toughest test on Green Bay's road to repeat should they meet in the playoffs, and that has everything to do with Drew Brees.
Andy Dalton: Statistically speaking, it might appear that Cam Newton is having a better season than Andy Dalton. However, the playoff contending Bengals are very happy with the play of their rookie second round QB. His quick maturity has made him a player who fans are excited to see in January.
Alex Smith: For a player whose career was close to being over, Alex Smith has turned it around quickly. His San Francisco 49ers are one of the surprise teams in the NFL, and instead of being a constant point of blame for tough losses, Smith is now a player that has helped his team pull out clutch wins.
Joe Flacco: There is no doubt that the Baltimore Ravens possess Super Bowl caliber talent on their roster. There have also been flashes of the kind of poise required to win a Super Bowl from Flacco. It's the inconsistency of the Ravens and their young QB that keep them from being big favorites in every playoff game.
Matt Ryan: Matt Ryan is the unquestioned leader of the Falcons offense but his playoff record to date has left some wondering when "Matty Ice" will break through in January. Most NFL experts agree that Ryan will reach the promise land someday, but nobody is sure how soon that will be.
Carson Palmer: Since returning to the NFL Palmer has not shown the form that made him an elite QB early in his career with Cincinnati. The Raiders may not need him to regain all of that form right away, but they certainly can not afford him to turn the ball over and expect a Super Bowl berth.
Tony Romo: Romo and the Cowboys have shaken some of the frustrating inconsistency that plagued them early in the season. That does not mean though, that "Bad Tony" could be waiting for January to inexplicably throw a ball right in the defenders chest and watch him take it back for 6. Maybe it doesn't happen, but Cowboys fans have to admit that they are always frightened that it could.
T.J. Yates: What possible basis could a fan have for "buying into" TJ Yates? Any confidence in Yates, is more of a vote for the Texans overall than the QB himself. The likely scenario is that if things go bad quickly the Texans will turn to Jake Delhomme, but can we buy that either yet?
Caleb Hanie: Same story, different conference. Even though Hanie had an admirable showing in the NFC Championship game last season, his regular season debut in 2011 was a scary shot of reality for the Bears without Cutler. Will the Bears turn to Donovan McNabb? If they do, that stock would be pretty cheap to buy right now.