Of the four teams left in contention for the Lombardi Trophy, two of them (the Packers and Steelers) have an elite quarterback calling the shots. Now, I am not guaranteeing a Packers/Steelers Super Bowl, but I will say they have a very strong chance of meeting each other in Dallas.
The NFL has gradually and almost entirely shifted towards a league dominated by the reliance on quarterbacks. Yes, there are still good teams with great running backs or shutdown defenses, but if your team wants to be a consistent contender they need an elite quarterback. Defensive game plans revolve around shutting down an opposing team's quarterback. However, when you are facing an elite QB, you can only contain him at best, and hope he is having an off night.
As fans, we marvel in their ability to produce unbelievable plays and conduct last-minute drives. As opposing fans, we dread facing them. These quarterbacks are not game-changers; they are game-dictators. Their teams go as far as their performances deem.
The quarterbacks fitting this description are Brady, Brees, Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger and Rodgers. These guys are constantly showered with Pro Bowl invitations and MVP nominations, but more importantly in the last five years there have only been two occasions where one of these quarterbacks finished below .500. They have won a combined seven out of the last 10 Super Bowls, and it would be considered a safe bet to pick one of their teams to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year on any given year.
They statistically perform at a high level, but also have the intangibles that make them great. They have the respect of the entire locker room and the faith and backing of the coaches. They possess the ability to shine in the defining moments of a game and season. They make a habit of delivering rare feats. This could be Brady running through five progressions before finding the open receiver, Manning quick-snapping the ball and punishing the defense for being too slow to the line, Brees completing a pass to every offensive player that ran a route on a 95-yard TD drive or Rivers threading the needle between three defenders for a 35-yard pickup.
A team with an elite at the helm relies on their quarterback to produce something special, and ultimately wins or loses based on his performance. If I were a general manager I would make it my No. 1 priority to find and develop a quarterback into the NFL's elite. Once you have one, the window will always stay open.