Watching last season's NFL playoffs, you would have been forgiven for being taken in by the mystique of postseason success enjoyed by Philadelphia Eagles backup and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, journeyman Case Keenum and the much-derided Blake Bortles, and perhaps left believing that a top-tier quarterback is not necessary to challenge for a Lombardi Trophy.
But the Minnesota Vikings, the team Keenum lead to within a game of contesting the Super Bowl in their home stadium, debunked that theory on Thursday, signing Kirk Cousins to a groundbreaking three-year, $84million contract.
Cousins' deal is unprecedented in that the $84million is fully guaranteed, and he could earn a further $6million in incentives, taking the total value of the contract to $90m.
For Washington Redskins fans continually frustrated by Cousins' propensity for turnovers in the biggest moments, it is a deal that will raise eyebrows.
However, with the Vikings possessing undoubtedly one of the best defenses in the NFL as well as a plethora of talent at the offensive skill positions, there can be little question that a quarterback who has thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons should help them remain contenders for a long time.
The problem facing Cousins and the Vikings is that they are competing in a NFC loaded with quarterback talent.
Presuming he makes a full recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in December, Carson Wentz should be able to reproduce his MVP calibre play of last season and put the Eagles in contention to defend their title. Their NFC East rivals the Dallas Cowboys will be hoping for a resurgence from Dak Prescott, who guided them to Divisional Round of the playoffs two seasons ago, while in their own NFC North division the Vikings must contend with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and rocket-armed Detroit Lions passer Matthew Stafford.
Two of the last three MVPs reside in the NFC South in Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, who have the seemingly ageless Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints for company.
The NFC West looks similarly imposing, with Russell Wilson dealt the unenviable task of elevating a disintegrating Seattle Seahawks team to a level where they can hold off the division champion Los Angeles Rams and the resurgent San Francisco 49ers, who have the benefit of perhaps the two brightest offensive minds in the game in Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan and two of the league's best young quarterbacks.
Jared Goff was transformed under McVay's tutelage while it was tough to find any observer who would not have picked the Niners to beat the majority of last year's playoff field after Jimmy Garoppolo went 5-0 as a starter to finish the season.
The stage is set for an extremely intriguing 2018 season in the NFC, the state of which is in stark contrast to an AFC suffering from a dearth of star quality at the game's most important position, as illustrated by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' continued rule of the conference.
Bortles is the only quarterback not named Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning to legitimately challenge Brady in the last five seasons, but the cold hard truth remains that his Jacksonville Jaguars only came close to beating the Patriots in the AFC title game due to the excellent gameplan of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, which significantly minimised his deficiencies.
Like Prescott, Derek Carr will be eyeing a bounce-back year with the Oakland Raiders, but both Carr and Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans are yet to make the strides expected of them after promising starts to their careers.
A troublesome shoulder has kept Indianapolis Colts star Andrew Luck on the shelf for over a year and there is no indication as to whether he will be able to transform a talent-poor team back into contenders.
Philip Rivers has always looked capable of dethroning the Patriots if the Los Angeles Chargers are ever able to break their infuriating habit of late-game meltdowns, while the Kansas City Chiefs are hoping their considerable investment in young gunslinger Patrick Mahomes pays off and keeps them atop the Chargers and Raiders in an AFC West featuring a Broncos team that has failed to replace Manning and now turned to Keenum.
Brady and Roethlisberger aside, the AFC is a conference full of 'ifs' and 'maybes' at the quarterback position. There is an arms race going on in the NFL, and the AFC is lagging behind a much stronger conference.
19 de septiembre 2018
|Joshua v Povetkin: How Olympic super heavyweight champions have fared|
|Liverpool ´made a point´ with PSG victory - Gomez|
|Osaka wows Tokyo crowd on WTA return|
|Excited Povetkin arrives in England for Joshua showdown|
|Kovac patience with Sanches set to reap rewards|
|Kovac: Madrid strong without Ronaldo, Messi is the best|
|ATP suspends umpire Lahyani over Kyrgios ´pep talk´ at US Open|
|North and South Korea seek to co-host 2032 Olympics|
|Ampadu signs long-term Chelsea contract|
|Don´t blame Neymar, PSG players all guilty - Thiago Silva|
|Real Madrid seek to plug Ronaldo scoring gap – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Brewers allow Cardinals to inch closer with loss to Reds|
|Manchester is still red – Depay ahead of Lyon´s clash with City|
|Orioles become first pro team to wear braille jerseys|
|Klopp hails ´brilliant´ Henderson|
|PSG attack lacked aggression, says Tuchel|
|Atletico Tucuman 0 Gremio 2: Libertadores holders draw first blood in QFs|
|Thomas plays down wrist worry|
|Rakitic wants more from Barcelona hat-trick hero Messi|
|My players aren´t s*** – Pochettino defends Spurs squad|
|Cubs reliever Morrow won´t return this season|
|Tebow expected to be back in Mets organisation next season|
|Inter can compete against anyone – Icardi revels in Champions League victory|
|Tuchel: PSG loss to Liverpool not logical or correct|
|Sturridge in best shape I´ve seen – Klopp|
|Milojevic celebrates ´fantastic´ occasion after Red Star´s 26-year wait|
|Rodrigo and Simeone salute Griezmann display|
|Seahawks DE Clark on Bears QB Trubisky: He´s nothing special|
|Carroll says Wilson has been ´over-trying a little bit´|
|Judge returns to Yankees´ starting lineup|
|Napoli boss Ancelotti takes aim at Red Star time wasting|
|Favre admits young Dortmund stars struggled in Bruges|
|Otavio would trade goal for Porto victory as he bemoans Schalke draw|
|Championship Review: Pacesetters Leeds crush Preston, Villa end five-game winless run|
|Neymar world-class but not a defender - Klopp says Liverpool targeted PSG star|
|Waiters injury update: Heat guard unlikely to be ready for start of season|
18 de septiembre 2018
|Gojowczyk eliminates returning Tsonga in Metz|
|Liverpool enjoying best start in 57 years after PSG win|
|Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0: Terim´s side make light work of Russians|
|Club Brugge 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Super sub Pulisic scores late winner|
|Schalke 1 Porto 1: Fahrmann saves one penalty, but Otavio scores another|
|Red Star Belgrade 0 Napoli 0: Points shared as Italians fail to make possession pay|
|Liverpool 3 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Firmino strikes late as Reds edge five-goal thriller|
|Monaco 1 Atletico Madrid 2: Costa and Gimenez seal comfortable win|
|Chaos reigns in Serie B as league denies suspension claim|
|India secure Asia Cup victory despite valiant Hong Kong effort|
|Messi makes "extraordinary routine", says Valverde after Barca star surpasses Ronaldo|
|Spalletti´s Inter to take heart from Tottenham turnaround|
|Casillas features in landmark 20th Champions League campaign|
|Spurs deserved more from best performance of the season - Pochettino|
|Brown absent from Steelers facility on Monday due to ´personal matter´|
|Toronto´s Bussey given eight-match biting ban|
|Barcelona 4 PSV 0: Marvellous Messi lights up Camp Nou|
|Inter 2 Tottenham 1: Icardi, Vecino complete dramatic late turnaround|
|Allegri, Chiellini defend Costa over spitting ban|
|Firmino only fit enough for bench duty|
|Kovac applauds Sanches ahead of Benfica homecoming|
|Tomlin confirms Steelers WR Brown was absent from facility on Monday|
|Mourinho tells United to follow Federer´s lead amid Young Boys pitch concerns|
|Costa banned for four Serie A matches for spitting|
|PGA Tour announces changes to FedEx Cup Playoffs format|
|Rashford to start against Young Boys, Mourinho confirms|
|Ryder Cup heading to Congressional in 2036|
|I never listen to stupid things - De Gea unconcerned by criticism|
|Aguero trains as Mendy sits out Man City session|
|Lampard fined after accepting improper conduct charge|
|Serie B suspended after Pro Vercelli win appeal|
|Mitchell returns to England as defence coach|
|Brady completes Cornet upset in Guangzhou|
|Lopetegui giving no guarantees to ´fighter´ Navas|