Since Trent Dilfer gave teams with bad quarterbacks reason for hope by winning it all, 19 Super Bowls have been played.
They were won by Tom Brady (6), Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning (2 each), Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Brad Johnson, Joe Flacco and Nick Foles.
Most of those winners are top-tier franchise quarterbacks. Johnson and Flacco were effective veterans. Foles was a backup who performed at a level never seen from him before or since.
You can win big without a star quarterback, but the odds are against you.
Since 1992, the primary difference between the Packers and Vikings has been quarterback ability and stability.
As the Vikings prepare for another showdown and possible beatdown against the Packers, the gulf between the franchises at the sport’s most important position is as wide as Pat Williams. Here are my rankings of NFL quarterback rooms, considering the quality and age of the starter, financial commitment, franchise fit and upside:
1. Kansas City: Mahomes might be the NFL’s best player and he’s signed long-term.
2. Seattle: Wilson might be the NFL’s best player and he’s signed long-term.
3. Green Bay: Rodgers is one of the greatest players in NFL history and the Packers think they have his replacement in Jordan Love.
4. Tampa Bay: At 43, Brady remains masterful, even if he might only play another 10 years.
5. Pittsburgh: Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls and has adapted to a quick-pass offense.
6. Tennessee: Ryan Tannehill has been one of the league’s best since taking over last year, and the Titans got him for next to nothing.
7. Arizona: Kyler Murray is a cross between Barry Sanders and Russell Wilson.
8. Cincinnati: Joe Burrow could be great.
9. L.A. Chargers: Justin Herbert could be great.
10. Dallas: Dak Prescott’s value is becoming obvious and he remains the franchise’s future.
11. Baltimore: Lamar Jackson has regressed but is the reigning MVP.
12. Buffalo: Josh Allen looked shaky last week; otherwise this has been a breakthrough season in terms of accuracy.
13. Houston: Deshaun Watson is an exceptional player stuck in a bad franchise.
14. L.A. Rams: Jared Goff already has played in a Super Bowl and remains an efficient passer.
15. Miami: Tua Tagovailoa could be a star.
16. Atlanta: Matt Ryan remains proficient when given protection.
17. Las Vegas: How patient will Jon Gruden be with Derek Carr, a good-not-great quarterback?
18. Philadelphia: Carson Wentz is erratic but often wins games in the fourth quarter despite being surrounded by mediocrity, and Jalen Hurts adds intrigue.
19. Detroit: Matthew Stafford deserves better than Matt Patricia and this franchise.
20. New Orleans: Brees has declined dramatically over the past calendar year and is getting by on smarts and Sean Payton’s schemes.
21. Carolina: Teddy Bridgewater has played well with a rebuilding franchise missing its best player.
22. San Francisco: Jimmy Garoppolo had the lead late in last year’s Super Bowl.
23. New York Jets: Don’t laugh. The right coach might fix Sam Darnold, or they can spend the first pick on Trevor Lawrence.
24. Indianapolis: Philip Rivers is erratic but still produces big numbers.
25. New York Giants: Daniel Jones has talent but is difficult to evaluate because he plays for a bad team that built its offense around a missing running back.
26. Cleveland: For all of his flaws, Baker Mayfield is 5-2 and has played well in the past when not throwing to Odell Beckham Jr.
27. Chicago: The Bears can at least flip-flop between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles. Trubisky might be their best bet if he runs the way he did during his one good season.
28. Minnesota: Kirk Cousins is being paid too much to play this poorly, he can’t be dumped for another year, they’ve already rebuilt the offense to highlight running back Dalvin Cook (a strategy that almost never works) and the Vikings don’t have a replacement.
29. Jacksonville: Gardner Minshew is a placeholder.
30. Denver: Drew Lock lacks the upside of his young peers.
31. Washington: Kyle Allen and Dwayne Haskins are not the answers if the question is: “Who can elevate a terrible franchise?”
32. New England: Cam Newton looks old and plays for a bad team without a worthwhile backup.
The Vikings face two possibilities: Cousins will improve during the final 10 games and they won’t know whether to trust him, or he’ll falter and they won’t be able to get rid of him.