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.
|Brighton sign Button from Fulham|
|Bolt set to trial with A-League club Central Coast Mariners|
|Thomas asks Seahawks for extension or trade|
|Walker doubts he´ll join Knicks, wants ´long´ stay at Hornets|
|Socceroos hero Cahill retires from internationals|
|Record income revenue for Barcelona|
|Kudla untroubled as Young bows out in Newport|
|Celtics still hoping to re-sign Smart|
|Villarreal sign highly rated Velez midfielder Caseres|
|Juventus signing Ronaldo should give Milan optimism – Kaka|
|Berrettini masters Mayer in Bastad|
|Manchester United and Ajax agree Daley Blind transfer|
|Familiarity with demands of Real Madrid an advantage – Lopetegui|
|Parmentier rallies to avoid Bucharest exit, Arruabarrena bows out in Gstaad|
|Steelers fail to sign Bell to long-term deal|
|Over 10 per cent of Croatia´s population welcomes World Cup heroes home|
|Thierry Henry quits pundit role to focus on coaching|
|France´s World Cup winners given heroes´ welcome in Paris|
|At the end we will see who is best - Ronaldo sidesteps Messi rivalry|
|Qatar? China? Ronaldo only has eyes for glory at Juventus|
|Proud Kane praises team-mates after Golden Boot win|
|The Open 2018 diary: Is that Tiger Woods? Harrington feels the Burn...|
|Porte targeting Vuelta after Tour de France anguish|
|Maradona madness, #WaistcoatWednesday, bruised Batshuayi - Alternative World Cup awards|
|It could be the best time - Martinez hints at Hazard Chelsea exit|
|England call up Billings as cover for injury doubt Roy|
|McIlroy on track for fitting major haul - Harrington|
|Froome plays down Thomas battle for Sky supremacy|
|Carnoustie record counts for little at The Open, says Fleetwood|
|I don´t see it - Napoli chief De Laurentiis plays down talk of Callejon-Suso swap|
|One or two changes required at Chelsea, says Sarri|
|Monaco confirm Golovin approach|
|Let´s keep making noise! - Serena dedicates Wimbledon run to fellow mothers|
|Full list of Open tee times|
|Fakhar inspires another big Pakistan ODI win|
|Spieth ´annoyed´ by re-watch of 13th hole|
|Kaka claims Ronaldo arrival will boost all Italian clubs|
|Spieth vows to be more artist than tactician in Open defence|
|Conte thanks Chelsea players, staff and fans|
|Rodgers: I´d love to play with the Packers to 40|
|Sevilla insist N´Zonzi will cost €40m|
|Hugill shows mystic powers with accurate World Cup predictions|
|World Cup 2018: FARE ready for post-tournament challenges in Russia|
|Woods grouped with Matsuyama and Knox at Open|
|Matthaus questions idea of French dynasty|
|Chandimal, Sri Lanka coach and manager banned for two Tests and four ODIs|
|Sassuolo demand at least €30m for Berardi|
|French media revels in ´crazy´ triumph|
|Mafi released on bail after alleged assault|
|Bierhoff must go! Berthold calls for Germany changes|
|Joshua to fight Povetkin in September|
|World Cup 2018: Goal-laden final adds to staggering World Cup stats|
|Runners and Ryders: Molinari impresses again as stars prepare for The Open|
|Macron to greet France team after Champs Elysees parade|
|Casillas and Suarez critical of VAR after World Cup final|
|TMO protocol clearly not working, says SANZAAR|
|Americans seek joy of six at Carnoustie, Rose out to end wretched run - The Open in Opta facts|
|Ronaldo arrives in Turin for Juventus medical|
|Stone: I had no idea what my score was!|
|The Open: A look back at Van de Velde´s Carnoustie calamity|
|Rakitic proud of ´brother´ Modric´s Golden Ball award|
|Serena can surpass Court, but Graf was the real target - Krajicek|
|Ronaldo moved to remain motivated - Kaka|
|Silva confident on Everton transfer targets|
|Golden Boot winner Kane aims to break August hoodoo|
|NFL training camp 2018: Contract holdouts and where they stand|
|Guardiola took me to another level - Alaba|
|Madrid selling Ronaldo a ´historic error´ - Calderon|
|MLS Review: LAFC, Atlanta held at home|
|Stones will watch re-runs of England´s World Cup matches|