The modern era lacks 'elite' QBs

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers are some of the few elite QBs today. US Presswire, Getty Images

If there is a common denominator for Super Bowls XLII through XLV, it would have to be that possessing a truly elite quarterback is a must to reach the Big Game. Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning and Tom Brady -- one would be hard pressed to find any four-year Super Bowl era that had a better set of passers than this group.

Which raises the question: Does this era have more elite quarterbacks than any other era of the post-merger NFL?

At first glance, one certainly might think so. In addition to the aforementioned names, the league has recently seen dominant play from such luminaries as Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub and Michael Vick.

As impressive as that volume of topflight passers is, however, it became clear after reviewing a multitude of areas, that today's NFL not only falls short of being the most elite quarterback-heavy epoch of the past 40 years but might actually be the era with the fewest.