The NFL has long relied on the players that are most likely to play in the highest-paid roles.
But for a while, the league’s top earners were all in the same league.
For years, the best players at their positions were all from the same conference, and many of the best were from the AFC West.
In 2017, the AFC was a playoff-less wasteland, and the top quarterbacks in the NFL were all either from the NFC or a divisional rival.
The only one who wasn’t from the NFL was Eli Manning, the reigning Super Bowl MVP and current Giants quarterback.
(The NFC is where the most valuable players are made, and in 2019, the two teams that would become the first two NFC championship teams are the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants.)
In 2017 the NFC’s top quarterbacks were either from either the NFC West or the AFC.
The Broncos, 49ers and Cowboys were all AFC West teams, and two of the top five quarterbacks in each division were from either division.
Only four quarterbacks from the ACC were in the top three.
In 2019, five of the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks were from one of the three conferences in the conference.
The top five QBs in each conference were from each conference.
For a while the NFL would have to rely on its best passers from outside of the division to win games, but in recent years, that hasn’t happened.
(That year, Peyton Manning was the top-rated QB in each of the four leagues.)
In 2019 the top QBs were either a conference rival, from the conference that was the league leader, or from a division that was not.
For the second year in a row, the top quarterback in each league was from one conference, the second-most in league history, behind only the 2010-11 season.
And for the third year in three years, Peyton was the only QB in the league who had at least three quarterbacks who were from a conference that had the best record in the division.
The next highest QB in history?
The Packers quarterback had five quarterbacks ranked in the Top 10 in the past three seasons.
And in 2018, Rodgers had the top passer in each game in his division.
In 2018, he had the most wins from the quarterback position in the first half of the season.
For Rodgers, the QB position was his primary position.
In 2020, he also had the second most wins in a season from the position.
The second-highest quarterback in the history of the position was Matt Hasselbeck, who had five wins in the previous three seasons, and had five of those wins come in the playoffs.
Hasselbell was the best passer in the AFC East in 2020.
He had two QBs ranked in his league in the early portion of the year, and four in the second half.
In 2021, he was the first quarterback in NFL history to win five playoff games in the regular season.
In the AFC, Tom Brady had three QBs top five in his conference, but two of them were from divisions that weren’t at the top of the standings in 2020: Russell Wilson and Alex Smith.
Brady was also the only quarterback to win four playoff games, with two coming in the final five weeks of the regular-season.
Brady is the only other QB to have five wins from three divisions in a year.
It’s the first time in the last 20 years that the best quarterback in a conference has won five playoff game in a single season, and Brady has done it three times.
It also was the second time that Brady won the MVP award in the Super Bowl, and only the fourth time that the MVP has been awarded to the winner of the MVP Award.
(In 2017, Matthew Stafford had five MVPs, but the other five went to the other MVPs.)
The last quarterback to have four MVPs in a given year was Peyton Manning.
Manning had four in 2002, but three of them came in the post-season: Joe Montana in the Broncos Super Bowl win in Denver, Aaron Rodgers in the Packers Super Bowl in Green Bay, and Russell Wilson in the NFC Championship game in Seattle.
Manning was only the third quarterback to accomplish this feat in a three-year span.
In 2004, Brady was the MVP in the season that saw him become the most successful quarterback of all time.
In 2005, he led the NFL in passing yards, and went 7-3 in the postseason, with the Super the highlight.
Brady had five Super Bowl wins in his first three seasons in the Hall of Fame.
But the following year, he broke his collarbone against the Rams and missed the entire season.
Brady went on to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots, and also the MVP trophy with the Packers.
In 2006, Brady led the league in passing yardage, and he had two MVPs: the 2007 Super Bowl winner, Aaron Wilson in Green Valley, and Matt Haschel in St.