Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

Quarterbacks. We love them. We debate them. And we do it because they're the most important ingredient in a championship recipe. Can you win without an elite signal-caller? Sure, but it's much easier otherwise. So we've been keeping tabs on all the starters across the NFL. Which ones are the best of the best going into the 2024 playoffs?

This is how we'd sort them right now, entering the postseason. These power rankings, unlike offseason QB rankings, are focused more on current standing than the bigger picture in an effort to tell the story of each QB's respective rise and fall.

Without further ado, the latest pecking order:

2024 NFL QB Power Rankings
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
Allen is 0-2 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the playoffs, but the series is even -- 3-3 -- when including the regular season. Does Mahomes deserve the benefit of the doubt as the postseason's top QB due to his championship resume? Sure. But Allen's been more like his superhero self this year. Can he get himself in trouble? We all know that. But the upside, both as a bulldozing runner and gunslinging rocket-arm, has him rightly favored to reach the AFC title game.
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
What he lacked in efficiency during Kansas City's rout of the Dolphins he made up for with situational production, leaning on rookie Rashee Rice to move the chains and control the clock. All year, the numbers haven't been up to his standard. And yet he's come through when it matters most, including as a scrambler. Like Tom Brady during his Patriots prime, Mahomes is the closest thing in today's NFL to a safe bet, especially on the playoff stage. Can he outlast the Bills' firepower yet again?
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens QB
Fresh off a big new contract, Jackson did everything right this year: He stayed on the field, he made smarter decisions through the air, and he didn't abandon his unmatched ability to make teams look foolish as a runner. Now comes the ultimate test: Can he conquer the weight of unmet playoff expectations? With one win in four previous postseason tries, Jackson has a chance to quiet all the naysayers -- and justify his MVP favoritism -- against the upstart Texans.
Brock Purdy San Francisco 49ers QB
Like Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, Purdy was as clean as they come this regular season -- even better, in fact. Kyle Shanahan propped him up aplenty with a QB-friendly scheme and lots of multipurpose weaponry, but he still registered as smart, decisive and dynamic running point. All that said, he'll now be tasked with translating that effortless dominance to big-game results. A year after his last playoff start ended early due to injury, he's no longer the underdog, but the front-runner.
C.J. Stroud Houston Texans QB
The Ravens are the AFC's No. 1 seed with the MVP front-runner at QB, and yet the Texans cannot be counted out. Why? Because, more than anything else, this man is under center. One of the most well-rounded rookie pocket passers in recent memory, he's got the vision, touch and authority of a 10-year pro. Let's see if he can keep it up, and keep Houston way ahead of schedule as a playoff contender. His arm certainly suggests Texans fans might be tuning in for an extra week.
Jordan Love Green Bay Packers QB
This spot doesn't do justice to Love. But blame the bevy of quality QBs still left in the dance, not the Packers QB, who at 25 has suddenly proven he's the present and future face of Green Bay, evoking predecessor Aaron Rodgers in a cruise-control shredding of the Cowboys. Can he unseat the vaunted 49ers? Maybe. Maybe not. But there's no denying he's playing loose and free -- in all the best ways -- with such a young supporting cast. Few QBs are throwing it better from any posture.
Jared Goff Detroit Lions QB
Goff is entrenching himself as something of a local legend, delivering the Lions' first home playoff victory in more than 30 years with sharp and savvy pocket passing. The proof has been there all year: Give him protection, and he'll pick the other side apart. Now comes the tricky part: Can he stand his ground and avoid forcing throws if/when the heavier pressure of a team like the Buccaneers comes crashing down? If so, don't rule out Goff's second career Super Bowl appearance.
Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
Truthfully, Mayfield deserves more respect. He's gutted through several injuries, improved his ball security and taken advantage of weak secondaries on multiple occasions this year, reaffirming his place among the game's starting signal-callers. If he can go into Detroit and upset the Lions, which frankly doesn't seem all that improbable, then look out for a boost in the rankings. Until then, he's the scrappy underdog of the bunch, which is probably just how he likes it.