Wednesday October 12th, 2011

If the Vikes continue to fall out of the playoff picture, they could turn to rookie Christian Ponder. (Brace Hemmelgarn/US Presswire)

With Denver turning its offense over to Tim Tebow, one of the NFL's biggest quarterback controversies has been temporarily settled.

And, rather remarkably, it also leaves us without too many existing situations at the QB spot. No more than a handful of teams look even remotely likely to make a switch under center, barring injury, in the near future.

Here's a look at the handful of teams that could make a move:

Minnesota Vikings: We start with the most obvious.

The Vikings finally got into the win column with a 34-10 Week 5 triumph over Arizona, but it's hard to say Donovan McNabb was responsible. McNabb finished just 10-of-21 for 169 yards, though he did run for a touchdown.

Minnesota's stuck between a rock and a hard place here. The franchise gave McNabb more than $7 million to step in and lead the offense this season, but he's yet to produce much of anything. The backup option, though, is rookie Christian Ponder, and nobody knows if he's ready to be thrown into the fire.

Head coach Leslie Frazier said that McNabb will definitely be the team's starter in Week 6 at Chicago, but a loss there drops the Vikings to 1-5 with a difficult schedule forthcoming.

At some point the Vikings may have no choice but to turn their attention to the future, and their future at quarterback in Ponder.

Seattle Seahawks: Charlie Whitehurst came off the bench in relief of an injured Tarvaris Jackson Sunday and helped bring home an upset win for Seattle over the Giants. Whitehurst finished 11-of-19, opening the door for questions about the Seahawks' QB plans.

Pete Carroll plans to stick with Tarvaris Jackson for now -- Jackson's improved over the past two weeks, and Seattle is up to 2-3 on the season.

Still, assuming the 49ers don't run away and hide in the NFC West, the Seahawks might be their biggest competition. If Jackson can't perform consistently and Whitehurst keeps delivering when he's called on, Carroll may have to reconsider.

Kansas City Chiefs: Yes, Matt Cassel has picked up his game. And, yes, the Chiefs are riding a two-game win streak.

Let's not forget that the turnaround has come against Minnesota (see above) and 0-5 Indianapolis. Chiefs fans were calling for backup Tyler Palko during their team's 41-7 Week 1 home loss to Buffalo, then Cassel turned in another stinker at Detroit in Week 2 and capped off a Week 3 loss in San Diego with an egregious interception.

The odds of a move here are much, much lower than in Minnesota or Seattle. But if Cassel regresses after the Chiefs' Week 6 bye, and Kansas City goes back to its losing ways, Todd Haley might swing Palko in for a bit, just to shake things up.

Denver Broncos: What? I said "temporarily settled."

Barring a trade of Kyle Orton, the Broncos still have three QBs on their roster -- if you count Brady Quinn -- and there's no telling how long Tebow's leash will be.

Indianapolis Colts: The train's almost completely off the tracks at this point, with Indy 0-5 and coming off three straight tough losses. Curtis Painter has played above expectations for much of his brief time as the Indianapolis starter, but it is hard to say that he looks like a franchise QB of the future.

Heck, the Colts already seem to have one eye on the No. 1 pick and Andrew Luck.

So, what will happen when $4 million man Kerry Collins is healthy and able to run the offense again? Do the Colts ride it out with Painter the rest of the year? Or do they go back to the veteran they signed in the preseason?

Washington Redskins: And we close with the dark horse on this list.

The Redskins are 3-1 and on top of the thus-far thoroughly disappointing NFC East. As long as the wins keep coming, there won't be any changes made here.

But. Rex Grossman, who barely won the Redskins' QB derby over John Beck this preseason, has not done anything spectacular in 2011. He has six touchdown passes, five interceptions and a middling 78.7 quarterback rating. Even with a brief cold streak, Washington has a shot to win the division, so Mike Shanahan might consider going to Beck if Grossman turns in a couple of duds.

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