The 49ers are 5-1 and Frank Gore is a big reason why. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

I’ve already done a post on how the quarterback is back as the premier position in the NFL. It’s bombs away, and there is nothing to stop or slow it down either. Defenses are being taught to let up on the hits; when is the last time you saw a jaw dropping defensive play that wasn’t called for unsportsmanike conduct? All of these factors are helping the NFL turn into a monster scoring machine, with air traffic control all the way down the field.

But surprisingly, it’s not for everyone. Some teams are doing it the old fashioned way, with their feet, and their offense, on the ground. Most of them are suffering from a lack of that franchise signal-caller, so they have the next best thing; a top of the line running back, and there is no mistaking the absence of one when it’s felt.

The Oakland Raiders have mortgaged their future for QBs; most recently Carson Palmer. But it’s Darren McFadden who has the Raiders 1/2 game out of first place. Everyone is excited about the amazing 49ers, and Alex Smith is playing better than ever, but Frank Gore is the eighth-best runner in the NFL, and a key reason for his team’s turnaround.

Some teams have been struggling as of late, and a weakened ground attack is often to blame. The Lions haven’t been the same since Jahvid Best went down with yet another concussion, and LeGarrette Blount’s MCL has been more the problem for the Bucs than Josh Freeman. Picture the Bears without Matt Forte and you get the point. Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew are the only things offering hope to the down-trodden Vikings and Jaguars.

While the QBs have definitely become the ‘air’ to the throne of offense, it’s the feet firmly on the ground that offer their teams’ fans the greatest hope for a championship in 2011.