We review the importance of the physical mechanisms involved in river meandering by comparing some existing linear models and extensions thereof. Such models are hierarchically derived from a common and general mathematical framework and then analyzed with a detailed discussion of the physical processes and relevant hypotheses that are involved. Experiments and field data are also used to discuss the related morphodynamic processes. The analysis of the models shows the importance of the closure of secondary currents especially in the modeling of eddy viscosity. This aspect confirms the usefulness of using simplified models for some practical applications, provided the secondary currents are modeled in detail. On the other hand, the free response of the sediments, the phase lag of secondary currents, and the momentum redistribution due to the coupling between the main and the transverse flow are shown to be less relevant. Hence the second-order models, which neglect the effect of superelevation induced by the topography-driven lateral flow on the longitudinal flow, can reasonably be considered a good approximation for both predictive analysis and the computation of the resonant conditions. Finally, the analysis of higher harmonics suggests that the multilobed pattern can intrinsically be present in both second- and fourth-order models.