Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is The NFC Back?

When I was a kid, the NFC was king. From 1985-1997, the NFC won every Super Bowl. And in that span, only Super Bowls XXV and Super Bowl XXVIII were even close. The Niners won four titles, the Cowboys three times, the Redskins and Giants twice apiece and the Bears and Packers won once.

However, the AFC would win 9 of the next 12 Super Bowls. The NFC, normally filled with several heavyweights, only had the Giants and Rams appear in multiple Super Bowls in that time. The NFC currently has had 10 different representatives to the last 10 Super Bowls.

But has the NFC turned the corner? Are we entering into another changing of the guard? After all, the NFC has won consecutive Super Bowls for the first time since that 13 year dominance in the 1980s and 1990s.


It's hard to say. The AFC still has their elite teams. The Colts, Patriots and Steelers have been to the last 8 Super Bowls and 9 of 10. They all still have their franchise quarterbacks playing at a high level.

"Quarterbacks" to me is the key. The AFC's influx of great QBs helped usher in their dominance in the passing era. Well, the NFC is starting to get those young franchise QBs.

You have the relatively newbie Aaron Rodgers taking the world by storm. Drew Brees was last year's Super Bowl MVP. There is also the Falcons' Matt Ryan, the Cowboys' Tony Romo, the Eagles' Michael Vick, Giants' Eli Manning, Lions' Matt Stafford, Bucs' Josh Freeman, Rams' Sam Bradford and even the Bears' Jay Cutler.

The NFC was just 30-34 against the AFC this year ... but that stat doesn't sit well to me. That adds in all the crappy teams records in the fold. We're talking about the good teams. Only the Carolina Panthers went winless against the AFC (0-4), while only the Lions, Vikings and Seahawks had a losing interconference record.

I'm looking more at trends. In the NFC, there seems to be a lot of teams on the rise. The Lions, Buccaneers and Rams, long the laughingstock of the NFL, are looking like they are turning around their fortunes. The Vikings and Cowboys had bad seasons last year, but they also were picked the be the best teams before the season began. Who knows, maybe their turnaround will be swift.

There are the defending champion Packers and the Saints, who won the previous year. There are the Michael Vick led Philadelphia Eagles; not to mention the Atlanta Falcons, who finished with the NFC's best record last year. The Giants won 10 games last year. The Bears won 11.

Over in the AFC, it is a bit down. The Dolphins nearly fired their coach before reluctantly keeping him on. The Bengals went from AFC North champs to a humiliating mess. Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville all look mediocre at best. Denver fell off the map. San Diego didn't look as great as we thought they'd be. And despite Oakland's success last year, you can't trust Al Davis to keep it going.

Sure, the AFC still has the Pats, Colts and Steelers playing at a high level and teams like the Jets, Ravens and Chargers who still have some gas in the tank. They also have the Raiders and Chiefs, who were the surprise teams from a year ago. The NFC may have some nice QBs, but the AFC still has Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers ... and young guys Matt Cassell, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco and Colt McCoy.

It isn't like the AFC is dead. Far from it.

However, the NFC isn't a doormat anymore either. Maybe we are entering a new age of NFC dominance.

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