Monday, September 23, 2013

Are We In For A New NFC Dominance? Or Maybe Not

I am 38 years old, so I distinctly remember the time from the 1984 season through the 1996 season when the NFC won all 13 Super Bowls.  Not only did the NFC teams win, but they usually won in dominant fashion.  The NFC had Super Bowl wins by 45, 36, 35, 32, 23, 22, 19 and 17 during that time frame and only Super Bowls XXIII and XXV were decided by less than 10 points. 

You had some dominant NFC teams in the 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins, Giants and Bears.  Yet, starting with Super Bowl XXXII, the AFC would then go on to win 8 of the next 10 Super Bowls.

When I look at the league right now, I can see that this kind of trend could be coming back.  No, I certainly don't think that the NFC is going to reel off that kind of impressive streak.  But the NFC looks strong.  Young and strong.

First, let's look at the AFC.  In the AFC, the Denver Broncos are one of the favorites to win the conference.  After that, it is ... New England?  Cincinnati?  Baltimore?  It's hard to say.  Not only is there not the quality of teams there usually is in the conference, most of the elite teams aren't built for the long run.  Denver is in a win-now mode with Peyton Manning.  As is the New England Patriots with Tom Brady.  To me, that makes a team like Cincinnati a team that could be in the mix for the long term.

Below those three teams, you have Pittsburgh and Baltimore ... teams who have had guys leave for various reasons and aren't as strong (though both have great front offices).  The Houston Texans have been in that "right there" spot for a few years and the Indianapolis Colts certainly have a bright future with Andrew Luck.

I'm not saying the AFC sucks by any means.  Remember in those 13 years the NFC won in the mid-80s to mid-90s there were some great AFC teams.  Those Buffalo Bills teams were great.  Denver went to five Super Bowls from 1986-1998 seasons.  There were solid teams in Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas City and Cleveland. 

Over in the NFC, there is a lot of youth that could rise the conference to the next level.  All the buzz is around RGIII (Redskins), Colin Kaepernick (49ers), Russell Wilson (Seahawks) and Cam Newton (Panthers).  The first three led their teams to the playoffs last year with Kaepernick nearly pulling off a Super Bowl championship.  You also have great young-ish QBs in Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford and Drew Brees.  And some guy named Eli Manning has already cashed in a couple of Super Bowls already.

Of course, I can point to those 13 dominant NFC seasons again for some perspective.  The AFC had guys like Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Boomer Esiason, Bernie Kosar and Warren Moon.  Besides Hall Of Famers Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Troy Aikman, these NFC quarterbacks won Super Bowls during that stretch: Jim McMahon, Phil Simms, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler and Mark Rypien. 

Plus, who knows what happens long term anymore.  In those days, free agency and salary caps certainly aren't the same as it is today.  It would be extremely hard for those stacked teams to be able to stay stacked in today's climate.  And with the mobility of the QBs in the NFC, they are one big hit away from having their star gone (just ask the Redskins on that). 

The NFC has won 3 of the last 4 Super Bowls and 4 of the last 6.  In the last 16 Super Bowls (the games after the NFC's streak), 12 different franchises have represented the NFC (only the Redskins, Cowboys, Vikings and Lions didn't make a Super Bowl in that span).  Conversely, the AFC has had only 7 teams represent the AFC (Broncos, Titans, Ravens, Patriots, Raiders, Steelers and Colts).. 

During the 13-championship streak, only six (49ers, Redskins, Giants, Cowboys, Bears and Packers) repped the NFC.  And, again, only 7 different teams represented the AFC (Dolphins, Patriots, Broncos, Bengals, Bills, Chargers and Steelers).

Who knows what this season will hold.  Well, except in Jacksonville where the season has pretty much been written.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sportz' Week 2 NFL Picks

LAST WEEK:  12-4
SEASON:  12-4

Not a bad week last week, but there weren't that many head scratchers so I'm not going to break my arm patting my back.  Good start, but let's keep it going.

PATRIOTS over JETS:  New England didn't look great last week, but they still looked much better than the Jets did.

FALCONS over RAMS:  Atlanta can't go 0-2 ... especially at home against the Rams.

BILLS over PANTHERS:  It isn't so much that I'm sold on Buffalo as that I'm just not sold on the Panthers offense. 

BEARS over VIKINGS:  Peterson will get his, but no one else will for the Vikes.

PACKERS over REDSKINS:  Neither team can afford to go 0-2.  One will, and it will be Washington with that suspect defense.

COLTS over DOLPHINS:  Miami looked nice against Cleveland last week.  This isn't Cleveland.

COWBOYS over CHIEFS:  Andy Reid knows the Cowboys.  But with a banged up Jamal Charles, I'm going Dallas here.

RAVENS over BROWNS:  Um, Baltimore.

TEXANS over TITANS:  New Oilers over Old Oilers. 

CHARGERS over EAGLES:  I don't know why, but I'm going upset here.  Probably a dumb pick.

CARDINALS over LIONS:  This is a game Detroit seems to lose.  It continues here.

SAINTS over BUCCANEERS:  I wouldn't say New Orleans is back, but there aren't going to lose to this Tampa team.

RAIDERS over JAGUARS:  Who cares.

BRONCOS over GIANTS:  Manning Bowl goes to Peyton.

NINERS over SEAHAWKS:  I think Seattle is a bit over-rated and that people are underestimating the Niners ability to beat them.  I'm going San Fran.

BENGALS over STEELERS:  Pittsburgh can't block anyone.  Cincinnati will bring the heat.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sportz' Week 1 NFL Picks

It's time.  I came to get mine.  Okay, the NFL season is on us so here is my Week 1 picks:

BRONCOS over RAVENS:  Sold on Denver being the best team in the AFC.  Not sold on B-more's drastic post championship changes.

PATRIOTS over BILLS:  Buffalo is starting a rookie QB who is coming off an injury?  Yeah, I'm taking the Pats.

BEARS over BENGALS:  This is a good one, but Chicago is at home so I'm going with Da Bears.

BROWNS over DOLPHINS:  Two teams who are looking to turn around their fortunes.  I'm going to give Cleveland the edge in this one due to the Dawg Pound.

SAINTS over FALCONS:  I have the Falcons in the Super Bowl, but N'Awlins will have their Sean Payton back and that place is always live.

JETS over BUCCANEERS:  Neither team wows me at all.  I know that Jets offense could be brutal, but I think people are underestimating the defense. 

STEELERS over TITANS:  Pittsburgh is tough to beat in the Ketchup Bottle

LIONS over VIKINGS:  I'm bullish on Detroit this year ... and I could be dead wrong.  I just think that Stafford and Calvin Johnson will be big, big, big time this year.

COLTS over RAIDERS:  Oakland is bad.  Really bad.

SEAHAWKS over PANTHERS:  Cam Newton is moody and Seattle will put him in a bad mood.

CHIEFS over JAGUARS:  Kansas City wasn't your typical "worst team in the NFL" last year.  They have some players and Andy Reid can coach.  Jacksonville, however, has that look of the "worst team in the NFL" this year.

RAMS over CARDINALS:  Tough to read either team.  I just trust Jeff Fisher a bit more.

NINERS over PACKERS:  Could we see Kaepernick run all over Green Bay again?  I'm betting on it.

GIANTS over COWBOYS:  The G-men own the Cowboys in Jerrah World.  They also show up big time in big time games.  Usually.

REDSKINS over EAGLES:  A rusty RG3 can still find a way to manuver around that Eagles defense.

TEXANS over CHARGERS:  Who does Philip Rivers throw it to?