Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.
I have been assigned the noble task of arguing that the NFC is better than the AFC this season as the NFL playoffs dawn. I’d prefer to be a giant slacker and spend a few hundred words telling you that I really have no idea which conference is better and, if you’re really curious which conference is better, the only way to know for sure is to watch the Super Bowl where the two conference champions duke it out. However, I don’t think any of you would appreciate it if I took the easy way out. So, in this article I will lay out the case for why the NFC is better than the AFC this year.
My original intention was to show the NFC’s statistical superiority, so I dutifully set out through the Internets to find statistics to prove my case. The more research I did, though, the more muddled the picture became. My original goal (in order to show the depth of the conference) was to discuss the top ten team statistics in certain categories and show that the NFC controlled those categories. However, any notable statistical category (total offense, total defense, etc.) showed the parity for which the NFL is known. NFC and AFC teams generally split the top ten in a statistical category. Obviously, after that research, my argument strategy had to change.
The more I thought about it, the old axiom, “statistics are for losers” came to mind. If you bend the statistics a certain way you can make nearly any argument about a football team or a group of teams. After talking myself out of a debate strategy, though, I needed to come up with a new one.
After realizing the objective criteria were useless to me, it seemed like a subjective metric was the way to go. The metric I settled on was this – Of the respective playoff teams in each conference, which teams would you not want your favorite team to play? The more I thought about it, the scarier teams are in the NFC this year.
While nobody would deny that New England was outstanding this year and would be a scary playoff draw for anyone, do any of the remaining AFC teams scare you? While the Jets appeared formidable in the pre-season, they have several notable flaws that were exposed during the regular season. Pittsburgh was solid in earning the number two seed in the AFC, but do they scare you with their capabilities?
Beyond those teams we have Indianapolis, Baltimore, and Kansas City. While the Colts certainly passed the eye test the past few years, they would have difficulty passing the eye test this year. In fact, were it not for a Jacksonville implosion down the stretch, the Colts wouldn’t even be in this year’s playoffs. On paper, the AFC is not fielding a formidable bunch in the playoffs this year, even though these should technically be the best six teams in the conference.
On the NFC side, however, there are at least three teams that fall into the category of, “I really don’t want to play them right now” – Green Bay, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Atlanta was a quiet 13-3 this year, but nearly unbeatable at home. Green Bay is playing its best football of the year right now and is a prime candidate among the talking heads for “hottest team in the league.” Philadelphia has an absolutely frightening offense that can beat an opponent in any number of ways, and you can rest assured that no defensive coordinator wants to game plan for Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy. Once you get through these three teams you still could run into one of the top defenses in the league with Chicago and the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.
If the playoff teams for each conference are supposed to represent the best that conference has to offer, it seems to me that the NFC was much better and much deeper than the AFC this year. That’s my argument and I’m stickin’ to it.