The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Panthers and Ravens

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There's no question that the Giants and the Titans are the league's elite. But nobody knows better then the G-men what that means in the postseason if you're faced with an upset-minded juggernaut. This year, they're the team great enough to win the Super Bowl they won last year, and they're definitely all-in to win again. In Tennessee, Jeff Fisher's minions continue their under-the-radar work, blowing opponents off the line on both sides of the ball. It's no coincidence that these are the two best teams on either front line.

Who plays second fiddle in each division? In the AFC, I like what the Ravens bring to the table. They've got that great defense, upset by the Giants as it may have been last week. Running back Ray Rice is an emerging star, and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco is putting it together. The Ravens remind me of the Titans in that they have few explosive targets for their quarterbacks, but they play close and tough most of the time. The Steelers' defense might be even better, but an offensive line than can't keep Ben Roethlisberger from taking 25 sacks per game will lead to an early playoff exit. The Colts and Jets have too many question marks at this time.

The NFC has a group of teams behind the Giants, and two of them come from the resurgent South division. The Panthers, with their impressive defense and dual-threat rushing attack, sets up as well as anyone to mess with New York's coronation. The Falcons aren't there quite yet, but Matt Ryan has been a revelation.

Obviously, the real NFC questions come from the rest of the East. The Eagles are too inconsistent, the Cowboys too mercurial, and the Redskins seem too reliant on Clinton Portis. The Giants have a balance that would prove troublesome for any of these teams, especially at the Meadowlands. Carolina probably has the best chance at this point, but I don't see anyone unseating the current champs - at least until and unless they face that team from Tennessee.

The one just as tough as they are.

By Doug Farrar  |  November 18, 2008; 12:28 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Don't underestimate Pittsburgh. They're one bad snap away from being 8-2 (which would have given the mighty Giants an 8-2 record as well). And that's despite the absence of Willie Parker and their number one rookie running back for most of the season. Look for the return of Parker to take some of the heat off of Big Ben. If they can end 10-6 after playing the toughest schedule in the league, I'll call that a major acheivement.

Personally, I'm not sold on the Titans-- yet. They aren't blowing teams out despite playing a relatively weak schedule. Luckily, December 21st will give us a chance to see how they match up against the number two team in the AFC-- Pittsburgh.

Posted by: theotherone | November 18, 2008 3:33 PM

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