The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Look to the front offices

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The supposed superiority of the AFC in the 2010 season -- and it is true that of the top 10 NFL teams in overall DVOA, seven are in that conference -- is based more than anything on the fact that many of the most talented NFC teams have allowed themselves to be run into the ground with terrible decision-making processes.

The Dallas Cowboys, who just a few seasons ago fielded more Pro Bowlers than any team in the league, have atrophied under the "watchful eye" of Jerry Jones, and the Peter Principle-level work of Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett. The Minnesota Vikings have seen their Super Bowl window close in the wake of two years of Favre waffling, and the increasingly odd decisions of Brad Childress. And the Redskins, having spent more on personnel in the last decade than any other NFL team, are still trying to dig out from the wreckage brought about by Vinny Cerrato -- and Mike Shanahan has displayed less acumen in the realm of player relations than we may have imagined.

Certain NFC teams like the Saints and Giants remain well-run, and can overcome various short-term issues. But it's no coincidence that the most successful teams over the last few seasons -- the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens -- are run with wisdom, consistency, and efficiency. There are no ridiculous power struggles, no owners looking to fulfill their football dreams through a series yes-men, and no intractable conflicts between players and management that don't have solid reasoning behind them and can't be resolved in ways that make the team better (Exhibit A: Randy Moss).

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was three NFC teams -- the 49ers, Cowboys, and Redskins -- who led the way in regular-season and Super Bowl success. This had little to do with any conference-related issues; more that those teams were run to succeed over time. At this time, it just so happens that with a couple exceptions, the smartest front offices pepper the AFC landscape.

By Doug Farrar  |  November 4, 2010; 2:08 AM ET  | Category:  AFC , Baltimore Ravens , Dallas Cowboys , Doug Farrar , Minnesota Vikings , NFC , New England Patriots , Pittsburgh Steelers , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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