The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Wait 'til the playoffs

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A short dissertation on the AFC-NFC debate.

A lot of people think it's no contest -- that the AFC is better.

I think ...

Well, I'm tired of the subject.

Yes, midway through the NFL season, the top teams in the AFC are better than the top teams in the NFC, although Packers 9, Jets nil and Saints 20, Steelers 10 last Sunday suggest that maybe the tide is turning.

And that's the point. We have half a season for the tide to turn -- for the 10-6 Giants to upset the 16-0 Patriots or the 9-7 Cardinals to take the Steelers to the final few seconds or for the Saints to beat the Colts. That's what happened at the END the past three years.

Yes, there are cycles. The AFC (Steelers, Raiders, Dolphins) was better in the 1970s and the NFC was better in the 1980s and '90s -- an NFC team (49ers four times, Cowboys three times, Giants and Redskins twice, Bears and Packers) won 13 straight Super Bowls between 1984-1996. Heck, that's seven by the NFC East alone. Add wins by the 49ers and Redskins in 1981 and '82 to the Raiders' win in '83 and you have 15 of 16 for the NFC (and eight for the NFC East).

But there's too much parity to make a definitive judgment now.

At the start of the season, I thought there were more than 20 teams that had a shot at the playoffs and I didn't count the Bucs and Rams, both of whom are in the mix. Yeah, they're in the NFC so I suppose that burnishes the argument for the AFC. On the other hand, Kansas City wasn't on my playoffs list either and the Chiefs lead the AFC West.

Please, let the season play out.

One reason NFC teams are lower than AFC teams in the "ratings'' that every news outlet seems to think we need is that the four teams PRESUMED to be the "best'' in the NFC at the start of the season are either beat up (Packers), stagnant (Saints), bad (Vikings) or awful and dysfunctional (Cowboys).

I'd argue that we should have included the Giants from the start -- their defensive collapse last season was the result of injuries that knocked out half-a-dozen key players and left a few more (notably Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora) playing at half speed. Right now, I'd put them with the best AFC teams -- somewhere between third and sixth in the media/NFLBCS.

Add the Falcons (the NFL's Boise State?) and the Eagles to the mix along with the Saints -- the NFLBCS went haywire last week when they knocked off the consensus No. 1.

And please...let's wait.

Why "rank'' teams in a league that has playoffs? I know. People love lists, people read them and people blog and tweet critiquing them.

But stop the chattering and let them play.

Twelve teams will make the playoffs. Some worthy team may get left out in both conferences -- there WILL be an NFC team left out with a better record than the champion in the West.

But maybe the NFC West winner will get hot in playoffs, as the Cardinals did two years ago.

If the Seahawks, who lost 33-3 in Oakland last week, win the Super Bowl ....

They'll be the champions.

And they'll get no argument from me.

By Dave Goldberg  |  November 4, 2010; 10:41 AM ET  | Category:  AFC , Dave Goldberg , NFC Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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