2012 NFL Season: 3 Reasons Why the NFC Will Be Stronger Than the AFC in 2012
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The Green Bay Packers reeled off 19 straight wins and went 15-1 during 2012, yet they aren't the best in the NFC.
The San Francisco 49ers bring the league's best defense, a great tight end and running back and a team that went 13-3 during the regular season. Yet, they aren't the best in the NFC.
During the 2011 season, the New York Giants unexpectedly came out of the NFC, and they're ready to take on the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. However, in 2012, things will be a lot harder for New York and the NFC.
This year, Carolina and Cam Newton were just getting the party started, and they lost too many close games. Chicago was on their way to the playoffs before Jay Cutler suffered an injury. And Philadelphia reeled off four straight wins and would've made the playoffs with a win or a Giants loss at any point of the season.
For teams like Atlanta, who squeaked into the playoffs and got routed (by the Giants), things will get a lot harder. There are about three teams from every division (except the NFC West) capable of a big run and a shot at the Super Bowl.
Let's see why the NFC is the stronger conference.
The Offense Is in the NFC
Drew Brees throws a pass during New Orleans' loss to San Francisco in his record-setting season.
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However, the elder Manning is banged up, and we have heard speculation of [Peyton] Manning departing Indy for the Redskins, Seahawks or Cardinals. The younger Manning has proven his elite status by winning the NFC for a second time and leading the Giants to Super Bowl 46.
Aaron Rodgers looked perfect at times and led Green Bay to 15 wins in the wake of a Super Bowl title in the previous season. Drew Brees set a record for passing yards. And Manning looked perfect while ripping the Jets, Cowboys, Packers and Falcons to shreds during the playoffs.
In addition, Cam Newton had a promising rookie year, and it's believed that his Panthers will make a run at the playoffs. Alex Smith threw just five interceptions during the regular season. Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan get points and wins for their teams.
The edge on offense goes to the NFC.
The NFC Possesses More Teams Capable of a Super Bowl Run
James Starks walks onto the field before Green Bay's 31-25 Super Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.
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If you count teams capable of making a Super Bowl run in both conferences, the NFC will definitely have more. Other than New England, Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh, the Jets and possibly Denver or a team from the AFC West, there aren't many teams capable of making the long run in the AFC.
In the NFC, you have to work your butt off to get past the regular season.
Last year, teams like Atlanta, Detroit and New York (yes, New York) got lucky to make the playoffs, because of injuries, chemistry issues and young teams working together for the first time.
That stuff won't happen in 2012.
Now, I'm not saying New York won't make the playoffs, because I predict the Giants to win the NFC East next year. But Chicago, Carolina and Philadelphia will emerge as serious threats, and teams like Atlanta that looked easily beatable at times in 2011 will be beaten.
During the playoffs, wins will be hard to come by. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, LeSean McCoy, Patrick Willis, Cam Newton, Jay Cutler, Michael Turner and Matthew Stafford will be among the serious competitors for the ultimate prize next year.
So if you're in the NFC, watch out.
Super Bowls Have Been Dominated by the NFC Lately
Drew Brees addresses the media after New Orleans beat Indianapolis 31-17 in Super Bowl 44.
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The NFC has brought us great conference championships recently, including three hard-fought, defensive battles that resulted in two Giants wins and a Packer win, a great offensive show that brought Arizona to the big one and a crazy game with five turnovers forced by the Saints in an overtime win.
Recently, the conference that used to bring us Montana and Aikman and Simms is bringing us that same kind of football, with legends being made and going back at the prize every year.
Each year, it seems like the NFC champion stands alone during the Super Bowl, whether it's an upset of epic proportions that gets them over the top, an offensive show, a defensive gem or whatever.
In the NFC, you give it your all, win a playoff game, fight with all you've got, win the NFC Championship and get to the Super Bowl. Then, you play your hardest, take a fourth-quarter lead, keep it and take the cake.
However, it seems like that prize only goes to the NFC winner.