Take a look at the standings in the NFC, and you will see a very competitive yet dominant conference that features seven teams with winning records and the NFL's lone undefeated team.
Now take a look at the AFC standings. You will see two very good one-loss teams, a rash of 3-3 teams and five of the seven worst teams in the NFL.
It's safe to say that the NFC is the superior conference in 2012, and it's not even a close call. The NFC is 19-9 so far this season in interconference games, but that record reflects just a part of the dominance.
Six of the 10 highest scoring offenses in the NFL are NFC offenses. On the flip side, three out of the four lowest-scoring offenses are in the AFC. The NFC also boasts six of the 10 highest-rated quarterbacks and five of the NFL's leading rushers.
Defensively the gap is even bigger. Eight out of the top 10 defenses in yards allowed per game are NFC defenses. The only two AFC defenses in the top 10: Pittsburgh and Houston. As for scoring defense, the NFC also has eight of the top 10 teams in that category. Houston and Miami are the only two AFC squads to place in the top 10 (and the Dolphins are tied with Minnesota for ninth place on the list).
Which is the better conference
But one stat seems to be more telling than any: the record of the top teams in the AFC against the NFC.
Houston and Baltimore each have one loss, both to NFC teams. Baltimore's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 was a dramatic comeback victory for the Eagles and could likely be written off as an aberration.
But Houston's loss to Green Bay was embarrassing. It was a home game in prime time, and the Texans—despite having one of the top defenses in the NFL—would allow the Packers to score 42 points while not causing a single turnover. Aaron Rodgers accounted for six touchdowns, while Texans superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt registered two sacks.
Keep in mind that the Texans were the best team in the AFC going into the contest and likely still are. The Packers, on the other hand, were 2-3 and in third place in the NFC North going into the game.
The overall quality of both conferences usually tends to even out every season. Most of the time you will see the division champions in both conferences come away with similar records.
But the way it's looking this season, the AFC could have two division champions finish at 9-7 with their Wild Cards finishing 8-8. The NFC, on the other hand, could have teams finish 10-6 or possibly 11-5 and miss the playoffs completely.
That's a huge disparity in quality in a league built upon parity.