Here at Bleacher Report, we tend to crown a new "Best Team in the (fill in the blank)" almost every week. Sometimes we do it twice in one day. My apologies if you're tired of this, but in this case it's true: the Green Bay Packers are the NFC's best team, not the Atlanta Falcons.
In Week 14, we got to see one of the biggest upsets of the year as Atlanta lost to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. This is the same Panthers team that just a week ago lost to the Kansas City Chiefs (the circumstances were extraordinary but it still doesn't look good for the Panthers, or by proxy the Falcons), and is currently playing for their head coach's job.
Despite all of that, the Panthers grinded away the victory against the Falcons, who are now 11-2. They still possess the best record in the NFC, but there is plenty of doubt surrounding them. Their close victories against sub-par opponents (their first game against the Panthers in Atlanta, the Raiders, and the Redskins without Robert Griffin III) provide some of the doubt, while their recent history provides the rest.
With Atlanta, I'll know they are a good team in the playoffs when I see it. This year is all about their postseason performance anyways, and with the NFC South already wrapped up for them along with a game-and-a-half lead in the race for NFC's best record (and a two-game lead over Green Bay), that will likely be their main focus for the last three games of the season.
But the Green Bay Packers' resume? That's more convincing. Now I don't believe in would've, should've, could've, but the Packers do have one less win than they should have. Sorry for scratching that itch known as the "Fail Mary" game, but it did manage to show one thing: no one has played the Seahawks in Seattle better than the Packers. Since the Packers will likely have to win at least one road game to get to the Super Bowl, that's a great sign.
Green Bay's defense isn't anything spectacular, and is the one area of the game where Atlanta has a clear edge; however, as long as the Packers offense can score, the defense just has to continue their bend-but-don't-break philosophy. Of course it helps to force turnovers, something that Green Bay's defense has done well based off of their plus-eight turnover differential.
Then there's the fact that the Packers have only lost to teams on their way to the playoffs (and again, one of those losses should be a win). Last I checked, neither the New Orleans Saints nor the Carolina Panthers are playoff bound in 2012.
Green Bay has already shown us two seasons ago that they can succeed in the playoffs (assuming they avoid the Giants that is), whereas with Atlanta we're still waiting. Right now, the past and recent history does come into play.
It's telling us that the Packers have the crown in the NFC, while Atlanta is actually behind both San Francisco and Seattle. Maybe not in the standings, but definitely when ranking the confidence that I have in each NFC team.