With the playoffs beginning this weekend and the Super Bowl only a month away, it's time for some fearless predictions.
Yes, I understand that we don't even know who is playing yet—heck, we haven't even played the first playoff game—but if we waited until we knew who was in the game, it wouldn't quite be a "fearless" prediction now would it? It would be more like "kind of brave, but really a little scared" prediction.
Besides, if college football can claim a national champion based on the whims of those who don't even play, then there can't be much harm in this little prognostication.
So, with that said, here's my prediction: The Super Bowl champion will come from the AFC.
Okay, perhaps that was too much of a build up for something that has a 50 percent chance of being correct, but looking deeper, those odds are probably better.
First off, since John Elway's Broncos ended the NFC's famous 13-year championship run in 1998, the AFC has gone 9-3 in the big game with the NFC's only wins being the incredible one-yard-short finale between the Rams and Titans, the Buccaneer's dominant performance over the Raiders, and the Giants monumental upset over the Patriots.
I know what you're saying. The results of the past cannot be used to predict future activities as they are statistically independent events and therefore any correlation would be purely coincidental.
Let's focus on this year.
First off, the best team of the year was without question from the AFC.
Peyton Manning may ultimately go down as the best quarterback in the history of football and arguably just had his best year.
And if I'm saying that as a Texans fan, it has to be true. Hell, that guy's been ruining my weekends since he demolished Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl back in my freshman year.
If that doesn't make the Colts the absolute favorite to win the Super Bowl, it's only because the hottest team in football might rank above them.
The Chargers have won 11 in a row and have the quarterback who will probably be considered the best in the league in a few years. They also have a receiving corp that could pass for a decent sized basketball team.
Conversely, the top two seeds in the NFC, the Saints and Vikings are both entering the playoffs with what you might call the opposite of momentum.
The Saints have lost three straight, including a game to the then 2-12 Bucs.
The Vikings on the other hand have lost three out of their last five.
Before you mention the Colts two-game losing streak, remember that the Colts had secured everything there was to secure, history not withstanding, while the Saints and Vikings still had something to play for.
In fact, the hottest team in the the NFC right now is the Cowboys, who haven't won a playoff game since the Macarena topped the Billboard 100.
Still, if we take recent history as an indicator, the Cowboys and Packers give the NFC it's best chance of success this year, but they will both face difficult tests before they can even make it to week two of the playoffs.
Back to the AFC, though, the three seed is comprised of a three-time champ, and the four seed is the emotional pick of the season.
The five and six seeds both finished the season strong and finished with a combined three losses since Thanksgiving.
Now, obviously the playoffs by their nature are unpredictable.
The Giants from two years ago won as a five seed and the Cardinals went last year as a four.
That's why we love them.
But it wouldn't be that surprising to see any of the NFC teams advance to the Super Bowl which means none of them can ride the "nobody believed in us" train all the way to Miami.
In fact the only team that could probably pull that off is the AFC dwelling Jets (although in the spirit of full disclosure, I don't actually believe in them).
Ultimately, though, the simple truth is this: the best teams in the AFC are likely to play their best, but the best teams in the NFC are likely to struggle.
The NFL's Super Bowl history is pretty much broken out into three parts.
In the first fifteen years, the AFC was dominant. The following sixteen were owned by the NFC.
The AFC has been the stronger conference over the last twelve and that dominance is likely to extend one more year.