Making The Case: Who Is The Best Team In The NFC Through Week 7?
Let's face it. The NFC is pretty mediocre this season.
While the AFC is dominant in the teams it produces (Jets, Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Titans, Ravens), the NFC is the exact opposite.
There are no top five teams in this conference, and so far, it is looking like a complete and utter mismatch for the Super Bowl.
This has been fairly common over the years; the AFC producing better and more consistently winning teams than the NFC. However, this season shows a complete disparity between the two conferences that is almost scary.
So, having said that, lets look at who could be the best in the NFC, despite the average play of all of the teams being mentioned at some point early this season.
New York Giants (5-2): 1st in The NFC East
While his stats may not back up his play and value, Eli Manning is having a great season so far.
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST:
They have a four game winning streak going into their bye week, and they look like a team to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. They can run the football with the league's leading rusher in Ahmad Bradshaw and the rejuvenated Brandon Jacobs; they can pass with a veteran, elite quarterback in Eli Manning; and the weapons he has in Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham as wide receivers are studs.
The Giants offense overall is balanced and disciplined for the most part.
Their defense also separates them from other NFC contenders. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are back to getting after the quarterback, and Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, and Deion Grant create an excellent secondary. Corey Webster is having a quiet, but fantastic season, only giving up nine receptions his way.
WHY THEY AREN'T:
The Giants turn the ball over too much for a good team. If the Giants keep teams in the game with these turnovers, good teams are going to take advantage.
Also, the special teams have been awful. Kickoff coverage, punt coverage, Matt Dodge, and even field goal attempts are never easy to watch if you are a Giants fan.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-3): T-2nd in The NFC East
Desean Jackson and an explosive offense is a big reason why Philly could be in the hunt for the NFC crown
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST: They have one of the most explosive offenses in football, regardless of who plays quarterback. Desean Jackson is a bonafide game changer, Jeremy Maclin has developed into a viable deep-threat, and the running game has taken on a whole new meaning for Andy Reid.
LeSean McCoy is the Ahmad Bradshaw of the Eagles; quick and shifty in the open field. They have great special teams, and a clutch, reliable kicker in David Akers. Also, they have hung tough with some of the better teams in the NFL, notably Tennessee and Green Bay (when healthy).
WHY THEY ARE NOT: The defense is still very suspect, especially against the pass. Trent Cole is a stud, but there aren't any other pass rushing threats in the front four. Also, this controversy between Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick is not a good thing, regardless of what people tell you.
As Bill Parcells once said "If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback."
Atlanta Falcons (5-2): 1st in The NFC South
The Falcons' ability to run the football will be vital to their success for the rest of the season.
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST: Like the Giants, the Falcons have a balanced offense. The passing game is solid, despite Matt Ryan not having the best of years so far. Roddy White is one of the most complete wideouts in the game today, and having a Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez opens up the passing game even more.
Michael Turner is one of the leading rushers in the NFL, which adds to the sense of balance shown by Atlanta. Defensively, they can hang tough with anyone, and usually get the big stop when it is needed.
Also, they cannot be beaten at home, as they improve to 16 wins out of 17 games at home when Matt Ryan starts a game.
WHY THEY AREN'T: The secondary is a concern, as Brent Grimes isn't exactly a threat to quarterbacks. Like Philly, besides John Abraham, there is little threat of a pass rush. As a team, they look like world beaters one week, but against Philly let's say, they won't even show up.
New Orleans Saints (4-3): 3rd in The NFC South
For the Saints to be elite again, Drew Brees needs to be more consistent
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST: They still possess a potentially explosive offense, in the air and on the ground. It's all about "potential" really. If the Saints put points on the scoreboard, they could be unbeatable like last season. Reggie Bush's return will boost their already solid special teams unit. Same goes for Pierre Thomas and the running game.
And, oh yeah, the Saints are still the defending Super Bowl champs.
WHY THEY AREN'T: Drew Brees has not been playing like an elite quarterback this season. Four picks against the Cleveland Browns is not acceptable for a guy looking to be up there with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as the best.
The Saints defense is not getting the turnovers it did last year; they are less opportunistic. Their kicker Garrett Hartley cost the Saints a game against Atlanta earlier this season. The Super Bowl hangover might have set in already.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2): 2nd in The NFC South
A young, confident Bucs team could be dangerous for other NFC teams
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST: Because Bucs coach Rahim Morris said so.
This is a young team that is finding out how to win close games. They came back against Cinncinati and St. Louis, and quarterback Josh Freeman was in the middle of both of those rallies. He looks confident and poised, and can make most of the throws you ask him to make, especially to the talented wideout rookie Mike Williams.
The defense has played fairly well so far. A young team that has nothing to lose this season can be very scary going down the stretch and into the playoffs.
WHY THEY AREN'T: Against the veteran teams of the NFL, the Bucs got destroyed. Against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, Tampa Bay didn't even compete. Again, this is a young team who still needs a running game if they want to do anything, because you cannot pin everything onto a growing Josh Freeman. Special teams needs to be better, and take the pressure off the offense.
Green Bay Packers (4-3): T-1st in NFC North
The Packers need to keep people healthy to go deep in the playoffs.
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST: Clay Matthews leads an opportunistic defense, and Aaron Rodgers leads a big play offense. Even without some of the key players, the Packers are still putting points on the board and gaining yardage all of the time.
The front four for Green Bay can get after the quarterback, and Charles Woodson is still an elite corner in this league. The special teams is also an explosive unit.
WHY THEY AREN'T: Injuries. You can replace one player, but not a bunch of talented players all at once. The Packers also commit too many penalties for a playoff team.
Also, Green Bay is one of the worst 4th-quarter teams in the league. When the Packers are in close games, Aaron Rodgers can't make the big play to win the game for his team, and the defense can't stop opponents from winning the game late.
Seattle Seahawks (4-2): 1st in The NFC West
Matt Hasselbeck's resurgence could catapult the Seahawks to the best record in the NFC.
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WHY THEY ARE THE BEST: Matt Hasselbeck is back. The consistent quarterback changes the Seahawks' chances of making the playoffs when he is healthy. They are the best home team in the NFL, because of the intimidating crowd noise in Quest Field. The Seahawks FINALLY won a road game outside of the division, and that shows how improved their defense is from last year.
Mike Williams, the former top-10 overall pick in 2005, has had an amazing resurgence in Seattle, and creates a big passing threat for the Seahawks. Leon Washington creates a dangerous special teams unit. Finally, they play in the NFC West, where raking up wins will be easy.
WHY THEY AREN'T. They play in the NFC West, which may get wins, but not tell how good this Seahawks team really is. The Seahawks, even with one road win, still struggle outside of Seattle. The running game needs to be better to create balance in a finesse system.
The Other NFC Hopefuls
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Washington Redskins (Record: 4-3) (not enough offense to carry this team)
Chicago Bears (Record: 4-3) (offensive line is historically bad; Jay Cutler and Mike Martz a bad fit)
Minnesota Vikings (Record: 2-4) (Favre is banged up, Brad Childress is an idiot)