In Week One of the 2008 season, the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs. In the first quarter, Tom Brady, the MVP and star of the league, went down. He had taken a hit to the knee that not only changed the Patriots' season, but every team in the NFL.
With the star player down, teams that normally would be a weak opponent (mostly in the AFC) had a solid chance at the playoffs. The Patriots were no longer there as the powerhouse and every team had a solid chance of making it, whether or not the other teams played the Patriots this season. It is the fact that no playoff spot was already locked in.
Most years in the past, the Indianapolis Colts would have been a lock-in, too. Peyton Manning got to a slow start, including a first loss against the underrated Bears, who were all of a sudden another team. With the team getting older and Peyton throwing close to as many picks as touchdowns, there was a smile on many GMs the Monday after Week One.
This isn't just great for most franchises; this is historic. With two playoff teams barely keeping up, and beaten down ticket prices for the remaining teams soared. Meanwhile, New Englanders found they could finally get a ticket.
The question is, will this great moment for the NFL only last for one year? With Brady back next year, things may go back to the old ways. Tom Brady might not be 100 percent though, and watching these Patriots games shows that Tom Brady might not be able to keep scoring at the pace that his team is letting them get points.
For now, AFC fans can be joyous as they watch teams like the Titans rise. Oh, and they aren't exactly sad to see the AFC East be as exciting as it is.
In fact, the AFC East is a full out brawl.
The Dolphins showed they are for real, and Chad Pennington has been a really incredible leader. Plus, the Wildcat formation is pretty impressive. The Jets (or should I say the New York Bretts?) have Favre. Buffalo came into that city like a snowstorm, but those snowstorms are a little more common then this type of team.
The Patriots are still in a playoff scenario, but now, so is everyone else.
Tennessee Titans also got this chance thanks to the fall of the Colts. The Titans stepped up to be the only undefeated teams. Of course, the Jaguars are also feeling this relief; they might still not be first, but at least the Colts aren't the best either. The Texans might not have the record to show it, but they are also looking like a good team.
All of this has made a whole new AFC South.
The NFC might not feel the same relief, but seeing two super powers slow down doesn't make them frown either. In fact, this makes many reporters say that the NFC is more powerful.
I have to disagree with this though, because the loss of these two teams made every other team better. There is no one in this conference that can't be labeled as a possible division victor—except the Bengals.
The NFL is a new league; with teams who were once weak that are now becoming the contenders.