Matt Ryan and the Falcons might be the team to beat... in the NFL.
Maybe we should start rethinking this whole AFC is better than the NFC thing.
Think about it. A few weeks ago the top 5 on the NFL all hailed from the AFC. The Ravens, Steelers, Jets, Pats and Colts were all in our top 5 in some order with the Titans and Dolphins in the mix as well.
The Falcons, Packers and Bears were all after thoughts and the Giants, Eagles and Saints we we were iffy about. Now? Who wouldn’t take the Falcons and Bears over the Jets or Ravens?
After Sunday it’s become clear that the power in the NFL is just as big in the NFC as it is in the NFC. The Falcons sit atop the league at 9-2 in a loaded division with the Saints at 8-3 and the surprising, yet well playing, Buccaneers at 7-4 and they each play again in the last five weeks. With the Saints hard charging and the Bucs getting tougher with each week, the Falcons have no room to breathe easy.
However neither does the rest of the conference. With Matt Ryan behind center the Falcons have lost only one game at home in his two plus years in Atlanta… once. If the road to the Super Bowl does run through Atlanta then we should just pencil the Falcons in right now.
Problem is that they haven’t played the Bears and that rejuvenated defense that is playing like it’s 1986. Julius Peppers and company have a overshadowed a terrible offensive line that hasn’t gotten better. Yet it doesn’t matter. What they did to Mike Vick and the Eagles attack was mind bending. Four sacks, a pick that was Vick’s first all year and shutting down LeSean McCoy in a dominant performance that may finally have skeptics believing that the Bears are really good.
The Bears defense has turned them into a contender
Also, Jay Cutler is playing efficient, smart football… yeah, I just wrote that. He’s finally realizing that he doesn’t always have to go for home runs on every play. He threw for four touchdowns yesterday with no picks and no bad passes. His steady play gave Chicago’s defense room to be as aggressive as it was without having to worry about his mistake-prone ways.
They have a date at the end of the season with the Green Bay Packers who seem to have righted the ship after an early rough start due to a rash of injuries.
Aaron Rodgers is playing like the best QB in the league and that 3-4 defense les by Clay Matthews is looking like one of the league’s best heading into the home stretch.
The Packers hold pressing wins over Philadelphia and New York and go on the road to Boston to take on the Patriots in late November. Despite the loss on Sunday to Atlanta the Packers are still in great position to get a nber two seed in the NFC and a central division title.
The normally strong NFC East will come down to two enigmatic yet dangerous teams in The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.
The Eagles have looked in good in spurts, dominating Indianapolis, Atlanta and the Giants while looking terrible versus Tennessee, Chicago and Washington.
The offense has become the strong point of the team with the big play capabilities of Jeremy Maclin an DeSean Jackson and Mike Vick is an MVP front runner. The problem lies with their game to game consistency.
After destroying Washington on Monday night they almost let the Giants win a game that the Eagles should’ve won by 14 and then came the Chicago game where the Bears physically dominated them for four quarters and left the Eagles scratching their heads.
As good as they’ve been the Eagles need to put together consecutive good efforts if they want to go further than just a NFC East title.
Then there’s the 7-4 Giants who at one point were considered the best team in the NFC before injuries and the annual second half swoon kicked in. As good as they’ve looked the main issue for the Giants is turnovers… and lots if them.
They lead the league with 30 on he season which has overshadowed top 5 offensive and defensive units which have played outstanding throughout the season putting up points and getting to the quarterback (occasionally injuring them. They also lead the league with 5 injured QB’s at their hands.)
Unfortunaely that’s 7 well qualified teams for only 5 open spots (thank you pitiful NFC West). The race for the last two spots in the conference should be exciting as every team plays against each other in some fashion with Giants facing the Packers and Eagles, the Packers against the Bears and the Saints, Bucs and Falcons all with a game left against each other. It makes for some very exciting football down the stretch as the beat are goin against the best in the last 5 weeks.
Don’t sleep on the AFC however. This weekend the two main attractions in he league are on Sunday and Monday night as the Steelers go to Baltimore to face the Ravens and the Jets head to Gillette Stadium to play the Pats. Those two games should begin to decide the seeding in the AFC which seems to have its top 2 set with along the wildcard with the South and West a mess and seemingly non important.
However the rest of the season belongs to the NFC. The most intriguing and exciting teams and games will feature the conference that we all saw as an afterthought but might be the ultimate power in the league.
After ten weeks we thought we has the league all figured out. The AFC was the king and should’ve rolled to another Super Bowl victory. Then Tennessee fell off Baltimore, Jacksonville and the Jets fell to the best in the NFC in their stadiums and here we are wrong as ever. Hey it happens, I mean I did pick the Bengals to win the Super Bowl.