Why the NFC can easily win Superbowls

NFL NFC football eagles team cheering

The AFC in a decline?

Since the 2000 season, the American Football Conference (AFC) has won over the National Football Conference (NFC) 7-4. But most recently the NFC has won the Superbowl over the AFC in the past 5 years; 3-2. And even more recent, a NFC team has been Superbowl champion in the last two seasons. Is this a turning tide for the NFC to dominate over the AFC? Possibly, but not for the right reasons.

The NFC Curse

Since 2001, of the ten NFC champions (New York Giants, Saint Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers) only the Buccaneers, Giants, Saints, and Packers  have won the Superbowl. Much like the Madden Cover curse, NFC teams that won the Superbowl fall off the NFC playoff picture the following seasons. The Buccaneers won the Superbowl in 2003 but up until recently have disappeared from competition. The next NFC Superbowl champion, the Giants in 2008, lost in their first game in the playoffs the following season and missed the playoffs the next 3 seasons. The Saints won the Superbowl in 2010 but the following season exited in their first game against the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs.

The AFC Gauntlet

Comparatively, the 5 AFC Champions since 2001 (Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Indianapolis Colts) have won the Superbowl at least once; excluding the Raiders, of course. And even when these AFC champions lost in the Superbowl these teams retained a winning regular season record and remained in the playoff picture the following seasons. Again, not counting the Raiders.

What in effect has occurred is that the AFC playoffs has become a competition amongst previous Superbowl champions. Any upcoming team must defeat at least one previous Superbowl Champion to advance to the next stage. The New York Jets can attest to the difficulty of facing such a gauntlet this past season. The Jets had to face three Superbowl Champions in their quest to the Big Game. They managed to defeat the Colts and Patriots but did not have enough to defeat a third Superbowl winner: the Steelers. By continually having Superbowl Champions in the the playoff mix, the AFC filters the Superbowl representative so that only the truly best represent the AFC at the end. No sporadic AFC team goes to the Superbowl without having to proven themselves over a few seasons.

The NFC has no such filter. It then becomes hard to gauge how good a NFC champion is at any given season if they are not defeating previous Superbowl champions. In this sense, AFC teams in the Superbowl face a harder playoff schedule than the NFC teams. Is it too much to say then that maybe the NFC has an advantage come the final game, whereby whichever AFC team that survives the gauntlet will be more run down?  I think so, and it may be a reason why NFC teams may win the Superbowl over the AFC in the coming seasons. Let’s first see if the Packers can be a defending champion in the NFC and be a filter.

Photo credits: AP Photo/Eagles official site

I don't know. Sometimes it feels like my writing & thoughts are way off. Who knows if it'll help anyone or if it means anything.

Written by Nassau Jones

Silence means 100% agreement