In a league that prides itself on parity, the NFL’s scales are starting to tilt in one direction.
The NFC won 13 straight Super Bowls from 1985-1997, including four from the 49ers, three from the Cowboys, two from the Giants, two from Washington, one from the Bears and one from the Packers. Most of those Super Bowls were won in lopsided fashion over their AFC counterparts: 46-10 in 1986, 42-10 in 1988, 55-10 in 1990 and 52-17 in 1993.
The AFC is currently in the midst of five Super Bowl wins in the last six years, and if you look at the bigger picture of the league, the gap between the two conferences is growing. We may be on the cusp of a similar run for the AFC.
Let’s start with the obvious: A 7-9 team and an 8-8 team got into the playoffs in the NFC, while a 10-6 team in the AFC was left out.
The Eagles stayed under their regular season win total by five games. The Cowboys and 49ers stayed under their win total by four games. The Jets are the only team that underperformed on a similar level in the AFC. Even the 1-15 Jaguars stayed within 3.5 games of their win total.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 4, 2021
Now, let’s look at the quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson are 25 years old, Josh Allen is 24, Lamar Jackson turns 24 on Thursday and Justin Herbert is 22. The AFC will also presumably be welcoming Trevor Lawrence to the conference with Jacksonville holding the No. 1 pick.
The quarterback picture in the NFC is a lot less glowing. Tom Brady is 43, Drew Brees turns 42 next week, Aaron Rodgers is 37 and Alex Smith is 36. After promising starts to their careers, support for Jared Goff in Los Angeles and Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago is not overflowing.
How can we use this information moving forward? After the dust settles on the current season, I will be looking to back NFC teams to win their conference, not the Super Bowl next year. If you are someone that places a futures bet with the intention of hedging down the line to secure a profit, you will likely want to stay away from the Super Bowl market with NFC teams.
Colts at Bills, Total 51: The Colts played 11 games in a dome this season. In the five that were outside, they lost to the Jaguars, lost to the Browns, lost to the Steelers, scored one touchdown against the Bears and beat the Titans.
Philip Rivers is 39 years old and played his entire career in California, and now a dome. How will his arm manage the 30-degree temperatures in Buffalo on Saturday? UNDER
Rams +4 at Seahawks: Neither team is brimming with positivity at the moment, but I trust Sean McVay more than Pete Carroll to have a winning game plan. At press time, the Rams’ quarterback situation is unknown. A John Wolford start does not equal doom-and-gloom for Rams fans. Wolford has been on the Rams’ roster for two seasons, and McVay is in the top tier of coaches I would trust for this situation. RAMS
Buccaneers at Washington, Total 45: The Eagles were missing Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Jalen Mills, and Rodney McLeod on Sunday. Philadelphia had to call up three players from the practice squad in Week 17. The Eagles turned the ball over three times. And despite all of those advantages that they were handed, Washington’s offense was only able to generate 248 yards and 16 first downs. UNDER
Ravens at Titans, Total 55: Since Ryan Tannehill took over as starting quarterback last season, the over is 23-6 in Tennessee’s games. Do you want to stand in front of that train? I do not. OVER
Bears +10 at Saints: It looks like this spread is going to reach double digits and at that point, I will reluctantly back Chicago. Alvin Kamara does not come off the COVID-19 list until Saturday, so he will not be practicing all week. Chicago had 40 more yards and four more first downs than Green Bay last week. That game was closer than the final score indicates. BEARS
Browns at Steelers, Total 47.5: As of Tuesday morning, Cleveland is missing its head coach, offensive line coach, wide receivers coach and tight ends coach. Kevin Stefanski deserves a lot of credit for the Browns’ success this year. Without him on the sidelines, what will Cleveland’s offense look like? UNDER
Last week: 2-4