Friday, January 8, 2010

Six reasons no NFC team can make it to the Super Bowl

Okay, I suppose it's true that one NFC team has to make to the Super Bowl, but good luck figuring out which one it'll be. All six teams on the NFC side of the playoff bracket have pretty serious weaknesses, and it's hard to even pinpoint a favorite. While it would be rather surprising not to see either the Chargers or Colts come out of the AFC, it's difficult to recall a conference being as wide open as the NFC is this year.

Here's why each NFC team can't make it to the Super Bowl, in order of strength of reason they won't do so:


Their 10 wins are the fewest of any NFC playoff team, they had a running back go over 100 yards exactly twice the entire season, and both receiver Anquan Boldin (over 1,000 yards receiving) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (six interceptions) were injured in the season finale.

Does that sound like a team on its way to the Super Bowl?


After torching the Patriots for 38 points on Monday Night Football, they were 11-0 and pretty much unstoppable. But it's been an awfully bumpy ride since then. Their 33-30 overtime win against the Redskins was something you couldn't get away with in a movie--it included a fumble return for a touchdown on the tail end of a Drew Brees interception with no time left in the first half, and a missed 23-yard chip shot field goal by Shaun Suisham that would have iced it.

They then edged Atlanta 26-23 despite the fact that the Falcons were relegated to their backup QB and backup RB. Next was the loss to Dallas, then a loss to the Bucs at home, and finally a giveaway game against Carolina.

My point is, they didn't simply lose to Dallas and then choose to pack it in. They "should" have lost before Dallas ruined their perfect season, and they've played like a very average team since Week 13. They were the class of the NFC for much of the season, but is that really still the case?


Andy Reid's bunch lost to the Cowboys twice this year, and will have to play in Jerry Jones's new palace in the first round. They also lost their center Jamaal Jackson, a key part of their offensive line, and the Cowboys made their offense look absolutely silly in last week's game.

The Eagles had a solid season, but do you really want to hitch your wagon to a one-dimensional offense that's overly reliant on the big play?


They were able to avoid their fourth loss in five games by beating the Giants in Week 17, but the latter part of their season was still ugly. Arguments between Childress and Favre, blowout losses to the Cardinals and Panthers, and--here's the most important thing--Adrian Peterson did not rush for 100 yards in any of their last seven games.

Can you get behind a struggling team with an aging quarterback who has stolen the reins from the NFL's premier running back?


Sorry, but it's going to continue to be a fair question until there's a different answer to it: Can Tony Romo win in January? The December slide ended with a flourish as Dallas won their final three games to steal the NFC East and the three seed. But I'll tell you this: with visions of a dropped field goal snap dancing in their heads, no one is less confident about the Cowboys' chances this Saturday than Cowboys fans themselves.


They went 7-1 in the second half of the season and Aaron Rodgers has been lights out. So what's the problem?

Two of them, actually:

1) They still can't protect Aaron Rodgers. He took 50 sacks this season, tied for most in the league with Ben Roethlisberger. In fairness, the sacks have dropped off in recent weeks, but expect teams to bring the heat in the playoffs.

2) I know, I know, all you can do is win the games on your schedule. But their 7-1 finish included wins over the 49ers, Lions, Bears, Seahawks, and a Cardinals team that wasn't even trying to win.

The Packers are the hottest team in the NFC heading into the playoffs, but do you really believe in them?

A guy named Norval

For a good read, check out Rick Reilly's latest column on Chargers coach Norv Turner.



  2. Or not!!! What a sweet ending.