If Chicago's loss to Pittsburgh this weekend drove one point home, it is that the NFC is a much weaker conference than the AFC. Pittsburgh is currently the sixth seed in the AFC and they absolutely walloped the Bears, the second seed in the NFC. Hell, if the Chargers played in the NFC they would at least be the second best team. Instead San Diego may not even make the playoffs.
What's the difference between the two conference? Why is the top tier of teams of one so much better than the top tier of the other?
It ain't 'cause of defense. Statistically (points allowed), the Bears, Bucs, Panthers and Seahawks are four of the top five defenses in the NFL.
It ain't cause the AFC has better runningbacks. Two of the the top three rushers come from the NFC (Shaun Alexander and Tiki Barber).
In case you have not already figured out where I'm going here, the reason the NFC is so much weaker is because of the quarterbacks. Just look at the top teams in the NFC and who is under center for each of these contenders for the Super Bowl.
Seattle - Matt Hasselbeck
Chicago - Kyle Orton/Sexy Rexy
New York- My Other Brother Eli
Tampa Bay- Chris Simms
Carolina- Jake Delhomme
Dallas- Drew Bledsoe
Minnesota- Brad Johnson
Not exactly a Pro Bowl roster we're talking about here. Compare them to the AFC's top quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlesberger and Tom Brady. I would take any one of these guys over any NFC quarterback which I listed above.
Right now, the only guys that have won playoff games are Delhomme, Bledsoe, and Brad Johnson. And Bledsoe and Johnson are no longer with the teams they went to the playoffs with.
Then you have guys like My Other Brother Eli, Kyle Orton/Sexy Rexy and Simms who are untested in the playoffs. At some point in the future these guys may lead a team to the Super Bowl, but right now these youngin's are still learning how to play in the NFL.
The only guys I would trust to quarterback my team in the playoffs, Delhomme and Hasselbeck. I like both these guys in the playoffs but they neither one is drawing comparisons to Brett Favre. Delhomme tends to throw turnovers, and losses as many games for his team as he wins.
Which leaves Hasselbeck as the best quarterback in the NFC by process of elimination, who is actually a vastly underrated quarterback. He's suffered the past couple of seasons from receivers with hands made of butter, but with the addition of Joe Jurevicious this season Hasselbeck has established hisself as one of the top three qbs in the NFC.
But even if Seattle gets to the Super Bowl they would have to be the underdogs to Indy or Denver or which ever team represents the AFC.