We could choose to view the standings in the AFC as connoting parity. There are only two teams with a winning record, but equally there are seven teams at .500, (with four of those teams residing in the chaotic AFC East). But on a deeper analysis the current state of the AFC is an indication of an inferiority that began some time ago.

Our starting point can be a comparison of the conferences six weeks into this season. In the NFC, there are seven teams with a winning record. Furthermore, the head-to-head record favours the NFC by a resounding 18-9. The Houston Texans were thought to be the shining example in the AFC, and proudly stood unbeaten after five games. Then the ‘struggling’ 2-3 Green Bay Packers came over from the NFC and throttled them in their own backyard. Six weeks is a third of a season and so it is not a sample size to be dismissed or taken lightly. However, it does not stand alone.

Four of the last five Superbowls have been lifted by an NFC franchise, and this includes the last three in a row. This spell has turned the tide as before it, between 1998-2007, the AFC had won the Lombardi Trophy in eight of the ten seasons.

The reason for this paradigm shift comes down to a changing of the quarterback guard. The AFC’s prior dominance was underpinned by the excellence of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger; this trio accounts for the AFC’s last six Superbowl titles.

Manning has undergone multiple neck surgeries and is now 36. Tom Brady is not far behind him at 35. These two legends of the sport are still fierce competitors, with Brady leading the league in passing yards and Manning actually having his third best six-game start to a season of his career in terms of passing statistics. Nevertheless, the gentle decline of their powers has also been noticeable, with velocity and certain throws being removed from their arsenal.

On the other side, there is Aaron Rodgers (28), Eli Manning (31) and Drew Brees (33) that were the last three Superbowl MVPs. While Roethlisberger is just 30, he has already experienced too many big hits in his career simply by virtue of holding onto the ball for too long. His body has taken a beating and, like Michael Vick, the next injury is never too far away. Big Ben has completed a full season only once in his career, and his best regular season in terms of total completions (337), completion percentage (66.6%), passing yards (4,328) and touchdowns (26) was back in 2009.

The NFC West had been the joke of the league for the past three seasons but it is now showing its strength, boasting three winning records and the 3-3 Rams. The NFC North could well be the strongest division in all of football. The balance of power has been altered. The quarterbacks of the future (under 25) in the NFC also appear to be significantly outnumbering their AFC counterparts: Newton, Wilson, Bradford, Freeman, Ponder and RGIII versus Dalton, Luck and Tannehill. For the purposes of clarity, Blaine Gabbert does not deserve to be a part of that discussion.  On a related note, while Brandon Weeden may be a ‘rookie’, he’s actually 29.

The NFC trend therefore could just be in its infancy. Between 1985-1997 the NFC won all thirteen Superbowls. In the history of the league, this dominating feat has never even been even remotely challenged. The threat is very clear now, and the AFC has been reduced to the role of a spectator for the time being.


Oggy’s Quick Slants

–       The New England Patriots’ three losses this season have been determined by a total of 4 points. Conversely, their three victories have been secured by a total of 55 points.

–       On the flip side, the Philadelphia Eagles’ three wins this season have been determined by a total of 4 points. Their three loses leave a deficit of 26 points, (although this is skewed by a 21 point loss to the Cardinals in Week 3). Look for a tight contest when they come off the bye week and face the Falcons in Week 8.