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This One Could Get Exciting

The dominant teams in the NFL used to be obvious.  Super Bowl picks weren’t the hardest thing in the world.  Most fans could make a bit of money on weekly picks assuming they were in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.  In short, winners were clear cut…In years past, the NFL has showcased some clearly dominant teams.  It was obvious that the Eagles, Falcons, Steelers, and Patriots would all sit atop the league and contend for the Super Bowl.  While occasional surprises such as the Giants and Panthers made it to the big dance, the powerhouses in the league have been for the most part clear cut.

However, this is a new season, and the landscape of the NFL has changed.  In the same manner as just about every team in the MLB had a playoff shot this year, seemingly every team is lumped together this season in the NFL.  Perhaps the Indianapolis Colts are similar to the St Louis Cardinals.  They are the one team dominating the regular season, no one is paying attention to them, and they aren’t playoff tested.  The result is a wide open league.

Let’s start in the NFC, and by NFC we are of course excluding the abysmal NFC North.  First of all, there is the Carolina Panthers.  While this may seem outlandish, Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith look Manning/Harrisonesque with Smith already receiving 797 yards passing.  Just as any John Fox coached team, the defense led by the energetic Julius Peppers is intense, and will come to play.

In the same class as the Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons have a championship team.  After last year’s loss to the Eagles in the NFC championship, Jim Mora and company are ready to prove they are legit.  The Dunn, Vick, Duckett rushing attack is obviously one of the top in the league, and has proven this many times over.  If Vick can open up the one dimensional Alge Crumpler passing game to include wide receiver homerun threat Michael Jenkins, the Falcons will have just as good a shot as anyone else to make it to the Super Bowl.

Surprisingly, the New York Giants are an NFC powerhouse.  After a comeback victory against the popular Super Bowl pick Denver Broncos, and a 36-0 domination of the Washington Redskins, Tom Coughlin’s troops are starting to gain some respect.  The high powered offense starring Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress, Tiki Barber, and Jeremy Shockey looks unstoppable.  Furthermore, the shutout of the second ranked Redskins offense has given the Giants supposedly weak defense a boost of confidence.  After games against the 49ers and Vikings, the Giants will host the Eagles in a game that will shape up the top of the NFC East.

Over in the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts reign supreme.  Yes the Patriots won the Super Bowl last year, but the Colts have not lost a game this year, so let’s stop living in the past.  If one team fits the Super Bowl formula, it is the Colts.  Unlike years past, Tony Dungy has finally molded together a championship defense.  In fact, Dwight Freeney might be the best player in the league.  The offense is very well-rounded, even more so than past seasons.  While Peyton Manning is not putting up otherworldly numbers, he still has a QB rating of 98.3.  Moreover, Edgerrin James is having a monster season.  Projected to rush for upwards of 1800+ yards, James is proving he is the premier running back in the NFL today.  The Colts are doing what needs to be done to win, and win they will continue to do.

Next is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Perhaps this is their year with the league so wide open.  Big Ben might just be the most efficient offensive leader in the game, boasting a QB rating of 112.  The Steelers running game is no secret, and will continue to put up big numbers on a weekly basis.  In addition, the Steelers have a championship caliber defense just as they do every year.  It might not be clear to everyone as people are blinded by bias, but Pittsburgh has a championship aura surrounding them right now.  Could this season bring the ring back to the fans?

Similarly to the Colts and Steelers, the Denver Broncos appear to have Super Bowl magic.  With a sound 49-21 victory over the Eagles last Sunday, previous critics of the Broncos are rethinking their ways.  Key to Denver’s success is QB Jake Plummer who has a QB rating of 91, and has only thrown 3 interceptions so far.  Simply, Jake Plummer is not screwing up.  He isn’t making Jake moves to lose games.  Moreover, the rushing attack featuring Mike Anderson who always puts up numbers, and Tatum Bell the homerun slugger, is the best rushing combo in the NFL.  Both are projected to rush for 1,000 yards, an amazing feat.  A good match to their potent offense is the strong defense who is playing just as well as any other D in the league.  If Champ Bailey can get back to 100%, the Broncos will be sitting pretty.

You know what’s scary?  The teams not mentioned.  Are the Eagles, Seahawks, Cowboys, or Rams going to lie down?  Are the Patriots, Bengals, Jaguars, or Chargers going to lie down?  Of course not.  This is going to be a battle the likes of which we may have never seen before.  The dominant teams used to be obvious, but those lines are blurring this year and nothing is clear cut.  In short, the Super Bowl title is really up for grabs this year.  Strap yourselves in; this one is only going to get better as each week passes.

One reply on “This One Could Get Exciting”

awesome article good article man. Yea, that 36-0 blanking of the Redskins definetly boosted the morale of the Giants defense.

Oh, and I think it’s Dungy. Just a little thing.

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