With two games remaining in this whacky and lopsided 2010 season, the picture of both conferences – the NFC and AFC – is starting to take shape. The playoff picture is starting to take true form, as all eight divisions fight it out to the bitter end.
When I look at the entire landscape of the league, the two teams playing the best at home are the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. Both teams have long standing home winning streaks with twenty plus victories each. Home field advantage in the playoffs is the key, and allows those teams a shorter road to the promised land.
Based solely off history, these two teams are on track for a huge collision in the 2011 Super Bowl. The Patriots have one of the best head coaches in NFL history in Bill Belichick (even thou Spygate pisses me off). He is a true leader of men. He understands today’s players and how to motivate them. When it comes to personnel, he is a true master of the procurement of NFL draft picks into the future, consistently stacking his draft board with players that fit his scheme. While drafting for value he looks towards need more often to replace aging chunks of the championship foundation.
It is very clear that the AFC road to the Super Bowl must go through snowy New England, MA. The Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are both seasoned in bad weather and cold elements. Indianapolis is a dome team. They are built for the indoors, an undersized fast athletic team that excels on turf and struggles in the cold. The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets bring up the rear and are very capable of playing well in bad weather and have proven that over the years. The buzz team in the AFC, with only two weeks remaining in the season, is the red-hot San Diego Chargers. Philip Rivers is playing like a man possessed and has my vote for the MVP, but he and his teammates struggle in cold weather play, despite a solid running game.
Now let’s take a look at the NFC and the Atlanta Falcons who have already clinched a playoff berth. After Bobby Pertino crapped on owner Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons, the organization hired Mike Smith away from the Jacksonville Jaguars to become the Falcons head coach. He is an energetic coach with a vision and the ability to lead and drive men to the panicle of professional football.
The NFC must go through Atlanta and the Dome in order to make it to Dallas, home of the Super Bowl. One of the toughest and most competitive divisions is the NFC South. The defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints are 10-4 and fighting like hell to get into the tournament, so they have a chance to defend their title. The Chicago Bears will go as Jay Cutler goes. He is a young elite gun-slinger and seasoned professional with very good skills, arm strength and confidence, along with the power running of Matt Forte. The defense is in place and their getting healthy down the stretch.
My pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers, are limping to the finish with their leader and quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined with a concussion. Green Bay is battling Tampa Bay led by Josh Freeman, who may be on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned
Then you have the winner of an NFC West division that is still up for grabs and is the laughing stock and the brunt of jokes around the league. The Rams are working hard on taking the next step in clinching the division, Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers in the LOU. The 49ers are still mathematically alive, and a win against the Rams betters their chances. Seattle has fallen apart at the seams and is looking at a quarterback meltdown right before their eyes.
I feel the picture is clear for both the AFC and NFC. The road to the Super Bowl will be a cold and hard fought battle for the AFC Championship. It will be a warm but hostile environment for the NFC Championship. As of today the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots have the best odds of making it to the 2011 Super Bowl, because of home field advantage. Good Luck gentlemen!