by Matt Bowen
October 13, 02010
After watching the Jets play on Monday night and posting our weekly NFP Power Rankings yesterday, I started to think about the NFL landscape after five weeks of the 2010 season. The question I have—and one that I think is good for discussion—is simple: is the AFC clearly the best football in the NFL?
I played seven seasons in the NFL—six in the NFC before finished out my career in Buffalo. I remember sitting next to current Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell back when he was running the defense for the Bills on a free agent visit to Orchard Park. A typical football conversation. Schemes, players, X’s and O’s, etc.
But, I always go back to one thing that he told me: “AFC football is more physical.”
ICONPittsburgh's Troy Polamalu.
Isn’t that still the case right now? Forget numbers, yards per game and all the other stats that we can throw on a page. I am talking about basic physical football.And that physical brand exists in the AFC: Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh. Three clubs that can line up and whip you all afternoon on a Sunday.
Similar styles on defense. Stop the run, use multiple looks and game plan with complex—even exotic—pressure schemes. Names like Lewis, Polamalu, Revis, Suggs, Harrison, etc. Even back when I played, the offseason was spent watching tape of Dick LeBeau’s defense in Pittsburgh. Try to understand their schemes and techniques. Watch their execution and copy their style. Implement their playbook into yours.
On offense, three teams that can run the ball. Ray Rice in Baltimore. L.T. and Shonn Green in New York. Rashard Mendenhall in Pittsburgh. At quarterback, two young players in Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez who continue to show signs of development on the field and a Pro Bowler returning to the lineup with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.
Complete football teams, who can also cover the field in the kicking game.
The NFC? Was a conference based on offense back in my career—and hasn’t changed much. The west coast system. Wide open schemes. Yes, there is good defensive football in the NFC, even more so this season. Chicago, Minnesota, Washington, New Orleans and the New York Giants. Defenses that can tackle, rush the passer and do play a physcial style. But, that isn’t enough for me when we stack them up against the AFC’s top dogs.
I want to see suffocating defenses on Sunday. Quarterbacks who have to eat the ball or consistently throw off of that back foot into coverage. Cover 0 blitz packages. Offenses that can control the clock and put a game away in the fourth quarter picking up first downs on the ground and using play action.
The same reasons I want to see Baltimore play Pittsburgh and watch the Jets in primetime. It isn’t the personality of Rex Ryan or the pregame hype supplied by Ray Lewis. I am talking about the football on the field. Maybe I am a little old school and love watching defensive football and the running game on offense. But the way I see it, the AFC offers the best football in the league.
Am I on to something here? You tell me….
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