With the Arizona Cardinals clinching a playoff spot for the second year in a row and joining the Carolina Panthers as the only teams in the league to actually do so at the moment of these words being typed, we’ve pretty much basically included the only two teams from the conference who can win the Super Bowl.
But what about the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and someone from the NFC East? Well, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles could be something of a problem when it comes down to one-game-or-you’re-out because of their offenses, but even though we haven’t seen the Cards or the Panthers do anything for a very long time, they have the balance on both sides of the ball to finally make a deep playoff run. The Panthers were the one standing in the way of the Cardinals last season, although Arizona were playing with a backup quarterback in that game.
And the Seahawks? Maybe they’re the 2.5 team on this short list. Their defense can shut down teams, Russell Wilson is in incredible form right now and they haven’t lost a step since Thomas Rawls completely took over the role of Marshawn Lynch. So why not? Maybe it’s more of a gut feeling and focusing on the first nine games they had this season. Good teams don’t bend to them, and their defense, even with some impressive performances from time to time, just isn’t the same that it used to be during its two Super Bowl runs.
This brings us to the Packers and Vikings, two 8 win teams. The Vikings have a quarterback who isn’t good enough to be either trusted by his head coach and mostly by his leading running back, who seems to be calling all the plays, or defining the spirit of this offense with his comments to the media. As good as their defense has been, their offensive line isn’t good enough to make a good season turn into a wonderful one. And the Packers? As good as Aaron Rodgers is, having Mike McCarthy on the sidelines, not being able to trust your running back and missing your best receiver is going to end up costing them in another postseason.
So we’re down to two. Why the Cardinals and Panthers? Both teams have top 3 offenses in terms of scoring points, both teams have a top 10 defense in terms of giving up points. The Panthers have found a way to play around Cam Newton’s strength and allow him to be himself, passing or running the ball. The Cardinals did the same with Carson Palmer, hiding his flaws on most nights. It should be enough to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? But title rings? May not come to this conference.