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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - DEC. 17

By Joe Nelson
Posted 12/18/2012 at 02:16 PM

It has been basically even money in a proposition bet for the Super Bowl with the AFC vs. NFC, obviously not knowing the participants. Many feel the AFC has stronger teams at the top with New England, Denver, and Houston looking like contenders but the recent results certainly make a strong case that the NFC is the much stronger conference. The NFC is now 36-24 S/U vs. the AFC, including going 9-1 S/U and ATS the last two weeks. No AFC team has gone 4-0 in the inter-conference games while potential top seeds in the NFC Atlanta and San Francisco both have swept their games against the AFC. None of the four likely division winners in the AFC have wins over a NFC team that would make the playoffs at this point as the Colts and Bengals are the only AFC teams that would make the playoffs that have defeated a NFC playoff team. Those standings can certainly shift but it certainly makes the case that the NFC is the stronger conference, although it is easy to see the AFC team being favored in many Super Bowl match-ups. According to the Sagarin ratings three of the top four teams in the NFL are in the AFC, but all seven of the other top 10 teams are in the NFC.

               

This is also a rare NFL season where with two weeks to go, no team is locked into its playoff position yet. Seven teams are assured a spot in the tournament but no team has clinched a top 2 protected seed yet so all the top teams should be playing with incentives this week. It is very possible that that could still be the case next week as there won’t likely be many teams that won’t have a reason to play its starters next week and the final week could get very interesting if Atlanta would happen to lose on Saturday as potentially there could still be mobility at almost every position.

               

In the first 14 weeks of the NFL season there had been just two shutout wins all season long but there were three shutouts on Sunday with the Falcons crushing the Giants and incredibly two of the worst defensive teams in the league, the Saints and Raiders also pitching shutouts. Last season there was only one regular season game all year in which a team scored at least 50 points. This season seven times has a team posted 50 or more including incredibly the Seahawks doing it the last two weeks. Pete Carroll famously was irked with Jim Harbaugh running up the score against USC when both coaches were in the Pac-10 but he had no problem calling passing plays late against Arizona and going through with a fake punt with a huge lead late last week against Buffalo.

               

The bowl season got off to a wild start with Arizona scoring two touchdowns in the final minute to deliver a one-point comeback win in a game that featured 97 points. Utah State won 41-15 against Toledo in a game that was anything but a blowout as the Aggies led by just four points with less than seven minutes to go in the game before scoring four touchdowns in the remaining time left on the clock with a few big plays.

               

While this has been the rare NFL season without an in-season coaching change there are currently 26 FBS college teams that will have a new head coach next season. Six teams are yet to announce a new head coach so there could be even more turnover. 10 programs that are in bowl games have made moves though the coach was fired in just two of those instances. Of those 26 coaches that are leaving, only four were at their school more than six years and only seven were there more than four years. Four years is the average time that those coaches were at their school, less than many of the players. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…

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