Is the AFC or the NFC the NFL’s Best Conference?

Only one team from either conference has clinched a playoff spot

The National Football League logo on the field.
What's the best conference in the NFL this season?
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With four weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, there are only three teams that know their playoff destinies for this year. The San Francisco 49ers, 10-3, are in. The Carolina Panthers (1-12) and the New England Patriots (3-10) are out. What that means is the postseason fate of the NFL’s 29 other teams is undecided.

Of course, teams like the Titans (5-8) in the AFC and the Giants (5-8) in the NFC are much likelier playing for draft position rather than playoff seeding, but, then again, both Tennessee and New York pulled off major upsets during Monday Night Football’s doubleheader and are both still alive in their respective conferences.

With only the Patriots and Panthers officially eliminated from postseason contention, the 30 teams in the AFC and NFC all theoretically have something to play for. What’s interesting is how much easier it will be for teams in the NFC to make the playoffs than it will be for AFC squads to make the NFL’s postseason.

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Following Week 14, the AFC has 11 teams with winning records, whereas the NFC has 11 teams with losing records. With seven playoff spots still up for grabs in the AFC, there are six teams with a record of 7-6 (Steelers, Colts, Texans, Broncos, Bengals and Bills) that are probably competing for the final two postseason bids in the conference. (The NFC’s Vikings are also 7-6.)

In the NFC, with only a single playoff position locked up, there are also six teams with identical records that are probably in the running for two spots, but the Buccaneers, Packers, Rams, Seahawks, Falcons and Saints are all 6-7. “There’s plenty of parity in the NFL this season, with 13 teams at either 6-7 or 7-6,” according to ProFootballTalk. “But there’s not much parity between the two conferences. The AFC is a whole lot better than the NFC.”

On the whole, that might be correct. However, although the bottom of the NFC may be light on talent (and the NFC South may be devoid of it altogether), the conference may have the three best teams in the league right now — the 49ers, Cowboys and Eagles are all 10-3. In the AFC, only the Baltimore Ravens have hit that mark with four weeks left to play. That being the case, the AFC may be the superior conference on the whole, but the NFC has a better shot of providing the Super Bowl champ in the NFL. For now, the 49ers are an overwhelming favorite to win it all.

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