Berry Tramel

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NFL: Surprise! The AFC rules in interconference play

by Berry Tramel Modified: September 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm •  Published: September 30, 2013
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Dunta Robinson (21) celebrates a fumble recovery with defensive back Husain Abdullah (39) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Dunta Robinson (21) celebrates a fumble recovery with defensive back Husain Abdullah (39) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 15. Then KC beat the Eagles four days later. Sunday, KC beat the New York football Giants. The previously-woeful Chiefs are 3-0 against the NFC East, and if you want to chalk it up to old fox Andy Reid just knowing his long-time rivals in the NFL’s most famous division, fine.

But how do you explain the rest of the AFC dominance? The AFC is 14-5 in interconference play so far, with only the Miami-New Orleans game Monday night to finish off four weeks of the season.

Going into September, the common belief was that the NFC clearly was superior. The NFC West was deep. The NFC South had two Super Bowl contenders. The NFC North was deep. The NFC East was the NFC East. Meanwhile, the AFC was rife with lightweights — KC, San Diego, Oakland, Cleveland, Buffalo, the Jets, Tennessee, Jacksonville. Those eight teams are 7-2 against the NFC.

Maybe the trend won’t continue. Maybe the NFC will find its footing and start playing like the NFC is supposed to play. But a couple of words of warning. The NFC already has two interconference victories from Seattle, its best team, and a victory over Jacksonville, the AFC’s sad sack. There are 64 interconference matchups per year, and we’ve already had 19. That’s 30 percent.

What that means math-wise is that it likely will require more wins to make the playoffs in the AFC than in the NFC. Doesn’t guarantee, but it’s likely. A 10-6 instead of a 9-7. Something like that.

Through four weeks, only four NFC teams have winning records: Seattle 4-0, New Orleans 3-0, Detroit 3-1 and Chicago 3-1. Now, San Francisco will get there, no doubt. Green Bay, too. But who else gets you excited, and by that I don’t mean you should be excited about the Lions.

Meanwhile, the AFC has six winning records — New England 4-0, Denver 4-0, Kansas City 4-0, Miami 3-0, Indianapolis 3-1 and Tennessee 3-1 — and seven teams at 2-2. Only three AFC teams have a losing record, and one of them is Pittsburgh at 0-4.

It’s too early to say the balance of power has shifted. But it’s clearly shifting.

 


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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