You'd think that football analysts would have sprained a few ankles now, what with all the bandwagons they've been jumping on and off the past few weeks. It's a truly sad sight, and you get the impression that no one really knows who to "buy into" these days. We just know one thing: it's not the Falcons.
So, let's look at what week 13 taught us about each of the "bestest evar" NFC teams, to see if we can help the media out.
To the dismay of lazy writers everywhere, the best team in the NFC lost on Sunday. To the 5-6-1 Rams. Their offense managed to put up all of 13 points against the Rams and they went into their second straight overtime with the St. Louis club.
So, what does this mean for the 49ers? Well, for starters, it will be harder for them to compete for the #1 seed. It also means that on Sunday, they weren't the best team on the field. Are they the best team in the NFC? Would the team that lost to the Rams have been able to beat the Giants or Bears or Packers or Falcons? One game does not a season make, but this team is 8-3-1. They can still finish with an impressive record if they run the table, but it's hard to argue that they are clearly the best team in the NFC.
So, according to the media, Jay Cutler is the MVP of the this ball club - though thankfully, I didn't hear anyone refer to him as a true MVP candidate. But the real talk of the Bears is their dominating, world-beaters defense. The same defense that allowed a rookie QB to come into their house and beat them.
For all the talk of how the Falcons have not beat anyone impressive, it's amazing how the Bears dodge this criticism. They are now 0-4 against teams with a winning record (as of week 13). That said, the Bears can finish strong and have a realistic shot at either a 12-4 or 13-3 record, which is nothing to sneeze at. But until they beat a team that has a winning record, I think it only fair to say that they are not the best team in the NFC.
Aaron Rodgers is a great QB - an elite one, even. His season last year was amazing, and he's put together a strong campaign this year. However, while they're sitting in good position at 8-4, there are still questions about this team.
The game against the Giants was all sorts of ugly, and the health of the Packers club looks to be a concern. Missing multiple players on both sides of the ball has finally caught up to GB. That said, they're still winning most games and they've looked good in many of their wins. You can expect the media to begin jumping back on the Packers band-wagon soon, if they haven't already. And if they get all their guys healthy going into the post-season, it would be hard to argue against the Packers being one of the best - if not THE best in the NFC.
You'd think that the defending world champs would get more respect, but the truth is that the Giants have never been a great regular season club. And that trend continues as the Giants dropped a game to the "red hot" Redskins last night. Granted, the game was on the road and against an up and coming superstart QB, but this is a Redskins team that came into the night at 5-6. The world champs should be able to beat a 5-6 team, especially when it is a division foe and has playoff implications.
That said, the Giants did shellack the 49ers in San Fran earlier in the season and they man-handled the Packers at home last week. But at 7-5, it's pretty apparent that this team CAN be beat. Are they the best team in the NFC? I don't think you can call a 7-5 team that.
You'll notice that I did not include a few of the fringe clubs, such as the Seahawks, Bucs or Redskins. While I do think those teams can surprise someone in the playoffs, it's very hard to argue that any of those teams is currently the best in the NFC.
What about the Falcons? Well, the truth is they have one distinction that sets them apart from the remaining teams: they have the best record. But our Falcons have had another season that has confounded us and made us wonder if they're built as much on luck as they are on talent. To that point, though, it should be a scary thought to the rest of the NFL that the Falcons have not played a complete game yet, and they're still 11-1. I think we'd all agree that if all 3 phases come together for the Falcons at once, there's not a team in the league that they can't beat.
What do you think? Are the Falcons the best team in the NFC? The Packers? Giants? Bears? 49ers? Can we even say that there IS a best team in the NFC at this point?