With so much parity, who will meet in Super Bowl?


Dan Pompei

Chicago Tribune

This isn't one of those years when there are clear favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. Instead there is a pack of strong teams in each conference.

In the AFC, it's the Patriots, Jets, Steelers, Chiefs and Ravens, and you have to throw in the Chargers too because of the way they have been playing lately. In the NFC, it's the Falcons, Saints, Bears, Eagles, Giants and Packers.

The closest thing the league has to a runaway train is the Falcons, so they should be the NFC favorite at this point. They are healthy, hot and 19-1 at home with Matt Ryan as their quarterback.

In the AFC, the most well-rounded team could be the Jets. Their formula of pairing strong defense with a powerful running game could make them stronger as the season wears on.



Sam Farmer

Los Angeles Times

I still like my preseason pick of Ravens-Packers, but given the chance to revise that, I'd lean toward the Patriots in the AFC because of Tom Brady's experience and the likelihood they will clinch home-field advantage.

It's hard not to like how the Chargers are surging, but they need to prove they can get it done in the postseason in a bitter-cold place such as Foxborough or Pittsburgh. In the NFC, the Eagles have been impressive for stretches but were soundly beaten by the Bears, a team I'm not convinced can beat good teams week after week.

The most complete team looks to be the Falcons, who are deadly at home, where Matt Ryan is 19-1 as a starter. If the Patriots and Falcons can tie up home-field advantage, they're the best bets to wind up squaring off in Dallas.



Ken Murray

Baltimore Sun

In the AFC, I discount the Patriots because of their torpid defense. The Chargers are making a late run but always find a way to blow a home game. Scratch them. There's something missing with the Ravens that defies logic, and they can't master the fourth quarter, so they're out. The Steelers have suffered too many injuries. That leaves the Jets, destiny's darlings. Rex Ryan's boys have his back, at least this year.

In the NFC, I still like the Packers, but the Falcons are hard to beat in the Georgia Dome, as Green Bay found out Sunday. The Eagles have an outside chance if Michael Vick stays on course. The Packers still have to climb over the Bears in their division. If the Falcons can get through a three-game road streak next, they'll get home field. And it'll be good enough to get them to the Super Bowl.



Joe Schwerdt

Sun Sentinel

When the Jets and Patriots meet Monday night in Foxborough, Mass., it will have nothing to do with parity.

It will have every- thing to do with who represents the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Sure, parity allowed the Browns to thump the Patriots by 20. And parity was a factor when the Jets struggled against the Lions and Bengals.

But if parity is the AFC South, you can have it.

The Jets will prevail Monday because they are not only good, but also maybe the luckiest team ever.

In the NFC, the West has given parity a bad name with two teams tied at 5-6 atop the division. So close it hurts just to watch!

Go east to Atlanta, where the Falcons keep proving how good they are.


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