Sometime in November, I wrote here on Blue Star that, in the NFC, there are the Saints and the Vikings, and then there is everyone else. This, of course, is an idiotic thing to say, given that things in the NFL can change from week to week. Both New Orleans and Minnesota appeared dominant over the first three months of the season, so much so that I wasn’t the only one to think that winning the NFC East was something of a moot point.
That’s all changed now. The Saints and Vikings have both had rotten months. And wouldn’t you know it, they’re playing their worst football just as the two NFC East playoff teams – Dallas and Philly – are playing arguably their best.
But that’s not all. Also in the playoffs in the NFC are Green Bay, who have won six of seven, and defending NFC champ Arizona, who can be inconsistent, but can also bust out ’99 Warner and ruin your day at any given time. What we have then is not a two-team race for the NFC title, but rather a full six-team clusterfudge. If you had to stake everything you had on one of these teams winning the conference, who would you pick? Could you say with any certainty anymore that you feel great about one team’s chances in this mess? It almost feels like even odds for every team across the board.
That’s a very good sign for a Dallas team trying to unload the burdens of failed seasons past. With the fall of Brees and Favre, it almost feels like the weather has cleared and given every other team in this top-heavy conference a chance to make a bid for the summit. I had an argument a while back with Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, who worries that the recent run of playoff success by the likes of the ’08 Cardinals and the ’07 Giants are a sign that the NFL regular season isn’t as meaningful as it used to be. I argued that the playoffs are better when every team participating appears to be a legitimate threat to win it all. That’s exactly what appears to be happening right now in the NFC, and that’s quite a nice thing if you’re a Dallas fan.