By: Drew Marshall
As this year’s NFL playoffs are set to begin, different teams are representing years of growing success, while others show signs of withering defeat. Several teams made their first playoff appearance in a few years, including the Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. However, with the success of these teams, others have failed. It seems as though the continuous trials by many teams in the NFL have paid off, and these playoffs will be their opportunity to show how far they have progressed.
There are, of course, a few teams that are regulars to the playoffs. The Steelers, Ravens and Patriots make up the strongest AFC contenders. These teams have made their presence known, and it seems that all three are strong competitors against the talent of the NFC this season. Along with these three veteran teams, inexperienced Denver has been led to the postseason behind the strong play of quarterback Tim Tebow. This will be the first trip for the Broncos since 2005, and they face the same Steelers team this year. Pittsburgh is heavily favored in the matchup, coming in with a 12-5 record, to Denver’s 8-8 mark. The AFC usually is seen as the stronger league, but the NFC will be certain to bring challenges this year.
The NFC brings in strong contenders in the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. Both of these teams have won Super Bowls in recent years, and they are two of the top three seeds this season. The second seed belongs to newcomer San Francisco, led by running back Frank Gore and quarterback Alex Smith to a 13-3 record. The NFC will certainly challenge the perennial powerhouses of the AFC, and they may even be able to rewrite the subservient stereotype their league has experienced for some time.
While the playoffs are enticing, the teams that failed are facing the same toils, as managers and coaches try to determine what went wrong. One team that defines this defeat is the Dallas Cowboys, who lost a season ending game to divisional rival Giants that cost them a playoff spot. Though the failure strikes deep in the franchise, owner Jerry Jones is still confident in his team’s ability and believes they would have been able to go far, if they had made the playoffs. “More often than not, when you’re in the kind of shape we are statistically, you’re doing better in the playoffs,” Jones stated.
This postseason has the potential to change the NFL preview forever. No longer will teams such as Houston or Cincinnati be counted out because of their poor history. Teams that have historically been bad have now grown into a threat through years of rebuilding. Powerhouses are dwindling, mostly shown in the Colts’ fall from power without quarterback Peyton Manning. The NFL has proven that success cannot last forever, and each team must make decisions that will help their franchise, today and in the coming years.