This is the time of the year where some NFL teams get better and others get worse. While some simply replace old mistakes with new mistakes and stay at a standstill. However, the NFL seems to be facing an issue this coming season. There is a massive imbalance in power between the AFC and the NFC. I know what you’re saying, “Lots of AFC teams improved this off season. It will be better.” I won’t disagree. The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets finally found potential franchise quarterbacks (for the 1,600th time) and the Los Angeles Chargers had one of the strongest drafts grabbing Derwin James, who many saw as a top five prospect. However, he fell to them at pick 17. The NFC houses two forces that look like they could be NFL super teams.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams are scary and it doesn’t seem like there’s a team that could compete with the level of talent on these rosters right now.
Just for reference, the Eagles are looking at their offensive triplets going into next season as being Carson Wentz, Jay Ajayi, and Alshon Jeffery while the Rams have Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Brandin Cooks. These two teams have plenty of things in common. Strong defenses, (e.g. Fletcher Cox versus Aaron Donald, a linebacker core of Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, and Nigel Bradham versus a cornerback group of Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Nickell Robey-Coleman) offensive geniuses/aggressive playcallers in Doug Pederson and Sean McVay, and general managers in Howie Roseman and Les Snead who have found a way to manipulate the undervaluation of players in the trade market and get better.
Ever since Jeff Fisher left the Rams, Snead spread his wings and took off. He’s mastered the art of being a GM in the NFL. His coach was the only thing holding him back. For example, the Rams traded away a 2018 fourth round pick and 2018 second round pick to receive Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs and a 2019 sixth round pick. They also received Talib from the Denver Broncos for a 2018 fifth round pick. That’s two potentially top 10 corners for a second, fourth, and fifth round pick in this past draft. Despite the fact that both of these corners have reported character issues and one of the two (Talib) is 32 years old, that haul for what they gave up is highway robbery.
The Rams also traded away a 2018 first and sixth round pick and received Cooks and a 2018 fourth round pick from the New England Patriots. This got them a wide receiver better than the one that left in free agency in Sammy Watkins and a bonafide number one target.
Roseman is no different. During this past season he traded for Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins for just a 2018 fourth round pick. That trade gave them a potential lead back for essentially pocket change.
The Eagles also landed defensive end Michael Bennett and a 2018 seventh round pick for a 2018 fifth round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson. They got a star defensive end practically for free. He experienced a rough year in 2017 and still recorded 8.5 sacks. He has notable character concerns, but the trade value is so low that if he pans out, the risk ends up being worth it.
All that being said, the Eagles and Rams are out here building super teams while the rest of the league watches. Pair that with the Minnesota Vikings who landed quarterback Kirk Cousins this off season, the Green Bay Packers, who will see the return of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the New Orleans Saints who continue to build their new and improved defense, and the San Francisco 49ers who have seemingly found their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo. The NFC is a madhouse full of playoff caliber teams built to make a deep run that can shake out in so many different ways.
Meanwhile, in the AFC, there’s the normal contenders in the Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars who expect to impress once again. Beyond that, there’s not much to be excited about in the conference. No other teams seem primed to make a deep playoff run. The NFC is just inherently more fun and more strong than the AFC and this imbalance in power is something the NFL needs to find a way to somehow fix.