In the past 10 years, 10 of the 16 NFC teams have represented their conference in the Super Bowl. Only San Francisco, Dallas, Minnesota, Atlanta, Washington, and Detroit have failed to make it to the league’s championship game in the last decade. Contrast that with the AFC, where three teams have accounted for 9 of the last 10 AFC Championships. Pittsburgh, New England, and Indianapolis all have made multiple trips to the Super Bowl and have all been World Champions.
The NFL is designed to promote parity among its teams. The rotating schedule makes the path easier for teams that finish at the bottom of their division, as the Bengals did in 2010. Replacing New England (12-4), San Diego (9-7), and the Jets (11-5) on the Bengals schedule this season are the Broncos (4-12), Titans (6-10), and Texans (6-10). The league draft also favors losing teams and even gives tiebreakers to the team with the easier schedule, as evidenced by Denver and Buffalo picking before us in the 1st round of this year’s draft. Parity should be within our grasp, but it is not.
Why have Indianapolis, New England, and Pittsburgh dominated the AFC in the past decade? They all have built their teams largely through the draft, they have strong defenses, and Manning, Brady, and Roethlisberger find ways to win in the key moments of big games. The Bengals have drafted most of their starters on both sides of the ball. Their defense ranked #15 in 2010 in total defense after finishing #4 in 2009 and #12 in 2008. The Achilles Heel seems to be the play of Carson Palmer (not to be confused with our last Akili’s heel). It’s time the Bengals find a quarterback with a passion for winning, as opposed to a burning desire to leave town.