During its 38-year history, the Super Bowl has been largely about the two conferences alternately dominating one another for long stretches. The Steelers' four titles were the centerpiece of an 11--2 run by AFC teams beginning with Super Bowl III. The 49ers and the Cowboys combined for seven championships during the NFC's 13-year streak starting in 1984. Now the AFC is back on top, having won five of the last seven title games.
In every year since their latest roll began, AFC teams have also won the regular-season interconference series--and this year is no different. The AFC is 23-14 in games against NFC teams. While the Eagles (2-1 versus AFC teams) are undoubtedly among the NFL's premier teams, what other NFC team is in that company? The Falcons, who lost 56-10 to the 3-6 Chiefs? Or the Packers, who early in the season lost four straight, including two to AFC clubs? Unless Philadelphia gets to the Super Bowl, expect the AFC champion to be a heavy favorite--again.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Colts' Peyton Manning is on pace to throw 55 touchdown passes this season, which would shatter Dan Marino's NFL record of 48 (set in 1984). Just as impressive is Manning's plus25 TD-to-interception ratio (31-6). Through nine games in '84, Marino was at plus19 (27-8).
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Green Bay at Houston. Having been burned for 554 passing yards and nine touchdowns by the Broncos' Jake Plummer and the Colts' Peyton Manning in the last two games, the Texans play host to Brett Favre and the red-hot Packers. Among the prize possessions in Houston cornerback Aaron Glenn's home is the ball he intercepted off Dan Marino and returned 100 yards for a TD in 1996, as a member of the Jets. Now he wants another one. "An interception off Brett, I would definitely keep," says Glenn (above), who has 33 career pickoffs, but none against Favre.
1. Don't lay all the blame for the Dolphins' failings on recently departed coach Dave Wannstedt (left). More deserving is owner Wayne Huizenga, who didn't have the gumption to change coaches after missing the playoffs in the last two years. Instead, Huizenga gave Wannstedt a two-year contract extension last December.
2. The first team in line for free-agent-to-be running back LaMont Jordan of the Jets? The Raiders. Three times before the trading deadline, Oakland tried to pry Jordan from New York but failed.
3. If the Steelers' James Farrior doesn't make the Pro Bowl, something is wrong. He's not only a tremendous open-field tackler, but also among the top three on his team in tackles, sacks, interceptions and fumble recoveries.
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, every week at SI.com/football.
MIKE STOCKTON/NFL PHOTOS/AP (LOMBARDI TROPHY)
BRIAN SPURLOCK/US PRESSWIRE (MANNING)
BRIAN BAHR/GETTY IMAGES (GLENN)