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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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  • Rick Stroud and Greg Auman

Does NFC’s 2017 dominance over AFC point to Super Bowl?

All of the NFL's non-conference games have been played, and the final score shows the NFC dominating its AFC opponents, going 41-23 in head-to-head meetings.

Does that have any bearing on which side of the NFL might produce this year's Super Bowl champion? In three of the last four seasons, the conference to win the overall regular-season series has also produced the Super Bowl champion, even though that advantage has alternated sides each year.

The AFC went 33-30-1 last year against the NFC and saw the Patriots win a title, but the NFC went 35-29 in 2015 and still lost to the Broncos. The AFC had a 33-30-1 edge in 2014 and the Patriots won, and the NFC had a 34-30 edge in 2013 and the Seahawks won. Over the past 15 years, save one season with a 32-32 split, the conference with the winning regular-season record is 9-5 in the Super Bowl.

Now, about that 41-23 domination in the regular season — of the 16 NFC teams each playing four games against AFC opponents, only two had losing records — the Lions and Falcons each went 1-3. Three NFC teams went 4-0 against the AFC — the Panthers and Rams both did, and surprisingly, so did the Bears, who swept the AFC North while going 1-10 against NFC teams.

No AFC teams went 4-0 against the NFC, but three went 3-1 — the Patriots, Steelers and Chargers. Even the Bucs went 2-2 against the AFC, beating the Dolphins and Jets, while going 2-9 so far against NFC opponents.

It's the most lopsided the NFL has seen its inter-conference rivalry since 2004, when the AFC went 44-20 against the NFC, with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. Five AFC teams went 4-0 against the NFC that season and another five went 3-1.

This year, the NFC could have a 10-6 team miss the playoffs if the Falcons and Seahawks both win this weekend, while the AFC could still have an 8-8 team make the cut.

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