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Instant Debate

Best NFC team? Packers, Lions and Eagles merit consideration

The NFC is loaded with talented teams, but at the moment, it's hard to identify one true world-beater. While the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals boast the best record in the conference (and the NFL, for that matter), they just lost their starting quarterback for the rest of the season. And the Cards will be tested immediately, with a game against the 7-2 Detroit Lions on Sunday. This isn't the only clash of NFC titans in Week 11, either, as the Green Bay Packers (6-3) are hosting the Philadelphia Eagles (7-2).

All of this begs a simple question: Which is the best team in the NFC?

Here in the Quarterback League, gimme the team with the best quarterback. In other words, I'll take the Packers.

If the playoffs started today, Aaron Rodgers & Co. would be watching them on TV. As it happens, though, the playoffs are NOT starting today. By the time they do, I expect the road to the Super Bowl to run through Lambeau. The offense is otherworldly and the defense is sound (... and occasionally even dynamic, like Clay Matthews showed on Sunday night).

Cynics will point to Green Bay's three losses, but take a closer look at those games. NO ONE was going into C-Link for the Seahawks' season-opening coronation and coming out with a win. Another loss came in the NFL's second-toughest road environment, NOLA, and that one comes with the asterisk of "What would've happened had Rodgers not pulled a hammy?" The surprisingly rugged Lions held court in Detroit, but the Pack will return the favor over the holidays. Then they'll dispatch the next two teams who pay them a visit in January before heading to Glendale, Arizona, for a Feb. 1 appointment. The most complete team in the NFC is the Detroit Lions. Jim Caldwell's squad features the top defense in football and has the necessary offensive components (talented QB, dynamic playmakers, solid offensive line) to go toe-to-toe with any team in the NFC. Additionally, the Lions are an adaptable team capable of playing rugged, low-scoring games or fast-paced shootouts. As a result, this team is built to make a deep postseason run as the top seed in the conference.

If the Lions can keep Matthew Stafford healthy and upright in the pocket, Detroit could be the home of the NFC's Super Bowl representative. The Packers are heating up at the right time.

Since Week 4, they've gone 5-1 and ripped the Vikings by 32, sunk the Panthers by 21 and thrashed the Bears by 21 and 41 points. Aaron Rodgers is operating at an MVP level. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson have combined for more receiving scores (18) than any WR duo in the NFL this season. The defense, meanwhile, is beginning to tighten the vice.

Green Bay was wacked by Seattle in the opener, but that was months ago. Barring disaster, the Packers are headed for Super Bowl XLIX. This answer can change week to week. I think it is a wide open race to the Super Bowl. This Sunday's game between Green Bay and Philadelphia features the two best teams in the NFC at this point, in my opinion.

Looking at the other conference powers ... Even with the injury to Carson Palmer, Arizona will still be tough. The defense is stout, and Drew Stanton will do a solid job at QB -- but the lack of a consistent run game will eventually hurt the Cards. The Seahawks might be getting into a groove with their running game -- and they still have two games apiece against the Cardinals and 49ers, which could allow Seattle to re-establish itself as a true juggernaut. The 49ers will be tough because of their steady play on defense, but they still have no consistency on offense. Detroit's defense is excellent, but the Lions' offense continues to leave something to be desired.

Meanwhile, Philly and Green Bay have been fairly consistent on offense all year. I'd put the Eagles' defense slightly ahead of Green Bay's unit. Thus, today, I believe Philadelphia is the best team in the NFC. Next week? Who knows. We're about three weeks away from people realizing how devastating Carson Palmer's knee injury was to the Cardinals' Super Bowl hopes. The 49ers have to find a way to survive without Patrick Willis, the soul of their defense the last eight years. The Seahawks have clearly taken a step back -- inconsistent on offense and not nearly as dominant on defense. Are you ready to sign off on a Mark Sanchez Super Bowl run?

The answer here is the Green Bay Packers. This is a complete, well-coached team led by the greatest quarterback on the planet. The NFC will go through Lambeau.

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