NFL All-Conference Championship AFC/NFC Composite Team
It is the weekend of the NFL Conference Championship games and arguably only the four best teams in the league remain. So, for a bit of fun, we decided to create the ultimate AFC/NFC composite team by asking which conference has the best units by position?
By Max Saito
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With the 2021 edition of the Big Game On The First Sunday Of February rapidly approaching, we ask what a dream team comprised of the best of the best from both conferences would look like. It’s worth noting that I didn’t consider injured players for this list, so All-Pro talents like David Bakhtiari and Mitchell Schwartz are not included.
Quarterback: NFC - Aaron Rodgers, AFC - Patrick Mahomes
The most important position on the team may also be the hardest decision. Aaron Rodgers is almost certain to be crowned the league’s MVP for 2020 and has played at a level that has been almost unthinkable this year. Unfortunately for A-a-ron, the only quarterback that we have ever seen play at this level is the man representing the AFC. If I was picking this team purely based on this year, I would have definitely picked Rodgers, but I can’t bet against Mahomes in the playoffs until I have a reason to.
Running back: NFC - Aaron Jones, AFC - Clyde Edwards-Helaire
This choice was quite straight forward. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a promising rookie and has given an incredibly diverse offence in Kansas City yet another dimension. However, CEH does not stack up against Aaron Jones, who has spear-headed a resurgent Packers ground game this season. Jones is a threat on runs and passes and has shown an uncanny ability to hit a home run in the biggest spots.
Wide receivers: NFC - Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, AFC - Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley
If not for two-and-a-half missed games, Davante Adams may well have put together the best ever season for a wide receiver in the NFL, and his connection with Rodgers is fast-reaching almost mythical levels of chemistry. However, the next two best wide receivers in the league this year will both be lining up for their teams in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, and both are significantly better than either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin, who are in themselves elite threats. Cole Beasley is my third choice for the AFC, as he has been more consistent and effective this year than Sammy Watkins.
Tight end: NFC - Robert Tonyan, AFC - Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce has spent a lot of his career playing second fiddle to Rob Gronkowski and George Kittle, but he has authored a season well worthy of Offensive Player of the Year consideration in 2020. Kittle’s training partner Tonyan has been a revelation in Green Bay this year, grabbing 11 TDs, but he truthfully is not in the same tier as Kelce right now.
Offensive line: NFC - Donovan Smith, Elgton Jenkins, Corey Linsley, Billy Turner, Tristan Wirfs, AFC - Eric Fisher, Jon Feliciano, Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie, Daryl Williams
The NFC offensive line is better than the AFC offensive line in every single position. The Buccaneer bookends include the solid Smith and the outstanding rookie Wirfs. The interior line includes All-Pro center Linsley, and two guards in Jenkins and Turner who held the #1 defense in the league to no sacks and one QB hit in the Divisional Round.
Defensive Interior Line: NFC - Kenny Clark, Vita Vea, AFC - Chris Jones, Ed Oliver
Although Vea is only expected to return in limited fashion for this week, his dominance earlier in the year was enough to put the NFC duo over the top. Vea may be the best run stopper in the league, and Kenny Clark gave Jared Goff fits the last time we saw him. Chris Jones may be the best non-Donald interior lineman in the league, but the NFC wins out on balance.
Edge Rushers: NFC - Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, AFC - Frank Clark, Jerry Hughes
Without the domineering presence of Vea at nose tackle, Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett have combined for no sacks since December 13th. Preston and Za’Darius Smith have been strong starters, but have not reached the heights of 2019, so Clark and Hughes get the nod. Frank Clark has been pretty underwhelming this year, but Jerry Hughes props up the AFC as one of the most underrated players on this team and is hitting his stride at the right time.
Linebackers: NFC - Devin White, Christian Kirksey, Lavonte David, AFC - Matt Milano, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson
Both AFC teams play a 4-3 base defense, and both NFC teams use a 3-4 base. This team has a 4-3 base, so the NFC team has multiple players out of position, and yet this position group may be one of the easiest decisions to make. Devin White is one of the league’s premier linebackers, and both Kirksey and David have been very effective when healthy. Fun fact: none of the AFC linebackers have a PFF grade over 54.2 for this year.
Cornerbacks: NFC - Jaire Alexander, Carlton Davis, AFC - L’Jarius Sneed, Tre’Davious White
Jaire Alexander is the man, and was the first cornerback since 2006 to allow negative yards in coverage in a playoff game against the Rams. Quarterbacks simply don’t look his way anymore, and Carlton Davis represents a great option to have lined up on the other side. Tre’Davious White has been an elite cornerback since joining the league but has struggled somewhat in the last few weeks, and Sneed is the fourth best cornerback in this group by some distance.
Safeties: NFC - Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, AFC - Tyrann Mathieu, Micah Hyde
The Packers defense has been lowkey decent in the last month or so, and Amos and Savage have been central in the upturn. However, Tyrann Mathieu and former Packer Micah Hyde are the better duo right now. Mathieu is the backbone of the Chiefs defense with the talent to back up his leadership, and Hyde offers a lot of versatility in his ability to line up across the defensive backfield
Kicker: NFC - Mason Crosby, AFC - Harrison Butker
Mason Crosby is getting on in age now, but I had to pick him for not missing a single field goal this year. He may only have kicked 16 all year, but this is still an achievement. He is also 59 out of 63(!) on extra points.
Punter: NFC - Bradley Pinion, AFC - Corey Bojorquez
Corey Bojorquez leads the league in average yards per punt this year. That’s got to count for something right? #PunterAnalysis
QB: Patrick Mahomes
RB: Aaron Jones WR: Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley TE: Travis Kelce
OL: Donovan Smith, Elgton Jenkins, Corey Linsley, Billy Turner, Tristan Wirfs
DL: Kenny Clark, Vita Vea
EDGE: Frank Clark, Jerry Hughes
LB: Devin White, Christian Kirksey, Lavonte David
CB: Jaire Alexander, Carlton Davis S: Tyrann Mathieu, Micah Hyde
K: Mason Crosby
P: Corey Bojorquez