NFL Pre-Season Predictions- NFC

Posted: 08/31/2013 by levcohen in Football

The season starts on Thursday, and it starts with a bang, with the Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens traveling to Denver for a match-up with the Broncos (the fact that the SB winners open away from home is another controversy, but that is a different story). With that in mind, it’s about time to start predicting how this whole season will turn out, and although I’m sure I’ll be wrong about most of my predictions, it doesn’t hurt to try. Today will be the NFC, with the next post being the AFC.

NFC East:

1. Washington Redskins (9-7): This division, like in previous years, is 100% up for grabs. No team in this division is terrible, but no team will be dominant. With that in mind, I’ll take the team with the best quarterback in the division. Robert Griffin III has been cleared for week one, which seemed inevitable, and he should be at full strength against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. The Redskins don’t have the easiest out of division schedule, as they have to play the Packers, Broncos, and Vikings on the road. Still, they have RG3, and they have Alfred Morris, who is arguably the best running back in the division (LeSean McCoy might have something to say about that). Three things keep me from granting them double digit wins: lack of WR depth (and the #1 WR, Pierre Garcon, is seemingly always injured), lack of QB mobility (RG3 will wear a knee brace, and last year when we wore it his mobility clearly went down), and pass coverage questions (the run defense is good, but the pass defense is suspect).

2. New York Giants (8-8): The Giants always seem to be in the mix, with Eli Manning at quarterback. This year should be no difference. The Giants have a lot of weapons on offense, with young David Wilson (5 YPC as a rookie) leading the running attack and wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz returning. Eli loves throwing to the tight end, and now he has a reliable one in Brandon Myers. But the defense should be average at best. The linebacker group is very suspect, and the injuries are piling up. This looks like no better or worse than an average team.

3. Dallas Cowboys (7-9): Tony Romo is a very good NFL quarterback, but he doesn’t seem to have a huge fan backing, because he is not “clutch”. Well, I don’t think the Cowboys are going to be playing a playoff game this season, so that perception of Romo will probably not change. He does have the weapons to get it done, with stud WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten. But the running game was suspect (at best) last season, and the defense is probably below average. This looks like a seven win team.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9): Now on to the Eagles, the biggest mystery in the NFL this year. Chip Kelly is in Philly, and he promises to bring his high octane Oregon offense with him. I’d bet that sounds pretty good to Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson, but not so much to the secondary, which looks like it will be one of the worst in the NFL. They could put up 40 per game, but they could also allow 40. I like Chip Kelly, but I’m keeping my expectations in check.

NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers (10-6): The Packers lost Greg Jennings, but they still add a ton of offensive weapons and added one more, in former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy. They have the best QB in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. Randall Cobb might catch more passes than any other player. James Jones catches a lot of touchdowns. Jordy Nelson is a deep threat. The offense might be the best in the NFL, and the defense should be adequate enough for the Packers to make the playoffs.

2. Chicago Bears (9-7): The Bears have a new coach, and they have a great defense, even without Brian Urlacher. Plus, they have a top tier receiver (Brandon Marshall) and running back (Matt Forte). They have perhaps the best kick returner in NFL history (Devin Hester). So why is this a nine win team? Because I have no confidence in Jay Cutler. If Cutler were even a top 15 QB, I think the Bears could rival the Packers in the North. But he isn’t, and they probably won’t. Weirder things have happened, though.

3. Detroit Lions (7-9): I expect some improvement from the Lions. They have too much talent not too improve. But I don’t think this is going to be a worst-to-first season for Detroit. Seven wins, like the similarly rebounding Eagles, seems fair enough.

4. Minnesota Vikings (6-10): Six wins for the Vikings?? I know, it seems low. But think about it. This team barely made the playoffs last year, and that was with Adrian Peterson having a totally mind blowing season. I expect regression from Peterson (although you can never be sure with him), and I don’t see the improvement by the rest of the team that will be needed if Minnesota wants to make the playoffs for the second straight year.

NFC South:

1. New Orleans Saints (10-6): I don’t love the defense, but I do think we should give the benefit of the doubt to Drew Brees and this Saints offense, with the bountygate scandal in the rear view mirror.

2. Atlanta Falcons (9-7): I see a little regression coming from Matt Ryan, and with a tougher schedule than last season and perhaps a little less luck, I think this team will be more mediocre than good this year. Still, though, they have the talented trio of pass catchers in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, so this prediction might be a little pessimistic.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8): The trade for Darrelle Revis and the addition of former Niners safety Dashon Goldson really helps this underwhelming pass defense, and they should be pretty good defensively this year. Offensively, they have weapons, with second year running back Doug Martin and stud wide receiver Vincent Jackson leading the way. There are problem areas though. QB Josh Freeman had a terrible preseason, as did the Bucs in general (that influenced my moving down Tampa from 9-7 and second place to 8-8 and third.. That really shows how tight this division is). I’m still hopeful that Freeman and the Bucs put it all together, but I’m skeptical.

4. Carolina Panthers (8-8): Could this be the year that the Panthers break out and make the playoffs with Cam Newton and Luke Keuchly at the helm? Maybe, but I don’t think so. This division is so tough, and the Panthers don’t have very many weapons around Newton (Steve Smith is good, but what else do they have? DeAngelo Williams? Greg Olsen? Brandon LaFell? Not anything teams will be worried about).

NFC West:

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-5): 49ers or Seahawks? You can just flip a coin, because this is going to be an amazing race. The 49ers have a terrific all around team, from Colin Kaepernick to by far the best offensive line in football to one of the two best defenses (with the Seahawks) in football. The reason I don’t have them winning the 13 games that most do is because I’m also a big fan of the Cardinals and Rams. I think one of the two, or maybe even both, can steal a game at home against San Francisco.

2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): The Seahawks and 49ers are very similar. They have terrific all around teams, with slight weaknesses at wide receiver. This will be quite a rivalry. I think the Seahawks finally drop a game at home, and go just 4-4 on the road (how, I don’t know, but I have to even out the wins and losses), but cruise into the playoffs.

3. St. Louis Rams (8-8): The Rams are very overlooked, mostly because of the division that they play in. They added a lot of weapons around Sam Bradford (Tavon Austin and Jared Cook come to mind) and have deep threat Chris Givens returning. The defense isn’t good, but it also won’t be terrible, so why can’t this be an eight win team?

4. Arizona Cardinals (6-10): I don’t hate the Cardinals team. They have a good offense, and they have Larry Fitzgerald, which should be enough for anyone, but most people are predicting 3-4 wins for them. I’ll go a little higher than that, but this looks like the cellar dweller in the West.

  1. philabundant says:

    No team with fewer than six wins or more than eleven?

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