NFC Playoff Preview

Published: Nov 23, 2013 18:15pm EST
By JasonNeal, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Nov 23, 2013 @ 06:26pm EST

 

Last week I posted an AFC preview for the postseason, so today I will post my NFC predictions, although, these are much harder than the AFC was because there are so many more teams that have a chance in the NFC.  As with the AFC, if your team is not listed in this article, please don’t think I forgot about them, instead, blame your teams head coach/general manager because they weren’t able to put a winner on the field, unlike I am with this article.  That being said, heeeeeeeeeeere we go!

Week 12 is upon NFL fans everywhere and this means a few things for most fans.  It could mean your team has juuuuuuust about locked up a playoff spot (New Orleans/Seattle), your team is fighting for a playoff spot (just about everyone else), or your team has entered the sweepstakes for another terrible draft pick that won’t be booed like Donovan McNabb was, but won’t be a difference maker like Cam Newton or Russell Wilson was either.

Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles enter their last five games with a 6-5 record and a mixed bag as far as competition goes from this point forward.  Arizona, Detroit, at Minnesota, Chicago, and at Dallas may not seem daunting, but all five of these teams have severe Jekyll & Hyde syndrome and no one can seem to pick which team will show up which day.  That being said, Nick Foles has thrown 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions since he took over the starting job from Michael Vick this season.  The health of DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and others will be crucial to the Eagles success, but they shouldn’t slip up too much.  I say the Eagles go 3-2 in their final five, ending with a record of 9-7, and stealing the NFC East and the fourth seed in the playoffs. 

Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones said that the mediocre state of affairs that have engulfed the Dallas Cowboys in the past 15 or so years is unacceptable.  Just making it to the playoffs won’t be good enough for good ol’ Jerry, which is a good thing, because they won’t get there this year.  With games at the Giants, Bears, and Redskins and home tilts with Green Bay, Oakland, and Philly, I can’t see them going better than 3-3 in that stretch with a record of 2-4 being more likely.  Romo is a good quarterback, but that is about the nicest thing I can say about the Cowboys this year.  They're last in passing defense, 29th in rush defense, and they aren’t in the top 10 of either category offensively even though they play from behind or in shootouts just about every week.  They have one win against a team above .500, a 17-3 win in week 7 against the Eagles.  Sorry, Dallas.  You’re looking at 8-8 at best and Jerry Jones has committed to Jason Garrett for next season and just threw the bank at Tony Romo for his extension.  It’s a shame how the mighty have fallen.

New York Giants – Tom Coughlin may have had some magic in his playbook in years past, but digging out of a 0-6 hole to start the season is not a very likely scenario.  Eli has improved since throwing 15 interceptions to just nine touchdowns in the first six games this season.  The Giants have rattled off four straight wins against average to poor competition, but their first six losses weren’t against incredible teams.  Eli has thrown three touchdowns and two interceptions during the four game win streak, but with games against the Cowboys, Redskins twice, Chargers, Seahawks, and Lions, it doesn’t seem likely that Big Blue will be making a run at their third Super Bowl since 2007.  I see the Giants beating the Cowboys and Redskins, but outside of that, I think this season might be a sad one with the Giants having a record of 6-10 and a better draft position in April.

Detroit Lions – Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson have enjoyed Reggie Bush being on their sideline this season.  Bush has given the Lions a dimension that they haven’t had in quite a while…since maybe Barry Sanders, which is a game changing running back.  While I am in no way saying that Bush = Sanders, it is hard to quantify how much he has helped this offense being that he can break off a touchdown run at any point and that he is deadly in the pass game as well.  Detroit must have the football gods on their side because they have games with Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and the Giants at Ford Field and get a chance to play at the Eagles and wrap up the regular season playing the Adrian Peterson’s...I mean, the Minnesota Vikings.  Detroit should finish the season 11-5 and win the NFC North, taking the third seed in the NFC Playoffs.

Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler hasn’t been missed as much as many fans thought he would be with Josh McCown going 2-2 with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.  His two losses have been by a combined six points, and regardless of who plays the remaining games, Chicago looks like they could make a serious run at the playoffs just one year after firing Lovie Smith and bringing in Marc Trestman.  Games at St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Philadelphia and home games with Green Bay and Dallas seem to set up well for the Bears.  Even with all the injuries they have experienced, Chicago should end the final stretch with a 10-6 record, fighting to make the playoffs, however, they just miss it as 11-5 seems to be the mark for a Wild Card spot in the NFC.

Green Bay Packers – The Aaron Rodgers injury hurts this team more than any injury has hurt any other team this year.  The Packers are 0-3 since losing Aaron Rodgers against the Chicago Bears and have yet to clear 20 points since the devastating loss.  Before Rodgers went down, the Pack was held to less than 20 points just once; a week 6 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.  Armed with a solid run game and good to great wide receivers, the Green Bay Packers will be ok, but only when Rodgers is back under center.  An alternating home/road schedule featuring Minnesota, at Detroit, Atlanta, at Dallas, Pittsburgh, and at Chicago looks to set Green Bay at a final record of 10-6 and on the outside of the NFC Playoff picture.  At least they’ll have Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall to keep them company.

New Orleans Saints – Sean Payton and Drew Brees are proof enough that marriage between two men shouldn’t be illegal.  The combination of Brees/Payton is one of the best in the NFL and is only rivaled by Brady/Belichick and maybe Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson.  The Saints are 9-2 and still have games with St. Louis and Tampa Bay.  Let’s say they win both of those games and split their contests with Carolina, the Saints are at 12-3.  The last game on their schedule? The Seattle Seahawks. In Seattle. On Monday Night Football.  I say the Saints win this game, and not just because I think Seattle needs some humble pie or because the Saints want revenge for the incident where Marshawn Lynch went BEAST MODE.  The Saints have a much improved defense, a ridiculous offense, and much more experience in big games than the Seattle Seahawks.  I don’t think it is a blowout, but I do think they walk away with a W, a 13-3 record, and a tiebreaker win against the Seahawks for the number one seed in the playoffs.

Carolina Panthers – When the Panthers started the season 1-3 with losses to Seattle, Arizona, and Buffalo, many people thought this was just another season for the Panthers.  After the first four games all Carolina has done is win six straight with wins against the 49ers and Patriots on back to back weeks.  Oh yeah, and they scored 30 or more in four consecutive weeks before meeting San Francisco for their first real test of the season, which they passed with flying colors.  The Panthers still have a home and home with the Saints and games against the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Jets, and Falcons.  If the Panthers finish the season 4-2, they’ll have an 11-5 record and the five seed in the NFC.  I wonder who is going to be on Steve Smith’s trash talk list in the playoffs?

Seattle Seahawks – Seattle is for real.  They have the best home field in all of football and a complete team to match.  Depth is not an issue as evidenced by their plethora of injuries and their stellar 10-1 record to this point.  The Seahawks have found a way to win the close games that they were losing last year like their wins against the Panthers, Texans, and St. Louis.  While they are 24th in the NFL in the passing game, they are 2nd against the pass.  They also rank 3rd in rushing, and 16th against the run in the NFL.  Seattle still has to play the Saints, Niners, Giants, Cardinals, and Rams, but I don’t see them doing worse then 3-2 in that stretch.  Regardless, they all but have the NFC West locked up and should have no issue taking the two seed and a first round bye in the playoffs. 

San Francisco 49ers – Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense have been held in check the past two weeks, but don’t forget, they ran off 30+ points five weeks in a row before their losses against the Panthers and Saints.  The Niners have to play games against the Redskins, Rams, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Falcons, and Cardinals to wrap up their season.  Michael Crabtree looks like he will be active by the Rams game, December 1st, and that is the biggest thing the 49ers have missed all season long; a second legitimate wide receiver.  The 49ers should finish the season 5-1 or 6-0, but Seattle, Arizona, and St. Louis are all divisional games that could propose a challenge and the Buccaneers are looking to play spoiler in the NFC.  I still see the Niners ending the season at 11-5 and the sixth seed because it is too greedy to think a team will finish on a 6-0 win streak, I mean, who do the Niners think they are, the 2012 Redskins?!

Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals are a great story, but one that will end more as a Grimm Fairytale rather than a Disney movie.  2-4 is probably the record that the Cardinals will end the season with being that they still have to play Seattle, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Tennessee, and St. Louis.  This schedule would be daunting for any NFL team, let alone the Cardinals who are struggling to find themselves and still have Carson Palmer as their quarterback.  8-8 is a moral victory for the Cardinals this year, but they are still a few years or a division change to the NFC East away from having their day in the sun, which is ironic, cause it doesn’t rain very often in Arizona.


 

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