September 9, 2015

NFC 2015 preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Football

With AFC out of the way, let’s break down the NFC – including the team that I think will win it all this season.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

A lot of things went right for the Cowboys last season, which is why I’m a bit skeptical of the team this season. The running game should be a strength, but which back is going to get the carries? Can Dez Bryant stay healthy and repeat his incredible feats? And will the defence be able to avoid regression after a nice uptick last season? There’s a lot of questions in Big D, enough to think that the Boys will be back to missing out on the post-season.

Prediction: 9-7

New York Giants

Sure, Odell Beckham Jr. is super exciting, but there are a lot of issues with this team away from the passing game. The defence looks bad and the running game needs a reboot. Eli Manning should put up some huge numbers, but it won’t be enough.

Prediction: 6-10

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles will surely be a high-flying team, but will it be able to keep up the pace with so many injury-prone players in key positions? New additions Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews all have spotted pasts when it comes to missed games and seeing that trio go down could doom this team. Also concerning: The defence and special teams will see some regression this season. That said, we still like the Eagles to win the division.

Prediction: 11-5

Washington

What a mess. At this point, Native Americans shouldn’t just be mad about this team’s name, they should be disappointed. This new RG3 mess is just that lasted in a long line of controversies within this team and should set the tone for another bad season in America’s capital.

Prediction: 5-11

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Chicago fans should get ready to bear down again, because that’s where this team is going. The defence is still a big problem and we don’t think that John Fox can fix it in a year. Jay Cutler remains terribly inconsistent and he’ll be missing Brandon Marshall this year. Monster of the Midway, this team are not.

Prediction: 5-11

Detroit Lions

Are we really sure that Matt Stafford is a good QB? And is Jim Caldwell a good coach? I think both are a bit more sketchy than the public opinion says. Calvin Johnson is also a year older and had injury issues last season. You also can’t forget that the Lions top two DTs are gone, though Haloti Ngata should plug at least one of those holes.

Prediction: 7-9

Green Bay Packers

As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy and the leader of the Green Bay Packers, they’ll be in the playoffs and he’ll be discussed among the league’s best QBs. The unfortunate part for the Pack is that Jordy Nelson is out for the season. We’re also not sure if this defence is anything more than average.

Prediction: 10-6

Minnesota Vikings

There were signs that the Vikings were ready to break out last season, but just quite couldn’t get there. But with Teddy Bridgewater getting that experience under his belt and Adrian Peterson returning from suspension, it’s very realistic that the Vikes can take this division.

Prediction: 11-5

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

If the Falcons had even an average defence and a little bit of luck last season, they could have won the division. This season, the offence should be just as good and the defence is now being run by Dan Quinn, formerly of the Seahawks. Julio Jones could be the league’s best receiver this season and Atlanta should return to the playoffs.

Prediction: 9-7

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers somehow won the division and a playoff game despite finishing the season under .500. It won’t get much better this season with DeAngelo Williams gone and budding receiver Kelvin Benjamin lost for the season with a torn ACL. The defence and Cam Newton should be able to lead this team to a couple wins this season, but the playoffs should be out of reach.

Prediction: 6-10

New Orleans Saints

A salary cap crunch meant the Saints had to essentially tear apart a team that wasn’t very good to begin with. While the offensive should still be above average with Drew Brees at the helm, the defence is a big work in progress.

Prediction: 5-11

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last year, the Bucs were a popular sleeper pick, but slept in. In fact, they were the worst team in the league. That fact got them Jameis Winston to lead them into the future at QB while their defence isn’t too shabby either. Having a full season of Gerald McCoy will help against the run, but we can’t get past a shaky offensive line and how Winston will likely need a season or two to adapt to the NFL.

Prediction: 5-11

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

This is a team that made the playoffs with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley taking a lot of snaps at QB – saying that, there’s no reason to think it can’t reach the post-season again. Losing defensive co-ordinator Todd Bowles hurts, but this team will continue to create pressure through the blitz. If Andre Ellington lives up to his potential, the Cards could even challenge Seattle for the division title.

Prediction: 10-6, wild-card berth.

San Francisco 49ers

With the amount of upheaval in Santa Clara this off-season, it’s hard to picture how this team can be successful. A lot of responsibility will fall onto Colin Kaepernick’s shoulders and we’re not so sure that’s a good thing. This is a make-or-break season for the QB and he doesn’t look like he’s in a position to prove his doubters wrong.

Prediction: 5-11

Seattle Seahawks

The huge cap crunch is coming, but not quite yet. Adding Jimmy Graham gives Russell Wilson the best target he has had in his career and the defence shouldn’t slow down. It will take some injuries or some big underperformers for Seattle to miss the playoffs.

Prediction: 12-4

St. Louis Rams

The front four of the Rams defence is one of, if not the league’s best – it’s the rest of the team that is the issue. Nick Foles is an improvement at QB, but he won’t be enough to lead this group into the playoffs. We can look forward to Todd Gurley’s debut, but his real impact will be felt next year, possibly in Los Angeles.

Prediction: 7-9

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