So as you read earlier when I did my AFC season preview, that I was going to do an NFC season preview in a different post. Well this is the different post that I was talking about and let's get started with an NFC preview for the 2014 NFL season.
1. New York Giants: 9-7: I am probably being crazy and making a bad pick by picking the Giants to go 9-7 and win this division AND make the playoffs. But I am sticking with this pick. Look I know the Giants first team offense has looked really bad tin the preseason but look people, it's just the preseason. Just because a team is bad in the preseason does not mean they will be bad in the regular season. And besides, it the NFC East. Every year a different team wins this division and goes to the playoffs. One year it's the Redskins, one year it's the Eagles or Cowyboys you just can never predict this division. QB Eli Manning and his go to receiver in Victor Cruz know that they have to do better than last year and they got to make sure they also don't get swept by division rivals in Dallas like last year. Because had they won the two games against Dallas last year then they would have been 9-7 and probably would have made the playoffs. I like making bold picks every year and this is my big bold pick this year.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: 8-8: This team will still be good, but not as good as last year and won't make the playoffs like last year. They lost Desean Jackson to the Washington Redskins and their pass defense is just shaky. We also don't know if receiver Jeremy Maclin can be any good after not playing at all last year from the torn ACL he suffered before last season even started and nit sure if QB Nick Foles be great like he was last year. Just not sure about this team, dont get me wrong they will be good and at least have a record at .500 or above .500 but it will not be easy for this team.
3. Washington Redskins: 8-8: Last year was definitely a season to forget for the QB RG3 and the whole Redskins team. They were 3-13 and when they lost games, it was usually loosing by 10 or more points and just simply looking bad. This year, with old head coach Mike Shanahan finally gone and now they have Jay Gruden as their new head coach, this team will at least be better than last year. Plus they got a big pickup in receiver Desean Jackson from the Eagles. If RG3 and Desean Jackson can develop good chemistry, and if running back Alfred Morris stays consistent and healthy along with the defense possibly improving, then this team might be able to win this division and make it back into the playoffs. The Redskins just have to have a better year.
4. Dallas Cowboys: 7-9: people are gonna probably say that I am actually being too nice by giving the Cowboys a 7-9 record but I think it's just about right. When I look at the Cowboys schedule, there are at least 5 match-ups they could easily win. And 3 of them are within this NFC East division. On offense, this team looks really good. QB Tony Romo is always a guy you can count on to make a late comeback and win games, receivers Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are very reliable to Romo and running back Demarco Murray is very talented and still has lots of potential. But on defense, boy does this team look bad when it comes to defense. if you thought last years Cowboys defense, which gave up the 3rd most overall yards in NFL history was bad, it will most likely be worse this year. Mainly because sack king Demarcus Ware moved on and went to the Denver Broncos and Sean Lee tore his ACL in mini camp last may. Also not to mention that Orlando Scandrick is suspended for the first 4 games due to abusing the NFL's substance abuse policy. This team has a lot of work to do to improve their defense and head coach Jason Garret has his work cut out for him. The Cowboys will most likely miss the playoffs for the 5th straight year, the first time that has happened with Jerry Jones as the owner of the team.
1. Green Bay Packers: 11-5: The Packers are going to win this division for the 4th year in a row. Last year QB Aaron Rodgers missed a few games last year and they struggled. But when Rodger came back, they were really good and just made the playoffs. This year the only team they might have to worry about in this division is the Detroit Lions. As long as Rodgers and receiver Randall Cobb stay healthy, and with the big addition of defensive player Julius Peppers from the Bears, then this team is winning the division and going to the playoffs. They got a good team and a pretty good schedule to have a good year and get back to the old Packers that we knew when they won the Super Bowl just 3 years ago.
2. Detroit Lions: 10-6: The Lions finally have a good new head coach in Jim Caldwell and I think he will help improve this team. Receiver Calvin Johnson is going to be his old self and be one of the best receivers in the NFL and this team got a good addition at receiver in Golden Tate from Seattle and Tate might be able to take some of the pressure of of Johnson. This team still has a solid running back in Reggie Bush and QB Mathew Stafford will be very good as always. What this team needs to win their games in the 2nd half of their schedule. Last year they went 2-6 in their last 8 games and it cost them any shot of making the playoffs. This year 5 of their last 8 opponents of the season had a .500 or lower record last year. So they have to win those games this year. If they can do that, then this team will have a winning record and might make the playoffs.
3. Chicago Bears: 8-8: I would like to make the Bear a better team than last year but they lost a really good defensive player in Julius Peppers, and QB Jay Cutler is always a risk because of his injuries. Yes they got a good defensive pickup in Jared Allen from the Minnesota Vikings but who knows how good he will be. And the last time Cutler played a full 16 game season was back in 2009 in his first year with the Bears. Cutler has to stay healthy and the offensive line has to do a better job in protecting Cutler. And not to mention that running back Matt Forte has to be consistent and stay healthy as well, otherwise this team will go 8-8 for the 2nd year in a row and miss the playoffs for a 4th year in a row.
4. Minnesota Vikings: 7-9: The Vikings I think will have a better season than last year. Receiver Cordarrelle Paterson is expected to break out and have a great year. He is a good receiver and can return kickoffs and punts as well and his pretty good in that area of the game. Running back Adrian Peterson will still be rock solid as he has always been and as long as QB Matt Cassel can stay healthy and the defense can somehow improve even though they lost Jared Allen to the Bears, then this team might at least be better than last year. But the Vikings are no way a playoff team like they were in 2012.
1. New Orleans Saints: 12-4: The Saints really surprised us all last year with their defense. Sure their defense was not the best but it was at least way better than their defense from 2012. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has done a very good job with this team and deserves a lot of credit. The offense was even better last year. The QB and receiver combo of Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham is one of the best combos in football as Graham got 16 touchdown's last year and might get more this year. If those two and stay on the same page and keep scoring touchdown's, and the defensive players stay healthy, then there is no doubt this Saints team will be good this year and win this division. They came close to winning the division last year but got unlucky as the Panthers got past them late to win the division, but this year the Saints will have more luck on their side and not have to worry to much about the Carolina Panthers.
2. Carolina Panthers: 10-6: Don't get me wrong when you see this record I have for the Panthers, I still think they will be a good team, but just not as great as they were last year. They still have a great defense but their offense definitely does not look as good as it was last year. Yes, they kept their two main running backs in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, but pretty much lost their whole wide receiving core from last year. As we all know, Steve Smith left to go to Baltimore, Domenik Hixon left to go play for the Bears but then retired after suffering a torn ACL in May, Brandon LaFell left to go to New England and Ted Ginn Jr. left to go to Arizona. That's 4 of your main receivers from last year gone just like that. Now they were able to keep tight end Greg Olsen and get other tight end Ed Dickson from the Ravens. The Panthers also were smart in the draft and drafted Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State, who by the way are the defending College Football National Champions. And let's not forget that Kelvin Benjamin was the one who got the game-winning touchdown catch in the National Championship game against Auburn. So Kelvin can play. But in order for this team to still be good, they are gonna have to really rely more on their defense which I think should work. The Panthers are still a winning team and will make the playoffs this year for the 2nd year in a row.
3. Atlanta Falcons: 4-12: I's sorry, but I don't see the Falcons getting any better this year. Now I don't think they will get worse, but they just won't get any better that's all. This team definitely surprised us last year but not in a good way. After going 13-3 year before in 2012 and going to the NFC Championship game, they went 4-12 last year and obviously missed the playoffs. This year might be the same story. They don't have star tight end Tony Gonzalez as he finally decided to retire from football, and receiver Julio Jones is coming off a really bad foot injury that he suffered last October that kept him out for most of last year. Plus other receiver in Roddy White is getting old and I think is past his prime at the age of 32 and the defense is still shaky and does not look that good. It's just going to be a rough season for this Falcons team and for the 2nd year in a row since 2006 and 2007, the Falcons will not make the playoffs.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-13: This is not going to be a good year for Tampa Bay as well. Yes they got a good head coach in Lovie Smith but he can't completely change this team on his own. Running back Doug Martin is coming off an injury plagued season that only saw him play 6 games and rush for only 1 touchdown. He needs to stay healthy and have a better season. Josh McCowen is now the starting QB but might struggle with this kind of Tampa Bay offense and their is not much depth at wide receiver other than Vincent Jackson. Also not to mention that this team's offensive line is pretty weak and had a tough time last year creating room or holes for Doug Martin to run in. This team may surprise us like the Panthers did last year and be pretty good, but I just don't see that happening this year. Maybe next year for Tampa Bay.
1. Seattle Seahawks: 12-4: The defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks will be number 1 in the NFC West for the 2nd year in a row. This team pretty much looks the same as last year. The only player they lost was receiver Golden Tate to the Detroit Lions. This offense still looks very good with QB Russell Wilson leading the charge with RB Marshawn Lynch and as long as receiver Percy Harvin can stay healthy and play all 16 regular season games, then this offense can be even better than last year. The defense for this team was by far the best defense last year with Corner back Richard Sherman and linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. expect this Seahawks defense to still be one of the best defenses in the league this year as long as they all stay healthy. Just gonna be the same old story as last year, Seahawks win the division, go to the Super Bowl, and most likely win the Super Bowl.
2. San Francisco 49ers: 11-5: A lot of people are really concerned with this team and says they are gonna have a big drop off from last year. People are saying that because the 49ers did not look to good in the preseason. Well all I got to say to those people who doubt the 49ers is that it's only preseason and that the 49ers will still be on of the top teams in the NFC. Sure I have them dropping off a bit in their record from last year and have them going 11-5 this year but they are still gonna be a good team. Their offense still looks good with Colin Kaepernick as their QB who can throw and run when needed to and if Kaepernick and still have a good connection with tight end Vernon Davis, then this offense will still be one of the best offenses in the league. Their defense still looks good with linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Patrick Willis, and if this team can improve their pass rush, then this defense will definitely be just as good as last year. Bottom line is that the 49ers will still be a top team in the NFC and might be able to make the NFC Championship game for the 4th year in a row.
3. Arizona Cardinals: 8-8: Last year, head coach Bruce Arians led this team to a solid 10-6 record last year with was a 5 game turn around from their previous season. However, because this team is in a very tough NFC West division, the Arizona Cardinals DID NOT make the Playoffs. Now as much as I would like to predict the Cardinals being a good team and going to the playoffs this year, well I just can't make that prediction because I just don't see that happening. Yes this team got a big defensive pickup in Corner back Antonio Cromartie from the Jets but he is just not the player he used to be and other that corner back Patrick Peterson,this defense sis not all that great. This team's offense still looks good with Carson Palmer as their QB but he is also getting old and just like Cromartie, is not the great player that he used to be. This Cardinals team also has a bit of a tough schedule as 9 of their 16 games are against teams that had a .500 or better record last year. As much as I would like to see this team make the playoffs this year, it won't happen as they are still in a tough NFC West division and the competition should still be intense in the NFC as it was last year.
4. St. Louis Rams: 4-12: It's not gonna be a good year at all for the Rams this year. They lost their QB Sam Bradford as he tore his ACL for the 2nd time in just 10 months. This time he tore his ACL in the preseason. Their offense does not look that good and this team also just released defensive player Michael Sam, which i think was a big mistake to let him go. Bottom line is that the Rams will be last place in this division and most likely be one of the worst teams in the league this year. I guess all the Rams fans can hope for is better luck next year.
Now here are my playoff standings for the NFC:
1. Seattle Seahawks: 12-4: NFC West Champions
2. New Orleans Saints: 12-4: NFC South Champions
3. Green Bay Packers: 11-5: NFC North Champions
4. New York Giants: 9-7: NFC East Champions
5. San Francisco 49ers: 11-5: Wild Card
6. Carolina Panthers: 10-6: Wild Card
By: Andrew Harrington